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Gordon, P. (1995). Cornelius Castoriadis Political and Social Writings. Volume 3, 1961-1979: Recommencing the Revolution: From Socialism to the Autonomous Society, Translated and edited by David Ames Curtis, University of Minnesota Press, 1992, 363 pp. £49.95 (hardback), £19.95 (paperback). Cornelius Castoriadis, Philosophy, Politics, Autonomy: essays in political philosophy, Edited by David Ames Curtis, Oxford University Press, 1991, 276 pp, £12.95.. Free Associations, 5(3):390-394.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(3):390-394

Cornelius Castoriadis Political and Social Writings. Volume 3, 1961-1979: Recommencing the Revolution: From Socialism to the Autonomous Society, Translated and edited by David Ames Curtis, University of Minnesota Press, 1992, 363 pp. £49.95 (hardback), £19.95 (paperback). Cornelius Castoriadis, Philosophy, Politics, Autonomy: essays in political philosophy, Edited by David Ames Curtis, Oxford University Press, 1991, 276 pp, £12.95.

Review by:
Paul Gordon

The third volume of Cornelius Castoriadis's Political and Social Writings (PSW 3) brings to a conclusion David Ames Curtis's ambitious project to publish for an English-speaking readership the central political and social texts of one of the most important social theorists of our time. Castoriadis will be known to many readers of Free Associations as a psychoanalyst, a calling he has followed since the early 1970s. But before this time, Castoriadis, under a series of pseudonyms forced upon him in order to protect his position as an alien in France and his post as an economist at the OECD, was a leading member of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group which developed the most radical and far-seeing critique of its time of capitalist society. Since the early 1970s, when he left the OECD and took French nationality, Castoriadis continued to develop his critique of society and to define the elements of a political project that wished to describe itself as radical.

PSW 3 publishes nothing later than 1979 and much that is considerably earlier. It would, however, be a grave mistake to think of this collection as of historical interest only. As David Ames Curtis argues in his foreword, a critical engagement with Castoriadis's ideas about social change is relevant today for those who want to think about and act for the transformation of society along the lines of political and individual autonomy. So too, one reads Castoriadis not as a precursor of anything or a ‘post-’ anything, ‘but as an original thinker whose originality consists, in large part, in his relentless emphasis on and elucidation of people's capacities for creative originality’.

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