Slavoj Zizek

Some thoughts on art – part 3 (Zizek again)

My last written thoughts on art in this blog were roughly one and a half years ago. That’s a very long time to come back to a certain text; unless, of course, if you are an academic and for some reason are drawn to particular texts more than others. I picked up my copy of The Fragile Absolute and started reading, only to be captured once again on Zizek’s analysis of art. My estimation is that...

Was Nietzsche an aristocratic elitist?

Nietzsche is often portrayed as an aristocratic elitist, whose main concern was with the higher morals and who strongly opposed any type of herd mentality. Although this is generally true, albeit very crudely formulated (and indeed oversimplified), for some reason there is also a consideration that because Nietzsche was concerned with higher morals, he was therefore also an elitist aristocrat in his political views, disavowing any sense of egalitarian community. He is considered to be...

Differences between Marxism, Leninism, Trotskyism, Stalinism, and Maoism

While teaching a module on the Communist Manifesto (and the Manifesto alone), a student of mine admitted to struggle with different forms of Marxism. Though I am not an expert on these, being schooled in Marxism only, it became apparent that I should perhaps have a somewhat rudimentary knowledge of what the differences are in order to satisfy different interests. At the same time, there are many forms of Marxism – so to enumerate all...

Is there a paradox in Kant’s ethics? Must we tell the truth?

There has been quite some misunderstanding in undergraduate courses on Kant’s moral philosophy. The general argument presented there is that Kant as a deontological thinker places greater value on duty/rules than on anything else. So the general argument that is presented to undergraduates in order to make them think further, is that Kant would under no circumstances allow lying. Those who study philosophy have certainly heard the famed axe-man scenario: A well-known murder knocks on...

Is reading from paper better than from a screen?

There is a common tendency in the older generations to say something negative about the younger one – lazy is the most common one I have heard, perhaps because I am lazy. But it is equally true that we do have it easier regarding some aspects at least, and the main reason for that is technology. Growing up, I have heard that my dad went to school walking through snow for 15 miles; I went...

Science and ethics, through Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

Wittgenstein famously ends his Tractatus with the seventh proposition: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should be silent.” (Ogden trans.) Simple enough, it would seem. Not able to say something meaningful, or add something meaningful to the conversation? Then better not speak at all! But this is not a sufficient explanation – it is precisely what is ‘meaningful’ that is at stake with this proposition. Let us put Tractatus in perspective first. For early (‘Tractarian’) Wittgenstein,...

Five ways of reading Plato

Five ways of reading Plato

When approaching Plato’s dialogues, we are led to a quandary concerning several contradictory positions held, and yet attributed to Socrates. The most blatant of these is between the positions held in Protagoras and Gorgias regarding the Socrates’ view(s) on pleasure. In the former he equates what is ‘good’ with pleasure; while in the latter he rejects this equation put forward by one of his interlocutors (Callicles). I am not interested in resolving this contradiction. Many respected academics...

Bill Nye the …. guy

The most multifaceted guy. Reddit users call him “meh”, twitter users call him a “twat”, facebook users call him “smart”, and he calls himself “the science guy” (I guess facebook always wins, meh). So here he is, Bill Nye the <have your pick from below> guy. Science (link) I haven’t published a scientific paper (link) I only hold a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering (link) I list honorary degrees under education in my CV (link) I...

On Socrates and his trial

“there could never have been a Platonic philosophy without such beautiful young men in Athens: the sight of them is what first puts the philosopher’s soul in an erotic rapture and won’t let it rest until it has sunk the seed of all high things into such beautiful soil [reference to Symposium 206a-207b] . . . At the very least, you have to think that people in Athens had a different way of philosophizing, especially...

There is no such thing as a refugee crisis

There is no such thing as a refugee crisis

We are witnessing a fundamental problem in contemporary political theory – the problem of space and people. This is not a new problem, but it is a problem that has reappeared once again in the early years of this century. It has reappeared precisely because of the sudden disappearance of political ideology in the decade before – or rather, as Slavoj Zizek would point out, the disappearance of an alternative ideology. What we are witnessing...