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Castoriadis, C. (1989). The State of the Subject Today. Am. Imago, 46(4):371-412.

(1989). American Imago, 46(4):371-412

The State of the Subject Today

Cornelius Castoriadis

Translated by:
David Ames Curtis

Fashions come, go, and look, alike. The gold embroidery wears off, the hide remains. Not so very long ago, the death of man and the un-being [dès-être] of the subject were widely celebrated. To believe the most recent news items, however, these reports were slightly exaggerated. Like a veritable risen ghost, the subject would seem to be among us once again.

Yet all this talk about “the death of man” and “the end of the subject” has never been anything other than a pseudotheoretical cover for an evasion of responsibility—on the part of the psychoanalyst, the thinker, the citizen. Similarly, today's boisterous proclamations about the return of the subject, like the alleged “individualism” that accompanies it, mask the drift of decomposition under another of its forms.

The subject has not just returned, for it never left. It was always there—certainly not as substance, but as question and as project. For psychoanalysis, the question of the subject is the question of the psyche—of the psyche as such and of the socialized psyche, namely, the psyche that has undergone and constantly is undergoing a process of socialization. Understood in this way, the question of the subject is the question of the human being in its innumerable singularities and universalities.


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