Perhaps the most-read philosopher in the world at the time of this publication, Slavoj Žižek has written voluminously on an extraordinary number of topics—and has, along the way, engaged many different fields of inquiry and earned many critics. At bottom, however, is a post-structural philosophy which is provided as an alternative to the proposals of Jacques Derrida, with an emphatic deployment of the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan. This critical chapter parses his work as it is relevant to radical theology.
Slavoj Žižek is the most popular and discussed philosopher in the world today. His prolific writings – across philosophy, psychoanalysis, political and social theory, film, music and religion – always engage and provoke. The power of his ideas, the breadth of his references, his capacity for playfulness and confrontation, his willingness to change his mind and his refusal fundamentally to alter his argument – all have worked to build an extraordinary international readership as well as to elicit much critical reaction. (...) _The Žižek Dictionary _brings together leading Žižek commentators from across the world to present a companion and guide to Žižekian thought. Each of the 60 short essays examines a key term and, crucially, explores its development across Žižek’s work and how it fits in with other concepts and concerns. The dictionary will prove invaluable both to readers coming to Žižek for the first time and to those already embarked on the Žižekian journey. (shrink)
Slavoj Žižek often refers to an obscene excess-supplement that, depending on the subject’s pathological disposition, serves to either 1) sustain a conscious injunction by disavowing an unconscious “underside” or 2) instruct the subject to transgress the injunction. This supplemental excess is at work in neurotic and perverse belief but functions in significantly different modes depending on whether the supplement affects the ego or superego. This paper surveys and analyzes Žižek’s use of the obscene excess-supplement in his theological and political applications (...) of psychoanalytic theory. (shrink)
Recent philosophy has witnessed a number of prominent and ambivalent encounters with Christianity. Alongside the retrievals of Paul and political theology, thinkers such as Žižek and Negri argue that in our era of imperial sovereignty and advanced global capitalism, the most appropriate politics is one of love. These attempts to reinvigorate progressive materialism are often characterised as a break with the relativist tendencies of French philosophy, moving from the negativity and disconnection of postmodern suspicion to a new, constructive politics of (...) creativity and fraternity. Deconstructive critiques have insisted on the exclusions necessary to any such politics of love. Foucault’s genealogy of Christianity—specifically, of the emergence from pastoral power of modern governmentality and biopolitics—sketches a further significant dimension of love’s suffocating history and contemporary risks. (shrink)
Arguably the most prolific and most widely read philosopher of our time, Slavoj Zizek has made indelible interventions into many disciplines of the so-called human sciences that have transformed the terms of discussion in these fields. Although his work has been the subject of many volumes of searching criticism and commentary, there is no assessment to date of the value of his work for the development of these disciplines. _Zizek Now_ brings together distinguished critics to explore the utility and far-ranging (...) implications of Zizek's thought and provide an evaluation of the difference his work makes or promises to make in their chosen fields. As such, the volume offers chapters on quantum physics and Zizek's transcendentalist materialist theory of the subject, Hegel's absolute, materialist Christianity, postcolonial violence, eco-politics, ceremonial acts, and the postcolonial revolutionary subject. Contributors to the volume include Adrian Johnston, Ian Parker, Todd McGowan, Bruno Bosteels, Erik Vogt, Verena Conley, Joshua Ramey, Jamil Khader, and Zizek himself. (shrink)
Philosophy, Society and the Cunning of History in Eastern Europe charts the intellectual landscape of twentieth century East-Central Europe under the unifying theme of 'precariousness' as a mode of historical existence. Caught between empires, often marked by catastrophic historic events and grand political failures, the countries of East-Central Europe have for a long time developed a certain intellectual self-representation, a culture that not only helps them make some sense of such misfortunes, but also protects them somehow from a collapse into (...) nihilism. An interdisciplinary study of this sophisticated culture of survival and endurance has been long overdue. Not only is it charming and worth studying in its own right, but with the re-integration of the 'new Europe' into the 'old' one and the emergence on the 'Western' European intellectual scene of many authors from the 'East,' such a culture will also shape the European mind of the 21st century. This volume decodes and explores this culture of 'precariousness' from the complementary angles of philosophy, political theory, intellectual history and literary studies. Expert contributors look at a wide range of topics, from philosophical martyrdom to collective suffering to geographical fatalism, and explore the works of key authors in the field including Cioran, Kołakowski, Kertész, Bauman and Žižek. This book was originally published as a special issue of Angelaki: The Journal of the Theoretical Humanities. (shrink)
Much scholarly attention has been given to the vast differences in understandings of theism throughout the history of the theological tradition. Rather less attention has been given to differences in understandings of atheism. That there are and have been such differences, however, is obvious. This may be seen in the contemporary context if we juxtapose the ‘newly visible’ atheisms of, for instance, Richard Dawkins and Slavoj Žižek. In previous work, I and several other scholars have drawn attention to the ways (...) in which the existence of different forms of atheism may be explained by the fact that they are responding to and negating very different forms of theism. But there may well be more at stake in differences between atheisms than this. (shrink)
The last few years have seen the emergence of a more political, ‘post-Derridean’ generation, critical of the impotent messianism of the politics of deconstruction. As Žižek would have it: ‘Derrida's notion of ‘deconstruction as ethics’ seems to rely on a utopian hope which sustains the spectre of ‘infinite justice’, forever postponed, always to come’ (Žižek 2008: 225). The promise of redemption, it follows, would reside in an insubstantial promissory value, in the writing of irredeemable cheques that, if cashed in, could (...) only ever lead to default. With its ethos of play and over-investment in an empty promise, deconstruction starts to look symptomatic of the now-bankrupt age of excess. Does the current financial crisis not entail a crisis of Derrida? This reading contrives to elide what is genuinely political in Derrida, and thereby fails to recognise the deconstruction of economic theodicy implicit in his work. Jean-Luc Nancy has argued that the concept of sacrifice is irreducibly linked to the short-circuiting of the political. We see in Derrida, however, that sacrifice is at the heart of politics, a response to undecidability that is precisely opposed to the fantasy of economics without sacrifice. Furthermore, sacrificial politics is the condition of possibility of the promise, which is constructed and contingent, rather than a priori. If there is a problem with this, it is that Derrida does not sufficiently entertain the prospect of the promise becoming so distant as to be effectively meaningless. Drawing on Bernard Stiegler, this article argues for an expansion of Derrida's account, to show not only that politics is sacrifice, but moreover that the promise of redemption cannot live on in the absence of sacrifice. (shrink)
Taking its cue from the renewed interest in theology among Marxist and politically radical philosophers or thinkers, this study inquires into the reasons for this interest in theology focusing on the British literary theorist Terry Eagleton and the Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek as two contemporary prominent Marxist thinkers.
This article analyzes the significance of the Rāmāyaṇa, a serial telecast on state-controlled television in 1987-88, to the neo-liberal shift and the rise of Hindu nationalism in India. Analyzing the inter-subjective structure of the TV serial and the audience it created, the article teases out the complex play of commodity fetishism and mythopoeic investment in the experience of the audience, and how the political right capitalized on these processes. It argues that the human compulsion to repetition and a jouissance consequent (...) to a pre-existing collective unconscious were harnessed as able allies in this transformative process. The Rāmāyaṇa serial metonymically represents the ideological appropriation of the hysteric’s scream for god at the traumatic moment of neo-liberal arrival, both as a flood of commodities and as discursive hegemony. The religious discourse, I argue, was necessary to this transitional structure –the new economic order could only be ushered in the name of God. God was the necessary supplement of a culture apropos the new economy. (shrink)
A comprehensive overview of Slavoj Zizek's thought, including all of his published works to date. Provides a solid basis in the work of an engaging thinker and teacher whose ideas will continue to inform philosophical, psychological, political, and cultural discourses well into the future Identifies the major currents in Zizek's thought, discussing all of his works and providing a background in continental philosophy and psychoanalytic theory necessary to its understanding Explores Zizek's growing popularity through his engagement in current events, politics, (...) and cultural studies Pertains to a variety of fields, including contemporary philosophy, psychology, cultural studies, sociology, political science, esthetics, literary theory, film theory, and theology. (shrink)
In Less Than Nothing, the pinnacle publication of a distinguished career, Slavoj i ek argues that it is imperative that we not simply return to Hegel but that we repeat and exceed his triumphs, overcoming his limitations by being even more ...
There is no greater testament to Emmanuel Levinas' reputation as an enigmatic thinker than in his meditations on eschatology and its relevance for contemporary thought. Levinas has come to be seen as a principal representative in Continental philosophy - alongside the likes of Heidegger, Benjamin, Adorno and Zizek - of a certain philosophical messianism, differing from its religious counterpart in being formulated apparently without appeal to any dogmatic content. To date, however, Levinas' messianism has not received the same detailed attention (...) as other aspects of his wide ranging ethical vision. Terence Holden attempts to redress this imbalance, tracing the evolution of the messianic idea across Levinas' career, emphasising the transformations or indeed displacements which this idea undergoes in taking on philosophical intelligibility. He suggests that, in order to crack the enigma which this idea represents, we must consider not only the Jewish tradition from which Levinas draws inspiration, but also Nietzsche, who ostensibly would represent the greatest rival to the messianic idea in the history of philosophy, with his notion of the ‘parody' of messianism. >. (shrink)
¿Cómo es posible encontrar una constante en una obra que tiene en la ruptura su principal argumento? Una primera línea se puede percibir en el trabajo de Žižek sobre una política del goce cuya trayectoria circula desde el deseo a la pulsión. Desde una investigación muy orientada en el problema del sujeto, en el carácter sintomático del mismo, Žižek se ha desplazado hacia un análisis de la relación entre el objeto a y la pulsión en el marco del capitalismo actual. (...) En conexión con esta problemática se encuentra una segunda línea que tiene como punto central el trabajo crítico sobre las relaciones entre economía y política; frente al desafío que supone hoy en día la circulación espontánea del capital y el abandono del ámbito económico por parte de la teoría política. Por un lado nos encontramos con los dos sentidos del término escatología, el económico y el teológico-político, que convergen en la noción de exceso, sea de la pulsión o sea del objeto a. Al mismo tiempo, Žižek considera que no es posible traducir la atención sobre el exceso capitalista y su propia revolución inmanente en términos de dominación política.Ambas secuencias se encuentran, en definitiva, íntimamente vinculadas en la crítica de la economía política del discurso que Žižek lleva a cabo. La introducción del término paralaje puede servir como alternativa para entender la oscilación permanente que se produce en su obra entre síntoma y escatología. Una opción para leer a Žižek en función de sus incesantes desplazamientos, comenzando por el más fundamental: la paralaje entre lectura y escritura. (shrink)
The Monstrosity of Christ provides an exchange between the Slovenian theorist Slavoj Žižek and the British theologian John Milbank. Both authors argue that Christianity is the religion of ‘absolute truth,’ but provide very different accounts of this. Milbank argues that Christianity is true insofar as only the incarnation of Christ mediates the paradoxical metaphysical participation of the finite within the infinite. Žižek argues that the crucifixion of Christ constitutes the death of God, demonstrating that there is no providential or transcendent (...) reality supervening on human history. This realization constitutes the universal truth of Christianity. (shrink)
The Cross, for Zizek, reveals God facing up to his own impotence, but further, because God is Christ, the crucifixion demonstrates a gesture of atheism, or asG.K. Chesterton put it “God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.”.
This paper examines the recent shift towards the dominance of the study of philosophy of religion, ethics and critical thinking within religious education in Britain. It explores the impact of the critical realist model, advocated by Andrew Wright and Philip Barnes, in response to prior models of phenomenological religious education, in order to expose the ways in which both approaches can lead to a distorted understanding of the nature of religion. Although the writing of Emmanuel Levinas has been used in (...) support of the critical realist model by Wright, I will consider how his and Slavoj Žižek's writings on the nature of religion might challenge the dominance of the critical realist approach and provide a conceptual framework through which it might be possible to develop an alternative approach to religious education that attends to the complexity, ambiguity and demanding nature of engaging with religious traditions. (shrink)
As part of a wider trend to disassociate Communism from Marxism, many theorists have recently claimed Christianity provides the foundational cornerstone to the universalism of Communism. This piece focuses on the two most strident defences of the Christian legacy: those of Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek. Many have already noted the potentially troubling implications for the status of other faiths in the valorisation of violent, intolerant Christianity, but this piece also explores two further consequences. The implications for assessing the legacy (...) of 20th century Marxist-Communist movements in non-Catholic countries. The contradiction between Badiou’s account of St. Paul’s ‘foundation of universalism’ and his ontology of multiplicity, and the ambiguous ‘openness’ of Žižek’s Hegelianism flagged up by his secessionist reading of Christianity. This essay is part 1 of 2. Part 2 expands on Badiou and Žižek’s absent reading of Islam – an equally universal, monotheistic faith – and examines the philosophies of two key ideologues of the Iranian Revolution in order to undermine Christian essentialism. (shrink)
Žižek’s intellectual endeavor aims at relocating political subjectivity as the foundation of communal life. As a Leninist he anchors the possibility of a revolution in Heidegger’s ‘decisionism’ and in the practice of St Paul,whose conversion is the bottom line of a revolutionary attitude. Current consumerism avoids this subject and in that sense a-voids or empties subjectivity. The revolutionary subject is the very act of affirmatively a-voiding one's current ethical system in order to radically change the coordinates of the system.