Rethinking the World of the Living Being

Suzi Adams

in Castoriadis's Ontology

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234585
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240739 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

Rethinking the World of the Living Being

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Castoriadis's rethinking of the living being emerges as a central aspect of his shift to a trans-regional ontology of creative physis, but also as the site of relocation for the nomos/physis problematic. Increasingly, Castoriadis began to characterize the living being as “self-creating” rather than “self-organizing” and redrew the demarcation between humans and non-humans more in terms of continuity (rather than discontinuity). However, he still maintained a line of discontinuity between human and non-human modes of being, as his rejection of Francisco Varela's notion of “biological autonomy” demonstrates. In rethinking the living being, Castoriadis developed what might be called a poly-regional ontology of the for-itself, which spans human and non-human regions. The living being inaugurates the level of the for-itself, by rupturing with non-living (that is, physical) regions of being, and creating what Castoriadis called the “subjective instance”; that is, putting the physical world into meaning. Common to each level of the for-itself, is the interrelation of imagination, world and meaning. In that the world manifests itself to the living being, Castoriadis extends—and radicalizes—conventional phenomenological approaches.

Keywords: living being; biological autonomy; Francisco Varela; being for-itself; self-creation; world horizon; phenomenology; the subjective instance; imagination; poly-regional ontology

Chapter.  6169 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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