Étudiant-chercheur étoile June 2015

Joseph Carew

PhD student in Philosophy
McGill University

Award-winning publication: Ontological Catastrophe: Žižek and the Paradoxical Metaphysics of German Idealism

Published in: Open Humanities Press



"Žižek is perhaps the most widely read figure in Continental Philosophy. However, while academic interest in his work focuses on his political thinking, his own contributions to the metaphysics of nature and the human subject largely go ignored. Ontological Catastrophe is an attempt to fix this lacuna. Drawing upon Žižek's readings of the history of philosophy, neuroscience, philosophy of language and psychoanalysis, I show that Žižek has much to offer us beyond ideological critique. Not only does he present us with a highly original theoretical system that deserves more research, but also because this system has important connections to various branches of knowledge, he proves to be an underappreciated interlocutor to these disciplines."

Joseph Carew's work articulates one possible response to the most fundamental questions: what is nature, what is human existence? Whereas many people, impelled by science, see themselves as biological organisms, the author argues, by reconstructing Žižek's theory of the emergence of consciousness out of language, that we are distinct from nature. He sketches a new philosophical foundation for human consciousness and freedom, one that recognizes the peril implicit in both. By providing a model to explain the metaphysical origins of irrational, self-destructive potentials, this project offers an innovative framework that facilitates the understanding and analysis of our societal values and practices. It shows that we must actively fight against dangerous tendencies such as being driven by cultural forces exclusively and forgetting our basis in nature.