April 25, 2007

Zizek claims we all have faith, that we all believe in much more than we appear to.

“In my last book I quote a wonderful anecdote, which renders this point perfectly again about Niels Bohr, you know, the Copenhagen guy. Who, when he was visited by a friend in his country house and the friend, also a scientist, found above the entrance to the house a horseshoe, kind of superstitious item, you know,  to prevent evil spirits entering, evil spirits entering the house, and so on. So the friend, surprised, asked Niels Bohr, “Wait a minute! I thought you were a scientist. Are you superstitious? Do you really believe in it?” You know what Niels Bohr answered? He answered, “I’m not an idiot. Of course I don’t believe in it. But I have it there because I was told that it functions even if you don’t believe in it.”


This, in essence, is how ideology functions in the world today.  First, you accept that there can be faith.  That is, you believe that transcendent things can be True.  For example, we believe that God can exist, man might have a soul or even inalienable human rights. It is secondary that we believe these things to be True or False.  This is what Zizek exposes his example.  Bohr accepts the possibility of belief, but rejects the specific superstition.  So, even when we don’t believe in the truth of some reified concept, by entertaining the possibility of its existence we still believe, we still have faith.  This – as I said – is how ideology functions.     



One Response to “Faith”

  1. Alex Brotschi Says:

    While I don’t feel as though Zizek was fully allowed to expand on his claim, I disagree that philosophy is a different phenomena then science. Science is a philosophy which grounds it self in the assumption that truth can be reached empirically. To say that we do not need philosophy in the case of a comet is incorrect, philosophy is just as successful in destroying the comet if we grant it the validity of its truth-claim that we assume of the empirical causalities of science. Indeed if philosophy is the reconsideration of problems, so too is science. Each redefines the problems, the relative falseness or truth of a problem is only verified by science because we accept sciences’ empirical justification/explanation as such. The ability for either philosophy or science to ‘solve’ a problem is not a result of an actual solution, for these can not exist, rather its ability lies in the power of its argument to convince others that the problem has been solved, or that it is not a problem.

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