Emmanuel Alloa: Aisthesis – or Why There Is No Thinking without Phantasms
“Images Think For Me”, the poet Paul Eluard once stated, somehow summarizing the surrealist’s credo about another, non-propositional way of thinking; a thinking made of oneiric condensation and of playful abstraction. Yet it would be wrong to consider the unshackling of imaginary forces as being modernism’s monopoly. In his account of the faculties of the soul, Aristotle has given “phantasia” an exorbitant role. Unlike Kant’s theory of imagination, Aristotle’s phantasia is not meant to bridge the gap between sensibility and conceptuality though, but can be considered – in a way – to be even more radical: it is not that the “phantasms” connect thinking with sensible content, but rather that they bring about thinking itself, as a faculty emerging from phantasia. In Aristotle’s logics of continuous emergence, the higher faculties are but progressive desolidarizations from the given, which allow for creative rearticulations and emancipatory reconceptualizations. Or put differently: phantasia as the necessary art of creating gaps within the sensible.
While the lecture will show the implications of such a “phantasmatic” thinking for aesthetic practices, the seminar will focus more closely on the texts. In a close reading, we shall analyze the Aristotelian passages from the treatise “On the Soul” and compare it with an essay by Cornelius Castoriadis (“The Discovery of Imagination”) where Castoradius traces back the origins of his theory of “radical imaginary” to Aristotle.