University of Leeds, Institute of Communications Studies
Place of publication
Leeds, United Kingdom
This paper examines Slavoj Zizek’s reading of Immanuel Kant. Its undergirding argument is that Zizek’s work as a whole- up to and including his politically radical statements, which have become more and more prominent since 1997- is conceivable as a project in the rereading of the Kantian ‘Copernican Revolution’ via Lacanian psychoanalysis. Critics now agree that Zizek’s orienting aim is to write a philosophy of politics, as more recent texts, like The Ticklish Subject make clear. (Kay, 2003; Sharpe, 2004; Dean 2006) If Zizek’s philosophy is ultimately a philosophy of politics, however, Zizek’s political philosophy is grounded in a wider post or ‘neo’-Kantian philosophy of subjectivity. The essay has three major parts. Part I gives Zizek’s reading of Kant on the subject of apperception. Part II recounts Zizek’s pivotal reading of Kant on the sublime, which he ties closely to the problematics of the ‘Transcendental Dialectic’ of the first Critique. Part III then examines Zizek’s conception of subjectivity in terms of the faculties (and especially the faculty of imagination) that Kant argues are involved in the transcendental constitution of objects in the first half of The Critique of Pure Reason. In the Conclusion, the force of the paper’s subtitle—‘Politicising the Transcendental Turn’—will become manifest. I lay out three principles of Zizek’s ‘neoKantian/Hegelian’ ontology. These also make clear how his philosophy of political agency is grounded in this apparently suprapolitical or solely philosophical reading of Kant.