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‘Unbehagen in der Natur’: On Thinking the End of Nature

Slavoj Žižek, Birkbeck University of London, Birkbeck Institute for Humanities

Wed, 11/2 · 5:00 pm7:00 pm · 46 McCosh

Department of Comparative Literature

Today, with the latest biogenetic developments, we are entering a new phase in which it is simply nature itself which melts into air: the main consequence of the scientific breakthroughs in biogenetics is the end of nature. Once we know the rules of its construction, natural organisms are transformed into objects amenable to manipulation. Nature, human and inhuman, is thus “desubstantialized,” deprived of its impenetrable density, of what Heidegger called “earth.” This compels us to give a new twist to Freud’s title Unbehagen in der Kultur – discontent, uneasiness, in culture. With the latest developments, the discontent shifts from culture to nature itself: nature is no longer “natural,” the reliable “dense” background of our lives; it now appears as a fragile mechanism which, at any point, can explode in a catastrophic direction.

Slavoj Žižek is senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, a Hegelian philosopher, a Lacanian psychoanalytic theorist, and a Marxist social analyst. His numerous books include The Parallax View (2009), Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (2013) and most recently Surplus-Enjoyment: A Guide For The Non-Perplexed (2022).

Co-sponsored by the Humanities Council and the German Department.

The event will be live streamed here.

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