return to Hegel

Let us then return to Hegel: revolutionary Terror designates the turning point at which the appearance of an equivalent exchange collapses, the point at which the subject gets nothing in exchange for its sacrifice. Here, however, at this very point at which negation ceases to be “determinate” and becomes “absolute,” the subject encounters itself, since the subject qua cogito is this very negativity prior to every act of exchange. The crucial move from revolutionary Terror to the Kantian subject is thus simply the move from S to $: at the level of Terror, the subject is not yet barred but remains a full, substantial entity, identical to a particular content which is threatened by the external pressure of the Terror’s abstract and arbitrary negativity. The Kantian subject, on the contrary, is this very abyss, this void of absolute negativity to whom every “pathological,” particular positive content appears as “posited,” as something externally assumed and thus ultimately contingent. Consequently, the move from S to $ entails a radical shift in the very notion of the subject’s self-identity: in it, I identify myself to that very void which a moment ago threatened to swallow the most precious particular kernel of my being. This is how the subject qua $ emerges from the structure of exchange: it emerges when “something is exchanged for nothing,” that is to say, it is the very “nothing” I get from the symbolic structure, from the Other, in exchange for sacrificing my “pathological” particularity, the kernel of my being. When I get nothing in return, I get myself qua $, qua the empty point of self-relating.*

* Hegel and Kierkegaard are here far closer than may appear. The exchange of “something for nothing” by way of which the subject qua $ emerges is namely the very act of abyssal/noneconomical sacrifice which, in Kierkegaard, defines the religious stage: the ability to accomplish this move is what distinguishes the “knight of faith”: “The person who denies himself and sacrifices himself for duty gives up the finite in order to grasp on to the infinite; he is secure enough. The tragic hero gives up what is certain for what is still more certain, and the eye of the beholder rests confidently upon him. But the person who gives up the universal to grasp something still higher that is not the universal, what does he do?” (Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling [ Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985 ] v p.89).

Slavoj Žižek 1993 Tarrying With The Negative, page 26




formulas of sexuation
“i was expecting you.”–> not everyone is expected; no one is unexpected.
“put these on!”–> everyone has these; you don’t.


As regards self-injuries of my own, there is little that I can report in uneventful times; but in extraordinary circumstances I find that I am not incapable of them. When a member of my family complains to me of having bitten his tongue, pinched a finger, or the like, he does not get the sympathy he hopes for, but instead the question: ‘Why did you do that?’ I myself once gave my thumb a most painful pinch when a youthful patient told me during the hour of treatment of his intention (not of course to be taken seriously) of marrying my eldest daughter. I knew that at the time she was lying critically ill in a sanatorium.

Freud, PoEL


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s