Social Imaginaries

Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2017

Erin Carlisle
Pages 83-117

On the Possibilities of Political Action in-the-World
Pathways Through Arendt, Castoriadis and Wagner

This paper clears a path toward an understanding of political action in-the-world. It does so by reconstructing Hannah Arendt, Cornelius Castoriadis, and Peter Wagner’s respective political social theories with a view to the hermeneutic-phenomenological problematic of the world. The analysis begins from the recognition of the human condition as always-already situated in-the-world: both within meaningful and shared world contexts, and within an overarching yet underdetermined world horizon. Two inherently interconnected notions of political action emerge from the reconstruction. The first, as world-disclosing or world-interpreting doing, refers to the political critique that arises through the conflict of interpretations of the world, which reveals the world as a context of unity in a plurality. Connectedly, world-forming or world-making action relates to the introduction of novelty into the socio-cultural and historical field. From this view, political projects rearticulate the world following the interpretative critique of the instituted pattern of socio-cultural reality. As I argue, the openness of the underdetermined, overarching world-horizon provides the precondition for political projects that seek to critically reinterpret and rearticulate the socio-cultural institution of the world. Still, the approach to political action in-the-world offered in this paper remains open for development; the thematics of power and the temporality of doing are avenues for further consideration.