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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author maps some of the overlapping aspects, dimensions, modes and preconditions of autonomy that appear in Castoriadis' work by way of an overview of the field. The chapter examines the three sources that Castoriadis draws on to inform his project of autonomy. From psychoanalysis Castoriadis develops the idea of the defunctionalized psyche, and of ontological self-creation. Castoriadis' encounter with the ancient Greeks deepens his understanding of radical self-creation. In Sophocles, Castoriadis sees man portrayed as an awesome animal, whose greatest risk is to get carried away with his very awesomeness. Finally, from his reading of the Greek experience Castoriadis gets the idea of creatio ex nihilo, seeing the emergence of democracy and philosophy as twin autonomous ruptures that created radically new modes of being. The relative and oblique aspects of autonomy in capitalist society are explored.

Keywords: autonomy; Castoriadis; Freudian psychoanalysis; Greek democracy; Sophocles



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