Saturday, June 28, 2008

Zizek's new nature column

Slavoj Zizek has started writing a new nature column in the Guardian. Who'd have thought it?

Only joking, but his analysis of the disappearing bees is quite interesting. He rounds off with:

We pride ourselves for living in a society in which we freely decide about things that matter. However, we are constantly in the position of having to decide about matters that will fundamentally affect our lives, but without a proper foundation in knowledge. This is frustrating: although we know that it all depends on us, we cannot predict the consequences of our acts. We are not impotent but - quite the contrary - omnipotent, without being able to determine the scope of our powers. While we cannot gain full mastery over our biosphere, it is in our power to derail it, to disturb its balance so that it will run amok, swiping us away in the process.

Excellent! That paragraph says more to me about environmentalism than the entire legion of eco-babblers and save-the-whalers have managed in the past thirty years. This is what philosophy is about, for me. The best way to approach any subject is obliquely: that way you avoid dogmatism, the queasy sense that you are being preached at. Approaching a subject from a philosophical viewpoint allows a much deeper understanding.

it's a pity that so much British philosophical tradition seems so afraid of allowing any practical application. It seems happier to sink into ever deeper abstraction.

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