Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism

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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 ...

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Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this rigorous examination of Hegel’s philosophical legacy, famed Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Zizek (Living in the End Times) demonstrates how deeply Hegel’s ideas have pervaded Western thought and culture for the past 200 years, from Marx’s critique of capitalism to Hitchcock’s films. Zizek reveals the often subtle connections to later thinkers, in particular psychiatrist Jacques Lacan, as “repetitions” of Hegel, and spends as much time examining psychoanalytic theory as philosophical concepts, viewing both as attempts to understand the difficult nature of humanity. Zizek draws these connections across a variety of apparently unrelated topics, from Plato’s Parmenides as the first work to deal with dialectics to a detailed discussion on quantum physics, whose laws appear to follow Hegel’s thinking about reality. He uses humor to illustrate many concepts, frequently drawing on old jokes from former communist nations, providing laughs as well as understanding. Hegel and dialectical materialism, Zizek argues, still play an important role today in shaping views on history and political struggles. Though occasionally repetitive and potentially overwhelming in scope, Zizek’s latest offers a lucid rendering of modern society’s debt to Hegel. (May)
From the Publisher
"Few thinkers illustrate the contradictions of contemporary capitalism better than Slavoj Žižek … one of the world’s best-known public intellectuals.”—John Gray, New York Review of Books

“A serious attempt to reanimate or re-actualize Hegel.”—Robert Pippin, author of Hegel’s Idealism

“A gifted speaker––tumultuous, emphatic, direct––and he writes as he speaks.” —Jonathan Ree, Guardian

“The Hegel that Žižek loves is much like Žižek himself: a relentless iconoclast,
a restless wordsmith, an inventive thinker with a hatred of received wisdom,
an underminer of conventionally acknowledged truths. Žižek’s Hegel is a kind of cosmic prankster.”—Bookforum

"A lucid rendering of modern society’s debt to Hegel."—Publisher’s Weekly

"The publication of Less Than Nothing is a major event in contemporary philosophy."—Hey, Small Press

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844678976
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 5/22/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 1056
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a Professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and many more.
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