Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Book launch: Santiago Zabala

Being at Large. Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts (McGill-Queen's University Press)



29 April 2020, 17.00–18.30

IAS Seminar Room, Zeeman Building, University of Warwick


Slavoj Žižek praise for Being at Large

“One often uses culinary comparisons to characterize great books: creme de la creme, etc. Zabala's book is too important for such games. If anything, it is - or should become - the daily bread of all those who want to find their way in the labyrinth of our ideological struggles. Zabala sets the record straight in the ongoing debate on fake news in which philosophical issues gained political urgency. Fake news are fake precisely because they present their claims as pure facts. The opposite of fake news are not true facts but facts embedded in true interpretations. Those who fight for emancipation will win not just by presenting true facts but by providing the horizon of how to read facts, true and false.”

—Slavoj Žižek, author of Like a Thief in Broad Daylight and Sex and the Failed Absolute


Chiara Bottici praise for Being at Large

“This is a much-needed and path-breaking book, systematically showing how widespread appeals to facts, whether pure or alternative, are not only yet another claim to power, but also a new and dangerous recall to order. An indispensable reading for whoever is interested in the possibility of freedom and survival in our time, this books fully discloses the strength of Zabala’s philosophy and its potential for emancipation.”

—Chiara Bottici, author of Philosophy of Political Myth and Imaginal Politics



In Being at Large. Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts Santiago Zabala ventures into three fundamental concepts – emergency, interpretation, and Being – to confront the ongoing return to order intellectuals and politicians are imposing upon us. Presenting themselves as the ultimate bearers of truth and reality they have created unprecedented cultural, political, and technological, framings. This new order conspires to undermine the interpretive practices of open-ended critique, normalizing a sense of threat to preserve control. The greatest emergency has become the absence of emergencies. Tracing an intellectual alliance between academics such as Jordan Peterson and Christina Hoff Sommers and right-wing populist politicians such as Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, this book denounces framings that make a claim to objectivity. With the help of contemporary thinkers including Bruno Latour, Judith Butler, and Giorgio Agamben, as well as discussion of the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie and the emergency of biodiversity loss due to climate change, Santiago Zabala illustrates that the twenty-first-century question is not whether we can be free, but how to be at large - unconstrained by the new realist order. Being at Large demonstrates the anarchic power of hermeneutics, calling for interpretive disruptions of the authoritarian narrative as a way of reclaiming freedom in the age of alternative facts.

Santiago Zabala is ICREA Research Professor of Philosophy at the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona in Spain. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Al Jazeera, the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. He is the author of several books, most recently, of Why Only Art can Save Us. Aesthetics and the Absence of Emergency (Columbia University Press, 2017).





Santiago Zabala