Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism

Žižek’s new philosophical masterwork

Philosophical materialism in all its forms – from scientific naturalism to Deleuzian New Materialism – has failed to meet the key theoretical and political challenges of the modern world. This is the burden of philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s argument in this pathbreaking and eclectic new work. Recent history has seen developments such as quantum physics and Freudian psychoanalysis, not to speak of the failure of twentieth-century communism, shake our understanding of existence.

In the process, the dominant tradition in Western philosophy lost its moorings. To bring materialism up to date, Žižek – himself a committed materialist and communist – proposes a radical revision of our intellectual heritage. He argues that dialectical materialism is the only true philosophical inheritor of what Hegel designated the “speculative” approach in thought.

Absolute Recoil is a startling reformulation of the basis and possibilities of contemporary philosophy. While focusing on how to overcome the transcendental approach without regressing to naïve, pre-Kantian realism, Žižek offers a series of excursions into today’s political, artistic, and ideological landscape, from Arnold Schoenberg’s music to the films of Ernst Lubitsch.


  • “Few thinkers illustrate the contradictions of contemporary capitalism better than Slavoj Žižek ... one of the world’s bestknown public intellectuals.”
  • “A gifted speaker – tumultuous, emphatic, direct – and he writes as he speaks.”
  • “A serious attempt to reanimate or reactualize Hegel.”


  • Hegel and the Metaphysics of Contingency

    Peter Thompson, the director of the Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies at the University of Sheffield, discusses Hegel: the philosopher of contradiction. In this short essay, Thompson draws out the root of Hegel's themes of dialectics, nothingness, contradiction, and contingency.

    Nothing proceeds from nothingness, as also nothing passes away into non-existence.

    -Shakespeare (Marcus Aurelius)-

    Hegel is the philosopher of contradiction. His system is not only full of apparent contradictions but is itself based on the recognition that contradiction is the fundamental starting point of all philosophy, indeed all thought. What Shakespeare has Marcus Aurelius say in the above quote is at the root of Hegel's dialectic of becoming. For although we might agree with Parmenides, Marcus Aurelius and Maria from the Sound of Music that ex nihilo nihil fit (or nothing comes from nothing), the real kernel of Hegel's thought is about the process involved in getting from nowhere to nothing.

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  • Stop the Owl of Minerva! - Zizek's favourite books on Hegel

    So that we can all be doing background reading before this Friday's overnight reading, we asked Slavoj Zizek which books influenced the writing of his Less Than Nothing. Here's the list (in no order):

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Upcoming Events

  • 07_slavoj_zizek-max_141

    October 07, 2014

    United Kingdom

    Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre

    The Myth of Western Liberty

    Join Slavoj Žižek and Paul Mason in this lead event at the London Literature Festival
  • Slavoj-zizek-57859411a44f817186f2c66c2f28ccfe-max_141

    October 08, 2014

    London, United Kingdom

    London Review Bookshop

    Hegel's Counter-Punch: Slavoj Žižek with John Milbank

    Slavoj Žižek will be in conversation with radical theologian John Milbank to present his new book Absolute Recoil

Other books by Slavoj Žižek