Arendt and Castoriadis

Term: Spring 2011

Subject Code: GPHI

Course Number: 6646


What is the role that imagination plays in politics? How should we evaluate it? Is imagination simply the faculty to represent what does not exist or is it, more radically, the faculty to produce images that mediate our political life? Are we the producers or the products of the social imaginaries we live in?

This seminar tackles these issues by analysing key texts by Hannah Arendt and Cornelius Castoriadis, two philosophers who have devoted systematic reflections to the topic. In particular, we will focus on Arendt’s Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy and on Castoriadis’ Imaginary Institution of Society. Students are encouraged to read and comment these texts by situating them in their context, but also by connecting them to timely issues such as the role of political imagination in a world dominated by the media and by an increasing spectacularisation of politics.

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