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5 Aesthetics and Autonomy

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Chapter Summary

Castoriadis identifies the aesthetic as a distinct mode of perception in a way that clarifies and expands his earlier work on the imagination. This chapter addresses the extensive role played by Greek tragedies in the latter years of Castoriadis's work to develop his understanding of autonomy not simply as self-institution but, paradoxically, as a tradition. It explores Castoriadis's understanding of the reciprocity between philosophy and tragedy, a move that leads him to figure philosophical thinking in terms of elucidation rather than construction. In this chapter, the author suggests that Castoriadis's reading of tragedy develops and matures his notion of autonomy to provide a compelling response to voluntarism problem. He concludes by suggesting that while this paradox leaves Castoriadis as an incomplete thinker, his vision of philosophical thinking as attempt to elucidate the antimonial ground of human life provides seminal contribution to contemporary philosophy.

Keywords: aesthetics; artistic representation; autonomy; contemporary philosophy; human life; imagination; tragedy



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