HOME
        TheInfoList






Slavoj Žižek (/ˈslɑːvɔɪ ˈʒ/ˈslɑːvɔɪ ˈʒʒɛk/ (About this soundlisten) SLAH-voy ZHEE-zhek; Slovene: [ˈslaʋɔj ˈʒiʒɛk]; born 21 March 1949) is a Slovenian philosopher, a researcher at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Arts and international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the University of London.[4] He is a self-described "radical leftist" and a "communist in a qualified sense." He is also Global Eminent Scholar at Kyung Hee University in Seoul and Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University. He works in subjects including continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, political theory, cultural studies, art criticism, film criticism, Marxism, Hegelianism and theology.

In 1989, Žižek published his first English-language text, entitled The Sublime Object of Ideology. In this book, he departed from traditional Marxist theory to develop a materialist conception of ideology that drew heavily on Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian idealism.[5][2] His theoretical work became increasingly eclectic and political in the 1990s, dealing frequently in the critical analysis of disparate forms of popular culture and making him a popular figure of the academic left.[5][6] A 2005 documentary film entitled Zizek! chronicled Žižek's work. A journal, the International Journal of Žižek Studies, was founded by professors David J. Gunkel and Paul A. Taylor to engage with his work.[7][8]

Žižek's idiosyncratic style, popular academic works, frequent magazine op-eds, and critical assimilation of high and low culture have gained him international influence, controversy, criticism and a substantial audience outside academia.[9][10][11][12][13] In 2012, Foreign Policy listed Žižek on its list of Top 100 Global Thinkers, calling him "a celebrity philosopher"[14] while elsewhere he has been dubbed the "Elvis of cultural theory"[15] and "the most dangerous philosopher in the West".[16] Žižek has been called "the leading Hegelian of our time," and Rothenberg and Khadr (2013) state that he is the "foremost exponent of Lacanian theory."[17]

Biography

Early life

Žižek was born in Ljubljana, SR Slovenia, Yugoslavia, into a middle-class family.[18] His father Jože Žižek was an economist and civil servant from the region of Prekmurje in eastern Slovenia. His mother Vesna, a native of the Gorizia Hills in the Slovenian Littoral, was an accountant in a state enterprise. His parents were atheists.[19] He spent most of his childhood in the coastal town of Portorož, where he was exposed to West

In 1989, Žižek published his first English-language text, entitled The Sublime Object of Ideology. In this book, he departed from traditional Marxist theory to develop a materialist conception of ideology that drew heavily on Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian idealism.[5][2] His theoretical work became increasingly eclectic and political in the 1990s, dealing frequently in the critical analysis of disparate forms of popular culture and making him a popular figure of the academic left.[5][6] A 2005 documentary film entitled Zizek! chronicled Žižek's work. A journal, the International Journal of Žižek Studies, was founded by professors David J. Gunkel and Paul A. Taylor to engage with his work.[7][8]

Žižek's idiosyncratic style, popular academic works, frequent magazine op-eds, and critical assimilation of high and low culture have gained him international influence, controversy, criticism and a substantial audience outside academia.[9][10][11][12][13] In 2012, Foreign Policy listed Žižek on its list of Top 100 Global Thinkers, calling him "a celebrity philosopher"[14] while elsewhere he has been dubbed the "Elvis of cultural theory"[15] and "the most dangerous philosopher in the West".[16] Žižek has been called "the leading Hegelian of our time," and Rothenberg and Khadr (2013) state that he is the "foremost exponent of Lacanian theory."[17]

Žižek was born in Ljubljana, SR Slovenia, Yugoslavia, into a middle-class family.[18] His father Jože Žižek was an economist and civil servant from the region of Prekmurje in eastern Slovenia. His mother Vesna, a native of the Gorizia Hills in the Slovenian Littoral, was an accountant in a state enterprise. His parents were atheists.[19] He spent most of his childhood in the coastal town of Portorož, where he was exposed to Western film, theory and popular culture.[2][20] When Slavoj was a teenager his family moved back to Ljubljana where he attended Bežigrad High School.[20] Originally wanting to become a filmmaker himself, he abandoned these ambitions and chose to pursue philosophy instead.[21] In the 1960s and early 1970s, Slavoj encountered western philosophy in Zagreb.[citation needed]

Education

In 1967, during an era of liberalization in Titoist Yugoslavia, Žižek enrolled at the University of Ljubljana and studied philosophy and sociology.[22]

He had already begun reading French structuralists prior to entering university, and in 1967 he published the first translation of a text by Jacques Derrida into Slovenian.[23][23] Žižek frequented the circles of dissident intellectuals, including the Heideggerian philosophers Tine Hribar and Ivo Urbančič,[23] and published articles in alternative magazines, such as Praxis, Tribuna and Problemi, which he also edited.[20] In 1971 he accepted a job as an assistant researcher with the promise of tenure, but was dismissed after his Master's thesis was denounced by the authorities as being "non-Marxist".[24] He graduated from the University of Ljubljana in 1981 with a Doctor of Arts in Philosophy for his dissertation entitled The Theoretical and Practical Relevance of French Structuralism.[22]

He spent the next few years in what was described as "professional wilderness", also fulfilling his legal duty of undertaking a year-long national service in the Yugoslav army in Karlovac.[22]

Career

During the 1980s, Žižek edited and translated Jacques Lacan, Sigmund Freud, and Louis Althusser.[25] He used Lacan's work to interpret Hegelian and Marxist philosophy.

In 1985, Žižek completed a second doctorate (Doctor of Philosophy in psychoanalysis) at the University of Paris VIII

In 1967, during an era of liberalization in Titoist Yugoslavia, Žižek enrolled at the University of Ljubljana and studied philosophy and sociology.[22]

He had already begun reading French structuralists prior to entering university, and in 1967 he published the first translation of a text by Jacques Derrida into Slovenian.structuralists prior to entering university, and in 1967 he published the first translation of a text by Jacques Derrida into Slovenian.[23][23] Žižek frequented the circles of dissident intellectuals, including the Heideggerian philosophers Tine Hribar and Ivo Urbančič,[23] and published articles in alternative magazines, such as Praxis, Tribuna and Problemi, which he also edited.[20] In 1971 he accepted a job as an assistant researcher with the promise of tenure, but was dismissed after his Master's thesis was denounced by the authorities as being "non-Marxist".[24] He graduated from the University of Ljubljana in 1981 with a Doctor of Arts in Philosophy for his dissertation entitled The Theoretical and Practical Relevance of French Structuralism.[22]

He spent the next few years in what was described as "professional wilderness", also fulfilling his legal duty of undertaking a year-long national service in the Yugoslav army in Karlovac.[22]

During the 1980s, Žižek edited and translated Jacques Lacan, Sigmund Freud, and Louis Althusser.[25] He used Lacan's work to interpret Hegelian and Marxist philosophy.

In 1985, Žižek completed a second doctorate (Doctor of Philosophy in psychoanalysis) at the Doctor of Philosophy in psychoanalysis) at the University of Paris VIII[22] under Jacques-Alain Miller and François Regnault.

He wrote the introduction to Slovene translations of G. K. Chesterton's and John Le Carré's detective novels.[26] In 1988, he published his first book dedicated entirely to film theory.[citation needed] He achieved international recognition as a social theorist with the 1989 publication of his first book in English, The Sublime Object of Ideology.[5][2]

Žižek has been publishing in journals such as Lacanian Ink and In These Times in the United States, the New Left Review and The London Review of Books in the United Kingdom, and with the Slovenian left-liberal magazine Mladina and newspapers Dnevnik and Delo. He also cooperates with the Polish leftist magazine Krytyka Polityczna, regional southeast European left-wing journal Novi Plamen, and serves on the editorial board of the psychoanalytical journal Problemi.[citation needed] Žižek is a series editor of the Northwestern University Press series Diaeresis that publishes works that "deal not only with philosophy, but also will intervene at the levels of ideology critique, politics, and art theory."[27]

In the late 1980s, Žižek came to public attention as a columnist for the alternative youth magazine Mladina, which was critical of Tito's policies, Yugoslav politics, especially the militarization of society. He was a member of the Communist Party of Slovenia until October 1988, when he quit in protest against the JBTZ trial together with 32 other Slovenian intellectuals.[28] Between 1988 and 1990, he was actively involved in several political and civil society movements which fought for the democratization of Slovenia, most notably the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights.[29] In the first free elections in 1990, he ran as the Liberal Democratic Party's candidate for the former four-person collective presidency of Slovenia.[5]

Despite his activity in liberal democratic projects, Žižek has continued to identify himself as a communist, and has been critical of right-wing circles, such as nationalists, conservatives,

Despite his activity in liberal democratic projects, Žižek has continued to identify himself as a communist, and has been critical of right-wing circles, such as nationalists, conservatives, and classical liberals both in Slovenia and worldwide. He wrote that the convention center in which nationalist Slovene writers hold their conventions should be blown up, adding, "Since we live in the time without any sense of irony, I must add I don't mean it literally."[30] Similarly, he jokingly made the following comment in May 2013, during Subversive Festival: "If they don't support SYRIZA, then, in my vision of the democratic future, all these people will get from me [is] a first-class one-way ticket to [a] gulag." In response, the center-right New Democracy party claimed Žižek's comments should be understood literally, not ironically.[31][32]

In a 2008 interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, he described himself as a "communist in a qualified sense," and in another appearance in October 2009 he described himself as a "radical leftist."[33][34] The following year Žižek appeared in the Arte documentary Marx Reloaded in which he defended the idea of communism.[35]

In 2013, he corresponded with imprisoned Russian activist and Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.[36]

All hearts were beating for you as long as you were perceived as just another version of the liberal-democratic protest against the authoritaria

In 2013, he corresponded with imprisoned Russian activist and Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.[36]

All hearts were beating for you as long as you were perceived as just another version of the liberal-democratic protest against the authoritarian state. The moment it became clear that you rejected global capitalism, reporting on Pussy Riot became much more ambiguous.

In 2016, during a

In 2016, during a conversation with Gary Younge at a Guardian Live event, Žižek endorsed Donald Trump for the US presidency in the 2016 election. He described Trump as a paradox, basically a centrist liberal in most of his positions, desperately trying to mask this by dirty jokes and stupidities.[37] In an opinion piece, published e.g. in Die Zeit, he described the then frontrunner candidate Hillary Clinton as the much less suitable alternative.[38] In an interview with the BBC, Žižek did however state that he thought Trump was "horrible" and his support would have been based on an attempt to encourage the Democratic Party to return to more leftist ideals.[39]

Just befor

Just before the 2017 French presidential election, Žižek stated that one could not choose between Macron and Le Pen, arguing that the neoliberalism of Macron just gives rise to neofascism anyway. This was in response to many on the left calling for support for Macron to prevent a Le Pen victory.[40]

In 2003, Žižek wrote text to accompany Bruce Weber's photographs in a catalog for Abercrombie & Fitch. Questioned as to the seemliness of a major intellectual writing ad copy, Žižek told The Boston Globe, "If I were asked to choose between doing things like this to earn money and becoming fully employed as an American academic, kissing ass to get a tenured post, I would with pleasure choose writing for such journals!"[41]

Žižek and his thought have been the subject of several documentaries. The 1996 Liebe Dein Symptom wie Dich selbst! is a German documentary on him. In the 2004 The Reality of the Virtual, Žižek gave a one-hour lecture on his interpretation of Lacan's tripartite thesis of the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real.[citation needed] Zizek! is a 2005 documentary by Astra Taylor on his philosophy. The 2006 The Pervert's Guide to Cinema and 2012 Liebe Dein Symptom wie Dich selbst! is a German documentary on him. In the 2004 The Reality of the Virtual, Žižek gave a one-hour lecture on his interpretation of Lacan's tripartite thesis of the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real.[citation needed] Zizek! is a 2005 documentary by Astra Taylor on his philosophy. The 2006 The Pervert's Guide to Cinema and 2012 The Pervert's Guide to Ideology also portray Žižek's ideas and cultural criticism. Examined Life (2008) features Žižek speaking about his conception of ecology at a garbage dump. He was also featured in the 2011 Marx Reloaded, directed by Jason Barker.[citation needed]

Foreign Policy named Žižek one of its 2012 Top 100 Global Thinkers "for giving voice to an era of absurdity."[14]

Žižek participated in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll, where he listed his ten favorite films as follows: 3:10 to Yuma, Dune, The Fountainhead, Hero, Hitman, Nightmare Alley, On Dangerous Ground, Opfergang, The Sound of Music, and We the Living.[42]

In 2019, Žižek began hosting a mini-series called How to Watch the News with Slavoj Žižek on the RT network.[43] In April, Žižek debated psychology professor Jordan Peterson at the Sony Centre in Toronto, Canada over happiness under capitalism versus Marxism.[44][45]

Žižek has been married four times; his third wife was Argentine model Analía Hounie, whom he married in 2005.[46][47] He is currently married to the Slovene journalist, columnist, and philosopher Jela Krečič, daughter of the architectural historian Peter Krečič.[48][49] He has two sons.[50]

Aside from his native Slovene, Žižek is a fluent speaker of Serbo-Croatian, French, German and English, speaking with a marked impediment.&

Aside from his native Slovene, Žižek is a fluent speaker of Serbo-Croatian, French, German and English, speaking with a marked impediment.[51]

His body of writing spans dense theoretical polemics, academic tomes, and accessible introductory books; in addition, he has taken part in various film projects, including two documentary collaborations with director Sophie Fiennes, The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (2006) and The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2012). His work has impacted both academic and widespread public audiences. (See for example his commentary in the 2003 Abercrombie and Fitch Quarterly).

Hundreds of academics have addressed aspects of Žižek's work in professional papers,[52] and in 2007, the International Journal of Žižek Studies was established for the discussion of his work.

Hundreds of academics have addressed aspects of Žižek's work in professional papers,[52] and in 2007, the International Journal of Žižek Studies was established for the discussion of his work.

Žižek argues against Karl Marx's concept of ideology as described in The German Ideology, false consciousness prevents people from seeing how things really are. Building upon Althusser, ideology is thoroughly unconscious and functions as a series of justifications and spontaneous socio-symbolic rituals which support virtual authorities. Žižek argues that the Real is not experienced as something which is ordered in a way that gives satisfactory meaning to all its parts in relation to one another. Instead the Real is experienced as through the lens of hegemonic systems of representation and reproduction, while resisting full inscription into the ordering system ascribed to it. This in turn may lead subjects to experience the Real as generating political resistance.[53][54][55]

Drawing on Lacan's notion of the barred subject, the subject is a purely negative entity, a void of negativity (in the Hegelian sense), which allows for the flexibility and reflexivity of the Cartesian cogito (transcendental subject).[5][56] Though consciousness is opaque (following Hegel), the epistemological gap between the In-itself and For-itself is immanent to reality itself;.[57] The antinomies of Kant, quantum physics, and Alain Badiou's 'materialist' principle that 'The One is Not', point towards an inconsistent ("Barred") Real itself (that Lacan conceptualized prior).[58]

Although there are multiple Symbolic interpretations of the Real, they are not all relatively "true". Two instances of the Real can be identified: the abject Real (or "real Real"), which cannot be wholly integrated into the symbolic order, and the symbolic Real, a set of signifiers that can never be properly integrated into the horizon of sense of a subject. The truth is revealed in the process of transiting the contradictions; or the real is a "minimal difference", the gap between the infinite judgement of a reductionist materialism and experience as lived,[59] the "Parallax" of dialectical antagonisms are inherent to reality itself and dialectical materialism (contra Friedrich Engels) is a new materialist Hegelianism, incorporating the insights of Lacanian psychoanalysis, set theory, quantum physics, and contemporary continental philosophy.

Political thought and the postmodern subject

According to Žižek, the state is a system of regulatory institutions that shape our behavior. Its power is purely symbolic and has no normative force outside of collective behavior. In this way, the term the law signifies society's basic principles, which enable interaction by prohibiting certain acts.[60] For Žižek, political decisions have become depoliticized and accepted as natural conclusions. For example, controversial policy decisions (such as reductions in social welfare spending) are presented as apparently "objective" necessities. Although governments make claims about increased citizen participation and democracy, the important decisions are still made in the interests of capital. The two-party system dominant in the United States and elsewhere produces a similar illusion.[61] It is still necessary to engage in particular conflicts – such as labor disputes – but the trick is to relate these individual events to the larger struggle. Particular demands, if executed well, might serve as metaphorical condensation for the system and its injustices. The real political conflict is between an ordered structure of society and those without a place in it.[62]

In stark contrast to the intellectual tenets of the European "universalist Left" in general, and those Jürgen Habermas defined as postnational in particular, pro-sovereignty and pro-independence processes opened in Europe are good.[63] Žižek argues that the subject is a purely negative entity, a void of negativity (in the Hegelian sense), which allows for the flexibility and reflexivity of the Cartesian cogito (transcendental subject).[5][56] Though consciousness is opaque (following Hegel), the epistemological gap between the In-itself and For-itself is immanent to reality itself;.[57] The antinomies of Kant, quantum physics, and Alain Badiou's 'materialist' principle that 'The One is Not', point towards an inconsistent ("Barred") Real itself (that Lacan conceptualized prior).[58]

Although there are multiple Symbolic interpretations of the Real, they are not all relatively "true". Two instances of the Real can be identified: the abject Real (or "real Real"), which cannot be wholly integrated into the symbolic order, and the symbolic Real, a set of signifiers that can never be properly integrated into the horizon of sense of a subject. The truth is revealed in the process of transiting the contradictions; or the real is a "minimal difference", the gap between the infinite judgement of a reductionist materialism and experience as lived,[59] the "Parallax" of dialectical antagonisms are inherent to reality itself and dialectical materialism (contra Friedrich Engels) is a new materialist Hegelianism, incorporating the insights of Lacanian psychoanalysis, set theory, quantum physics, and contemporary continental philosophy.

According to Žižek, the state is a system of regulatory institutions that shape our behavior. Its power is purely symbolic and has no normative force outside of collective behavior. In this way, the term the law signifies society's basic principles, which enable interaction by prohibiting certain acts.[60] For Žižek, political decisions have become depoliticized and accepted as natural conclusions. For example, controversial policy decisions (such as reductions in social welfare spending) are presented as apparently "objective" necessities. Although governments make claims about increased citizen participation and democracy, the important decisions are still made in the interests of capital. The two-party system dominant in the United States and elsewhere produces a similar illusion.[61] It is still necessary to engage in particular conflicts – such as labor disputes – but the trick is to relate these individual events to the larger struggle. Particular demands, if executed well, might serve as metaphorical condensation for the system and its injustices. The real political conflict is between an ordered structure of society and those without a place in it.[62]

In stark contrast to the intellectual tenets of the European "universalist Left" in general, and those Jürgen Habermas defined as postnational in particular, pro-sovereignty and pro-independence processes opened in Europe are good.Jürgen Habermas defined as postnational in particular, pro-sovereignty and pro-independence processes opened in Europe are good.[63] Žižek argues that the postmodern subject is cynical toward official institutions, yet at the same time believes in conspiracies. When we lost our shared belief in a single power, we constructed another of the Other in order to escape the unbearable freedom that we faced.[64] It is not enough to merely know that you are being lied to, particularly when continuing to live a normal life under capitalism. For example, that despite people being aware of ideology, they may continue to act as automata, mistakenly believing that they are thereby expressing their radical freedom. Although one may possess a self-awareness, just because one understands what one is doing does not mean that one is doing the right thing.[65] Žižek states that religion is not an enemy but rather one of the fields of struggle. Atheism is good. Religious fundamentalists are in a way no different from "godless Stalinist Communists". They both value divine will and salvation over moral or ethical action.[66][67]

There are two main themes of critique of Žižek's ideas: his failure to articulate an alternative or program in the face of his denunciation of contemporary social, political, and economic arrangements, and his lack of rigor in argumentation.[68]

Ambiguity and unclear alternatives

Citations

  1. ^ Bostjan Nedoh (ed.), Lacan and Deleuze: A Disjunctive Synthesis, Edinburgh University Press, 2016, p. 193: "Žižek is convinced that post-Hegelian psychoanalytic drive theory is both compatible with and even integral to a Hegelianism reinvented for the twenty-first century."
  2. ^ a b c d "Slavoj Žižek," by Matthew Sharpe, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,