Dialectical Materialism and the Dangers of Aristotelianism

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In 2013, at a conference entitled “The Actuality of the Absolute: Hegel, Our Untimely Contemporary” that took place at the Birkbeck Institute for Humanities in London, Slavoj Žižek presented his paper as the last speaker. He presented some of the arguments that he afterward turned into the argumentative kernel of chapters two and three of his Absolute Recoil. In the discussion following his lecture, someone from the audience raised a critical question that sought to point out a performative contradiction with regard not only to Žižek’s presentation at the conference but rather to his way of thinking altogether. The question that he raised was the following: how can one at the same time claim to defend and resurrect Hegel, the thinker of the system and conceptual consistency, and also jump from speaking about Martin Heidegger to elaborating on Walter Benjamin, from addressing the relation between man and nature (in this case between human beings and the fish in the sea) to the emergence of language and radical historicity, to ultimately also speak about politics of emancipation? In short: how can Žižek defend Hegel, the ultimate thinker of systematicity and conceptual inferences, and at the same time present not only a paper but also a way of thinking that completely lacks (or seems to lack) the very systematicity and consistency he proclaims to defend? Žižek’s respective presentation, but also his thought in general, thereby comes to embody this kind of performative contradiction, opting for one thing and enacting its very opposite.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSlavoj Zizek and Dialectical Materialism
EditorsAgon Hamza, Frank Ruda
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781137538611
ISBN (Print)9781349572496
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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