Wednesday, 14 December 2011


I thought that it might be a good idea to get a debate going about the overall philosophical/intellectual significance of the ideas of the media-savvy Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek.

I have been spurred on to do this because some academics whose opinion I respect have told me in conversation that they think Zizek is essentially an opportunist and a charlatan who when you examine his texts in a serious and sober way has very little to say.

I wonder what people's opinion might be regarding this claim? I am minded to disagree, but I am not sure why exactly. On relfection, although I really enjoy reading Zizek I am not sure that I have grasped anything that can be termed a coherent intellectual position. There is clearly an anti-postmodern commitment to universalism in his work - but this is pretty thin beer and nothing that we could term 'distinctive'. There is of course also the Lacanian stuff about enjoyment and the contemporary super-egoic compulsion to enjoy - but again this doesn't really provide the basis for a substantial philosophical position. Perhaps this isn't the point. Perhaps Zizek is really like a modernist artwork, designed to shock (and in this way he is perhaps close to Nietzsche).

Maybe someone could enlighten me and spell out exactly, in nuce, what Zizek's intellectual position might be?

Neil T