Slavoj Žižek: “The ordeal we face is not lockdown and isolation, but what happens when our societies start to move again”

Authoritarians are exploiting this crisis, writes Slavoj Žižek. If China succeeds in Hong Kong, the violent takeover of Taiwan could be the next step – then a full scale Pacific war

Article text as posted on The Independant, 14th May 2020

In a documentary on life in the Chernobyl zone after the accident, an ordinary farmers’ family is shown simply continuing to live in their hut, defying the orders to evacuate and forgotten by the state authorities. They don’t believe in any mysterious nuclear rays – nature is there and life just goes on for them. They were lucky, they said: radiation didn’t seriously affect them.

Does their stance not recall the famous scene from The Matrix in which Neo is given the option to take the blue pill or the red pill? The blue pill would allow him go on living in our common reality, while the red pill would awaken him into the true state of things: our reality is a collective virtual dream manipulated by a gigantic artificial intelligence, and our bodies are actually used as human batteries to provide the energy for the AI machine.

The Chernobyl farmers chose the blue pill, and got away with it… or did they? From the perspective of the farmers, it is the world around them which swallowed the blue pill and believed in the grand lie about radioactive rays while they refused to be seduced by this panic and remained firmly rooted in their daily reality.

One cannot but notice how the metaphor of choosing the red pill and rejecting society’s grand lies is now predominantly used by the new populist right, especially with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic. Elon Musk recently joined their ranks, calling the predominant response to it a “panic” and “dumb.” He exhorted his Twitter followers to “take the red pill,” and his comment was quickly embraced by Ivanka Trump who announced that she has taken the pill already.

One should notice the irony that Musk who advocates return to normality at the same time publicizes his project of “neuralink” – all of us immersed into a collective wired brain where our minds directly communicate, bypassing the need for language. Is this vision not the ultimate version of taking the blue pill from Matrix, with humans isolated in cocoon beds, together floating in a shared virtual space?

Paradoxically, the populist new right is here joined by some radical leftists who also see in the Covid-19 panic a conspiracy of the state to impose total control over population. Here is an extreme case: Giorgio Agamben claims that “professors who agree to submit to the new dictatorship of telematics and to hold their courses only online are the perfect equivalent of the university teachers who in 1931 swore allegiance to the fascist regime.”

In the US, the polemics about continuing lockdown is turning into culture war: some stores hung signs “Entrance forbidden with masks!” (not without, but with); Trump ordered all churches, synagogues and mosques to open.

My aim here is not to score cheap points against those who disavow the reality of viral epidemics but to bring out what pushes them to this disavowal. The coronavirus pandemic threatens to develop into a perfect storm, the combination of three (or even four) storms that multiplies their effects. While the first two storms – health catastrophe, economic crisis – are widely debated, the other two – international crises and wars, mental health costs – are much less covered.

We often read that the pandemic was a shock which changed everything, that nothing is the same now. True. But at the same time nothing really changed. The pandemic just brought out more clearly what was already there.

Libertarians critique the use of phone signals to locate you, trace infected individuals and prevent the spread of the disease, yet state apparatuses were already for years registering all our digital communications and phone calls. Now, at least, they are at least using this ability to control us publicly, openly, and to our benefit – and to ascertain one single data (where we move).

Much more dangerous that that is the new turn in tensions between China and the US, which were growing already before the outbreak of coronavirus. China is now making moves to tighten its control over Hong Kong. A new security law is being discussed which would allow Beijing to take aim at the protests that have roiled the semiautonomous city.

This measure, the most aggressive one since Beijing took over Hong Kong in 1997, should be read together with another fact much less reported in our media: for the first time since Xi Jinping took over in 2013, the Taiwan section of the State Council annual report does not include any mention of the “1992 Consensus”, “One Country Two Systems”, “peace” or “peaceful unification.”

This is a major departure from the past which might mean that Beijing has given up the idea of a peaceful unification with Taiwan. If China succeeds in Hong Kong, the violent takeover of Taiwan could be the next step – and this could lead to a full scale Pacific war. Yes, Taiwan and Hong Kong are parts of China, but is this the moment to pose military threats?

And so it goes on elsewhere: Israel plans to annexe parts of West Bank; the US is considering to restart nuclear weapons tests; many other states are using coronavirus to pursue even more ruthlessly their aggressive politics as usual. We live in a mad world where nobody seems ready to do the rational thing and obey a truce in the time of a public health crisis.

Madness brings us to the fourth, no less ominous, storm: collective madness itself, the threatening collapse of our mental health.

Signs are already multiplying. In northern Italy, up to 80 percent of adult men are mentally affected; in Spain, half of the children in metropolitan areas have nightmares; in the US, tens of thousands of suicides are expected.

This trend should not surprise us when the very fundamentals of our daily lives are disappearing. In an essay entitled The Moon under Water, writer George Orwell describes the atmosphere of his ideal pub. For Orwell, pubs were the key element of socialising for the working classes, the place where their common mores were asserted – and now, after coronavirus, it is doubtful if the pub life will ever return as we once knew it. One should never underestimate the shattering effect of seeing one‘s daily customs collapse.

The true ordeal is not so much the lockdown and isolation, it is what happens next, when our societies are start to move again.

I have already once compared the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global capitalist order to the “five point palm exploding heart technique” from the final scene of Tarantino’s Kill Bill 2. The move consists of a combination of five strikes with one’s fingertips to five different pressure points on the target’s body. The target can go on living and talking if he doesn’t move, but after he stands up and takes five steps, his heart explodes. Is this not how Covid-19 has affected global capitalist? Lockdown and isolation are relatively easy to sustain, we are aware that it is a temporary measure like taking a break; but problems explode when we will have invent a new form of life, since there is no return to the old.

Taking the true red pill means to gather the strength to confront the threat of these storms. We can do it because, to a considerable degree, they depend on us and on how we act and react in these difficult times.

Let’s not dream about a return to the old normality, but let us also abandon those Matrix-esque dreams about entering a new post-human era of collective spiritual existence.

The ongoing pandemic makes us aware that we are rooted in our individual bodies – and it is here that we should engage in the struggle.

‘Sovereignty, Inc.: Three Inquiries in Politics and Enjoyment’

Published by The University of Chicago Press in 2020.

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What does the name Trump stand for? If branding now rules over the production of value, as the coauthors of Sovereignty, Inc. argue, then Trump assumes the status of a master brand whose primary activity is the compulsive work of self-branding—such is the new sovereignty business in which, whether one belongs to his base or not, we are all “incorporated.”

Drawing on anthropology, political theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and theater, William Mazzarella, Eric L. Santner, and Aaron Schuster show how politics in the age of Trump functions by mobilizing a contradictory and convoluted enjoyment, an explosive mixture of drives and fantasies that eludes existing portraits of our era. The current political moment turns out to be not so much exceptional as exceptionally revealing of the constitutive tension between enjoyment and economy that has always been a key component of the social order. Santner analyzes the collective dream-work that sustains a new sort of authoritarian charisma or mana, a mana-facturing process that keeps us riveted to an excessively carnal incorporation of sovereignty. Mazzarella examines the contemporary merger of consumer brand and political brand and the cross-contamination of politics and economics, warning against all too easy laments about the corruption of politics by marketing. Schuster, focusing on the extreme theatricality and self-satirical comedy of the present, shows how authority reasserts itself at the very moment of distrust and disillusionment in the system, profiting off its supposed decline. A dazzling diagnostic of our present, Sovereignty, Inc., forces us to come to terms with our complicity in Trump’s political presence and will immediately take its place in discussions of contemporary politics.

‘The Royal Remains: The People’s Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty’ by Eric L. Santner

University of Chicago Press, 2011

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“The king is dead. Long live the king!” In early modern Europe, the king’s body was literally sovereign—and the right to rule was immediately transferrable to the next monarch in line upon the king’s death. In The Royal Remains, Eric L. Santner argues that the “carnal” dimension of the structures and dynamics of sovereignty hasn’t disappeared from politics. Instead, it migrated to a new location—the life of the people—where something royal continues to linger in the way we obsessively track and measure the vicissitudes of our flesh.
 
Santner demonstrates the ways in which democratic societies have continued many of the rituals and practices associated with kingship in displaced, distorted, and usually, unrecognizable forms. He proposes that those strange mental activities Freud first lumped under the category of the unconscious—which often manifest themselves in peculiar physical ways—are really the uncanny second life of these “royal remains,” now animated in the body politic of modern neurotic subjects. Pairing Freud with Kafka, Carl Schmitt with Hugo von Hofmannsthal,and Ernst Kantorowicz with Rainer Maria Rilke, Santner generates brilliant readings of multiple texts and traditions of thought en route to reconsidering the sovereign imaginary. Ultimately, The Royal Remains locates much of modernity—from biopolitical controversies to modernist literary experiments—in this transition from subjecthood to secular citizenship.
 
This major new work will make a bold and original contribution to discussions of politics, psychoanalysis, and modern art and literature.

‘The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology’ by Slavoj Žižek, Eric L. Santner & Kenneth Reinhard

Published by The University of Chicago Press in 2006.

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In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud made abundantly clear what he thought about the biblical injunction, first articulated in Leviticus 19:18 and then elaborated in Christian teachings, to love one’s neighbor as oneself. “Let us adopt a naive attitude towards it,” he proposed, “as though we were hearing it for the first time; we shall be unable then to suppress a feeling of surprise and bewilderment.” After the horrors of World War II, the Holocaust, and Stalinism, Leviticus 19:18 seems even less conceivable—but all the more urgent now—than Freud imagined.

In The Neighbor, three of the most significant intellectuals working in psychoanalysis and critical theory collaborate to show how this problem of neighbor-love opens questions that are fundamental to ethical inquiry and that suggest a new theological configuration of political theory. Their three extended essays explore today’s central historical problem: the persistence of the theological in the political. In “Toward a Political Theology of the Neighbor,” Kenneth Reinhard supplements Carl Schmitt’s political theology of the enemy and friend with a political theology of the neighbor based in psychoanalysis. In “Miracles Happen,” Eric L. Santner extends the book’s exploration of neighbor-love through a bracing reassessment of Benjamin and Rosenzweig. And in an impassioned plea for ethical violence, Slavoj Žižek’s “Neighbors and Other Monsters” reconsiders the idea of excess to rehabilitate a positive sense of the inhuman and challenge the influence of Levinas on contemporary ethical thought.

A rich and suggestive account of the interplay between love and hate, self and other, personal and political, The Neighbor has proven to be a touchstone across the humanities and a crucial text for understanding the persistence of political theology in secular modernity.

‘A Discourse on Method’ by René Descartes


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The Discourse on the Method is a philosophical and mathematical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. Its full name is Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Searching for Truth in the Sciences (French title: Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la verité dans les sciences). The Discourse on Method is best known as the source of the famous quotation “Je pense, donc je suis” (“I think, therefore I am”), which occurs in Part IV of the work. (The similar statement in Latin, Cogito ergo sum, is found in §7 of Principles of Philosophy.) In addition, in one of its appendices, La Géométrie, is contained Descartes’ first introduction of the Cartesian coordinate system.

The Discourse on the Method is one of the most influential works in the history of modern science. It is a method which gives a solid platform from which all modern natural sciences could evolve. In this work, Descartes tackles the problem of skepticism which had been revived from the ancients such as Sextus Empiricus by authors such as Al-Ghazali and Michel de Montaigne. Descartes modified it to account for a truth that he found to be incontrovertible. Descartes started his line of reasoning by doubting everything, so as to assess the world from a fresh perspective, clear of any preconceived notions.

The book was originally published in Leiden in French, together with his works “Dioptrique, Météores et Géométrie”. Later, it was translated into Latin and published in 1656 in Amsterdam.

Together with Meditations on First Philosophy (Meditationes de Prima Philosophia), Principles of Philosophy (Principia philosophiae) and Rules for the Direction of the Mind (Regulae ad directionem ingenii), it forms the base of the Epistemology known as Cartesianism.

‘Philosophical Essays and Correspondence’ by René Descartes

Published by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. in 2000.

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This volume includes all major works by Descartes in their entirety, important selections from his lesser known writings, and key selections from his philosophical correspondence. The result is an anthology that enables the reader to understand the development of Descartes’s thought over his lifetime. Includes a biographical Introduction, chronology, bibliography, and index.

‘The Correspondence between Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia and René Descartes’

Published by University Of Chicago Press in 2007.

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Between the years 1643 and 1649, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618–80) and René Descartes (1596–1650) exchanged fifty-eight letters—thirty-two from Descartes and twenty-six from Elisabeth.

Their correspondence contains the only known extant philosophical writings by Elisabeth, revealing her mastery of metaphysics, analytic geometry, and moral philosophy, as well as her keen interest in natural philosophy. The letters are essential reading for anyone interested in Descartes’s philosophy, in particular his account of the human being as a union of mind and body, as well as his ethics. They also provide a unique insight into the character of their authors and the way ideas develop through intellectual collaboration.

Philosophers have long been familiar with Descartes’s side of the correspondence. Now Elisabeth’s letters—never before available in translation in their entirety—emerge this volume, adding much-needed context and depth both to Descartes’s ideas and the legacy of the princess. Lisa Shapiro’s annotated edition—which also includes Elisabeth’s correspondence with the Quakers William Penn and Robert Barclay—will be heralded by students of philosophy, feminist theorists, and historians of the early modern period.

‘Introducing Descartes: A Graphic Guide’ by Dave Robinson & Chris Garratt

Published by Icon Books; Reprint edition (December 14, 2010)

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René Descartes is famous as the philosopher who was prepared to doubt everything―even his own physical existence. Most people know that he said ‘I think, therefore I am‘, even if they are not always sure what he really meant by it.

René Descartes: ‘Meditacije o prvi filozofiji’

Izdala Slovenska matica v Ljubljani, 2004

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Sicer obvezno učno čtivo vsakega dijaka, ki na gimnazijski maturi izbere predmet filozofije, Dekartove Meditacije o prvi filozofiji veljajo za temeljno in izvorno delo moderne dobe v zahodni filozofiji.

Poslovenil Primož Simoniti; uvod napisal Mirko Hribar.

‘The Communist Manifesto’ by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels

This edition published in the Penguin Classics series in 2002.
Download link updated on 20. June 2021.

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A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcize this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police spies. . .


Originally published on the eve of the 1848 European revolutions, The Communist Manifesto is a condensed and incisive account of the worldview Marx and Engels developed during their hectic intellectual and political collaboration. Formulating the principles of dialectical materialism, they believed that labor creates wealth, hence capitalism is exploitive and antithetical to freedom.


Born in Trier in the Rhineland in 1818, Karl Marx was the son of a Jewish lawyer, recently converted to Christianity. As a student in Bonn and Berlin, Marx studied law and then philosophy. He joined with the Young Hegelians, the most radical of Hegel’s followers, in denying that Hegel’s philosophy could be reconciled with Christianity or the existing State. Forced out of university by his radicalism, he became a journalist and, soon after, a socialist. He left Prussia for Paris and then Brussels, where he stayed until 1848. In 1844 he began his collaboration with Friedrich Engels and developed a new theory of communism to be brought into being by a proletarian revolution. This theory was brilliantly outlined in The Communist Manifesto. Marx participated in the 1848 revolutions as a newspaper editor in Cologne. Exiled together with his family to London, he tried to make a living writing for the New York Herald Tribune and other journals, but remained financially dependent on Engels. His researches in the British Museum were aimed at underpinning his conception of communism with a theory of history that demonstrated that capitalism was a transient economic form destined to break down and be superseded by a society without classes, private property or state authority. This study was never completed, but its first part, which was published as Capital in 1867, established him as the principal theorist of revolutionary socialism. He died in London in 1883.

Born in Westphalia in 1820, Friedrich Engels was the son of a textile manufacturer. After military training in Berlin and already a convert to communism, Engels went to Manchester in 1842 to represent the family firm. A relationship with a mill-hand, Mary Burns, and friendship with local Owenites and Chartists helped to inspire his famous early work, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. Collaboration with Marx began in 1844 and in 1847 he composed the first drafts of the Manifesto. After playing an active part in the German revolutions, Engels returned to work in Manchester until 1870, when he moved to London. He not only helped Marx financially, but reinforced their shared position through his own expositions of the new theory. After Marx’s death, he prepared the unfinished volumes of Capital for publication. He died in London in 1895.

‘Jacques, the Sophist: Lacan, Logos and Psychoanalysis’ by Barbara Cassin

Published by Fordham University Press in 2019

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Sophistry, since Plato and Aristotle, has been philosophy’s negative alter ego, its bad other. Yet sophistry’s emphasis on words and performativity over the fetishization of truth makes it an essential part of our world’s cultural, political, and philosophical repertoire. In this dazzling book, Barbara Cassin, who has done more than anyone to reclaim a mode of thought that traditional philosophy disavows, shows how the sophistical tradition has survived in the work of psychoanalysis.

In a highly original rereading of the writings and seminars of Jacques Lacan, together with works of Freud and others, Cassin shows how psychoanalysis, like the sophists, challenges the very foundations of scientific rationality. In taking seriously equivocations, jokes, and unfinishable projects of interpretation, the analyst, like the sophist, allows performance, signifier, and inconsistency to reshape truth.

‘Cogito and the Unconscious’ edited by Slavoj Žižek

Published by Duke University Press in April 1998. Download link updated on 22. June 2021.

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The Cartesian cogito—the principle articulated by Descartes that “I think, therefore I am”—is often hailed as the precursor of modern science. At the same time, the cogito’s agent, the ego, is sometimes feared as the agency of manipulative domination responsible for all present woes, from patriarchal oppression to ecological catastrophes.

Without psychoanalyzing philosophy, Cogito and the Unconscious explores the vicissitudes of the cogito and shows that psychoanalyses can render visible a constitutive madness within modern philosophy, the point at which “I think, therefore I am” becomes obsessional neurosis characterized by “If I stop thinking, I will cease to exist.”

Noting that for Lacan the Cartesian construct is the same as the Freudian “subject of the unconscious,” the contributors follow Lacan’s plea for a psychoanalytic return to the cogito. Along the path of this return, they examine the ethical attitude that befits modern subjectivity, the inherent sexualization of modern subjectivity, the impasse in which the Cartesian project becomes involved given the enigmatic status of the human body, and the Cartesian subject’s confrontation with its modern critics, including Althusser, Bataille, and Dennett.

In a style that has become familiar to Žižek’s readers, these essays bring together a strict conceptual analysis and an approach to a wide range of cultural and ideological phenomena—from the sadist paradoxes of Kant’s moral philosophy to the universe of Ayn Rand’s novels, from the question “Which, if any, is the sex of the cogito?” to the defense of the cogito against the onslaught of cognitive sciences.

Challenging us to reconsider fundamental notions of human consciousness and modern subjectivity, this is a book whose very Lacanian orthodoxy makes it irreverently transgressive of predominant theoretical paradigms. Cogito and the Unconscious will appeal to readers interested in philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and theories of ideology.

Contributors: Miran Božovič, Mladen Dolar, Alain Grosrichard, Marc de Kessel, Robert Pfaller, Renata Salecl, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupančič.

‘Meditations’ by René Descartes

Published in Penguin Classics in 1998. Download link updated on 20. June 2021.

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Widely regarded as the father of modern Western philosophy, Descartes sought to look beyond established ideas and create a thought system based on reason. In this profound work he meditates on doubt, the human soul, God, truth and the nature of existence itself.

‘The Seminar of Alain Badiou: Nietzsche’s Anti-Philosophy I, 1992-1993’ by Wanyoung E. Kim

Unofficial translation published in 2015.

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It is common knowledge that Nietzsche is very critical of traditional philosophy and strongly opposes a number of (if not all) philosophers, but Alain Badiou goes beyond this claim to interpret and classify Nietzsche as an “antiphilosopher.” As such, Badiou’s interpretation belongs to the vast literature focusing on Nietzsche’s critique of metaphysics and truth. However, Badiou goes a bit further and develops a notion of “antiphilosophy” that not only is critical but also has a positive impact: Nietzsche is not only a critic of metaphysics, but he is also an antiphilosopher like Pascal or Rousseau. Nietzsche. L’antiphilosophie I is the transcript from a seminar Badiou gave in 1992–93 and, as the title suggests, is the first of a series of seminars on antiphilosophers (which includes Wittgenstein, Lacan, and Saint Paul).

Badiou’s interpretation of Nietzsche is a first step in establishing his concept of “antiphilosophy,” which he introduces by posing three interrelated questions: “My strategy in this seminar will be to intertwine three interrogations: topical, on the status of the Nietzschean text; historical, asking whether the century was Nietzschean and in what sense; and generic, on the germane question of art”. Even though these “interrogations” are indeed intertwined, the first half of the book focuses more on the first question, and the second half focuses on the third. Badiou’s first task is to define Nietzsche’s philosophy—and that means to define what the Nietzschean text is—in order to establish and stabilize his notion of “antiphilosophy.”

In Defense of Julian Assange

Published by OR Books in 2019. Downoad link updated on 3. July 2021.

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After being forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy, Julian Assange is now in a high security prison in London where he faces extradition to the United States and imprisonment for the rest of his life.

The charges Assange faces are a major threat to press freedom. James Goodale, who represented the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case, commented: “The charge against Assange for ‘conspiring’ with a source is the most dangerous I can think of with respect to the First Amendment in all my years representing media organizations.”

It is critical now to build support for Assange and prevent his delivery into the hands of the American administration. That is the urgent purpose of this book. A wide range of distinguished contributors, many of them in original pieces, here set out the story of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, the importance of their work, and the dangers for us all in the persecution they face. In Defense of Julian Assange is a vivid, vital intervention into one of the most important political issues of our day.

Contributors: Pamela Anderson, Julian Assange, Renata Avila, Katrin Axelsson, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Sally Burch, Noam Chomsky, Patrick Cockburn, Naomi Colvin, The Courage Foundation, Mark Curtis, Daniel Ellsberg, Teresa Forcades i Vila, Charles Glass, Kevin Gosztola, Serge Halimi, Nozomi Hayase, Chris Hedges, Srećko Horvat, Caitlin Johnstone, Margaret Kimberley, Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, Lisa Longstaff, Alan MacLeod, Stefania Maurizi, Craig Murray, Fidel Narváez, John C. O’Day, John Pilger, Jesselyn Radack, Michael Ratner, Angela Richter, Geoffrey Robertson, Jennifer Robinson, Matt Taibbi, Natalia Viana, Ai Weiwei, Vivienne Westwood and Slavoj Žižek.

Umbr(a) Journal Collection

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Umbr(a) was one of the most important US theory journals of the 1990s and early 2000s, publishing work by some of the greatest philosophers, psychoanalysts and theorists of our era. In every regard, it was ahead of the curve – in content, design, and style – often introducing thinkers who have subsequently become globally influential. Includes contributions from Joan Copjec, Sam Gillespie, Juliet Flower MacCannell , Charles Shepherdson, Russell Grigg, Alenka Zupančič, Slavoj Žižek, Mladen Dolar, Catherine Malabou, Tim Dean, Steven Miller, Dominiek Hoens, Petar Ramadanovic, Sigi Jöttkandt, Colette Soler, Jelica Šumič and A. Kiarina Kordela.

The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VI: Desire and its Interpretation

Published by Polity Press in 2019

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What does Lacan show us? He shows us that desire is not a biological function; that it is not correlated with a natural object; and that its object is fantasized. Because of this, desire is extravagant. It cannot be grasped by those who might try to master it. It plays tricks on them. Yet if it is not recognized, it produces symptoms. In psychoanalysis, the goal is to interpret – that is, to read – the message regarding desire that is harbored within the symptom.

Although desire upsets us, it also inspires us to invent artifices that can serve us as a compass. An animal species has a single natural compass. Human beings, on the other hand, have multiple compasses: signifying montages and discourses. They tell you what to do: how to think, how to enjoy, and how to reproduce. Yet each person’s fantasy remains irreducible to shared ideals.

‘The Philosophy of Hegel’ by Allen Speight

Published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2008.

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Few philosophers can induce as much puzzlement among students as Hegel. His works are notoriously dense and make very few concessions for a readership unfamiliar with his systematic view of the world. Allen Speight’s introduction to Hegel’s philosophy takes a chronological perspective on the development of Hegel’s system. In this way, some of the most important questions in Hegelian scholarship are illuminated by examining in their respective contexts works such as the Phenomenology and the Logic.

Speight begins with the young Hegel and his writings prior to the Phenomenology focusing on the notion of positivity and how Hegel’s social, economic and religious concerns became linked to systematic and logical ones. He then examines the Phenomenology in detail, including its treatment of scepticism, the problem of immediacy, the transition from consciousness to self-consciousness , and the emergence of the social and historical category of Spirit . The following chapter explores the Logic, paying particular attention to a number of vexed issues associated with Hegel’s claims to systematicity and the relation between the categories of Hegel’s logic and nature or spirit (Geist). The final chapters discuss Hegel’s ethical and political thought and the three elements of his notion of absolute spirit: art, religion and philosophy, as well as the importance of history to his philosophical approach as a whole.

‘Hegel, Literature and the Problem of Agency’ by Allen Speight

Published by by Cambridge University Press in 2009

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Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit has attracted much attention recently from philosophers, but none of the existing English-language books on the text addresses one of the most difficult questions the book raises: Why does the Phenomenology make such rich and provocative use of literary works and genres? Allen Speight’s bold contribution to the debate on the work of Hegel argues that behind Hegel’s extraordinary appeal to literature in the Phenomenology lies a philosophical project concerned with understanding human agency in the modern world. It shows that Hegel looked to three literary genres – tragedy, comedy, and the Romantic novel – as offering privileged access to three moments of human agency: retrospectivity, theatricality, and forgiveness. Taking full account of the authors whom Hegel himself refers to (Sophocles, Diderot, Schlegel, Jacobi), Allen Speight has written a book with a broad appeal to both philosophers and literary theorists.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: Werke in 20 Bänden | Shurkamp


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The twenty-volume edition of over 11,000 pages, published by Eva Moldenhauer and Karl Markus Michel, is the easily accessible and inexpensive edition of the writings of these classics in the history of philosophy. From the early writings on the phenomenology of the mind and the encyclopedia to the lectures on the history of philosophy, it unites almost all of Hegel’s works.

  • Band 1: Frühe Schriften
  • Band 2: Jenaer Schriften 1801-1807
  • Band 3: Phänomenologie des Geistes
  • Band 4: Nürnberger und Heidelberger Schriften 1808-1817
  • Band 5: Wissenschaft der Logik I
  • Band 6: Wissenschaft der Logik II
  • Band 7: Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts
  • Band 8: Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften I
  • Band 9: Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften II
  • Band 10: Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften III
  • Band 11: Berliner Schriften 1818-1831
  • Band 12: Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Geschichte
  • Band 13: Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik I
  • Band 14: Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik II
  • Band 15: Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik III
  • Band 16: Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion I
  • Band 17: Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion II
  • Band 18: Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie I
  • Band 19: Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie II
  • Band 20: Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie III

‘The Hegel Variations: On the Phenomenology of Spirit’ by Fredric Jameson

Published by Verso in 2010. Download link updated on 25. June 2021.

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In this major study, philosopher and cultural theorist Fredric Jameson offers an innovative reading of a book that forms part of the bedrock of modern Western thought: Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.

Whereas other writers have interpreted the Phenomenology as a rigidly closed system, Jameson discovers it to be a more fluid, open-ended work. Hegel’s mind is revealed to be a less systematic mechanism than normally thought, one whose ideas never solidify into pure abstractions.

The conclusion of the Phenomenology, on the aftermath of the French Revolution, is examined as a provisional stalemate between the political and the social—a situation from which Jameson draws important lessons for our own age.

‘Hegel’s Critique of Metaphysics’ by Béatrice Longuenesse

Published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. Download link updated on 26. June 2021.

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Hegel’s Science of Logic has received less attention than his Phenomenology of Spirit, but Hegel himself took it to be his highest philosophical achievement and the backbone of his system. The present book focuses on this most difficult of Hegel’s published works.

Béatrice Longuenesse offers a close analysis of core issues, including discussions of what Hegel means by ‘dialectical logic’, the role and meaning of ‘contradiction’ in Hegel’s philosophy, and Hegel’s justification for the provocative statement that ‘what is actual is rational, what is rational is actual’. She examines both Hegel’s debt and his polemical reaction to Kant, and shows in great detail how his project of a ‘dialectical’ logic can be understood only in light of its relation to Kant’s ‘transcendental’ logic.

This book will appeal to anyone interested in Hegel’s philosophy and its influence on contemporary philosophical discussion.

‘Critique of Pure Reason’ by Immanuel Kant

F. Max Müller, J. M. D. Meiklejohn, Norman Kemp Smith, Paul Guyer & Allen Wood, and Werner S. Pluhar translations included. Download link updated on 23. December 2021.

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The 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant is widely considered as one the most important figures in modern philosophy. His fundamental arguments with regard to the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics, have been highly influential and form the basis for much of contemporary thought upon the subjects with which he was concerned. Kant believed that there were fundamental concepts that structured human experience, and that reason principally should guide one’s examination of these concepts.

Considered one of Kant’s most important works, Critique of Pure Reason is an exposition on humanity’s faculty for reason in general. First published in 1781, this work builds upon the works of Kant’s philosophical predecessors, notably the work of empiricists like John Locke and David Hume and of rationalists like Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. An enduringly influential work, Critique of Pure Reason remains to this day as one of the most important works of Western philosophy.

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‘Science of Logic’ by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Miller & Giovanni translations into English included.
Download link updated on 20. June 2021.

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Most of the major schools of contemporary philosophy, from Marxism to Existentialism, are reactions to Hegelianism and all, if they are to be understood, require some understanding of Hegel’s Logic. From its first appearance in 1812, this work has been recognized by both admirers and detractors alike as being the absolute foundation of Hegel’s system.

‘Écrits’ by Jacques Lacan

Published January 8th 2007 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1966). Download link updated on 22. June 2021.

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Brilliant and innovative, Jacques Lacan’s work lies at the epicenter of modern thought about otherness, subjectivity, sexual difference, the drives, the law, and enjoyment. This new translation of his complete works offers welcome, readable access to Lacan’s seminal thinking on diverse subjects touched upon over the course of his inimitable intellectual career.

‘Like A Thief In Broad Daylight: Power in the Era of Post-Human Capitalism’ by Slavoj Žižek

Published by Allen Lane (Penguin) in 2018. Download link updated on 22. June 2021.

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In recent years, techno-scientific progress has started to utterly transform our world – changing it almost beyond recognition. In this new work, philosopher Slavoj Žižek turns to look at the brave new world of Big Tech, revealing how, with each new wave of innovation, we find ourselves moving closer and closer to a bizarrely literal realisation of Marx’s prediction that ‘all that is solid melts into air.’

With the automation of work, the virtualisation of money, the dissipation of class communities and the rise of immaterial, intellectual labour, the global capitalist edifice is beginning to crumble, more quickly than ever before-and it is now on the verge of vanishing entirely. But what will come next?

Against a backdrop of constant socio-technological upheaval, how could any kind of authentic change take place? In such a context, Žižek argues, there can be no great social triumph—because lasting revolution has already come into the scene, like a thief in broad daylight, stealing into sight right before our ever eyes. What we must do now is wake up and see it.

Urgent as ever, Like a Thief in Broad Daylight illuminates the new dangers as well as the radical possibilities thrown up by today’s technological and scientific advances, and their electrifying implications for us all.

‘Pocket Pantheon: Figures of Postwar Philosophy’ by Alain Badiou

First published by Verso in 2008. Download link updated 20. June 2021.

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Pocket Pantheon is an invitation to engage with the greats of postwar Western thought, such as Lacan, Sartre and Foucault, in the company of one of today’s leading political and philosophical minds. Alain Badiou draws on his encounters with this pantheon—his teachers, opponents and allies—to offer unique insights into both the authors and their work. These studies form an accessible, authoritative distillation of continental theory and a capsule history of a period in Western thought.

‘Althusser & Pasolini: Philosophy, Marxism, and Film’ by Agon Hamza

Published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016. Download link updated on 20. June 2021.

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Agon Hamza offers an in-depth analysis of the main thesis of Louis Althusser’s philosophical enterprise alongside a clear, engaging dissection of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s most important films.

There is a philosophical, religious, and political relationship between Althusser’s philosophy and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s films.  Hamza teases out the points of contact, placing specific focus on critiques of ideology, religion, ideological state apparatuses, and the class struggle. The discussion, however, does not address Althusser and Pasolini alone. Hamza also draws on Spinoza, Hegel, Marx, and Žižek to complete his study. Pasolini’s films are a treasure-trove of Althusserian thought, and Hamza ably employs Althusserian terms in his reading of the films.

Althusser and Pasolini provides a creative reconstruction of Althusserian philosophy, as well as a novel examination of Pasolini’s film from the perspective of the filmmaker’s own thought and Althusser’s theses.

‘What Is Philosophy?’ by Giorgio Agamben

Published by Stanford University Press in 2017

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In attempting to answer the question posed by this book’s title, Giorgio Agamben does not address the idea of philosophy itself. Rather, he turns to the apparently most insignificant of its components: the phonemes, letters, syllables, and words that come together to make up the phrases and ideas of philosophical discourse. A summa, of sorts, of Agamben’s thought, the book consists of five essays on five emblematic topics: the Voice, the Sayable, the Demand, the Proem, and the Muse. In keeping with the author’s trademark methodology, each essay weaves together archaeological and theoretical investigations: to a patient reconstruction of how the concept of language was invented there corresponds an attempt to restore thought to its place within the voice; to an unusual interpretation of the Platonic Idea corresponds a lucid analysis of the relationship between philosophy and science, and of the crisis that both are undergoing today. In the end, there is no universal answer to what is an impossible or inexhaustible question, and philosophical writing—a problem Agamben has never ceased to grapple with—assumes the form of a prelude to a work that must remain unwritten.

‘Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher’ by Alfred I. Tauber

Published 21st July 2010 by Princeton University Press

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Freud began university intending to study both medicine and philosophy. But he was ambivalent about philosophy, regarding it as metaphysical, too limited to the conscious mind, and ignorant of empirical knowledge. Yet his private correspondence and his writings on culture and history reveal that he never forsook his original philosophical ambitions. Indeed, while Freud remained firmly committed to positivist ideals, his thought was permeated with other aspects of German philosophy. Placed in dialogue with his intellectual contemporaries, Freud appears as a reluctant philosopher who failed to recognize his own metaphysical commitments, thereby crippling the defense of his theory and misrepresenting his true achievement. Recasting Freud as an inspired humanist and reconceiving psychoanalysis as a form of moral inquiry, Alfred Tauber argues that Freudianism still offers a rich approach to self-inquiry, one that reaffirms the enduring task of philosophy and many of the abiding ethical values of Western civilization.

Visiting Hegel at Dusk: A Conversation with Slavoj Žižek

Download link updated on 26. June 2021.

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This interview endeavors to understand Slavoj Žižek’s philosophical theses on dialectical materialism from the point of view of aleatory materialism. The contents of the interview are philosophically based, despite detours through varied topics such as politics, ecology, and communism.

Žižek asserts Hegel’s philosophical materialism, which has been overlooked by philosophers in general. Through dialectical retroactivity, Žižek maintains that we have finally found a nonteleological dialectics that is not external to Hegel but is found within his philosophy. Žižek offers concrete examples to complex categories such as absolute recoil, which he defines as the cause being “an effect of its effects.” In addition, he presents what he sees as the deficiency in Althusser’s aleatory materialism, that it represents, in his opinion, a simplistic interpretation of Hegel.

Žižek believes that Hegel is the only true materialist alternative to Marx, who never managed to free himself from a teleological view of communism.

‘The Future of Hegel: Plasticity, Temporality and Dialectic’ by Catherine Malabou

Published by Routledge in 2004. Download link updated 20. June 2021.

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This book is one of the most important recent books on Hegel, a philosopher who has had a crucial impact on the shape of continental philosophy. Published here in English, it includes a substantial preface by Jacques Derrida in which he explores the themes and conclusions of Malabou’s book.

The Future of Hegel: Plasticity, Temporality and Dialectic restores Hegel’s rich and complex concepts of time and temporality to contemporary philosophy. It examines his concept of time, relating it to perennial topics in philosophy such as substance, accident and the identity of the subject. Catherine Malabou’s also contrasts her account of Hegelian temporality with the interpretation given by Heidegger in Being and Time, arguing that it is the concept of ‘plasticity’ that best describes Hegel’s theory of temporality. The future is understood not simply as a moment in time, but as something malleable and constantly open to change through our interpretation.

The book also develops Hegel’s preoccupation with the history of Greek thought and Christianity and explores the role of theology in his thought.

Essential reading for those interested in Hegel and contemporary continental philosophy, The Future of Hegel is also fascinating to those interested in the ideas of Heidegger and Derrida.

‘Does the Woman Exist? From Freud’s Hysteric to Lacan’s Feminine’ by Paul Verhaeghe

Published by Other Press in 1996

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This book describes how Freud attempted to chart hysteria, yet came to a standstill at the problem of woman and her desire, and of how Lacan continued along this road by creating new conceptual tools. The difficulties and upsets encountered by both men are examined.

This lucid presentation of the dialectical process that carries Lacan through the evolution of Freud’s thought offers profound insights into the place of the “feminine mystique” in our social fabric. Patiently and carefully, Verhaeghe applies the Lacanian grid to Freud’s text and succeeds in explaining Lacan’s formulations without merely recapitulating his theories. The reader is informed, along the way, not only of Lacan’s take on Freudian ideas, but also of the array of interpretations emerging from other trends in post-Freudian literature, including feminist revisionism.


“A miraculous answer to the confusions surrounding Freud’s and Lacan’s theory of feminine sexuality. . . . A must for anyone who wants to grasp what psychoanalysis has to say today.”

—Slavoj Žižek

‘Nation and Aesthetics: On Kant and Freud’ by Kojin Karatani

Published by Oxford University Press in 2017

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Nation and Aesthetics is a unique attempt to examine the ambiguous nature of nationalism and nation by examining them through aesthetics. In this translation by Jonathan E. Abel, Darwin H. Tsen, and Hiroki Yoshikuni, Karatani grasps the modern social formation as a nexus of three different “modes of exchange”, namely capital-nation-state. Nation here plays the role of complementing capitalism and the state. Benedict Anderson defined nation as an “imagined community”. Through rethinking Kant, Karatani suggests that “imagination” here is not a mere fancy, but very real, in the sense that it mediates state and capital. Usually imagination is regarded as fancying what is not present here. Kant grasped imagination as a faculty to imagine what we can understand but cannot sense; that is, to say, a faculty to mediate reason and sensibility. This observation provided the foundation to Modern aesthetics, which in the course of time became an important source of nationalism. In Italy, Germany, and Japan, nationalism appeared as fascism. They found in aesthetics a moment to go beyond capitalism and the state.

The key to go beyond nation, Karatani argues, lies also in the thoughts of Kant, a cosmopolitan and an advocate of a world republic. It is well-known that the League of Nations was formed after First World War under the influence of his “Perpetual Peace”. Karatani draws attention to the overlooked fact that around the same time Freud made a radical revision of his notion of the “superego”. Karatani introduces article nine of Japan’s postwar constitution, which renounces the right to wage war, as a crystallization of Kant’s ideal of peace and Freud’s superego. By providing a unique explanation of, and ways to counter, current nationalistic and imperialistic tendencies, Nation and Aesthetics argues that theories of Kant and Freud, which are usually understood to contrast, are deeply linked and suggest ways to go beyond capital-nation-state.

‘The Uncanny’ by Sigmund Freud

Published in 2003 by Penguin.
Download link updated on 21. June 2021.

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An extraordinary collection of thematically linked essays, including The Uncanny, Screen Memories and Family Romances.

Leonardo da Vinci fascinated Freud primarily because he was keen to know why his personality was so incomprehensible to his contemporaries. In this probing biographical essay he deconstructs both da Vinci’s character and the nature of his genius. As ever, many of his exploratory avenues lead to the subject’s sexuality – why did da Vinci depict the naked human body the way he did? What of his tendency to surround himself with handsome young boys that he took on as his pupils? Intriguing, thought-provoking and often contentious, this volume contains some of Freud’s best writing.

‘Freud’ by Jonathan Lear


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Jonathan Lear clearly introduces and assesses all of Freud’s thought, focusing on those areas of philosophy on which Freud is acknowledged to have had a lasting impact. These include the philosophy of mind, free will and determinism, rationality, the nature of the self and subjectivity, and ethics and religion. He also considers some of the deeper issues and problems Freud engaged with, brilliantly illustrating their philosophical significance: human sexuality, the unconscious, dreams, and the theory of transference.

One of the most important introductions and contributions to understanding this great thinker to have been published for many years, Freud will be essential reading for anyone in the humanities, social sciences and beyond with an interest in Freud or philosophy.


“If I were to answer the question: who, among contemporary psychoanalysts, is best qualified to write an introduction to Freud as a philosopher, my choice would be: Jonathan Lear.”

Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia


Jonathan Lear is the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago, USA. He is also the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy. He is a trained psychoanalyst, and the author of several acclaimed books on philosophy and psychoanalysis, including Aristotle: The Desire to Understand; Love and Its Place in NatureOpen MindedHappiness, Death and the Remainder of Life, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation and A Case for Irony (2011). He is a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award.

‘The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud’ | The Complete 24 Volumes

First published by the Hogarth Press in London in 1953–1974. Download link updated on 20. June 2021.

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The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud is a complete edition of the works of Sigmund Freud. It was translated from the German under the general editorship of James Strachey, in collaboration with Anna Freud, assisted by Alix Strachey and Alan Tyson. The Standard Edition (usually abbreviated as SE) consists of 24 volumes, and it was originally published by the Hogarth Press in London in 1953–1974. Unlike the German Gesammelte Werke, the SE contains critical footnotes by the editors. This editorial material has later been included in the German-language Studienausgabe edition of Freud.

Please note that The Standard Edition of Freud’s works in English confuses two terms that are different in German, Instinkt (“instinct”) and Trieb (“drive”), often translating both as instinct; for example, “the hypothesis of a death instinct, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state”. This equating of instinkt and Trieb has created serious misunderstandings.


Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 in Moravia, Austrian Empire (now the Czech Republic). Between the ages of four and eighty-two his home was in Vienna; in 1938 Hitler’s invasion of Austria forced him to seek asylum in London, where he died in the following year. His career began with several years of brilliant work on the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. He was almost thirty when, after a period of study under Charcot in Paris, his interests first turned to psychology, and another ten years of clinical work in Vienna (at first in collaboration with Breuer, an older colleague) saw the birth of his creation, psychoanalysis. This began simply as a method of treating neurotic patients by investigating their minds, but it quickly grew into an accumulation of knowledge about the workings of the mind in general, whether sick or healthy. Freud was thus able to demonstrate the normal development of the sexual instinct in childhood and, largely on the basis of an examination of dreams, arrived at his fundamental discovery of the unconscious forces that influence our everyday thoughts and actions. Freud’s life was uneventful, but his ideas have shaped not only many specialist disciplines, but the whole intellectual climate of the last half century.


Table of Contents

  • Vol. I Pre-Psycho-Analytic Publications and Unpublished Drafts (1886–1899).
  • Vol. II Studies in Hysteria (1893–1895). By Josef Breuer and S. Freud.
  • Vol. III Early Psycho-Analytic Publications (1893–1899)
  • Vol. IV The Interpretation of Dreams (I) (1900)
  • Vol. V The Interpretation of Dreams (II) and On Dreams (1900–1901)
  • Vol. VI The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901)
  • Vol. VII A Case of Hysteria, Three Essays on Sexuality and Other Works (1901–1905)
  • Vol. VIII Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious (1905)
  • Vol. IX Jensen’s ‘Gradiva,’ and Other Works (1906–1909)
  • Vol. X The Cases of ‘Little Hans’ and the Rat Man’ (1909)
  • Vol. XI Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, Leonardo and Other Works (1910)
  • Vol. XII The Case of Schreber, Papers on Technique and Other Works (1911–1913)
  • Vol. XIII Totem and Taboo and Other Works (1913–1914)
  • Vol. XIV On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Meta-psychology and Other Works (1914–1916)
  • Vol. XV Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (Parts I and II) (1915–1916)
  • Vol. XVI Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (Part III) (1916–1917)
  • Vol. XVII An Infantile Neurosis and Other Works (1917–1919)
  • Vol. XVIII Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Group Psychology and Other Works (1920–1922)
  • Vol. XIX The Ego and the Id and Other Works (1923–1925)
  • Vol. XX An Autobiographical Study, Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, Lay Analysis and Other Works (1925–1926)
  • Vol. XXI The Future of an Illusion, Civilization and its Discontents and Other Works (1927–1931)
  • Vol. XXII New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis and Other Works (1932–1936)
  • Vol. XXIII Moses and Monotheism, An Outline of Psycho-Analysis and Other Works (1937–1939)
  • Vol. XXIV Indexes and Bibliographies (Compiled by Angela Richards,1974)

‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ by Sigmund Freud

Includes three different translation editions (Strachey, Crick, Brill). Download link updated on 24. June 2021.

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Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams (Die Traumdeutung) was published in November 1899, though postdated by the publisher to 1900. It explores why we dream and why dreams matter in our psychological lives. Delving into theories of manifest and latent dream content, the special work of dreams, dreams as wish fulfillments, and much more, Freud offers an incisive and enduringly relevant examination of dream psychology. Encompassing dozens of case histories and detailed analyses of actual dreams, this landmark work grants us unique insight into our sleeping experiences.

Its muted but respectful reception by reviewers disappointed Freud’s hopes and led him to complain unjustly that it had been ignored. For Freud, it was and remained the central book of his prolific career. In 1932 he wrote, in the preface to the third English edition: “It contains, even according to my present-day judgement, the most valuable of all the discoveries it has been my good fortune to make. Insight such as this falls to one’s lot but once in a lifetime”.

‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Other Writings’ by Sigmund Freud

Includes three different editions. Download link updated on 24. June 2021.

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In Freud’s view we are driven by the desire for pleasure, as well as by the desire to avoid pain. But the pursuit of pleasure has never been a simple thing. Pleasure can be a form of fear, a form of memory and a way of avoiding reality. Above all, as these essays show with remarkable eloquence, pleasure is a way in which we repeat ourselves.

The essays collected in this volume explore, in Freud’s uniquely subtle and accessible style, the puzzles of pleasure and morality and the enigmas of human development.


CONTENTS:

  • On the Introduction of Narcissism
  • Remembering, Repeating and Working Through
  • Beyond the Pleasure Principle
  • The Ego and the Id
  • Inhibition, Symptom and Fear

Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 in Moravia; from 1860 until Hitler’s invasion of Austria in 1938 he lived in Vienna. He was then forced to seek asylum in London, where he died the following year. He began his career as a doctor, specialising in work on the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. He was almost thirty when his interests first turned to psychology, and during ten years of clinical work in Vienna he developed the practice of what he called ‘psychoanalysis’. This began simply as a method of treating neurotic patients by investigating their minds, but it quickly grew into an investigation of the workings of the mind in general, both ill or healthy. Freud demonstrated the normal development of the sexual instinct in childhood and, largely on the basis of an examination of dreams, arrived at his fundamental discovery of the unconscious forces that influence our everyday thoughts and actions. Freud’s ideas have shaped not only many specialist disciplines, but have also influenced the entire intellectual climate of the last century.

The Omnibus ‘Homo Sacer’ by Giorgio Agamben

Winner of the 2018 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title, sponsored by the American Library Association.

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Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer is one of the seminal works of political philosophy in recent decades. A twenty-year undertaking, this project is a series of interconnected investigations of staggering ambition and scope investigating the deepest foundations of every major Western institution and discourse.

This single book brings together for the first time all nine volumes that make up this groundbreaking project. Each volume takes a seemingly obscure and outdated issue as its starting point—an enigmatic figure in Roman law, or medieval debates about God’s management of creation, or theories about the origin of the oath—but is always guided by questions with urgent contemporary relevance.


Giorgio Agamben is a contemporary Italian philosopher and political theorist whose works have been translated into numerous languages.


CONTENTS

I. HOMO SACER: Sovereign Power and Bare Life
Contents
Introduction

PART ONE: THE LOGIC OF SOVEREIGNTY
1. The Paradox of Sovereignty
2. ‘Nomos Basileus’
3. Potentiality and Law
4. Form of Law
Threshold

PART TWO: HOMO SACER
1. Homo Sacer
2. The Ambivalence of the Sacred
3. Sacred Life
4. ‘Vitae Necisque Potestas’
5. Sovereign Body and Sacred Body
6. The Ban and the Wolf
Threshold

PART THREE: THE CAMP AS BIOPOLITICAL PARADIGM OF THE MODERN
1. The Politicization of Life
2. Biopolitics and the Rights of Man
3. Life That Does Not Deserve to Live
4. ‘Politics, or Giving Form to the Life of a People’
5. VP
6. Politicizing Death
7. The Camp as the ‘Nomos’ of the Modern
Threshold
Bibliography


II, 1. STATE OF EXCEPTION
Contents
Translator’s Note
1. The State of Exception as a Paradigm of Government
2. Force-of-Law
3. Iustitium
4. Gigantomachy Concerning a Void
5. Feast, Mourning, Anomie
6. Auctoritas and Potestas
Bibliography


II, 2. STASIS: Civil War as a Political Paradigm
Contents
Foreword
1. Stasis
2. Leviathan and Behemoth
Bibliography


II, 3. THE SACRAMENT OF LANGUAGE: An Archaeology of the Oath
Contents
Translator’s Note
Abbreviations
The Sacrament of Language
Bibliography


II, 4. THE KINGDOM AND THE GLORY: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government
Contents
Translator’s Note
Preface
1. The Two Paradigms
Threshold
2. The Mystery of the Economy
Threshold
3. Being and Acting
Threshold
4. The Kingdom and the Government
Threshold
5. The Providential Machine
Threshold
6. Angelology and Bureaucracy
Threshold
7. The Power and the Glory
Threshold
8. The Archaeology of Glory
Threshold
Appendix: The Economy of the Moderns
1. The Law and the Miracle
2. The Invisible Hand
Bibliography


II, 5. OPUS DEI: An Archaeology of Duty
Contents
Translator’s Note
Preface
1. Liturgy and Politics
Threshold
2. From Mystery to Effect
Threshold
3. A Genealogy of Office
Threshold
4. The Two Ontologies; or, How Duty Entered into Ethics
Threshold
Bibliography


III. REMNANTS OF AUSCHWITZ: The Witness and the Archive
Contents
Preface
1. The Witness
2. The Muselmann
3. Shame, or On the Subject
4. The Archive and Testimony
Bibliography


IV, 1. THE HIGHEST POVERTY: Monastic Rules and Form-of-Life
Contents
Translator’s Note
Preface

PART ONE: RULE AND LIFE
1. Birth of the Rule
2. Rule and Law
3. Flight from the World and Constitution
Threshold

PART TWO: LITURGY AND RULE
1. Regula Vitae
2. Orality and Writing
3. The Rule as a Liturgical Text
Threshold

PART THREE: FORM-OF-LIFE
1. The Discovery of Life
2. Renouncing Law
3. Highest Poverty and Use
Threshold
Bibliography


IV, 2. THE USE OF BODIES
Contents
Translator’s Note
Prefatory Note
Prologue

PART ONE: THE USE OF BODIES
1. The Human Being without Work
2. Chresis
3. Use and Care
4. The Use of the World
5. Use-of-Oneself
6. Habitual Use
7. The Animate Instrument and Technology
8. The Inappropriable
Intermezzo I

PART TWO: AN ARCHEOLOGY OF ONTOLOGY
1. Ontological Apparatus
2. Theory of Hypostases
3. Toward a Modal Ontology
Intermezzo II

III. FORM-OF-LIFE
1. Life Divided
2. A Life Inseparable from Its Form
3. Living Contemplation
4. Life Is a Form Generated by Living
5. Toward an Ontology of Style
6. Exile of One Alone with One Alone
7. “That’s How We Do It”
8. Work and Inoperativity
9. The Myth of Er
Epilogue: Toward a Theory of Destituent Potential
Bibliography
Index

‘Sopa de Wuhan’ (Wuhan Soup) by Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek, Judith Butler, María Galindo and Byung-Chul Han, Et. al.

Published by ASPO (Aislamiento Social Preventivo y Obligatorio). Written between February 26 and March 28

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The book brings together texts by authors such as Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek, Judith Butler, María Galindo and Byung-Chul Han, among others.

In a compilation of writings published between February 26 and March 28 by thinkers from all over the world, the Argentine professor Pablo Amadeo seeks that the title Wuhan Soup reflects “recent controversies around the scenarios that open up with the coronavirus pandemic, views on the present and hypotheses about the future ”.

The first writing found in the publication – open access – is “The invention of an epidemic”, by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. In this text the author explains that in the face of the impact of the coronavirus raised by the National Research Council of Italy, which establishes that between 80 and 90 percent of cases present mild symptoms, there are two possible explanations for the media and authorities spread a state of panic.

Agamben argues that one of the reasons is that “having exhausted terrorism as the cause of exceptional measures, the invention of an epidemic may offer the ideal pretext to extend them beyond all limits”; while the other reason is “the real need for states of collective panic” on the part of society; “Thus, in a perverse vicious circle, the limitation of freedom imposed by governments is accepted in the name of a desire for security that has been induced by the same governments that now intervene to satisfy it.”

In contrast and in response to the previous text, Jean-Luc Nancy exposes in “Viral Exception” that “Giorgio says that governments take all kinds of pretexts to establish continuous states of exception. But he does not realize that the exception becomes, in reality, the rule in a world in which the technical interconnections of all species (movements, transfers of all kinds, exposure or diffusion of substances, etc.) reach a hitherto unknown intensity and that grows with the population ”.

 In “Coronavirus is a Kill Bill-style capitalist coup,” Slovenian Slavoj Žižek poses an analogy in which the fall of the Chinese Communist government, caused by the COVID-19 crisis, is akin to the attack of the “Technique of Exploiting Heart of the Five Point Palm ”, used in the final scene of the movie Kill Bill. This technique is characterized by the time that elapses between the end of the attack and the death of the victim, which results in a comparison of the time in quarantine that China has spent, in which “the authorities can sit, observe and pass through the movements, but any real change in the social order (like trusting people) will result in their downfall. ”

However, for the sociologist, capitalism represents not so much an attack on the Chinese communist system, but rather on capitalism in general, “a sign that we cannot follow the path hitherto, that radical change is necessary.” In addition to this, the thinker maintains that as he has been portrayed in various catastrophic utopias that give way to solidarity, “here we are today, in real life”.

He adds that “the coronavirus increasingly disrupts the proper functioning of the world market and, as we hear, growth may fall by one, two or three percent”, while wondering if “does all this not clearly indicate the need urgent of a reorganization of the global economy that will no longer be at the mercy of market mechanisms? ”

Chaos, discrimination and dictatorship

Judith Butler, in “Capitalism Has Its Limits,” begins by stating that the coronavirus does not discriminate; however, he alludes to Donald Trump’s offer to try to buy, in Germany, the exclusive rights to a vaccine, and ends by stating that “social and economic inequality will ensure that the virus discriminates. The virus alone does not discriminate, but humans surely do, shaped as we are by the interlocking powers of nationalism, racism, xenophobia and capitalism.”

On the other hand, the Uruguayan Raúl Zibechi writes in “At the gates of a new world order”, that “we enter a period of chaos in the world-system, which is the precondition for the formation of a new global order”. He maintains that the leadership of the United States and Europe is transferred to Asia; “The pandemic is the grave of neoliberal globalization, while the pandemic of the future will be a ‘kinder’ globalization, focused on China and Asia Pacific.”

Bolivian activist María Galindo affirms in “Disobedience, because of you I am going to survive”, that “the coronavirus, more than a disease, seems to be a form of multi-governmental world police and military dictatorship.” He points out that in addition to the fear of contagion, the coronavirus also turns out to be “an instrument that seems effective to erase, minimize, hide or put in parentheses other social and political problems that we have been conceptualizing.

In this same sense, the author claims that in this context of illness, millions of euros of bailout of her colonial economies appear to settle rents, utility bills, salaries, when all that proletarian mass was cutting the sky, saying that there was no where to pay the social debt.

Finally, and regarding the arrival of the disease in Latin American countries such as Bolivia, he declares that dengue and coronavirus greeted each other, tuberculosis and cancer were on one side, which in this part of the world are death sentences, since in that Instead what is done is to repeat and copy the European measures, but without having the same resources.

‘Lacan: Anti-Philosophy 3’ by Alain Badiou (The Seminars of Alain Badiou)

Published October 16th 2018 by Columbia University Press

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Alain Badiou is arguably the most significant philosopher in Europe today. Badiou’s seminars, given annually on major conceptual and historical topics, constitute an enormously important part of his work. They served as laboratories for his thought and public illuminations of his complex ideas yet remain little known. This book, the transcript of Badiou’s year-long seminar on the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, is the first volume of his seminars to be published in English, opening up a new and vital aspect of his thinking.

In a highly original and compelling account of Lacan’s theory and therapeutic practice, Badiou considers the challenge that Lacan poses to fundamental philosophical topics such as being, the subject, and truth. Badiou argues that Lacan is a singular figure of the “anti-philosopher,” a series of thinkers stretching back to Saint Paul and including Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, with Lacan as the last great anti-philosopher of modernity. The book offers a forceful reading of an enigmatic yet foundational thinker and sheds light on the crucial role that Lacan plays in Badiou’s own thought. This seminar, more accessible than some of Badiou’s more difficult works, will be profoundly valuable for the many readers across academic disciplines, art and literature, and political activism who find his thought essential.

‘Philosophy in the Present’ by Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek

Published by Polity Press in 2009

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Two controversial thinkers discuss a timeless but nonetheless urgent question: should philosophy interfere in the world?

Nothing less than philosophy is at stake because, according to Badiou, philosophy is nothing but interference and commitment and will not be restrained by academic discipline. Philosophy is strange and new, and yet speaks in the name of all – as Badiou shows with his theory of universality.

Similarly, Žižek believes that the philosopher must intervene, contrary to all expectations, in the key issues of the time. He can offer no direction, but this only shows that the question has been posed incorrectly: it is valid to change the terms of the debate and settle on philosophy as abnormality and excess.

At once an invitation to philosophy and an introduction to the thinking of two of the most topical and controversial philosophers writing today, this concise volume will be of great interest to students and general readers alike.

‘Sin and Fear: The Emergence of a Western Guilt Culture, 13th-18th Centuries’ by Jean Delumeau

Translated by Eric Nicholson. Published by New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990

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Delumeau’s work is a sort of tour de force through the Museum of Spiritual History, wherein one can see “more than 600 years of guilt-instilling efforts.” “My book must therefore not be taken either as a refusal of guilt or the need for a consciousness of sin. On the contrary, I think it will shed light on the excessive sense of guilt and ‘culpabilization’ … that has characterized Western history.”

This extraordinary fresco draws the evolution of a pessimistic and punitive attitude regarding earthly life, which spread throughout Europe between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. Delumeau sees its origins in the ascetic ideals, in the “contemptus mundi” [“scorn of the world”], in the gloomy sense of sin and human frailty which, from the medieval monastic environment, widened in society thanks to what the author calls a “pastoral of fear”, that is, a pervasive pedagogy carried out by the sermons, the books of edification, the macabre iconography; a pedagogy of the rest parallel to the terrifying series of calamities and horrors of war that punctuated and terrified those centuries, and they had to appear as many punishments in search of a fault.


Contents:


Introduction: A Cultural History of Sin

PART ONE: PESSIMISM AND THE MACABRE IN THE RENAISSANCE

1. Contempt for the World and Mankind
An Old Theme
The Reasons Behind “Contempt for the World”
A Constantly Recurring Theme in the Fourteenth
to Sixteenth Centuries
The Mystics’ Version
A Philosophy for all Christians
Justification by Faith and the Need for Despair
Along the Borders of the Protestant World:
A Return to Otherworldliness

2. From Contempt for the World to the “Danse Macabre”
“Familiarity” with Death
The Components of the Macabre
The Longevity of the Monastic Concept of Death
Death and Conversion
The Legend of the Three Living and the Three Dead
The Danse of Death and the Danse Macabre

3. Ambiguity of the Macabre
The Danse Macabre: A Sermon
The Macabre and the Resurrection
The Macabre and the Misfortunes of the Age
The Macabre and Violence
Diverging Significations

4. A Sinful World
“An Age of Tears, Anguish, and Torment” (Eustache Deschamps)
The Dream of the Golden Age
World Upside Down, Perverse World
Proliferation of the Monstrous
Wickedness

5. Fragile Humanity
The Disappearance of Reason
Fate
Melancholy

PART TWO: A FAILURE OF REDEMPTION?

6. Focusing the Examination of Conscience
A Theology of Sin
The Penitential Regimes
Confessors’ Handbooks and Confession Manuals
Sin in Lay Literature

7. The Realm of the Confessor
Envy
Lust
Usury and Avarice
Sloth
The Iconography of Sin

8. Original Sin
Original Sin at the Heart of a Culture
The Origin of Evil and the Earthly Paradise
The Authority of Saint Augustine Against Attenuated Guilt
Original Sin and Opinions on Childhood
Sanctuaries of Resuscitation: “A Vain Tenderness” ?

9. The Mass of Perdition and the System of Sin
“Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen”
Criminal Man and Terrible God
A Collective Guilt Complex

10. Religious “Uneasiness”
The Doctrine of Pain
The Disease of Scruple
The Difficulty of Death


PART THREE: AN EVANGELISM OF FEAR IN THE CATHOLIC WORLD

11. The Diffusion of a Religious Doctrine
From Conviction to Tactics
The Documents

12. “Think on It Well”
The “Preparations for Death”
Sermons and Hymns

13. The Tortures of the Afterlife
Hell
Purgatory, or Temporary Hell
Toward the Infernal
Temporary Hell in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

14. A “Lynx-eyed” God
Judgment or Vengeance
The Limits of Divine Benevolence

15. Sin and Sins
Deadly and Venial Sin
The Classification of Sins
“Avarice”
Marriage, a “Dangerous” Situation
Impurity

16. The Ascetic Model
“Nothing so Pleases God as a Thin Body”
The Rejection of Amusement

17. The Difficulty of Obligatory Confession
Sacrilegious Confessions
Sacrilegious Confessions and Shameful Communions

18. The Catholic Doctrinal Campaign: An Attempt at Quantification


PART FOUR: IN THE PROTESTANT WORLD

19. ‘You Are a Terrifying Word, Eternity”
Must One Instill Fear?
Theology and Pedagogy

20. Shared Aspects of the Protestant and Catholic Doctrinal Programs
The Emphasis on Death
Other Last Ends and the Contemptus Mundi

21. Eschatology and Predestination
The End Is Near
Predestination and Election
Fear of Reprobation

Conclusion

‘Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present’ by Frank M. Snowden


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This sweeping exploration of the impact of epidemic diseases looks at how mass infectious outbreaks have shaped society, from the Black Death to today. In a clear and accessible style, Frank M. Snowden reveals the ways that diseases have not only influenced medical science and public health, but also transformed the arts, religion, intellectual history, and warfare.

A multidisciplinary and comparative investigation of the medical and social history of the major epidemics, this volume touches on themes such as the evolution of medical therapy, plague literature, poverty, the environment, and mass hysteria. In addition to providing historical perspective on diseases such as smallpox, cholera, and tuberculosis, Snowden examines the fallout from recent epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, and Ebola and the question of the world’s preparedness for the next generation of diseases.


Frank M. Snowden is Andrew Downey Orrick Professor Emeritus of History and History of Medicine at Yale University. His previous books include The Conquest of Malaria: Italy, 1900–1962 and Naples in the Time of Cholera, 1884–1911.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Humoral Medicine: The Legacy of Hippocrates and Galen
  3. Overview of the Three Plague Pandemics: 541 to ca. 1950
  4. Plague as a Disease
  5. Responses to Plague
  6. Smallpox before Edward Jenner
  7. The Historical Impact of Smallpox
  8. War and Disease: Napoleon, Yellow Fever, and the Haitian Revolution
  9. War and Disease: Napoleon, Dysentery, and Typhus in Russia, 1812
  10. The Paris School of Medicine
  11. The Sanitary Movement
  12. The Germ Theory of Disease
  13. Cholera
  14. Tuberculosis in the Romantic Era of Consumption
  15. Tuberculosis in the Unromantic Era of Contagion
  16. The Third Plague Pandemic: Hong Kong and Bombay
  17. Malaria and Sardinia: Uses and Abuses of History
  18. Polio and the Problem of Eradication
  19. HIV/AIDS: An Introduction and the Case of South Africa
  20. HIV/AIDS: The Experience of the United States
  21. Emerging and Reemerging Diseases
  22. Dress Rehearsals for the Twenty-First Century: SARS and Ebola

‘Pandemic! Covid-19 Shakes the World’ by Slavoj Žižek

Published by OR Books, 2020. Download link updated on 15. July 2021.

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We live in a moment when the greatest act of love is to stay distant from the object of your affection. When governments renowned for ruthless cuts in public spending can suddenly conjure up trillions. When toilet paper becomes a commodity as precious as diamonds. And when, according to Žižek, a new form of communism may be the only way of averting a descent into global barbarism.

Written with his customary brio and love of analogies in popular culture (Quentin Tarantino and H.G. Wells sit next to Hegel and Marx in these pages), Žižek provides a concise and provocative snapshot of the crisis as it widens, engulfing us all.


Contents:

Introduction: Noli Me Tangere
1. We’re All in the Same Boat Now
2. Why Are We Tired All the Time?
3. Towards A Perfect Storm in Europe
4. Welcome to the Viral Desert
5. The Five Stages of Epidemics
6. The Virus of Ideology
7. Calm Down and Panic!
8. Monitor and Punish? Yes, Please!
9. Is Barbarism With a Human Face Our Fate?
10. Communism or Barbarism, as Simple as That!
Appendix: Two Helpful Letters from Friends