Democracy and Relativism: A Debate (Reinventing Critical Theory)
In this vibrant debate with intellectuals influenced by Marcel Mauss, including Alain Caill and Chantal Mouffe, the incisive Greek-French activist and philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis addresses the challenge of critical thinking in an international context. The first half explores the tradition of radical self-critique and the prospect of affirming its value in a non-ethnocentric way. While defending ancient Greek contributions to the Western tradition of radical self-critique -- including the practice of "relativizing" one's own culture, of engaging in philosophical interrogation, and of establishing democratic institutions -- Castoriadis is challenged to explore the trans-contextual features of any self-critical, or "autonomous," social institution. In the second half Castoriadis offers a penetrating critique of representative democracy, and the discussion makes important strides toward a new conception of direct democracy, of political education, and of the institutional prerequisites for the continuation of radical self-critique in politics and philosophy.