The temptation of meaning

Even though I am decidedly against his economic views, I find Slavoj Zizek, like other Marxist philosophers, endlessly interesting. He is a challenge. But here is a quote that I think is well worth your time regardless of your politics/philosophy:

Why is resisting the temptation of meaning so difficult? It’s incredible how we philosophers, even when so-called ordinary people approach us, ultimately the question is always the meaning of life. Why are we here? Does it have some meaning? My position here is pretty radical, of course. Searching for meaning is a kind of a natural temptation of human nature, but I think that meaning as such is a lie. There is no true meaning, no false meaning. There is a mystification in meaning as such. It’s not that we have two types of meanings: scientific meanings and ideological meanings. Truth has no meaning. Quantum physics is maybe true, but it has no meaning literally. You cannot even translate it into the terms of your daily reality. So I think meaning is an escape from meaninglessness. Paradoxically, meaninglessness comes before. Meaning as such is a defense, and I think it’s the duty of a philosopher to allow us not to get rid of meaning but to see it as what it is: a defense, a fundamental lie of the human condition.

First published Jul 15, 2011