‘In Defense of Hegel’s Madness’ by Slavoj Žižek

The article is a confrontation with Robert Brandom’s reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, his attempt to systematically “renormalize” Hegel, i.e., to reduce his extravagant formulations to the criteria of common sense. The article analyses a number of Brandom’s “domestications” of Hegel’s speculative concepts: self-relating, determinate negation, mediation, In-itself, action, knowledge, Spirit, reconciliation, history. On the basis of the examples from Marx, Freud, structuralism, Lévi-Strauss, Althusser, Lacan, Adorno, the text defends Hegel’s “madness”, the irreducible speculative, non-interpretable core of his philosophy. Hegel’s statements have to shock us, and this excess cannot be explained away through interpretation since the truth they deliver hinges on that.

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