‘Between Schelling and Marx: The Hegel of Slavoj Žižek’ by Giorgio Cesarale

Cesarale, G. (2016). Between Schelling and Marx: The Hegel of Slavoj Žižek. Historical Materialism, 24(2), 205–227. doi:10.1163/1569206x-12341459 

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In Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism, Slavoj Žižek presents the results of his long meditation on the meaning and ultimate implications of Hegelian philosophy. In this review-article, I will first examine the stages of Žižek’s transformation of Hegelianism, and then analyse the main themes brought up in Less than Nothing. The development of a ‘polemological’ interpretation of the Hegelian concepts of ‘reconciliation’ and ‘absolute’ leads Žižek to emphasise the role of negativity and antagonism in the process of constitution of reality and subject as part of reality itself. This implies a reinterpretation of dialectical materialism: reality is not something that simply precedes the subject, but which contains just multiplicities of multiplicities, and thus the Void itself. Žižek’s assertion that the ultimate reality is the Void itself then renders unavoidable the critique of Hegelian Marxism based on the centrality of the category of alienation. The last part of the review-article surveys, instead, how Žižek’s re-reading of Hegel affects his relation with Marx and also examines the role played by ‘contradiction’ in his theoretical proposal.

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