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Unit 32 – Social Philosophy

Difficulty: Medium/hard

Time: 1 minute 30 seconds

The comment below was recently made by philosopher, Slavoj Zizek:

“…When you buy an organic apple, you’re doing it for ideological reasons, it makes you feel good: ‘I’m doing something for Mother Earth,’ and so on. But in what sense are we engaged? It’s a false engagement. Paradoxically, we do these things to avoid really doing things. It makes you feel good. You recycle, you send £5 a month to some Somali orphan, and you did your duty.”


1. Which of the following best summarises Zizek’s main point?

  • A      People should send their money to Somalia instead of wasting it on organic apples
  • B      Social consciousness is a myth perpetuated by Western culture
  • C      People have been tricked into operating safety valves that allow the status quo to survive unchallenged
  • D      Vehicles of social change are fuelled primarily by guilt


  • D “you did your duty”

    ibrahim al somal

    June 12, 2012

  • Answer:
    Q1: C
    Buying organic apples is a false engagement in that, as a solo action, it doesn’t actually achieve anything. We do it so we can feel like we are helping. Zizek argues that as a result of performing actions like this, we actually make ourselves less likely to perform larger, more helpful actions. We feel like we have done our duty by buying an apple or sending £5 to a charity and so we are no longer motivated to make any serious changes.
    The apple and the £5 are the safety valves – we open them every so often to make ourselves feel good and to release the metaphorical pressure that would otherwise build up into real social change (disturbing the status quo).
    Zizek suggests that we do these things because they make us feel good, and doesn’t mention guilt at all. He likens buying an apple to sending £5 to Somalia and makes no explicit reference to Western culture.

    Gamsat Sample Questions

    June 12, 2012

  • A great question!


    August 7, 2012

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