Zizek and the German idealists  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek has stated that the core of his "entire work is the endeavour to use Jacques Lacan as a privileged intellectual tool to reactualize German idealism."

Once the Lacanian concepts of the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real are grasped, Žižek, in philosophical writings such as his discussion of Schelling, always interprets the work of other philosophers in terms of those concepts.

The reason Žižek thinks German idealism needs reactualizing is that we are thought to understand it in one way, whereas the truth of it is something else. The term "reactualizing" refers to the fact that there are different possible ways to interpret German Idealism, and Žižek wishes to make "actual" one of those possibilities in distinction to the way it is currently realized. At its most basic, German Idealism believes that the truth of something could be found in itself. For Žižek, the fundamental insight of German Idealism is that the truth of something is always outside it. So the truth of our experience lies outside ourselves, in the Symbolic and the Real, rather than being buried deep within us. We cannot look into our selves and find out who we truly are, because who we truly are is always elsewhere.

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