We Need Thinking

Slavoj Zizek answers the question, "Do you think science has replaced philosophy in discovering the bigger questions of life?" Philosophy is not dying, he says -- in fact, we need it more now than ever.
  • Transcript


Slavoj Zizek: More than ever we need philosophy today.  Even the most speculative (in the sense of reflecting on itself) science has to rely on a set of automatic  presuppositions, like a scientist simply presupposes in his or her very approach to nature a set of implications of how the nature functions, what's the causality in nature and so on and so on.  And philosophy teaches us that.  Philosophy teaches us what we have to know without knowing it in order to function, even in science -- the silent presuppositions. 

I claim that what is happening, for example, in quantum physics in the last 100 of years -- these things which are so daring, incredible, that we cannot include into our conscious view of reality -- that Hegel’s philosophy, with all it’s dialectical paradoxes, can be of some help here.  I claim that reading quantum physics through Hegel and vice versa is very productive.

What I really want do is rehabilitate classical philosophy today.  That is to say, Hegel was a child of his time.  We are 200 years later.  How to repeat Hegel, not to do the same things as he did but repeat in new circumstances the same gesture?  And even here more for Hegel than for Marx.  I think we should even return from Marx back to Hegel.  So this is the focus of my work.  Then come all the things for which I’m unfortunately better known, for example, my dealings with critique of capitalism, analysis of popular culture and so on and so on.  But frankly, to use the not very appropriate metaphor known from today’s military adventures, all this, my writings on politics, on analysis of Hollywood and so on, is more or less collateral damage of my basic work.  

I think this is also what has to be done today.  The danger today is precisely a kind of a bland, pragmatic activism.  You know, like when people tell you, oh my God, children in Africa are starving and you have time for your stupid philosophical debates.  Let’s do something.  I always hear in this call there are people starving.  Let’s do something.  I always discern in this a more ominous injunction.  Do it and don't think too much.  Today, we need thinking.  

Interviewed by Megan Erickson
Directed / Produced by 
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd