Document Type



Žižek's reading of Hegel is, as he and many of his readers explicitly recognize, distinctly unorthodox. Efforts to appraise these readings often make reference to and mobilize the "real Hegel," a recognized standard and authorized understanding of Hegelian philosophy against which a particular interpretation may be compared and evaluated. This concept of "the real" is rooted in fundamental ontological assumptions that are at least as old as Plato. Žižek's critical interventions in the ontology of the real expose these assumptions and contest their procedures and outcomes. In doing so, Žižek not only questions the metaphysical foundations of traditional forms of criticism but provides for an alternative approach for evaluating his own readings and interpretations. This essay applies Žižek's understanding of the Real to an evaluation of his reading of Hegelian philosophy. In doing so, it asks a number of related questions: Who or what gets to determine and authorize the "real Hegel?" What metaphysical propositions justify and legitimate these decisions? And what is at stake in continuing to operate according to these standards and protocols? In pursuing this investigation, the essay stages a critical reflection that not only reevaluates typical approaches to evaluation but sketches the basic contours of a distinctly Žižekian theory of reading and literary criticism.

Publication Date


Original Citation

International Journal of Žižek Studies, Volume 2, Number 2, Summer 2008.


Department of Communication

Legacy Department

Department of Communication






International Journal of Žižek Studies



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