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When Pocock described man as a political animal - one that finds its fulfillment only through citizenship - he drew a genealogical line that goes way back, in classical Greece and Aristotle. Skinner agrees and adds that freedom in the frame of this tradition is the common freedom of free governance, i.e. man is not only political but also social. To be more precise, man is in his essence political because he is by nature social. Despite the criticism towards that interpretation, we can speak of an ontology of man as a social and political animal, which produces democracy and is, in turn, produced by it. This refers to the autonomous governance of free and equal citizens; the polis. It would not be an exaggeration to think of that ontology as the backbone of the entire Western civilization, because it has been the ontology that supported democracy. That ontology of social man was not challenged until the Hellenistic years by the new Stoic and Epicurean conceptions of human nature. Nevertheless - and despite the radical emergence of christian ontology and the overwhelming presence of liberal individualism - the ontology of social man managed to survive on the sidelines of the intellectual world. From Machiavelli and Harrington to Proudhon and Marx and from them to Arrend and Castoriadis, that ontology formed a philosophical and political tradition, that of civic republicanism. Its ancestor was Aristotle and the classical conception of man as a zoon politicon. Our goal is to argue that this ontology of man as a social and political being is of great importance and that it preserves its relevance as it has done during all the preceding centuries. In order to do so, we will examine the current epistemological, philosophical and political status of such a social ontology.

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Costas Galanopoulos (Greece) 8256
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