Table of Contents
Suzi Adams, Paul Blokker, Natalie J. Doyle & John W. M. Krummel: Editorial
John W. M. Krummel: Introduction to Miki Kiyoshi and his ‘Logic of the Imagination’
Miki Kiyoshi: Myth (translated by John W. M. Krummel)
Abstract: “Myth” comprises the first chapter of the book, The Logic of the Imagination, by Miki Kiyoshi. In this chapter Miki analyzes the significance of myth (shinwa) as possessing a certain reality despite being “fictions.” He begins by broadening the meaning of the imagination to argue for a logic of the imagination that involves expressive action or poiesis (production) in general, of which myth is one important product. The imagination gathers in myth material from the environing world lived by the social collectivity. Its formation of images (Bilder) expresses the pathos of a people vis-à-vis their environment, but myth also contains elements of logos in the form of intellectual representations and figures. And their combination becomes expressed externally by stimulating and guiding action. In this way Miki argues that myths contain both emotive and kinetic elements, which by moving people to action, are capable of making history. Thus rooted in the symbiosis between individual and social and between society and environment, myth possesses a “historical creativity.” And he also argues that myths can be present with a sense of reality at any epoch in history, even today, wherever and whenever their primeval power is felt to function, “drawing out” a new reality, a new world, out of the natural world.
Abstract: Jacques Lacan’s theorization of the imaginary has been regarded generally as an organic part of the crucial development of psychoanalytic theory in its post-Freudian stage. This article situates the Lacanian imaginary in the context of contemporary discussions of ‘theory after poststructuralism’, arguing that it moves radically beyond the poststructuralist terrains of deconstruction and discourse-analysis, and is able to offer new insights on various studies. Especially, it can help (re)examine some aporias in the field of Sinology. This article devotes its main body to demonstrating that the Lacanian account of the imaginary is powerful in exploring the assumptions and expectations of modern Sinophone intellectual discourse. Deconstructive discourse-analysis alone is insufficient for understanding the underlying forces that have been fundamentally shaping the contours of modern Chinese intellectuality, and attention needs to be paid to the psychological dimension of Chinese thought. With the aim of tracing and interrogating these underlying forces, this article seeks to show how the fervor for discussing the ‘problem of China’ reveals a hidden psychical mechanism.
Craig Browne: Critiques of Identity and the Permutations of the Capitalist Imaginary
Abstract: In their elucidations of the capitalist imaginary, Castoriadis and Adorno emphasize the significance of identity thinking to this social-historical constellation. Adorno contends that the principle of identity constitutes the nucleus of the capitalist imaginary, because it underpins commodity exchange and the formal rationality of bureaucratic administration. Castoriadis associates the logic of identity with the same tendencies, but accentuates the horizon of meaning that animates the deployment of this logic. However, Castoriadis and Adorno recognise that the critique of identity logic confronts a genuine antinomy. Although it is integral to the capitalist imaginary, the logic of identity is present in every institution of society. I show how these critiques of identity pose questions about the ontological underpinnings of capitalism’s value system. After explicating variants of identity logic and its critique, I explore different interpretations of the permutations of the capitalist imaginary. These accounts of conflict, innovation and individualism diverge from Adorno and Castoriadis’s assessments of organised capitalism. Similarly, Arnason’s civilizational perspective situates the capitalist imaginary’s permutations in a longer-term historical perspective and suggests a revised core signification of unlimited accumulation. Finally, my analysis outlines some highly significant, though arguably often neglected, current capitalist instantiations of identity logic.
Werner Binder: Shifting Imaginaries in the War on Terror: The Rise and Fall of the Ticking Bomb Torturer
Abstract: This analysis employs the concept of social imaginary to account for recent shifts in the imagination, discourse and practice of torture. It is motivated by a broader ambition to highlight the importance of the imaginary vis-à-vis the symbolic, which still dominates theoretical debates in cultural sociology. Culture does not only consist of codes and symbols, but also encompasses collectively shared imaginary significations. Only by paying tribute to the imaginary dimension of culture, we are able to understand how codes and symbols work. The importance of the social imaginary will be demonstrated through an analysis of the impact of 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib scandal on the American torture discourse. The terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers did not bring up new arguments in favor of torture, but changed the social imaginary by turning the so-called ‘ticking bomb scenario’ from a mere thought experiment into a real possibility. The publicized abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison had an opposite effect: The infamous photographs changed the imagination of torture which in turn strengthened its critics.
Suzi Adams and Johann P. Arnason: Sociology, Philosophy, History: A Dialogue
Abstract: The dialogue focuses on the sources, contexts, and configuration of Johann P. Arnason’s intellectual trajectory. It is broadly framed around the interplay of philosophy, sociology, and history in his thought. Its scope is wide ranging, spanning critical and normative theory, phenomenology and hermeneutics, and contemporary and classical sociology. It explores the importance of Castoriadis, Merleau-Ponty and Patočka for Arnason’s understanding of the human condition from a comparative civilizational perspective; his engagement with Habermas and Eisenstadt for the development of his hermeneutic of modernity and multiple modernities; his ongoing, albeit subterranean, dialogue with Charles Taylor; and concludes with a discussion of his recent focus on the religio-political nexus.
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