Who Were the Major Slovenian Philosophers?

Philosophy remains a controversial science. On the one hand, it is one of the meta-sciences, therefore the one that began the others. On the other hand, some people consider it already irrelevant. In any case, famous philosophers don’t suffer from this discourse. They work in universities, receive awards, and become popular.

Slovenian scientific area has a number of famous philosophers as well. Undoubtedly, the most famous one is Slavoj Žižek. However, there are some less popular ones but worth reading such as Renata Salecl, Rastko Močnik, Ivo Urbančič, Gorazd Kocijančič, Milan Komar, and some others.

Slavoj Žižek

The most famous Slovenian philosopher nowadays. Don’t believe me? Let’s count, Slavoj is a researcher at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Ljubljana and the international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the University of London. He is also the Global Eminent Scholar at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, as well as the Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. Impressive enough, isn’t it?

Slavoj Žižek is listed in the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy journal, where they called him “a celebrity philosopher”. His concepts are mainly based on Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian idealism. He works in such areas as continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, political theory, cultural studies, art criticism, film criticism, Marxism, Hegelianism, and theology.

The philosopher published his first English-language text, entitled The Sublime Object of Ideology in 1989. From that point, he started to develop his theories on traditional Marxist theory implementing Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian idealism. And it is interesting how in just 15 years, he became one of the most important figures of modern philosophy. In 2005, Astra Taylor filmed a documentary with the name “Zizek! chronicled Žižek’s work” as well as David J. Gunkel and Paul A. Taylor founded the International Journal of Žižek Studies.

Slavoj was published in such well-known world journals as Lacanian Ink, In These Times, the New Left Review, The London Review of Books in the United Kingdom, and the USA. On the other hand, Žižek is well-known for his controversial views. For example, he endorsed Donald Trump for the US presidency in the elections of 2016.

Aside from science, Slavoj speaks Serbo-Croatian, French, German, and English fluently. He was married four times. Currently, his young wife is the Slovene journalist, columnist, and philosopher, Jela Krečič. Her father is a famous Slovenian historian, Peter Krečič.

Renata Salecl

One more interesting personality as well as a brilliant scientist. She is a philosophist and sociologist as well as a researcher at the Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law at the University of Ljubljana and a professor at Birkbeck College, University of London. Also, she was lecturing on emotions, law, psychoanalysis, and neurosciences.

From her achievements, her books were translated into 15 languages, and now, she is an elected member of the Slovene Academy of Science.

What’s interesting, Renata Salecl is directly related to Slavoj Žižek, because they were married and they have one son. However, this is not the only connection. Slavoj and Renata were influenced by the same Lacanian psychoanalysis and combined it with German idealism and critical theory. They even published one piece together called “Gaze and voice as love objects”.

Renata’s most significant scientific publications in English are “Sexuation”, “On anxiety”, “Choice”, and the first and most famous one, “The spoils of freedom: psychoanalysis and feminism after the fall of socialism”. Furthermore, she wrote in Slovene and Spanish as well.

In general, Renata Salecl is an example of the fact that women are not worse than men in science. Therefore, she got such awards as “Slovenian woman scientist of the year” and “Slovenian person of the year” in 2010. In 2011, she was recognized as the most successful woman in Slovenia by a magazine ONA.

Rastko Močnik

Together with Slavoj Žižek, he is considered as one of the co-founders of the Ljubljana school of psychoanalysis. Rastko introduced the ideas of structuralism and Louis Althusser’s ideas in Slovenian academia. He studied psychoanalysis, semiotics, linguistics, and epistemology of humanities and social sciences.

Rastko is quite a controversial character because of his ideology. For example, he was critical about Slovenia’s independence from Yugoslavia. His most controversial article was “Slovene historians on the Destruction of Yugoslav Federation” published in Borec.

Ivo Urbančič

The man we lost several years ago, one of the fathers of the phenomenological school in Slovenia. This is the philosophical study based on learning consciousness and structures of experience. It was established by Edmund Husserl, a German philosopher of the 20th century.

Ivo was born in a village, Robič, near the Kobarid city. In his childhood, he was persecuted by Italian fascists as a Slovenian peasant. After escaping and moving to Yugoslavia, he studied philosophy in a university in Zagreb and then obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Zagreb. After that, he was studying in Vienna and Cologne, and in the final, he became a researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana.

Moreover, he was one of the co-founders of the Slovenian Democratic Union, the first political power in Slovenian opposing the Communistic party.

Urbančič died at the age of 85 in Ljubljana in 2016.

Mojca Kumerdej

One more Slovenian woman philosopher. Also, she is a writer and a critic and works as a chronicler in one of the most famous Slovenian newspapers Delo. She graduated in philosophy and sociology from the University of Ljubljana. Her most significant achievement is a Prešeren Fund Award for her second novel Kronosova žetev.

To mention, Grand Prešeren Award is the highest prize for the biggest contribution to the Slovenian artists’ life. It is awarded every year on the Prešeren Day by the Prešeren Fund. Now the fund is under the patronage of the Slovenian Ministry of Culture. Each year the committee gets around 100 proposals from artists. The artists had to send their works with all the required references. Usually, altogether 8 people are nominated for the great award, and 24 others are given the little award.

Aside from this one, Mojca Kumerdej wrote “Temna snov” (Dark Matter), “Fragma”, and “Krst nad Triglavom”.

Gorazd Kocijančič

The Slovene philosopher, poet, and translator. He’s well-known in the Slovenian academia for translating the entire bibliography of Plato in the Slovenian language.

On the other side, it is not only one of his achievements. He has published more than 360 pieces since 1987. The most significant ones were Mediations (1996), Between the East and the West: Four Contributions to the Ecstatics (2004), To Those Outside: Exoteric Writings 1990-2003 (2004), The breaking. Seven radical essays (2009), Erotics, politics, etc. Three essays about soul (2011).

Furthermore, he was awarded the Preseren Prize as well in 2013.

Milan Komar

He is also known as Emilio Komar, the person with an interesting story. Now, he is considered as both a Slovenian and an Argentine philosopher. He was born in Ljubljana in 1921. His family emigrated from Italian occupied territories of Julian March. In his student years, he studied law at the University of Ljubljana.

Parallelly, he was studying philosophy under the guidance of Aleš Ušeničnik, a Slovenian Neo-Thomist thinker, and Eugeni Vasilievitch Spektorsky, a Russian emigrant philosopher. His object of philosophical focus was religion. Therefore, he had a radical anti-Communist ideology. 

Escaping communistic persecution, he emigrated to Argentina in 1948. Gorazd settled in Buenos Aires, where he spent the last of his life. After that, he was teaching in different schools, including the University of Buenos Aires and the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.

An interesting fact is that he was able to publish his Slovene works in Buenos Aires, as well as the Spanish ones. In general, he was a good polyglot, Komar was fluent in Slovenian, Spanish, Italian, German, Serbo-Croatian, French, Latin, also in Polish, Catalan, and Portuguese in less.

Milan’s focus of interest was the rationalist philosophy of Christian Wolff with some implementations of Kant and Hegel. Moreover, he was fond of some Catholic thinkers like G. K. Chesterton and Georges Bernanos, on the one side. On the other one, he liked connected to the Neo-Scholastic tradition of Étienne Gilson and Josef Pieper.

In total, now the list of his famous works include Pot iz mrtvila, Apuntes filosóficos, Juliette o iluminismo y moral, Para una filosofía de la filiación, Fe y cultura, Partecipación: términos, etimologías, definiciones, Modernidad y postmodernidad, Orden y misterio published in Buenos Aires and the last one, Iz dolge vigilije in Ljubljana, in 2002.

Beyond Usual Consciousness

Slovenian philosophy science is full of significant and interesting personalities. Some of them are quite controversial because they are non-typical for public opinion ideology. Such personalities are definitely good philosophers because they push the limits of usual consciousness. Other ones are given with important awards for advancing the Slovenian science. It is deserved because their hard work needs to be recognized.

Therefore, even such a small country can include so many interesting personalities with their personal history forming ideology as well as their worldview. If you are not indifferent to philosophy, let’s take one book of the mentioned above authors and get closer to the Slovenian mentality. 

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