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On Social Meaning – Ernst Cassirer, Cornelius Castoriadis and Philosophical-Rhetorical Anthropology

In rhetorical theory, the question of how meaning is produced has traditionally been dealt with in terms of the intentions of the orator to influence her or his audience through speech. Today, it seems necessary to complement and to a certain extent rework this traditional notion. The theories of generation of meaning in typical rhetorical situations are no longer sufficient for the contemporary discipline of rhetoric. Thus, this project proposes an expansion of rhetorical meaning to the more comprehensive concept of social meaning, as it may be construed within a certain strand of philosophical anthropology. Drawing on the philosophy of symbolic forms (Cassirer) and the idea of a magma of social imaginary significations (Castoriadis), I inquire into specific spaces of human creation – such as architecture and city-planning. The main focus being to deepen our understanding of how social meaning is produced and may be understood.


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