Signature Lecture Series
Why Only an Atheist Can Be a True Christian
December 12, 2010
Slavoj Žižek was born in Ljublijana, Slovenia, on March 21st, 1949. Attending a prestigious secondary school, he went on to study philosophy and Sociology in 1967 at the University of Ljublijana. He obtained his PhD in psychoanalysis from the same institution however, his early career was held back by the political uncertainties of his homeland during the 1970s. He was employed briefly by the University of Ljublijana before being removed from that post and commencing national service with the Yugoslav army. After a period of unemployment he was again hired as a researcher at the University of Ljublijana and published his first books in the 1980s. It was not until 1989 with the publication of his first English language book, The Sublime Object of Ideology, that Zizek achieved international recognition.
This Signature Series lecture was videotaped.
Žižek's work is aptly labelled as cultural studies by virtue of the method in which he bridges between a multitude of disciplines including film studies, politics, sociology, philosophy, theology and psychology. An admirer of grand narratives, his work primarily seeks to reorient the central tenants of liberal ideology, which Žižek would argue are incorrectly identified at the moment, leading to excesses and aberration of the cause of liberalism. More broadly, his work carries a definite critique of the structures that bind contemporary individuals.
Violence, for Žižek , comes in two forms; objective ‘outbursts’ of violence and more systemic, objective violence that lingers in the background. The outbursts are what we give attention to when actually it is the background, systemic violence that requires our attention. Similar to dealing with symptoms rather than causes, the focus on visible or even obvious violence like murder, terrorism and international conflict prevent us from looking on the causes of these outbursts.
Žižek embraces the media to such an extent that he is referred to as the Elvis Presley of philosophy. He continues in his confrontational and humorous style to offer the critique of the radical left to the multitude of disciplines mentioned above.