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Cornelius Castoriadis: Rethinking Autonomy

A posthumous examination of one of Europe's most challenging intellectuals

By Lauren Marshall

Cornelius Castoriadis

The life and work of Cornelius Castoriadis (1922-1997), a seminal social and political thinker who inspired the 1968 student uprising in France and is credited with altering the understanding of modern social and political life, is the topic of discussion at Columbia University on December 1-3.

Open to the public, this three-day interdisciplinary conference will draw 37 European and American scholars, political theorists, philosophers and psychologists to participate in the first in depth examination at an American institution of Castoriadis and his impact on modern politics, philosophy and psychoanalysis. The conference also marks the 25th anniversary of his most acclaimed work, The Imaginary Institution of Society (Paris, Seuil, 1975).

Three years after his death, Castoriadis' work remains fertile ground for rethinking autonomy, confronting historical change, reassessing radical democratic politics, and revisiting debates over the relationship between power and judgement, agency and structure, creativity and tradition, the instituted reality and the social instituting power.

Born in Turkey of Greek extraction and educated in France, where he spent much of his adult life, Castoriadis was co-founder of the legendary group and journal "Socialisme ou Barbarie," a professional economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a practicing psychoanalyst and a distinguished Sovietologist who contributed almost 50 years of work to academic scholarship. In addition to examining the enduring impact of his scholarship on modern thought, the conference will highlight the unity, coherence and continuity of more than five decades of Castoriadis' thinking.

"Cornelius Castoriadis: Rethinking Autonomy" is organized by Andreas Kalyvas, Columbia University, Steven Bourke, Society of Calabrian Fellows and Fernando Urribarri, editor of Zona Erozena and is supported by the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, the Columbia University Sterling Currier Fund, the Foundation for Hellenic Culture, the Program in Hellenic Studies, the Department of Classics, Columbia University, the Center for Comparitive Literature and Society and the Society of Calabrian Fellows.

The Conference will take place at the Maison Francaise, Buell Hall (116th and Broadway) Columbia University, December 1st to 3rd, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nine panel discussions will focus on Castoriadis and Marxism and the impact of his thought on democracy, political and social institutions, concepts of psychoanalysis, the Freudian legacy, the practice of philosophy and psychoanalysis. For a complete conference program click here.

Published: Nov 30, 2000
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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