Cognitive Capital and Spaces of mobility - Session 6.

Sunday November 2

10.00 – 12.00


Preliminary schedule:


10.00 – 10.10 Mats Rosengren (chair).Intro + Politics of magma 1.


10.15 – 10.45 Zoé Castoriadis: Magmatic and ensemblistic approaches of space


10.45 – 11.00 Discussion


11.00 – 11.30 Catharina Gabrielsson : Beginnings: some notes on the potentiality of space


11.30 – 11.45 Discussion


11.45 – 12.00 Henric Benesch. Politics of magma 2



Intervening magmata: interventions in space and sense



The notion of magma is central for the French philosopher Cornelius

Castoriadis’s conception of how, and of what, our world is. In a

condensed passage in a seminal essay, “The Logic of Magmas and the

Question of Autonomy” (for example in The Castoriadis Reader, 1997), he

formulates some ontological theses around which we would like to

organise our session: “What is”, he says, “is not totality or systems

of totalities. What is, is not completely determined. What is, is Chaos,

or Abyss, or Without-Foundation. What is, is Chaos stratified in a non

regular manner.”


Briefly put, what is, is magmata – some dense, slow and sluggish, others

liquid, fast and brief as water; all in constant motion, interacting,

folding into each other just to disengage again; no magma is reducible

to another, but all are related to and lean upon each other. One magma

may include other magmata, and be included in others, as for example the

multitude ways of making sense partaking in the alteration and creation

of magmata of social imaginary significations: politics, city planning,

artistic interventions, architecture, all co-producing the space where

our common life is staged and set.


We invite papers, using Castoriadis’s nondeterministic, creative approach

to society and politics as an inspiration, to discuss the possibilities

of artistic, philosophical, architectural and political interventions in

the processes of making sense and space in contemporary society.


Panel format:


Each author will be granted 30 minutes for presentation, follwed by an

additional 15 minutes of discussion.







Henric Benesch, Architect MSA educated at CTH-A in Gothenburg.

Since 2004, a PhD-student and an artistic researcher at the

Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts at Gothenburg University


Preliminary title abstract: Politics of magma 2 – Potentials of Artistic Intervention and Artistic Research


The notion of “planning” has been contested during the past decades. Many regulatory tools for city planning and building have proved themselves outdated and often alternative initiatives are lost to commercial interests. The question is, is there a place for non-commercial initiatives at all?



Zoé Castoriadis.

Architect, Secretary of the Cornelius Castoraidis Association. Paris


Preliminary title and Abstract: Space as Social-historical creation


According to C. Castoriadis “Chaque société constitue son reel”. On a first, natural level society sets aside what is pertinent for it. “Ce qui est ‘prélevé’, n’est qu’en fonction et ą partir de l’ organization du monde posée par la société”. Space is not a natural, objective given upon which society would simply imprint its way of organizing. How could this position help us approach contemporary realities and their problems?

To respond to this question, the paper will:

– pose and make explicit the content that C. Castoriadis gives to the following key concepts in his theory: ‘social imaginary’, ‘social imaginary signification ’, institution of this signification’

– redeem the components of the modern imaginary and juxtapose them to those of pre-capitalist societies

– look at the repercussions on the representation and formation of space of the rational control over nature, a central signification in the contemporary world

– re-frame the question of public space in this context. Knowing that the meaning and content of public space is not, and cannot be, determined uniquely by official instances, lobbyings etc, which are supposed to produce it, one can think that its absence from, or its bad treatment by, contemporary planning as well as by citizens reflects in a certain way at least part of social reality.



Catharina Gabrielson, Architect, LSE, London


Preliminary title and Abstract:


Beginnings: some notes on the potentiality of space


Space has always held a promise for humankind, from ancient mythologies of a cosmic order

to today’s technological dreams of extraterrestrial colonization. Whether it is the religious

promise of a Heavens above; the lure of speculations on terraforming Mars, or the driving

force behind the strategies of the European Space Agency, it amounts to nothing less than

the promise of a Better World. In view of today’s challenges (uncontrollable urbanization,

increasing social and religious tensions, the threat of environmental disaster etc.), that

promise – and the desire it signifies – seems to be more charged than ever. Taking the socalled

‘Space Exploration 3.0’ as its outset, this paper will investigate the potentiality of space,

that is, the way space can be conceived of as providing the means for a ‘new beginning’ for


The so-called third phase of space exploration, launched by a speech by US President

George Bush in January 2004 in which he called on other nations “to share the challenges

and opportunities of this new era of discovery”, is described as one where nations will

cooperate to explore the solar system in a united venture. Advocators for this enterprise –

whether speaking from scientific, professional positions or as amateur enthusiasts on the

internet – repeatedly refer to it as one of fantastic potential in terms of progress, innovation

and diplomacy. Outer Space seems to be the one field of research where the utopian,

visionary and gospel-like ambitions of modernity are allowed to prosper and flourish,

undisturbed by the critique of the consequences and failures of such an epistemology, here,

on earth. The hopes and desires currently projected onto Outer Space is clearly at odds with

how earthly challenges are being addressed. Yet, it is safe to assume that extraterrestrial

space (whether it contains life or not) would not present us with lesser challenges than the

ones we are already facing. As the European interest increases in this field, forming part of

the struggle for domination amongst nations within the order of global capitalism, the

European science authority (ESF) has recently invited the humanities and social sciences to

take part in this exploration that up until now has been dominated by political concerns,

industry and the natural sciences. It would seem that this initiative opens up for a more

critically informed discourse on the potentiality of space. But will it? As informed by the

ontology of Cornelius Castoriadis, I will argue that space needs to be conceived of in terms

of chaos, rather than cosmos, in order to bring about the epistemological shift that a truly

new beginning would require.



Mats Rosengren, Philosopher, editor, and researcher at Södertörn University College and at the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, University of Gothenburg. President of the Swedish Ernst Cassirer Society.


Preliminary title and Abstract:


Politics of Magma – The Magma of Imaginary Politics


There is, perhaps, a need for a magmatic representation, reworking and  reforming of some of Cornelius Castoriadis’s ideas relating to the notion of the possibility of political intervention into the social imaginary of our time. I will advocate a fusion between Castoraidis’s thinking and a doxological stance in these matters.