Busting myths around assertive behaviour

As I gradually progress in my career, I notice quite a few places asking for ‘assertive leadership skills’ as a requirement in the endless bullet list of skills and experiences. Being assertive, however, is not something that many of us understand – not only in the job market, but also in our personal and familial relationships. Are we ‘assertive’ when we tell our children not to have too many snacks or eat their vegetables? Are...

old picture of Statue of Liberty

How democracy leads to tyranny; or, how Socrates predicted Trump (et al.)

One question often posed to philosophers, and indeed one circulating on online fora somewhat too often, is the relevance of philosophy today. In this article, I want to show that relevance by looking at something deeply entrenched in American politics today – the election (and possible re-election) of Donald Trump as the president of the United States. In order to address Trump’s election, we have to ask whether Trump is not in essence a democratic...

What is philosophy?

What is philosophy?

Granted, this question is somewhat untimely for a blog that exists for four years. And yet, keeping up with tradition, it is very timely to ask this after you have dealt with the subject for a decade. So what is philosophy? In a very straightforward way, it could be said to be one of the following: The use of reason in understanding such things as the nature of the real world and existence, the use...

Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory

Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory

In their seminal 1985 Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (second edition with a new introduction 2001), Laclau and Mouffe present a rather complex discourse theory. They claim to oppose a number of theoretical traditions (notably, Michel Foucault), to an extent follow Louis Althusser, certainly borrow a lot of Jacques Lacan, but most importantly confuse a lot of readers with numerous new concepts. In this little post, I want to elaborate a little on the common concepts that...

4 Examples of Oxymora in Romeo and Juliet – a study guide

4 Examples of Oxymora in Romeo and Juliet – a study guide

The main theme of [amazon asin=0743477111&text=Romeo and Juliet] is of course love – but there are so many levels of depth in the play that it would be near impossible to go through all of them without embarking on a journey to madness of sorts. Just like [amazon asin=0743477103&text=Macbeth] that I discussed previously, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet too is filled with contradictory and paradoxical statements. Given my interest in paradoxes, I will focus only on...

Congratulations America

Congratulations America

As the American people have cast their votes on Tuesday, it is time to wholeheartedly congratulate the country with their 45th president: Donald J. Trump. While celebrations are high, and expectations even higher, it is nevertheless time to reflect on this historic moment. What does a Trump presidency mean for the left? While the Clinton campaign is reflecting on their loss – or at least, that is the speculation that we must hold – the...

Understanding Zizek’s choice for Trump

Making sense of Zizek’s choice for Trump

It was long speculated, but on 4th of November 2016 Zizek finally came out and said it: if he were an American citizen, he’d vote for Trump. Although the video provided is relatively short, the reasons are all there. Perhaps one needs to get over the shock of a self-proclaimed Marxist voting for someone like Trump – that is, someone who has typically been accused of fascism. But perhaps also there is a need for some...

Nietzsche and the Jews

Nietzsche and the Jews

“Don’t let in any more Jews! And lock the doors to the east in particular (even to Austria)!” – so commands the instinct of a people whose type is still weak and indeterminate enough to blur easily and be easily obliterated by a stronger race.” Beyond Good and Evil, §251 The place of Jews is notoriously controversial in Nietzsche’s body of work. Ever since his sister Elisabeth took charge of editing his manuscripts, there has...

Zizek on neighbourly love

Zizek on neighbourly love

It is relatively well known that Zizek calls himself a ‘Christian atheist’ – paradoxical as that may sound. In this post, let us have a look at a particular statement from Christ, ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ that Zizek gives a particular spin to. This is, as readers of Zizek would expect, a political statement, not simply a moral or religious one; and it is in this sense that Zizek can entertain the relationship between...

Nietzsche and affirmation of life

Nietzsche and affirmation of life

In this post, let us have a look at Nietzsche’s conception of affirmation. Netzsche’s conception of affirmation is not necessarily a straightforward one, as laid out in the statements within the various aphorisms towards the concept itself. So naturally, while looking at such aphorisms as the notorious ‘Ja-sager’ in The Gay Science is indicative of his views, there remain passages that are of equal (and perhaps higher) interest than these straightforward ones. One of these is...