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The Most Sublime Hysteric


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Table of Contents

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

References 230

Index 236

About the Author

Slavoj Zizek is Professor at the Institute of Sociology, Ljubljana, Slovenia.


"Zizek s playful writing style presents the reader withapposite and amusing examples, from Franz Kafka to Jane Austen,which clarify and enliven his arguments. Zizek s book burstswith reflection, observation, wit and raw iconoclastic conclusions.Zizek s magnetic style and radical ideas are a welcome andinspiring breath of fresh air. It is possible that throughrevealing how we make sense of our past The Most SublimeHysteric may help us to cultivate a better future." Morning Star " The Most Sublime Hysteric clearly outlines the logic at thebasis of the thought of the most important philosopher of our time.With care and precision, Zizek conjoins Hegel and Lacan, buildingthe components of his own unique and powerful philosophical system.This long-awaited translation of Zizek's doctoral dissertationprovides a valuable new point of entry to his work, appropriate forexperts and newcomers alike." Jodi Dean, Hobart and William Smith Colleges "Slavoj Zizek s doctoral thesis on Hegel, Lacan, and theimpasses of post-Hegelianism is as fresh today as it was in 1982.Written with his characteristic wit and exceptional lucidity, thisbook will clarify the foundational ideas of one of the greatestthinkers of our time." Kenneth Reinhard, University of California, Los Angeles "What a fascinating document it is." Irish Left Review

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