Slavoj Zizek — Why I'm not a Humanist

An excerpt from the Q&A following a lecture given by Slavoj Zizek at the University of Winnipeg on 18 April 2019 titled “Thinking the Human”. In this clip, Zizek …


  1. I have been a secular humanist for years and I have no idea what he was talking about. I think he was talking about humanism in terms of aesthetics.

  2. Tragic absolute passion is not natural; it is "living death." Here he sounds like one of the medeival mystics or theologians he mentions so often. The church taught that while our nature was not corrupt, our will is corrupt. So, while our nature — what is natural — is not the "living dead," our will is unnatural. However, isn't this what it means to be human? To be fallen? It sounds like a Catholic would have a much understanding for humanity than Zizek and the other anti-humanists. At least, the Catholic has a program of "salvation" to save each of us from sin and damnation (killing our fathers, sleeping with our mothers).

  3. I wish this sputtering spitting outdated “philosopher” would shut the f up. Keep his poisonous ideas to himself and go learn basic hygiene practices and how not to pick your fkng nose in public. He is disgusting.

  4. So Humanism often posits us as the warm little underdogs in the grand scheme of things – a sentient light doing all it can to stave off the void. But here Zizek sees that it's not so simple. That in being perceiving subjects we're also a layer removed from the world, and that there's a certain level of darkness and obscurity in that. By being observers of the world, we are cut off from it. By understanding life and death from a removed vantage point, we are in some sense beyond that, living dead as it were. Cast away from the eve like purity of being, and into the darkness of being a person. Both a blessing and a curse. Mere fragments we are – imperfect and forever biased, but perhaps it's the ability to see ourselves as such that sets us apart from nature in the first place.

  5. I think he's saying that there are sub-human forces behind the human will. So, he's not humanist in the practical sense. He thinks the humanist project is actually mindlessly persistent,

  6. For those comrades, who makes fun of him on this video. Try this.

    1) The traditional “Humanist” term is not enough to fully describe what human really is.

    2) What is excluded when we try to elaborate human just in “Humanist” way? Then how can we grasp this.

  7. When he speaks about the dark night he's talking about the term the "dark knight of the soul" that you find in Spanish Mystics like Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross. I think for him we are at our most human in the dark night of the soul, rather than a mythical optimism which he seems to associate with humanism. At least that's how I'm interpreting what Zizek is saying her.

  8. The worst fallacy in this video was, ironically, regarding Zizek's favorite subject: Hegelianism!
    The human spirit used to be understood as "the light of reason" but, Zizek continues, with German idealism it's the contrary; Hegel view of the"pure subject" is represented here as "self-destructive negativity".
    This is a false opposition. For Hegel (indeed, the peak of German idealism), negativity is indeed necessary, the self-actualization of Spirit necessarily has to go through self-destructive phases, BUT, this is never "destruction for the sake of destruction". On the contrary, all the self-destructive phases of negativity are, at a deeper level, revealed to be stages in the self-actualization of Reason; Universal Becoming results in the total triumph of Reason.
    Hegel's philosophy is not, and never was, one of darkness. Far from standing in opposition with the rationalists who preceded him (the Enlightenment), Hegelianism is the highest fulfilment of pure rationalism.

  9. This was the most disorganized, rambling Zizek video I've seen (so far). He has other ones where, amidst his flight of ideas, he also articulates some (relatively) clear notions, some recognizable theoretical approach. Not here.

  10. The question: how do you see your work in light of the humanist tradition?

    The answer: Lacan, Althusser, anti-humanism, German idealism, Hegel, night of the world, medieval mystics, ego, unconscious, sexuality, Tristan and Isolde, Freudian death drive, immortality, modern Cartesian subjectivity, and a bit of and so on and so on.

  11. slavoj zizek interprets the shadow of the event. his appearance in recent lecture halls takes on the texture of a dr. strangelove in a boardroom of upper class people. his face and body disfigured, contorted. its funny that this did not seem significant until now. now that the obsessional is obliged to face the reality of his long held speculations and ideas. the obsessional can ignore the real for a long time. society has an unfortunate tendency to organize in terms reminiscent of the familial nexus. its like mom and dad go off on vacation and agree to leave the keys to the house on certain conditions. but it would not seem that this is the end of the line since mom and dad are also dependent on still others who may facilitate an increase in their freedom or effect a decrease in their freedom depending on still more conditions running the other way etc…    keeping this framework in mind and acknowledging its tendency to be pervasive in all social fields, is it not the case that by the time something that has occurred as a result of natural developments at the most fundamental social strata and has reached the more conditioned segments, its value has been changed. it is the game of telephone or chinese whispers and with it you have zizek seeing what he thinks he has heard.

  12. Because is not good to idealise humans. But if you are thinking being and you think about your existance, you can't base that on universal existence, because you can't think like amoeba. You can use only your human perspective which is in a way humanism. So I think denying humanism is ironical. Taking it as only perspective is immanent, as already happened in history, saying that history is illusion is not so wise. But sometimes humans like to think that they are superhumans, pure reason or eternal soul. Because humans are eternal souls in a way that every human is unique to eternity.

  13. Slavoj Zizek: ''I am not a Humanists'' ''I am not a socialist'' ''I am not a an XYZ'' ''You can not peg me down so I never have to defend a position – except feminism. I am a female boot licker''

  14. Anything possible is apart of nature
    Anything that isn't possible isn't apart of nature
    Even the borg from star trek is apart of nature
    Technology is apart of nature
    All possible things are apart of nature
    What you mean to say us
    Or not manipulating something
    Just let it be
    That's impossible
    You live in a home
    Is that apart of nature?
    Of course
    All things good or bad are a part of nature
    You hopefully want good aspects of nature
    Something like that
    Good outcomes

  15. I base my Critique of Humanism on Post-modernism( or Post-Structuralism to be more correct). Humanism is not simply "Wrong", it is not simply reductionist, but it is actually a legitimization of Power. The Atomic bombs, the security systems that take away your privacy and the increase of undesirable forms of ideology through social media( Alt-Right) were all aspects of humanism. The Humanist thinks science can do no wrong, they assume to know the totality of the human race, and they assign simplistic characteristics to the Human Race( Humanity is smart, innovative and "Progressive"). It's a specter of the enlightenment classical Liberalism. It's like Jordan Peterson( outdated, repetitive and never willing to go beyond the box. always dogmatic and enjoys pseudo-intellectualism).

  16. Ramana Maharshi said that what we take for life is in fact death and what we take for death is in fact life. Gurdjieff said we are all of us in the waiting room of life. Is this what Slavoj is getting at? I know from personal experience that the things i get most obsessive about are a kind of stuckness, a complex or fixation around certain mental phenomena, and the only way to move on from that obsession is to die to it, in other words to let it go, and only by doing so can I become more alive, i.e. aware of reality as it unfolds rather than being stuck in a dead past.

  17. sado-masochism is punishment, including self-flagellation, hardly a collective, correctly


  18. The humanist tradition is not sufficient in explaining complex economic and political phenomena. We need more empirical analyses based on science rather than Freudian or Lacanian psycho analysis.

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