SmartBrief is partnering with Big Think to create a weekly video spotlight in SmartBrief on Leadership called “VIP Corner: Video Insights Powered by Big Think.” This week, we’re featuring the philosopher Slavoj Žižek.
Science, philosophy, quantum physics, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel — these may be four things with which many people are familiar, but most wouldn’t immediately say, oh, they’re all connected. Not so Slavoj Zižek.
He wants to restore philosophy as a study that’s crucial to how non-philosophers think, even scientists. Even the most creative and original thinkers must start with a foundation of assumed knowledge, Zižek argues, and that’s precisely the role of philosophy — to teach “us what we have to know without knowing it in order to function, even in science — the silent presuppositions.”
He starts with the example of quantum physics and Hegel, Zižek says, and that a study of each can help understand the other (he’s also written a lengthy book on this and other subjects, and Big Think took on the issue recently). But he quickly moves to a more immediate example for us today: The call to action for the sake of action, and why that must be rejected in favor of, first, proper thinking.
“The danger today is precisely a kind of a bland, pragmatic activism. … I always hear in this call there are people starving. Let’s do something. I always discern in this a more ominous injunction. Do it and don’t think too much. Today, we need thinking.”