Slavoj Žižek Quote About the Suffering of Others

Quote by Slavoj Žižek from “Margaret Atwood’s Work Illustrates Our Need to Enjoy Other People’s Pain”:

“In his Summa Theologica, philosopher Thomas Aquinas concludes that the blessed in the kingdom of heaven will see the punishments of the damned in order that their bliss be more delightful for them. Aquinas, of course, takes care to avoid the obscene implication that good souls in heaven can find pleasure in observing the terrible suffering of other souls, because good Christians should feel pity when they see suffering. So, will the blessed in heaven also feel pity for the torments of the damned? Aquinas’s answer is no: not because they directly enjoy seeing suffering, but because they enjoy the exercise of divine justice.

“But what if enjoying divine justice is the rationalisation, the moral cover-up, for sadistically enjoying the neighbour’s eternal suffering? What makes Aquinas’s formulation suspicious is the surplus enjoyment watching the pain of others secretly introduces: as if the simple pleasure of living in the bliss of heaven is not enough, and has to be supplemented by the enjoyment of being allowed to take a look at another’s suffering – only in this way, the blessed souls ‘may enjoy their beatitude more thoroughly’.

***

“In short, the sight of the other’s suffering is the obscure cause of desire which sustains our own happiness (bliss in heaven) – if we take it away, our bliss appears in all its sterile stupidity.”

George Martin Fell Brown – Marxism and the Philosophy of Science

Link to a review by George Martin Fell Brown of Helena Sheehan’s book Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History (1985/2018):

“Book Review: Marxism and the Philosophy of Science”

 

This review does suffer from a bit of a Trotskyist (anti-Stalinist) bias, but it still provides a useful historical overview.

Mertonian CUDOS-norms

Link to Robert Merton’s four norms that constitute “four sets of institutional imperatives taken to comprise the ethos of modern science… communism, universalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism.” (CUDOS is the acronym):

“Four Mertonian Norms”

 

(contrast that with this: “Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex”)

Robert Pfaller – The Ideology of Postmodernism is to Present All Existing Injustice as an Effect of Discrimination

Link to an interview with Robert Pfaller:

“The Ideology of Postmodernism is to Present All Existing Injustice as an Effect of Discrimination”

 

In this brief interview Pfaller does understate the problem of discrimination, in that even in a situation of complete economic equality, there can be inequalities in terms of access, prestige, or other forms of capital — Ursula Le Guin’s novel The Dispossessed even has a plot point to this effect where a stupid physicist tries to distort and suppress the work of another in order to maintain and enhance his own prestige and power (even though the two are economically equal).  Still, Pfaller’s analysis is remarkably astute for being so direct and easy to understand!

Bonus links: The Trouble with Diversity and “The Politics of Identity” and “Can We Really Measure Implicit Bias? Maybe Not”

Slavoj Žižek – Ibi Rhodus, Ibi Saltus! Quote

“True freedom is not a freedom of choice made from a safe distance, like choosing between a strawberry cake or a chocolate cake; true freedom overlaps with necessity. One makes a truly free choice when one’s choice puts at stake one’s very existence—one does it because one simply ‘cannot do otherwise.’ When one’s country is under a foreign occupation and one is called by a resistance leader to join the fight against the occupiers, the reason given is not ‘you are free to choose,’ but: ‘Can’t you see that this is the only thing you can do if you want to retain your dignity?’

***

“[Martin] Luther saw clearly how the (Catholic) idea that our redemption depends on our acts introduces a dimension of bargaining into ethics: good deeds are not done out of duty but in order to gain salvation. If, however, my salvation is predestined, this means that my fate is already decided and my doing good deeds does not serve anything—so if I do them, it is out of pure duty, a really altruistic act . . . .

***

“What Protestantism prohibits is the very thought that a believer can, as it were, take a position outside/above itself and look upon itself as a small particle in the vast reality.”

***

“What this also implies is that the access to ‘reality in itself’ does not demand from us that we overcome our ‘partiality’ and arrive at a neutral vision elevated above our particular struggles—we are ‘universal beings’ only in our full partial engagements. *** [W]e should assert the radically exclusive love for the singular One, a love which throws out of joint the smooth flow of our lives.

***

“the true ethical universality never resides in the quasi-neutral distance that tries to do justice to all concerned factions. So, if, against fundamentalisms which ground ethical commitment in one’s particular ethnic or religious identity, excluding others, one should insist on ethical universalism, one should also unconditionally insist on how every authentic ethical position by definition paradoxically combines universalism with taking sides in the ongoing struggle.  Today, more than ever, one should emphasize that a true ethical position combines the assertion of Universalism with a militant, divisive position of one engaged in a struggle: true universalists are not those who preach global tolerance of differences and all-encompassing unity, but those who engage in a passionate fight for the assertion of the Truth that engages them.”

Slavoj Žižek,“Ibi Rhodus, Ibi Saltus!” PROBLEMI INTERNATIONAL, vol. 2, no. 2, 2018

See also Sex and the Failed Absolute and Less Than Nothing (“every ethical and/or moral edifice has to be grounded in an abyssal act which is, in the most radical sense imaginable, political, . . . [as] the very space in which, without any external guarantee, ethical decisions are made and negotiated”) and “Ágota Kristóf’s The Notebook Awoke in Me a Cold and Cruel Passion” and The Fragile Absolute and Critique of Cynical Reason

For the exact opposite view, based on a program of depoliticalization/disavowal, see Milton Friedman Capitalism and Freedom (“each man can vote for the color of tie he wants and get it; he does not have to see what color the majority wants and then, if he is in the minority, submit.”) — for that matter, Friedman’s view is completely at odds with the understanding of desire and fantasy that psychoanalysis has established, by neglecting to consider that the color of tie a given man wants may well be an effort to take on the identity of the sort of man who likes a certain color of tie in order to fulfill the desire of a social majority for such an identity.

Daniel Zamora – Should We Care About Inequality?

Link to an article by Daniel Zamora:

“Should We Care About Inequality?”

 

This is really an article about historical battles for ideological hegemony.

Bonus links: Slavoj Žižek On Political Struggle and Trouble in Paradise and Making Money and The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives

Landon Frim & Harrison Fluss – Steven Pinker: False Friend of the Enlightenment

Link to a review by Landon Frim & Harrison Fluss of Steven Pinker‘s book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (2018):

“Steven Pinker: False Friend of the Enlightenment”

 

This is a great tear-down of Pinker’s thinking, which is problematic because of how basically insipid it is as mere status quo boosterism.

Bonus links: Review of The Great Leveler and Review of Domenico Losurdo’s Liberalism: A Counter-History and Slavoj Žižek On Political Struggle and Review of Making Money

Bonus quote:

“in the analysis of ideology, it is not simply a matter of seeing which account of reality best matches the ‘facts’, with the one that is closest being the least biased and therefore the best. As soon as the facts are determined, we have already — whether we know it or not — made our choice; we are already within one ideological system or another. The real dispute has already taken place over what is to count as the facts, which facts are relevant, and so on.”

Rex Butler, “What Is a Master-Signifier”