Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek. Philosophy in the Present. Cambridge: Polity, 2009, 70 pp.
The question that governs this book, whether the philosopher should take part in contemporary events and comment on them, is the question regarding the role of intellectuals in our society, treated in a philosophically specific fashion. It no longer suffices to answer that the philosophers should not only interpret the world, but rather change it.
The answer to this question today must take into account two extremes. On the one hand, the participation of intellectuals in the crimes of the twentieth century weighs heavily on the selfunderstanding of this social group, at least insofar as it maintains a practical memory of history. On the other hand, we could ask ourselves if we really get a good deal if we let models, presenters, sportspeople and similar groups occupy the position of the intellectuals in our contemporary media society.
The answers of [...] Alain Badiou and [...] Slavoj Žižek during their discussion of this theme in Vienna 2004 turned out to be more modest and more sceptical than one might perhaps expect from philosophers. Instead of taking refuge in an old glory [...], they try instead to recall the specific quality of philosophical thought and derive their answers from that.
Peter Engelmann, Editor