When a philosopher deals with another philosopher or philosophy, his or her stance is never one of dialogue, but always one of division, of drawing the line that separates truth from falsity – from Plato whose focus is the line that divides truth from mere opinion, up to Lenin who is obsessed with the line that separates materialism from idealism.
The courses were an exercise in this art of delimitation: their aim was to specify the contours of the dialectical-materialist notion of negativity by way of drawing a line that separates it from other forms of the thought of negativity, from Julia Kristeva’s abjection to Robert Pippin’s self-consciousness, from Catherine Malabou’s plasticity to the god of negative theology, from object-oriented-ontology to the topic of post-humanity.
Hegel’s aesthetics, or lectures on the philosophy of art, forms part of the extraordinarily rich German tradition on aesthetics that stretches from J.J. Winckelmann’s Thoughts on the Imitation of the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks (1755) and G.E. Lessing’s Laocoon (1766) through Immanuel Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790) and Friedrich Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795) to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy (1872) and (in the twentieth century) Martin Heidegger’s The Origin of the Work of Art (1935–6) and T.W. Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (1970). Hegel was influenced in particular by Winckelmann, Kant and Schiller, and his own thesis of the “end of art” (or what has been taken to be that thesis) has itself been the focus of close attention by Heidegger and Adorno.
Hegel’s philosophy of art is a wide ranging account of beauty in art, the historical development of art, and the individual arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry. It contains distinctive and influential analyses of Egyptian art, Greek sculpture, and ancient and modern tragedy, and is regarded by many as one of the greatest aesthetic theories to have been produced since Aristotle’s Poetics.
This is a recording of the third paper delivered by Žižek in the ‘Figures of Negativity’ symposium at Princeton University, on 13th April 2015.
Jacques Lacan, Anxiety (Seminar, Book X)
Slavoj Žižek, Absolute Recoil, Chapters 1.1 and 1.3
Levi Bryant, Democracy of Objects
Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include ‘Hegel in a Wired Brain’, ‘Sex and the Failed Absolute’, ‘Like A Thief In Broad Daylight’, ‘Reading Marx’, ‘Incontinence of the Void’, ‘The Day After the Revolution’, ‘Heaven in Disorder’, ‘Reading Hegel’ and ‘Surplus-Enjoyment’.