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Slavoj Zizek

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Is he a good intellectual?

Yes, he has a lot of good ideas.
25
68%
No, he is a hack.
8
22%
Other
4
11%
 
Total votes : 37
Post 24 Oct 2010, 02:17
So, what does S-E think of Slavoj Zizek? Is he a pseudo-intellectual opportunist or a breath of fresh air to the Left?
Post 24 Oct 2010, 02:57
I don't appreciate his style of writing, which is often chaotic and difficult to comprehend. I also don't like his vacillation on Stalin, and that he calls himself a Marxist-Leninist and does a photo op of a Stalin poster hanging above his bed while simultaneously saying things to the effect of Stalinism being worse than Nazism. Lenin was a breath of fresh air to the Left. Zizek is just another modern day philosopher who happens to be a leftist.
Post 24 Oct 2010, 17:46
Quote:
I don't appreciate his style of writing, which is often chaotic and difficult to comprehend. I also don't like his vacillation on Stalin, and that he calls himself a Marxist-Leninist and does a photo op of a Stalin poster hanging above his bed while simultaneously saying things to the effect of Stalinism being worse than Nazism. Lenin was a breath of fresh air to the Left. Zizek is just another modern day philosopher who happens to be a leftist.


Agreed. Sometimes Zizek says something I agree with, but Barack Obama occasionally says something I agree with too.
Post 24 Oct 2010, 18:27
Has anyone here actually read The Sublime Object of Ideology? I find it impossible to pass judgment on the man without being acquainted with his texts, so defer my vote for the present. Reading through some of his quoted conclusions in the Wiki article leaves me with a very contradictory impression of the man. "Ideology is consciousness?" I'd certainly beg to differ with that. And then this bit about atheism being "the legacy of Europe": has he never heard of Buddha?
Post 24 Oct 2010, 19:36
He has his shortcomings, especially with his Lacanian psychobabble, but he's also a Marxist with a large podium and who uses it to smash liberal fantasies. In that sense, he's OK for me. I know I've been able to speak about Marxism and Lenin to some people because they've become more receptive to it after reading Zizek.

I would say that ideology is a dimension of consciousness. It's more than that, but it's also a dimension of consciousness. I hadn't heard that comment on atheism, but nihilistic atheism is different from the atheism of Buddhism, imo. I think Nietzsche's critique of people erecting replacement gods like the state or democracy, civil society or abstract Humanity applies perfectly to them. I mean, as materialists, with a practical mission, do we really care if they attribute personhood to a maximum creator deity or if they place a void there or an hypostasized Unknowable? In the end they're still fetishized ideological formations.
Post 06 Jan 2011, 00:48
It's difficult to say whether or not Zizek is a good intellectual. I mean, what does a good intellectual do? I suppose good intellectuals reach true conclusions. But on that understanding there can be very few good intellectuals. Maybe a good intellectual helps us reach the truth. So even when an intellectual is all wrong he can be 'good' in this sense because he helps us reach the truth by refuting him. But pretty much anyone can be a good intellectual in that sense. Zizek is good in that he talks about the important issues and often makes good points in defence of certain claims which are true. He draws people's attention to a way of looking at the world which is true (Marxism) even if, despite his claims, he seems to disagree with it often. To be honest he's so obscure I don't even know if he's a materialist. He says he is but I don't get what he means by 'materialism'. He doesn't seem to get Feuerbach's refutation of Hegel and he doesn't ever seem to come to grips with Marx's materialism. He would be a better intellectual if he made himself more clear on things like this.

Marxism is a philosophy of praxis, it shares with some kinds of pragmatism the noion that ideas and actions match one another. If we hold certain beliefs they will manifest themselves in action. The wrong ideas manifest themselves in counter-revolutionary activity. This is why it is so important for Marxists to have a view on such matters as: is materialism true? Does God exist? Is there such a thing as an immaterial soul? These questions are important because our answers to them determine our actions. So when Zizek muddys the waters with his vague talk of 'materialist theology' he does his role as an intellectual a disservice and does the progressive movement a disservice. Marxists answer these important questions. Zizek does sometimes and sometimes his answers are right. But sometimes he justs makes things more obscure.
Post 06 Jan 2011, 19:44
The only thing I remember him saying of any use was just to reiterate that our view of nature is actually socialised/internalised and ultimately reified nature, and how nature simply doesn't exist in the form that reactionary green types believe it to. He needs to kill his post-modernism off, it doesn't suit him.
Post 07 Jan 2011, 00:33
I would really like to know in what sense he calls himself a materialist. For all I know he might actually be a materialist in the same sense that we are. It is just too difficult for me to cut through his dense jargon and literary flourishes to get at what the guy is talking about. Materialism is more strait forward than he makes it out to be I think but it might just be his writing style which leads me to think that.
Post 07 Jan 2011, 01:19
Zizek states some good points about current affairs but I haven't read his works thoroughly enough to make an accurate assessment of him and I should do so before making judgements about him.
Post 08 Jan 2011, 14:54
he is a good public intellectual(I assume thats what you mean) in that he makes useful analyses and makes them public and is not afraid of controversial opinions, His books the desert of the real and first as tragedy then as farce are well worth reading offering a real addition to our understanding of the contemporary world as are his articles. However sometimes he can be opaque, to my mind this doesn't serve the cause of getting as many people as possible to understand his ideas.
Post 24 Dec 2012, 08:12
Sorry for digging this up, but I'm wondering if anybody has gained any fresh perspectives on the matter, or if anyone who has joined us more recently has anything to say about it. After reading a bit more of his work (a book plus a couple essays), I remain convinced of my original assessment, and have personally come to the conclusion that Zizek's brightest moments are when he makes those sharply pointed, witty and accurate commentaries about the absurdities of capitalism. Otherwise, like most modern Marxist philosophers, I find much of what I've read to be superfluous restatement (or worse, rejection and baseless reconstruction) of Marxian principles, together with a lot of arguments and even entire subject areas which are difficult to understand, follow or try to figure out the importance of. Anyone have any opinions?
Post 05 Feb 2013, 02:46
He is a very zany man, but that is what I like about him, he is very articulate with his Marxism and I think we need more people like Slavoj Zizek in this world!
Post 05 Feb 2013, 03:33
He's better at the jokes than the philosophy.
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