We Need Thinking

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

 

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.

Why Elon Musk doesn't like Jeff Bezos's space colonies

Elon Musk took issue with recent ideas for space exploration from Jeff Bezos.

Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have sparred over space exploration previously.
  • Musk wants to focus on Mars while Bezos has the moon and space colonies as goals.
  • In a recent tweet, Musk called out Bezos's plans for space colonies as unrealistic.
Keep reading Show less

10 new things we’ve learned about death

If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.

Culture & Religion
  • For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
  • Modern science has demystified death by divulging its biological processes, yet many questions remain.
  • Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • Push Past Negative Self-Talk: Give Yourself the Proper Fuel to Attack the World, with David Goggins, Former NAVY SealIf you've ever spent 5 minutes trying to meditate, you know something most people don't realize: that our minds are filled, much of the time, with negative nonsense. Messaging from TV, from the news, from advertising, and from difficult daily interactions pulls us mentally in every direction, insisting that we focus on or worry about this or that. To start from a place of strength and stability, you need to quiet your mind and gain control. For former NAVY Seal David Goggins, this begins with recognizing all the negative self-messaging and committing to quieting the mind. It continues with replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.