The relationship to the relationship

just a quick note that the history of post-enlightenment considerations of autonomy and ethics are shot through not so much with considerations of the relationships in themselves, but with the individual’s relationship (IR) to the relationship (R). The individual’s relationship to the relationship (IRR) constitutes the basis of Kant’s notion of transcendental idealism, in which atomized individuals act in concert in ethical ways, inasmuch as they attune their practice to certain universally legitimate norms which regulate behavior via the IRR.

Castoriadis’ idea of autonomy, drawing as it does from Kant, preserves this combination of Kantian skepticism and ethical orientation, and proposes that the autonomous individual exercises control over the functioning of the relationship through an exercise which moves with the force of desire. This emphasis on desire is my own, but can be found through Castoriadis’ work. ‘The force of desire’ refers to the desire, in turn based on previous social imaginaries, to make a change in the relationship to the relationship, or even to the relationship itself, when one is not subject to the relationship, but the relationship is subject to oneself.


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