When Mladen Dolar (cited in Absolute Recoil, p. 35n) opened this question, “did philosophers before Marx really only interpret the world instead of changing it?”, the “point” is perhaps to prod us to go through a series of three “corrections” to the Feuerbach-Thesis-11 of Marx (in the popular English translation: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it”):
(1) Because there are philosophers in the past who also tried changing the world, it should then be changed to: “SOME philosophers have only interpreted the world … [and so on]”.
(2) But then, maybe it is really Hegel that Marx is so fascinated with and so the correction here is quite minimal, just to make it singular: “THE PHILOSOPHER (i.e., Hegel) has only interpreted the world … [and so on]”.
And then to the penultimate part:
(3) Because for Hegel self-consciousness/interpreting-the-world is really THAT important (now more than ever, as correct interpretation is the other side of correct action), that thesis could well have been stated in this most minimal way: “THE philosopher (Hegel) has INTERPRETED (dialectically) the world (correctly); and that is (simply) the point.”
So, how to repeat today the famous “Thesis 11”? Perhaps just this: “THE philosopher has INTERPRETED the world; and that is the point.”
Edited from 17 to only 11 words in English!
Hal Odetta is a pen name. He is an anthropologist who teaches at the University of the Philippines and works with the Manobo indigenous peoples of Mindanao.
Editor’s note: This is the first contribution that is published in Žižekian Analysis. As we say in Turkish, hayırlı olsun. In other words, let it bring luck.