For the last two centuries, Western philosophy has developed in the shadow of Hegel, an influence each new thinker struggles to escape. As a consequence, Hegel’s absolute idealism has become the bogeyman of philosophy, obscuring the fact that he is the defining philosopher of the historical transition to modernity, a period with which our own times share startling similarities. Today, as global capitalism comes apart at the seams, we are entering a new period of transition. In Less Than Nothing, the product of a career-long focus on the part of its author, Slavoj Žižek argues it is imperative we not simply return to Hegel but that we repeat and exceed his triumphs, overcoming his limitations by being even more Hegelian than the master himself. Such an approach not only enables Žižek to diagnose our present condition, but also to engage in a critical dialogue with key strands of contemporary thought—Heidegger, Badiou, speculative realism, quantum physics, and cognitive sciences. Modernity will begin and end with Hegel. From the Trade Paperback edition.
less than nothing hegel and the shadow of dialectical materialism
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Slavoj Žižek’s masterwork on the Hegelian legacy. For the last two centuries, Western philosophy has developed in the shadow of Hegel, whose influence each new thinker tries in vain to escape: whether in the name of the pre-rational Will, the social process of production, or the contingency of individual existence. Hegel’s absolute idealism has become the bogeyman of philosophy, obscuring the fact that he is the dominant philosopher of the epochal historical transition to modernity; a period with which our own time shares startling similarities. Today, as global capitalism comes apart at the seams, we are entering a new transition. In Less Than Nothing, the pinnacle publication of a distinguished career, Slavoj Žižek argues that it is imperative that we not simply return to Hegel but that we repeat and exceed his triumphs,overcoming his limitations by being even more Hegelian than the master himself. Such an approach not only enables Žižek to diagnose our present condition, but also to engage in a critical dialogue with the key strands of contemporary thought—Heidegger, Badiou, speculative realism, quantum physics and cognitive sciences. Modernity will begin and end with Hegel.
In 2012, philosopher and public intellectual Slavoj Žižek published what arguably is his magnum opus, the one-thousand-page tome Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism. A sizable sequel appeared in 2014, Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism. In these two books, Žižek returns to the German idealist G. W. F. Hegel in order to forge a new materialism for the twenty-first century. Žižek’s reinvention of Hegelian dialectics explores perennial and contemporary concerns: humanity’s relations with nature, the place of human freedom, the limits of rationality, the roles of spirituality and religion, and the prospects for radical sociopolitical change. In A New German Idealism, Adrian Johnston offers a first-of-its-kind sustained critical response to Less Than Nothing and Absolute Recoil. Johnston, a leading authority on and interlocutor of Žižek, assesses the recent return to Hegel against the backdrop of Kantian and post-Kantian German idealism. He also presents alternate reconstructions of Hegel’s positions that differ in important respects from Žižek’s version of dialectical materialism. In particular, Johnston criticizes Žižek’s deviations from the secular naturalism and Enlightenment optimism of his chosen sources of inspiration: not only Hegel, but Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud too. In response, Johnston develops what he calls transcendental materialism, an antireductive and leftist materialism capable of preserving and advancing the core legacies of the Hegelian, Marxian, and Freudian traditions central to Žižek.
This book is the first volume to bring together the most prominent scholars who work on Slavoj i ek's philosophy, examining and interrogating his understanding of dialectical materialism. It deserves to be thoroughly and systematically elaborated because it attempts to propose a new foundation for dialectical materialism.
The very first book dedicated to Slavoj Zizek’s theoretical treatment of law, this book gathers widely recognized Zizek scholars as well as legal theorists to offer a sustained analysis of the place of law in Zizek’s work. Whether it is with reference to symbolic law, psychoanalytical law, religious law, positive law, human rights, to Lacan’s, Hegel’s, or Kant’s philosophies of law, or even to Jewish or Buddhist law, Zizek returns again and again to law. And what his work offers, this volume demonstrates, is a radically new approach to law, and a rethinking of its role within the framework of radical politics. With the help of Zizek himself – who here, and for the first time, directly engages with the topic of law – this collection provides an authoritative account of ‘Zizek and law’. It will be invaluable resource for researchers and students in the fields of law, legal theory, legal philosophy, political theory, psychoanalysis, theology, and cultural studies.
Catherine Malabou, Antonio Negri, John D. Caputo, Bruno Bosteels, Mark C. Taylor, and Slavoj Zizek join seven others—including William Desmond, Katrin Pahl, Adrian Johnston, Edith Wyschogrod, and Thomas A. Lewis—to apply Hegel's thought to twenty-first-century philosophy, politics, and religion. Doing away with claims that the evolution of thought and history is at an end, these thinkers safeguard Hegel's innovations against irrelevance and, importantly, reset the distinction of secular and sacred. These original contributions focus on Hegelian analysis and the transformative value of the philosopher's thought in relation to our current "turn to religion." Malabou develops Hegel's motif of confession in relation to forgiveness; Negri writes of Hegel's philosophy of right; Caputo reaffirms the radical theology made possible by Hegel; and Bosteels critiques fashionable readings of the philosopher and argues against the reducibility of his dialectic. Taylor reclaims Hegel's absolute as a process of infinite restlessness, and Zizek revisits the religious implications of Hegel's concept of letting go. Mirroring the philosopher's own trajectory, these essays progress dialectically through politics, theology, art, literature, philosophy, and science, traversing cutting-edge theoretical discourse and illuminating the ways in which Hegel inhabits them.
Contemporary politics is faced, on the one hand, with political stagnation and lack of a progressive vision on the side of formal, institutional politics, and, on the other, with various social movements that venture to challenge modern understandings of representation, participation,and democracy. Interestingly, both institutional and anti-institutional sides of this antagonism tend to accuse each other of "nihilism", namely, of mere oppositional destructiveness and failure to offer a constructive, positive alternative to the status quo. Nihilism seems, then, all engulfing. In order to better understand this political situation and ourselves within it,The Politics of Nihilism proposes a thorough theoretical examination of the concept of nihilism and its historical development followed by critical studies of Israeli politics and culture. The authors show that, rather than a mark of mutual opposition and despair, nihilism is a fruitful category for tracing and exploring the limits of political critique, rendering them less rigid and opening up a space of potentiality for thought, action, and creation.
"Is it meaningful to call oneself a democrat? And if so, how do you interpret the word?" In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy, along with its critical weaknesses, and reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy Brown discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, and Jacques Rancière highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Zizek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who wish to do without it. Concentrating on the classical roots of democracy and its changing meaning over time and within different contexts, these essays uniquely defend what is left of the left-wing tradition after the fall of Soviet communism. They confront disincentives to active democratic participation that have caused voter turnout to decline in western countries, and they address electoral indifference by invoking and reviving the tradition of citizen involvement. Passionately written and theoretically rich, this collection speaks to all facets of modern political and democratic debate.
Slavoj i ek and Srecko Horvat combine their critical clout to emphasize the dangers of ignoring Europe's growing wealth gap and the parallel rise in right-wing nationalism, which is directly tied to the fallout from the ongoing financial crisis and its prescription of imposed austerity. To general observers, the European Union's economic woes appear to be its greatest problem, but the real peril is an ongoing ideological–political crisis that threatens an era of instability and reactionary brutality. The fall of communism in 1989 seemed to end the leftist program of universal emancipation. However, nearly a quarter of a century later, the European Union has failed to produce any coherent vision that can mobilize people to action. Until recently, the only ideology receptive to European workers has been the nationalist call to "defend" against immigrant integration. Today, Europe is focused on regulating the development of capitalism and promoting a reactionary conception of its cultural heritage. Yet staying these courses, i ek and Horvat show, only strips Europe of its power and stifles its political ingenuity. The best hope is for Europe to revive and defend its legacy of universal egalitarianism, which benefits all parties by preserving the promise of equal representation.