Social Imaginaries

Volume 5, Issue 2, Autumn 2019

George Sarantoulias
Pages 11-36

Mapping the theme of Creativity in Cornelius Castoriadis’s and Paul Ricoeur’s Social Imaginaries

This paper elucidates the notion that action is creative through the social imaginaries perspective. Hans Joas’s critique of sociological theories on action developed in The Creativity of Action (1996 [1992]) argued that creativity is an essential concept to better understand social action. Cornelius Castoriadis and Paul Ricoeur employ an understanding of action as being inextricably connected to the social imaginary and capable of bringing forth historically novel forms of being and doing. An elucidation of Castoriadis’s dichotomy between the instituted and instituting imaginaries and Ricoeur’s distinction of the ideological and utopian poles of the cultural imagination bring to the surface points of convergence and divergence in their respective understandings of the social imaginary and historical novelty. Inspired by Joas’s critique of sociological theories of action through pragmatism, which is underlined by a critique of the philosophical anthropological assumptions held by structuralism, this essay argues that Castoriadis’s and Ricoeur’s distinct insights on the creative dimension of social action and the way in which social reality emerges can elucidate further an anti-structuralist philosophical anthropology that can help inform sociological theories of action.