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65 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a warning: once you open this book and start to read, it is almost impossible to close it. There are great balls of fire jumping out every time you turn a page. Since the book contains 1038 pages, some of them must be read carefully, it may disrupt your plans, not just for the evening, but for the following days. What is especially provoking and enlightening is the way Zizek is positioning not just Hegel, but also Marx, in a Christian tradition. By turning Christianity upside down, and defining it as an atheist religion, he is able to make sense of the myths in a new and surprising way. And at the same time it suddenly is possible to see the links between Christianity, Marxism, and the Communism of Eastern Europe in a new way. His interpretation of Hegel is to me as a sociologist new and refreshing. Zizek not just defends Hegel in an admirable way, he clarifies the deep contemporary relevance of Hegel and his version of dialectical materialism in a way which demands attention, not just among philosophers, but also among sociologists trying to make sense of our contemporary political economy. In a work with this scope, it goes without saying, there are also ideas and sections which demands further work and discussion. My critical comment (after 500 pages) is the way Marx political economy is treated. Seen from the point of departure of Hegel, it is justified with a main emphasis on Capital Volume 2, on circulation, and the relation to modern financial capitalism, which are our time-travelers, borrowing money from the future, and destroying it. According to my opinion, Marx analysis of technology, which is crucial to the ways in which humans relate to nature, deserves more attention. What appears to be a financial crisis is also, perhaps primarily, related to the ways in which technological paradigms destabilize the global economy and creates technological unemployment. A related issue is the missing debate on neo-classical economic theory, the phenomenological economy of Shutz and Löwe, and the classical debate between the old guard in the Frankfurter School and the Stalinist Marxists on the dialectics of nature.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It is a cardinal rule of pretentious academic existence that anyone who fancies herself a philosopher has to love Hegel. I've spent an embarrassing amount of time studying philosophy and even managed to pick up one of those fancy philosophy degrees that no one wants. But I'm just going to come right out and say it: I hate Hegel. I hate him so much that I seriously contemplated taking antidepressants during an undergraduate class on The Phenomenology of Spirit. I broke my computer trying to write a paper during the same class. And no, I didn't break it because I was typing furiously, inspired by new ideas. I broke it having a massive temper tantrum that has left my long-suffering dog permanently traumatized. Instead of re-reading Hegel to inspire further understanding (or further suicidal ideation), I responded to the Phenomenology of Spirit by making a video involving puppets, robots and a rapping dog all emphasizing exactly how much Hegel sucks. That is how much I hate this philosopher.

But the thing is, I really love Zizek. Even when he goes off on his insane rants wherein everything somehow ties back to Lacan, vampires or communism, I find myself swooning. I love him so much that I have spent a significant portion of my time trying to convince my husband that, were I to actually meet Zizek, we would immediately become best friends and would wear matching friendship bracelets. I've always ignored Zizek's respect for Hegel, thinking it was just one of his many weird predilections that I don't really need to understand.

But Zizek has sold me. Hegel is not all of the horrible things I have called him (but damnit, he is some of them). It took a crazed Slovenian philosopher to help me appreciate a crazed German one. I'm not ready to drink the kool-aid of Hegel being the greatest philosopher ever just yet, but it's a start. And it's a tribute to Zizek that I've made that start. Don't read all of the critical readers and guides to the Phenomenology of Spirit. Read this.

For Zizek fans, this book is a breath of fresh air. I've complained quite a bit about Zizek repackaging and recycling old material into a "new" book every six months or so. But this one is truly novel, and it's probably his most coherent work to date.

I wish I could address more about the actual contents of the book, but as any Hegel or Zizek reader knows, it's virtually impossible to reduce their philosophy to a few pithy statements; this is both a strength and a weakness, but also serves as evidence that the book's length and complexity is necessary. It's challenging reading, and you may have to re-start it several times, but it is definitely worth the work.
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41 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I've been bouncing around this Moby-Dick-of-a-book;I don't think a review is possible, you'd need some fractal organization--- and if you've followed Zizek's Lectures since 2006, this oeuvre makes for not only a nice compact, (yes compact) summary,but a development of those ideas presented in the past, many times in sketch form for a lecture.
All the opaque moments one found in Zizek are all now clarified in great detail, well some detail and conceptual scope. You learn to live with the jokes, or memorize them to repeat them at a bar, or to impress your endowed date.

But Zizek's engagements with spiritual life is again re-interated herein in great detail, Christianity, Judaism,What is ideology?, a never-ending question, and how is it represented the "monstrosities" we've all learned to live with.

You should not walk away from Zizek now with any sketch, and incompletedness of anything,it's all clear,comprehensive, all spelled out and,developed and you should have learned by now, that he presses,engages thought to its limits;it's own limits. Thought, the imagination not going as far as it can is reprehensible, odious, as Mao's Idealism,it's not worth our time anymore, to go half-way, half baked thought for short extension spans as the bytes "nouveau philosophes" in France a la, Glukesmann; It is not worth the time.

The book is critical of those in history, in the intellectual thought of Europa who met their own paradigms and tropes half way, as Kant, as Hegel,Rorty, in places,and as Lacan,those whom he loves.( Lacan did have fun in his last years with all those geometric metaphors topologies of the unconscious,the imagination) I'd throw in Lenin, Wittgenstein and Schoenberg I suspect, the Master,Maitre Lacan didn't mount the poll as far as he could. . . we all accept that there are gaps, voids to be filled.We fill them everyday with desires, objet petit a, makes it's appearance herein;Things we only know after we know them,like that quote from Beckett someplace," I must have seen you before, since I'm seeing you now. . ."

You'll find Zizek loves a good fight; and he spars,stings those who have takened issue with him; the cognitive cadres, Dennett(you know his story of the sea anemone) and the old fashioned deconstructionists, and Deleuze, who he also loves;I do; and the atheists,(the only true believers) Sam Harris,and the new gifted thinkers as Meillasoux, those who have the audacity to present a pathway Zizek himself didn't have the time to develop. He loves everyone. . ., I guess he is the last Romantic;,perhaps Zizek has had too much Wagner in his "cognitive diet".
He never fails to express referential gratitudes, platitudes, whenever necessary; as Catherine Malabou and the innovative path of her "plasticity"(freedom) in Hegel, another "open road" for us to enter. . . then love is a topic via Badiou,the "walking Plato" amongst us,Once you get past the performative moments in Zizek, and if you've been with him for the past decade, you should begin to develop your own repertoire of conceptual undercurrents that runs through his work, like the stream on Dante's "Purgatorio" running deep; coming to the mountain in the blue azur of half darkness. So the dialectic is given a fresh amount of time; correlations, the Lacan lexicon is perennial, signifiers prancing and shouting down the streets of Hollywood, the signified waiting to be discovered.

After 20 pages or so of this tome; I've found myself reading Hegel,"the Phenomenology. . " and Kojeve"s Lectures. . . you're attractors will stiffen,magnetized for this;,like in "Close Encounters. . " where Richard Dreyfuss and others were subconsciously drawn toward a shape;, I suspect you will be drawn to Marx as well. Keep reading. . . ! You wont regret it.
In reading this Zizek There are no protective "sunglasses" to wear unfortunately,(as Sloterdijk might claim that we have already in our safe and secure cocoons of existence our own complaisance states of comfort, our Spheres of the Lebenswelt; Zizek wants you to go the distance, all 15 rounds. . .

The book is structured like a vast symphonic form,larger than Beethoven's Ninth, with numerous "interludes" to help us catch our breath. Have fun!
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40 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Yes, I'm writing this the day that I received it. However, like no other book Zizek since Enjoy Your Symptom!: Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out (Routledge Classics) Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture (October Books) have I felt such a sense of "worth it". While I pride myself on a solid background in German Idealism, and consider myself strongly aligned with Lacan, this book pushes beyond my expectations for insightfulness while retaining Zizek's typical style that includes passing references to cinema, jokes, and acknowledgement of the brilliance of other philosophers (no one does this better than Zizek... giving credit where credit is due). I'm sure admirers of Zizek have already purchased and received this, the same as I have, so I would be preaching to the choir in recommending this book, but to those who have circled around his ideas, are interested in Hegel, Lacan, Kant, Schelling, and Fichte (Fichte! who writes about my beloved Fichte these days?!?), this is worth the purchase. Updates to this review will follow.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As a layman of academic philosophy, I found much of the contents of this book abstruse. I was attracted to this book based on its title and my appreciation of Zizek's very clear and captivating explanations on Youtube of philosophical concepts and their applications to contemporary issues. After scanning through the book and reading a total of about 70 out of the more than 1000 pages, I realised that this book is on another level requiring that I first brush up on my knowledge of philosophy terminologies and concepts before reading much further.
I share another reviewer's impression that the author succumbed at times to streams of consciousness distracting him from crisper formulations. There is a clear opportunity here for someone to write a reader's guide to this book, not "for dummies" but even for well educated readers. I realise that this book contains a wealth of information and serves as a source of references to many concepts and personalities of philosophy and other fields of the humanities and for that reason will keep the book on my shelf for the occasional browsing and discussion with friends who have philosophy qualifications.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Zizek undoubtedly is one the great philosophers of our time, but misses greatly on his misconception, or lack off, eastern philosophy fabulous depths of understanding on dialectic. It must be some provincialism, well stated by Sloterdijk, that Zizek brushes of so lightly buddhism for example calling it eastern mysticism, and confounds it with esoteric, new age, or as if it didn't have anything to give western, or philosophy in general. Because of this lack of understanding the book even though profound and complete misses many points that could be clarified by the many Indian, Tibetan and Chinese dialecticians. Just by looking only at R. Thurman's translation of the Central Philosophy of Tibet, for example, to see the richness, rigor and depth of eastern thought. Aside from this lack the book puts dialectics, polarity, back to the front of thought, and must agree with Zizek when he says that Hegel will be the philosopher of the 21st century.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Possibly his Magnum Opus. Zizek unloads a barrage of cultural and psychoanalytical insights that, while meandering at times, are both apt and eye-opening. This may not be a good introduction to Zizek (if you need one, I highly suggest First as Tragedy Then as Farce) but it is certainly quite the wild ride.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is by far the best of Zizek; he comes down more to earth, for this book is easier to understand, compared to his other works, where he elaborates deep into specific theories such as exchange-value and surplus in Marxist theory. Understand, that, yes, this book could be half its length due to all the constant repetitions and re-stating the same concepts and ideas, but this is the essence of Zizek's thought. Repetition is the very "point of caption" at work and in process. This has the reader always already remaining as well as returning to the gap and thus seeing pure difference on each side of it from the inside, as if you could be inside the very essence of a coin and seeing the necessary opposing sides of the coin, which are needed in order to have coinness in the first place. So the coin, this book, and the Hegelian System par excellence serve the same view point. You are the "subject" within this incomplete system that always repeats itself trying to resolve the opposing sides and make itself a Whole. Very inspiring material! As a writer of poetry, this radicalness gives me much inspiring food for thought. A must have for all poets!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Many things germinating in the early Zizek oeuvre come to fruition here. Anyone who has been following the progress of this remarkable mind through the years would enjoy reading this magnificent book, finding reinforcement of many earlier themes and enjoying their maturation. Some things are new (at least to me, as I have not read a whole lot of the huge Zizek corpus), among them I would mention a "Lacanized" reading of Fichte, which not only sheds a new light on this great, difficult, and enigmatic thinker, but actually provides a solid framework for understanding his kind of idealism in the first place. Re-interpretation of Anstoss as a construct similar to "objet petit a" will keep any mind occupied for a long time.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
What a joy to start such a wonderful journey with a grand master on a beautiful spring day! What a great present to humanity is his magnum opus, shining through the dark clouds of austerity and oppression hanging over all of us! I wish the preachers of the "dismal science" and the grey technocrats parroting the "there is no alternative" party-line could take a look at this great work and have a thought or two for a change. Slavoj Zizek has finally delivered the masterpiece all of his fans were waiting for so long. He has combined and articulated all of his brilliant but scattered achievements in one final work. This great work is no less than a molotov cocktail thrown on the political/philosophical establishment. It leaves no stone unturned, no past or present ontology or religion untouched. It skillfully establishes the rightful place of Parmenides, Plato, Schelling, Fichte, Hegel, Marx and so many others. It never stops half-way at any juncture. I have only read 150 pages and can't drop it. The all-encompassing in-depth analysis of "nothing" is revolutionary. It is highly recommended to scientists struggling with the proper interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. If this work is not the final word on ontology, it is certainly the prelude to the final word. How lucky we are, living in the end times, who have witnessed the flowering of great philosophical thought once again. It takes not only intelligence of highest caliber but also great courage to tackle all the burning questions of our age head on. Thank you!
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