Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 4, No 1-2 (2008)

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Towards a Post-Phenomenology of Life: Castoriadis' Naturphilosophie

Suzi Adams


The present paper situates Castoriadis’ later philosophy of nature as part of wider debates on the problematic of ‘life’ within post-Merleau-Pontian currents. Through hermeneutical reconstruction, it argues that ‘life’, as understood by Castoriadis, points to auto-poietic modes of being. Castoriadis’ interpretation of auto-poiesis is specific: self-moving and self-creating modes of being in the radical sense of ontological creation of form. The paper contends that Castoriadis’ contribution to these debates is twofold. First, ‘life’ in the broad sense is extended to all regions of being, that is, to include physical nature. Second, the ‘subjective instance’ of life (as erleben) is instaurated with the living being. In Castoriadis’ thought, however, this is centrally connected with the co-creation of ‘the world’ as a horizon of proto-meaning on the one hand, and the imagination on the other. Finally, in that Castoriadis’ ontology of nature puts into question the modern scientific view of the world—and its underlying metaphysics— the paper concludes that Castoriadis’ later Naturphilosophie is to be understood as part of the project of autonomy.

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