Slavoj Žižek, in his recent major book Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (2012), lays out in exquisite detail his unique, heterodox interpretation of Hegel’s philosophy, an interpretation he has been developing and deepening since the 1980s. This intervention critically assesses Žižek’s complex relations with both Schellingianism and Hegelianism as these bear upon questions pertaining to the largely forgotten legacy of German idealist Naturphilosophie and this legacy’s continuing relevance for contemporary debates around Hegel’s metaphysics (or lack thereof).
This chapter starts by presenting a symptomatic cartography of the criticisms Žižek’s last book on Hegel provoked that leads to a longer discussion of one of the most serious critiques of this book yet published, namely that one by Robert Pippin. In a detailed discussion of this critique it demonstrates why and how Žižek’s positions (as a systematic position) needs to be defended against any attack of any so called pragmatist neo-Hegelian. This then leads to a detailed reconstruction of one of the most surprising things that can be found in his Less than Nothing, namely a brilliant reading of Plato. The main aim of the chapter is to demonstrate why Žižek’s overall project (surprising as this might seem) has to be read as being fundamentally Platonist and why this is the seemingly lost cause it makes it worth fighting for.