DescriptionWhat do we know about Hegel? What do we know about Marx? What do we know about democracy and totalitarianism? Communism and psychoanalysis? What do we know that isn't a platitude that we've heard a thousand times - or a self-satisfied certainty? Through his brilliant reading of Hegel, Slavoj Zizek - one of the most provocative and widely-read thinkers of our time - upends our traditional understanding, dynamites every cliché and undermines every conviction in order to clear the ground for new ways of answering these questions.
When Lacan described Hegel as the ‘most sublime hysteric’, he was referring to the way that the hysteric asks questions because he experiences his own desire as if it were the Other's desire. In the dialectical process, the question asked of the Other is resolved through a reflexive turn in which the question begins to function as its own answer. We had made Hegel into the theorist of abstraction and reaction, but by reading Hegel with Lacan, Zizek unveils a Hegel of the concrete and of revolution - his own, and the one to come.
This early and dazzlingly original work by Zizek offers a unique insight into the ideas which have since become hallmarks of his mature thought. It will be of great interest to anyone interested in critical theory, philosophy and contemporary social thought.
Introduction: Impossible Absolute Knowledge 1
Book I: Hegel with Lacan 7
1. “The Formal Aspect”: Reason versus Understanding 9
2. The Retroactive Performative, or How the Necessary Emerges from the Contingent 21
3. The Dialectic as Logic of the Signifier (1): The One of Self-Reference 35
4. The Dialectic as Logic of the Signifier (2): The Real of the “Triad” 54
5. Das Ungeschehenmachen: How is Lacan a Hegelian? 70
6. The “Cunning of Reason,” or the True Nature of the Hegelian Teleology 83
7. “The Suprasensible is the Phenomenon as Phenomenon,” or How Hegel Goes Beyond the Kantian Thing-in-Itself 97
8. Two Hegelian Witz, Which Help Us Understand Why Absolute Knowledge Is Divisive 105
Book II: Post-Hegelian Impasses 125
9. The Secret of the Commodity Form: Why is Marx the Inventor of the Symptom? 127
10. Ideology Between the Dream and the Phantasy: A First Attempt at Defining “Totalitarianism” 146
11. Divine Psychosis, Political Psychosis: A Second Attempt at Defining “Totalitarianism” 156
12. Between Two Deaths: Third, and Final, Attempt at Defining “Totalitarianism” 175
13. The Quilting Point of Ideology: Or Why Lacan is Not a “Poststructuralist” 195
14. Naming and Contingency: Hegel and
Analytic Philosophy 209
"The Most Sublime Hysteric clearly outlines the logic at the basis of the thought of the most important philosopher of our time. With care and precision, Zizek conjoins Hegel and Lacan, building the components of his own unique and powerful philosophical system. This long-awaited translation of Zizek's doctoral dissertation provides a valuable new point of entry to his work, appropriate for experts and newcomers alike."
Jodi Dean, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
"Slavoj Zizek’s doctoral thesis on Hegel, Lacan, and the impasses of post-Hegelianism is as fresh today as it was in 1982. Written with his characteristic wit and exceptional lucidity, this book will clarify the foundational ideas of one of the greatest thinkers of our time."
Kenneth Reinhard, University of California, Los Angeles
"What a fascinating document it is."
Irish Left Review