I think Zizek is most convincing on this point.
The author, perhaps rightly, associates "materialist" (I think the additional word "ontology" is slightly redundant here since "materialist" already supposes an ontological framework for the world, whereas "idealist" conceptions 'build' ontological accounts "from nothing" - i.e. I think the phrase "a materialist ontology" sounds a bit like saying "the ocean is wet" - but I digress...) philosophical accounts with mechanistic "organicism" beloved of the Englightenment.
What a materialist account argues today, however, is not that the universe is some self-regulating "organism" filled to the brim with "stuff" that reproduces itself according to certain laws (although this view was partially correct and was progressive in its day). What materialists ought to argue is actually the opposite: that the universe is a big void, but a positively charged void.
As Zizek says, this is a conclusion supported by the theories of quantum mechanics, which say, and I'm not a scientist, that at the sub-atomic level, every tangible object is almost entirely made of space, of blackness, of nothing, of the holes in between things rather than the things themselves.
In other words, and here is where the dialectic is so useful (sorry, Rosa), a materialist account of the world does not seek to explain "why there is something rather than nothing" (a completely impossible question to answer, as the poster pointed out), but how the "big Nothing" must always, by definition, be defined against, be in contradiction with, actually existing matter. In this way, we deflate silly materialist notions of the "self-regulating body" of "universal laws", but avoid the pitfalls of idealist-bourgeois glorifications of the Eternal Subject who "makes the world" according to the patterns of his thought.
How is the void positively charged?
Last edited by YKTMX; 20th July 2009 at 16:54.
Since, according to their fantasy, the relationships of men, all their doings, their chains and their limitations are products of their consciousness, the Young Hegelians logically put to men the moral postulate of exchanging their present consciousness for human, critical or egoistic consciousness, and thus of removing their limitations. This demand to change consciousness amounts to a demand to interpret reality in another way, i.e. to recognise it by means of another interpretation. The Young-Hegelian ideologists, in spite of their allegedly "world-shattering" statements, are the staunchest conservatives.