Reply to Žižek

Lewis, Michael (2007) Reply to Žižek. International Journal of Žižek Studies, 1 (4). ISSN 1751-8229

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Zizek elsewhere attributes the understanding of the ontological difference he here considers beyond Heidegger to Heidegger himself. This understanding takes being to be nothing besides a void within beings as a whole, and hence not at all on a level other than that of this immanence. I argue that this understand can and should indeed be attributed to Heidegger, but the later Heidegger alone, and not the middle period.

As a consequence of this, Heidegger's own later works contain a notion of action strikingly similar but importantly different from Zizek's own, which he draws from the works of Heidegger's middle period. It involves precisely a prepatory action among beings as a whole that strikes at their symptomatic moment in order to indicate the contingency of this configuration and thus make possible a new event without presuming to force this event. The name for this place in beings as a whole which thinking comports itself towards is 'the thing'. What is crucial is that in his later period, Heidegger refuses the humanism that for him still afflicts communism and indeed his earlier notion of politics.

I argue that Zizek's advocacy of Stalinism runs the risk of this same humanism which Heidegger later strove to overcome. For the latter, it is the exploitation of nature, which has resulted in today's environmental crisis that has the potential to force the current revelation of beings as a whole to change. Man's action merely opens up spaces or voids which make a new revelation possible.

I also consider the possibility that this form of action which Heidegger advocates may not be 'political' at all, and also what would be the case if communism did not contain the potential which Zizek identifies. I suggest that Heidegger set himself a task still more difficult than Zizek's, which was to think a way beyond democracy that did not just forbid itself the Nazi option, but also the communistic.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: Michael Lewis
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 21:22
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2012 08:53
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