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The Role of Philosophy

Philosopher Slavoj Žižek takes the audience on an entertaining journey through the perceptions of identity and tolerance


Photo by Kate Milford

Click here to watch SlavojŽižek speak on BUniverse.

Looking more tradesman than philosopher in T-shirt and jeans and with a thick salt-and-pepper beard, Slovenian-born Slavoj Žižektakes the audience on an entertaining and enlightening journey throughthe perceptions of identity and tolerance. His lecture, titled Fear ThyNeighbor as Thyself: Antinomies of Tolerant Reason, begins by asking,“What can philosophy do today? What can it tell the general publichaunted by the problems of ecology, racism, religious conflict, and soon?” The role of philosophy, Žižek says, is not to provide answers, butto analyze how we view questions. “How we perceive a problem can itselfbecome part of the problem,” he says. To illustrate his various points,he uses such examples as Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59), thedoomed passengers on September 11’s United Flight 93, and former U.S.Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, among others. Aquestion-and-answer session follows the lecture.

November 26, 2007, 6 p.m.
Photonics Center

About the speaker:
SlavojŽižek is a Slovenian sociologist, postmodern philosopher, and culturalcritic. Born in 1949 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, he completed a Ph.D. atLjubljana University, and between 1981 and 1985 he studied in Parisunder Jacques Alain Miler, Jacques Lacan’s son-in-law. In the late1980s, Žižek returned to Slovenia, where he wrote newspaper columns forthe Slovenian weekly Mladina and cofounded the SlovenianLiberal Democratic Party. In 1990, he narrowly missed being elected toa seat on the four-member collective Slovenian presidency. Žižek haspublished more than a dozen books and numerous philosophical andpolitical articles, edited several collections, and maintained anextensive speaking schedule. He has lectured at universities around theworld. His works include The Parallax View (2006), How to Read Lacan (2006), Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle (2004), Revolution at the Gates: Žižek on Lenin, the 1917 Writings (2002), The Ticklish Subject (1999), Looking Awry (1991), For They Know Not What They Do (1991), and The Sublime Object of Ideology(1989). Žižek is currently the international director of the BirkbeckInstitute for the Humanities at the University of London and is areturning faculty member of the European Graduate School, Switzerland.He is the founder and president of the Society for TheoreticalPsychoanalysis, Ljubljana. A 2005 documentary about his life and workis titled Žižek! and in 2007 the International Journal of Žižek Studies was started. He enjoys a popular following, and even provided the inspiration for the name of a chic bar in Buenos Aires.


One Comment on The Role of Philosophy

  • Brad Bolman on 02.17.2008 at 11:06 pm


    I’m not a student of BU, but I recently found this video and I have to say it was really amazing to see Zizek speak. I appreciate the work BU had to do to get him. Thumbs up!

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