The Greek Imaginary

From Homer to Heraclitus, Seminars 1982-1983

Cornelius Castoriadis
Translated by John Garner, María-Constanza Garrido Sierralta

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Offers in English for the first time philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis’s earliest surviving lectures on the ancient Greeks
  • Includes renowned scholar Pierre Vidal-Naquet’s essay, "’Castoriadis and Ancient Greece’" (1999), which provides an introduction and memorial to Castoriadis’s research
  • Includes Castoriadis’s previously untranslated, substantive essay, "’Political Thought’" (1979), which presages many of the key themes in the seminars
  • Includes Castoriadis’s thematic reports on his teaching in the 1980-1984 seminars
  • Includes an "Editors’ Introduction" plus extensive editorial commentary on the seminars and an Analytic Table of Contents provided by the academic editor of the French edition of the volume (from 2004)
  • Includes a "Foreword" by the translator, which highlights key terms in the seminars

This book collects 12 previously untranslated lectures by Castoriadis from 1982 to 1983. Castoriadis focuses on the interconnection between philosophy and democracy and the way both emerge within a self-critical imaginary already in development in the work of early Greek poets and Presocratic philosophers.

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Foreword to the English Translation by John V. Garner (2022)

Editors’ Introduction by Enrique Escobar, Myrto Gondicas, and Pascal Vernay (2004)
translated by María-Constanza Garrido Sierralta

Seminars 1982-1983 by Cornelius Castoriadis, translated by John V. Garner

I. Seminar from November 10, 1982

II. Seminar from November 17, 1982

III. Seminar from November 24, 1982

IV. Seminar from December 1, 1982

V. Seminar from December 15, 1982

VI. Seminar from January 5, 1983

VII. Seminar from January 12, 1983

VIII. Seminar from January 26, 1983

IX. Seminar from February 2, 1983 (lost)

X. Seminar from February 16, 1983

XI. Seminar from February 23, 1983

XII. Seminar from March 2, 1983

XIII. Seminar from March 9, 1983

Supplemental Materials (1979-1999) translated by María-Constanza Garrido Sierralta

Appendix A: Reports on Teaching by Cornelius Castoriadis (1980-82 and 1982-84)

Appendix B: Political Thinking by Cornelius Castoriadis (1979)

Appendix C: Castoriadis and Ancient Greece by Pierre Vidal-Naquet (1999)

Index of Key Terms

As with any philosophical piece, the translation of philosophical thought is a difficult endeavor. This translation seems to be complete; nothing having been omitted from the content of the original book. The terms used are accurate, and depict the true meaning of the original work, meaning there is consistency in the terminology, while the readability of the chapters remains intact, and the reader’s experience in reading the piece can be considered to have a natural flow, similar to the experience of a reader of the original piece.

George Peter Bifis, Phaedra Giannopoulou, and Angeliki-Maria Argyrakou, Conatus - Journal of Philosophy
Certainly, in this book we gain much to reflect on and to take further in our search for philosophy and thinking that might constitute a better humanity.[...] one would certainly find this book to be a ‘great work of thinking’.
John Enslin, Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory
The Greek Imaginary: From Homer to Heraclitus, Seminars 1982-1983 will certainly be of interest for those without French interested in this aspect of Castoriadis’ work. [...] The book’s formatting is convenient, and the typography is pleasing to eye. [...] I do find Castoriadis’ vision of Greece generally compelling and attractive. It will no doubt help orient some of us who are making our own sea-voyages on that vast and wonderous expanse.
Joseph Gerbasi, University of Toronto, BMCR 2024.01.10

These seminars showcase Castoriadis as a captivating and extremely learned interlocutor with a distinctive and original interpretation of what makes Greece.

Suzi Adams, Flinders University, European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology

Castoriadis’ insightful and provocative analysis of ancient Greek poetry, history, mythology, and philosophy seeks to elucidate the creation of the two main "social imaginary significations": democracy and philosophy as inseparable yet mutually presupposing each other. The book is indispensable for the understanding of the relevance of ancient philosophy for contemporary democratic practice.

Dmitri Nikulin, The New School for Social Research
Cornelius Castoriadis (1922-1997) was a Greek-French philosopher and author of a large corpus on the topics of ontology, politics, psychoanalysis, and several other fields. Immigrating to France after World War II, he co-founded the political group Socialisme ou Barbarie (1948-1967), worked in economics, practiced as a psychoanalyst, and eventually served from 1980-1995 as director of studies at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris.

John Garner is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of West Georgia. He is the author of The Emerging Good in Plato’s Philebus (Northwestern University Press, 2017). Has also translated Democracy and Relativism: A Debate by Cornelius Castoriadis (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) and co-translated Postscript on Insignificance: Dialogues with Cornelius Castoriadis (Continuum, 2011).

María-Constanza Garrido Sierralta is a PhD student in Philosophy at the University of New Mexico

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