chapter  2
15 Pages

What is a subject and why is it so important?

The Introduction of Zˇizˇek’s The Ticklish Subject begins with his assertion that ‘a spectre is haunting Western academia . . ., the spectre of the Cartesian subject’ (TTS: 1). The Cartesian subject, or cogito as it is also known, is, he proclaims, constantly liable to attempts to exorcize it from contemporary thought by New Age obscurantists, postmodern deconstructionists, Habermasians, Heideggerians, cognitive scientists, Deep Ecologists, post-Marxists and feminists. In short, just about everybody reviles the cogito. Aficionados of Zˇizˇek’s contrary mode of thought will, therefore, not be surprised to learn that, in opposition to all these theoretical factions, he fully endorses the model of the Cartesian subject. All of which raises the question: what is the cogito and why does everyone (except Zˇizˇek) seem to want done with it?