ISSN 1751-8229 IJŽS Volume Three, Number One

HEGEL A

ONG THE

!"ANT" #H$SI%ISTS

&ol'n( )*ll*'m+on, "n*,er+*-. o/ !ueen+l'n(

It is not an exaggeration to say that today Hegel only lives on through the innovations of Slavoj Žižek. Apart from Žižek’s labours Hegel !ould remain all but negle"ted in "ontemporary thought relegated to a merely "anoni"al position in the history of philosophy. #n the other hand it is "lear that from a theoreti"al point of vie! Žižek’s popularity and "elebrity status is as mu"h a bane as a blessing$ it prevents many theorists and philosophers from treating his !ork !ith the seriousness that it deserves. I "ontend that Žižek has immense theoreti"al signifi"an"e for "ontemporary philosophy and that !hat gives Žižek’s !ork its stunning "urren"y is his fidelity to Hegel’s diale"ti"al method. %hat is not to say that Žižek peps or spi"es this method up &adapting' it to "ontemporary "onditions or &renovating' it in any !ay( rather I maintain that Hegel’s metaphysi"al system like all genuinely universal philosophi"al theories sho!s itself to be directly appli"able to "urrent philosophi"al and s"ientifi" issues. Hen"e after elaborating !hat is at stake in Hegel’s metaphysi"s I !ill argue that it has immediate relevance for "ontemporary thought and that Žižek has already gone some !ay in demonstrating this by produ"tively applying the diale"ti"al method to the philosophi"ally problem)ridden modern s"ien"e of *uantum me"hani"s.

1

Instead he posits the logi"al "ategories themselves 1abstra"t "on"epts like ne"essity "ausality essen"e and existen"e et".D@)D? . .<<<$ =>)=?3 %he first thing to be noted here is that for Žižek the transition from -ant to Hegel involves a radi"al gesture of subtraction the subtra"tion of the problemati"al existen"e of a positive domain of supersensible entities that reside beyond the grasp of our finite dis"ursive "ognition the subtra"tion of any trans"endent truth that might lie beyond the epistemologi"al limit of our thought 1Allison @A=B$ C?)C=( -ant .3 as irredu"ible to the empiri"al as that !hi"h must be metaphysi"ally 2 . Ho!ever if Hegel is un!illing to "on"ede the existen"e of an impenetrable beyond barred from our "ognition he refuses to rule out the existen"e of the supersensible altogether 1Hegel @ACA$ ?=A)A@ D?C =.D).I +et us begin by examining one of Žižek’s more densely theoreti"al refle"tions from The Ticklish Subject. #n"e Hegel gained this insight the distin"tion bet!een +ogi" and 2etaphysi"s had to "ollapse$ +ogi" itself had to be identified !ith /2etaphysi"s’ !ith the philosophi"al s"ien"e of the inherent "ategori"al net!ork !hi"h determines every "on"eivable form of reality.inite : the Absolute is nothing but the movement of self)sublation of these finite determinations( it is not beyond refle"tion but is absolute refle"tion itself. Indeed in Tarrying With The Negative 1again grappling !ith the transition from -ant to Hegel3 Žižek !ill maintain that in the light of su"h a gesture of subtra"tion the division bet!een epistemology and ontology has to collapse sin"e the distin"tion bet!een the epistemologi"al limit of thought 1!hat !e "an "ogniEe3 and ontologi"al reality 1!hat a"tually exists3 must be defined as an intra-conceptual distin"tion made by our discursive cognition and thus deprived of any overar"hing trans"endent ne"essity 1Žižek @AAB$ @=).=3.eason as the "riti"al prolegomena to a future metaphysi"s already is the only possible metaphysi"s5 Hegel /be"ame Hegel’ !hen he a""epted that there is no Absolute beyond or above the reflexive oppositions and "ontradi"tions of the .eason’ is Understanding itself bereft of the illusion that there is something beyond it5 6%hus7 !hat -ant does not see is that his 8riti*ue of 9ure .<3.)AB B.or Hegel .<<B$ . 1Žižek .D3.eason one does not have to add anything but on the "ontrary to subtract something$ 4hat Hegel "alls /. In short to get from 0nderstanding to .eason is not another /higher’ "apa"ity than that of /abstra"t’ 0nderstanding( !hat defines 0nderstanding is the very illusion that beyond it there is another domain 1either of the ineffable 2ysti"al or .egarding the transition from the metaphysi"al system of -ant to that of Hegel Žižek posits that .eason3 !hi"h eludes its dis"ursive grasp.A.

So 9lato !as also right. 9ure understanding produ"es "on"epts but they !ould not o""ur if there !as no stuff. Aristotle meant to maintain that matter but not form "ame from the senses( had he so expressed himself and 9lato in turn$ the form for refle"ting is !hat the understanding has independently of the senses then no dispute !ould have arisen and both systems "ould easily have been united. As he so vividly put it in the prefa"e to the Philosophy of Nature &metaphysi"s is nothing else but the entire range of the universal determinations of thought as it !ere the diamond net into !hi"h everything is brought and thereby first made intelligible' 1Hegel @AD<$ @@3.G %he "on"epts of the understanding are nothing other than the a"tions of refle"tion. In "ontrast Hegel’s Science of Logic purports to be nothing less than an exposition of the diale"ti"al relations that "onstitute the immanent "ontent of the "ategories. In this Aristotle is right. 9lato says on the "ontrary that they are not borro!ed from the senses and in that he !as also right for "ould our senses ever bring about the "on"ept of the ne"essary or the possibleG In !hi"h !ould it lie in smell in taste et". Fut signifi"antly this idea did not entirely originate !ith Hegel$ it is already *uite "lear in -ant that the "ategories !ere irredu"ible to the "ontent of the senses 1Hegel @=A. And so !hile -ant posited that the "ategories taken on their o!n are empty thoroughly devoid of "ontent !e find Hegel "laiming that &to assert that the "ategories taken by themselves are empty "an s"ar"ely be right seeing that they 3 . 1-ant @AAD$ @.@ %his is ho! -ant framed the problem in his Lectures on etaphysics$ #ur "on"epts never arise other than upon the o""asion of obje"ts of the senses upon !hi"h the understanding refle"ts. And yet as Hegel famously observed -ant failed to take note of the content of the categories themselves( they are presupposed taken over from "lassi"al logi" as "on"epts self)evidently valid and "omprehended 1Hegel @=A.3 if !e have passive re"eptive a""ess to the !orld by means of the senses( and b3 sin"e the "ategories are not &things' but abstra"t "on"epts 1su"h as ne"essity possibility et".$ =C)=D( -ant .3 they must be innately situated in the &understanding' i. our "on"epts of planets trees iron et".presupposed *ua "on"epts in order for the !orld to be rationally stru"tured 1Hegel @=A..$ ?<)?. %he senses give us the ra! matter from !hi"h our empiri"al "on"epts are "omposed the understanding the form 1-ant .<<B$ @@@)@B3.$ >?3.<<B$ C?)CC3. in the &trans"endental subje"t'.or if nothing is given to us then !e "annot refle"t on anything. .e.>3 -ant here resolves the "ontradi"tion bet!een 9lato and Aristotle by means of a dual gesture$ a3 !e "an only arrive at "ertain empiri"al "on"epts 1i.e.<<B$ @@B3. Fut sin"e it is impossible to refle"t if I have no obje"t !hi"h the senses deliver to us the understanding !ould not refle"t if the senses provided no stuff. =B( Hegel @ACA$ BB ?A> D=A( -ant .B).

And so for example Hegel !ill posit that the &"ontent' of the "on"ept of infinitude 1Unendlichkeit3 is first and foremost everything "ontained in the "on"ept of finitude 1!ndlichkeit3 of !hi"h it is the negation 1Hegel @ACA$ @>B3.( -ant .C3. II Having thus demolished the -antian premise that the antinomi" "ontradi"tions bet!een the "ategories are fundamentally unprodu"tive and harbouring no sympathy for the arbitrary "on"ept of a trans"endent domain barred from our "ognition Hegel is able to venture a truly remarkable "ontention 1Hegel @=A.egarding ea"h "ategory in his Science of Logic Hegel does not give the kind of definition one !ould expe"t to find in a di"tionary but instead elaborates the "ategory’s immanent linguisti" relations !ith other "ategories 1Hegel @ACA$ DA?)=<< =B>)BC3. Fy demonstrating ea"h "ategory to be linguisti"ally dependent upon others 1ne"essity upon "ontingen"y identity upon differen"e being upon nothing et".$ @?. %he key to understanding Hegel’s idea that the "ategories ea"h have their o!n spe"ifi" "ontent lies in understanding !hat "ounts as a &"ontent' for Hegel. #f "ourse the "ontent of the "ategories is not per"eptible to the senses nor is it time and spa"e$ but that is rather a merit than a defe"t' 1Hegel @=A. As Saussure puts it in his "ourse in #eneral Linguistics "on"epts are to be &defined not positively in terms of their 6meaning7 but negatively by "ontrast !ith other items in the same system' 1Saussure @A=B$ @@?3.$ @>A( Hegel @ACA$ BA @>B ?A.<<B$ AB3.$ A@( -ant .3 Hegel exhibits their self)"ontradi"tory nature and the natural produ"tive transitions they must undertake over into one another 1Hegel @=A.<<B$ AB3.$ A=)AA( Hegel @ACA$ =B@)BB3. .have "ontent at all events in the spe"ial stamp and signifi"an"e !hi"h they possess. -ant maintains that our thoughts "an only have a determinate "ontent !hen they are bound to an intuition !hi"h is delivered to us by the senses( !hereas for Hegel the "ontent of a "on"ept is first and foremost that !hi"h it must be opposed to in order for it to emerge in its "larity and distin"tiveness in order for it to be more than an empty name 1Hegel @=A. %herein resides the essen"e of Hegel’s &diale"ti"al method'$ it is a linguistic method enabling Hegel to determine the linguistic relations underpinning the "ategories ) a method !hi"h is moreover in deep "ontinuity !ith Saussure’s stru"turalist linguisti"s 1Hegel @ACA$ >>@ =B@)BC3. Indifferent to the unphilosophi"al prejudi"e that the supersensible beyond must be devoid of "ontradi"tion Hegel proposes that the self)"ontradi"tory logi"al "ategories 4 . =.

%he senses only inform us of the t!o o""urren"es !hi"h follo! ea"h other in time.<<B$ A<3.)BB3. All these properties !e say are united in the one obje"t.or Hegel the "ategories are on both sides of empiri"al reality in the subje"t in the mode of pure thoughts and beyond the transient phenomena as the supersensible "on"epts !hi"h stru"ture them from !ithin and !hi"h must be presupposed if these phenomena are to emerge at all 1on this point see Žižek . .$ CB A=( Hegel @AD<$ @B3. %he same thing happens !hen !e "on"eive t!o events to stand in the relation of "ause and effe"t. Hegel goes &beyond' -ant to the extent that he &relo"ates' the "ategories su"h that they are no longer merely situated in the subje"t but e$ually constitute the %noumenal& 'orld itself 1Hegel @=A.B %he "ategories are stru"ture as such.need no longer be seen to inhere innately in the trans"endental subje"t as -ant !anted them to but "an and must be understood as those stru"tural aspe"ts of empiri"al reality that are irredu"ible to and in ex"ess of the "orporeal of the "ontent of the senses 1Hegel @=A. %his perhaps is !hat Žižek is evoking !hen he "laims that Hegel’s Science of Logic expli"ates &the inherent "ategori"al net!ork !hi"h determines every "on"eivable form of reality'$ the logi"al "ategories "onstitute a kind of Eero)level of stru"ture to !hi"h every possible form of physi"al and so"ial reality must a""ord.<<D$ unpaginated3. As Hegel puts it 4hen for instan"e !e look at a pie"e of sugar !e find it is hard !hite s!eet et". Ho! it is this unity that is not found in the sensation. In Hegel’s 5 . Ho!ever if it "an be said that the "ategories metaphysi"ally stru"ture reality it is "lear that they "annot and do not subsist in the material !orld as substantial &%hings)in)themselves' but instead merely as impli"it immaterial "on"epts as pure appearan"es per"eptible only to thought and thus la"king any underlying physi"al reality. Hegel thus suggests that the presen"e of the "ategories !ithin our minds "an only enable us to "ogniEe reality insofar as these "ategories already impli"itly exist !ithin reality and so stru"ture it 1Hegel @ACA$ B. 1=A)A<3 Hegel here offers a fresh solution to the "onfli"t bet!een 9lato and Aristotle that radi"ally differs from -ant’s solution$ Hegel subtra"ts -ant’s &primordial being !ith intelle"tual intuition' 1an omnipotent omnis"ient Iod)like figure if ever there !as one3 so that it might be the logical categories that are situated beyond the finite empiri"al !orld 1>?( -ant . Still though the "ategories su"h as unity or "ause and effe"t are stri"tly the property of thought it by no means follo's that they must be ours merely and not also characteristics of objects. Fut that the one is "ause the other effe"t 1in other !ords the "ausal nexus bet!een the t!o3 is not per"eived by sense( it is only evident to thought.$ >?)>D3.

Fut "onversely it is "lear that the "ategories’ status as pure abstra"t thoughts renders them defi"ient in relation to their "on"rete examples to all the things in the physi"al !orld !hi"h are stru"tured by them and !hi"h "an be thought by means of them. 4hile !e are *uite "apable of bringing the "ategories expli"itly before "ons"iousness 1as Hegel does in his Science of Logic3 they are predominantly a"tive &behind the s"enes' logi"ally stru"turing our thought !ithout our a!areness of the fa"t 1Hegel @AD<$ @@( -ant @AAD$ @?=3. As regards the presen"e of the "ategories in our minds Hegel asserts the follo!ing$ %he forms of thought are in the first instan"e displayed and stored in human language. If I explained ho!ever !ell !hat a substan"e !as and yet did not kno! to 6 . Ho!adays !e "annot be too often reminded that it is thinking !hi"h distinguishes man from the beasts. %o the extent that the "ategories must be employed in order to "omprehend anything at all nothing "an be talked about that is not an example of one or the other of the "ategories. 1Hegel @ACA$ B@)BB3 Hote that for Hegel the "ategories are instinctively and unconsciously applied by thought !hen !e "ogniEe the !orld$ !e don’t have to reflexively think about it it is just something that thought utiliEes automati"ally 1Hegel @ACA$ BA3. It might seem that the "ategory "ould simply be presupposed or taken for granted but it is pre"isely this &self)evident' truth that Hegel is attempting to render problemati".example "ited above it is "lear that the &unity' of a pie"e of sugar "ould not substantially subsist outside of the unified obje"t but it is also e*ually "lear that the "ategory must nevertheless metaphysi"ally stru"ture the obje"t from !ithin if it is indeed going to be unified.? #r as -ant put it &all 6the logi"al "ategories7 !ould mean nothing if the senses delivered no obje"ts and examples. Into all that be"omes something in!ard for men an image or "on"eption as su"h into all that he makes his o!n language has penetrated and everything that he has transformed into language and expresses in it contains a category : "on"ealed mixed !ith other forms or "learly determined as su"h so mu"h is logi" his natural element indeed his o!n pe"uliar nature.> Having exhaustively elaborated the linguisti" relations underpinning the "ategories in his Science of Logic via the diale"ti"al method and having e*uated the "ategories !ith both the logi"al stru"ture of "ognition and the noumenal stru"ture of empiri"al reality Hegel !as subse*uently "onfronted !ith a fresh philosophi"al problem$ it is the properly materialist problem of determining the pre"ise relation bet!een the abstra"t "ategories and their a"tual physi"al empiri"al examples.

give an example then it !ould be all for nothing' 1-ant @AAD$ @. Ho!ever given that Hegel !as !ell a!are of this fa"t 1!hi"h is !hy the Philosophy of Nature and the Philosophy of Spirit "ome after the Science of Logic in Hegel’s !ncyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences3 I "laim that Žižek feels no need to elaborate an abstra"t metaphysi"al treatise like Hegel’s be"ause the Science of Logic has already been 'ritten 1Hegel @=A. %hat is to say !hat if the aim of the Science of Logic is not only to exhaustively enumerate the "ategories and their linguisti" relations but e*ually to demonstrate the deficiency and untruth of the logi"al "ategories 1Hegel @ACA$ ?A@)A. III As !e have seen the diale"ti"al method is the means to the "ognition of the linguisti" relations underpinning the "ategories and the "ategories are the means to the "ognition of empiri"al reality. In fa"t Žižek’s real point is that no philosophi"al %ruth "an ever exist apart from its exemplifi"ation that is its enun"iation' 1Žižek . A monument to !hat thought is "apable of !hen left to "ogniEe itself in its o!n domain the Science of Logic simultaneously represents the definitive devastation of every metaphysi"al idol !hi"h sets itself up over and against the methodi"al "ognition of material reality 1Hegel @ACA$ B>3.$ A@( Hegel @=AC$ >A>3. As . It follo!s that the diale"ti"al method must be appli"able to at least 7 .or !hat persists in both of these "ases is the assumption of some external %ruth of !hi"h these !ould be the examples. .$ A@3. =>@)=>>3G 4hat if there is more truth in the material and so"ial e*amples of the "ategories than there is in the abstra"t "ategories themselvesG If this is the "ase there need only be one Science of Logic sin"e as the true &"riti*ue of pure reason' it merely pre"edes the diale"ti"al thinking of the material !orld.<<?a$ >3.>3.ex Futler and S"ott Stephens point out in the Jditor’s introdu"tion to (nterrogating the )eal &Žižek goes further than simply finding examples for philosophi"al "on"epts or even redu"ing those "on"epts to the level of examples. %his indexes the inherent limit of Hegel’s Science of Logic$ pre"isely insofar as it remains !ithin the abstra"t domain of pure thought it is not "on"rete enough and is thus inferior in relation to the more determinate &philosophi"al s"ien"es' su"h as those of &Hature' and &Spirit' 1Hegel @=A. If Hegel felt obliged to elaborate an abstra"t "on"eptual treatise in the domain of pure thought 1his Science of Logic3 Žižek evidently does not. And it is to this problemati" that Žižek addresses himself throughout his !ork.

Hegel dis"erns that this diale"ti"al aspe"t "an be isolated in Hature by examining not so mu"h the se"ure findings of the individual s"ien"es as the transition bet'een the sciences$ the transition from physi"s to biology from biology to anthropology et". Žižek frames the problem of the !ave fun"tion "ollapse in The (ndivisible )emainder as follo!s$ It is deeply symptomati" that in an effort to spe"ify 6the "ollapse of the !ave fun"tion7 *uantum physi"ists resort again and again to the metaphori"s of language$ the /"ollapse’ of the !ave fun"tion o""urs !hen a *uantum event /leaves some kind of trace’ in the observational apparatus that is !hen it is /registered in some !ay’. %o use the simplest example the "ategory of &life' is inappli"able to the domain of obje"ts examined in physi"s and "hemistry and "an only be legitimately applied to the obje"ts studied in biology 1Hegel @ACA$ DC@)CC( Hegel @AD<$ @=)@A .>).D >>B)>?3. "hemistry to biology that is in examining the metaphysi"al emergen"e of the "ategory of life in physi"al reality. %he diale"ti"al method "an thus be produ"tively employed in examining the transition from e.B3 8 . Indeed the very fa"t that these s"ien"es "ontinue to develop today in general isolation from one another 1e. 4hat is "ru"ial here is the relation to externality$ an event be"omes fully /itself’ realiEes itself only !hen its external surroundings /take note’ of it.<). Koes not this "onstitutive relationship to externality prefigure the logi" of /symboli" realiEation’ in !hi"h an x /"ounts’ be"omes /effe"tive’ via its ins"ription into the symboli" net!ork that is external to the /thing itself’G 1Žižek @AAC$ . Ho!ever !hile diale"ti"al transitions are ubi*uitous and transparent in the abstra"t domain of the logi"al "ategories 1sin"e the diale"ti"al method is after all a linguistic method3 su"h transitions are "ounter)intuitive and un"anny !hen they take pla"e in physi"al reality. one "an be a neuros"ientist !ithout being a physi"ist3 demonstrates that the "ategories being employed in ea"h s"ien"e differ radi"ally..some aspe"t of empiri"al reality namely the diale"ti"al aspe"t. %o be sure Hegel’s o!n a""ount of su"h diale"ti"al transitions !ithin his Philosophy of Nature is severely outdated but I "ontend that this is less a result of any fla! in the diale"ti"al method as it is a result of the severe limitations of the s"ien"e of his day. In this "ontext Žižek’s !ork on *uantum me"hani"s represents a transparent re!orking of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature$ he is reapplying Hegel’s diale"ti"al method to !hat one might "all the Eero)level diale"ti"al transition in physi"al reality namely the *uantum me"hani"al phenomenon of the !ave fun"tion "ollapse.@ .g.D<)D?3.g. 1Hegel @AD<$ .

%he !ave fun"tion enables us to determine the probability of the parti"le emerging in a parti"ular position !hen it is observed again but for any single measurement it is absolutely impossible to kno! in advan"e 'here the parti"le !ill materialise$ ea"h time is as random as the last and it is only by taking the measurements "umulatively that some semblan"e of probabilisti" &order' "an be dis"erned therein 1Loos . It thus seems as though "ontingen"y is dire"tly ins"ribed into the immutable physi"al la!s of reality itself.$ @?C)?A3. %he diffi"ulty in dealing !ith the !ave fun"tion "ollapse has traditionally resided in t!o things.( HakaEato Hamiki 9as"aEio @AAD$ @)C3. %ransposed into everyday language the fundamental paradox of the &"ollapse of the !ave fun"tion' "on"erns the transition from the spe"tral domain of *uantum !aves over into the &fully "onstituted' realm of elementary parti"les that !e find so mu"h more intuitively plausible 1Loos @AAC$ @).It is "lear from this passage that the need for *uantum physi"ists to take refuge in the &metaphori"s of language' does not in any !ay indi"ate that they are regressing from the "larity and theoreti"al rigour of s"ientifi" method into the ambiguous and haEy domain of linguisti" "onstru"ts. Ho!ever this !as an intolerable state of affairs for Jinstein !ho "ould not "ome to terms !ith su"h physi"al "ontingen"y !hi"h I suggest is !hy he posited the existen"e of &hidden variables' of some unkno!n third term that !ould allo! us to submit the "ollapse of the !ave fun"tion to the linear determinism that is every!here else apparent in the !orld of physi"s 1HakaEato Hamiki 9 . In the light of !hat !e have already "overed regarding the "ategories this first problem should not be the "ause of any great "on"ern$ it only appears to be a paradox to those !ho take the "ategory of causality to be absolute 1Hegel @=A. In fa"t as Žižek attempts to demonstrate the opposite is the "ase$ it is in their attempt to transpose the meaningless formulae of *uantum me"hani"s into the metaphori" domain of everyday language that the "ounter)intuitive paradoxes immanent in them "an be brought to light and made expli"it and thus put into a "on"eptual format that the diale"ti"al method "an operate on 1Žižek @AAC$ .irst the "ollapse seems to defy the &la!' of "ausality$ !hen a parti"le stops being observed it bran"hes out from its last registered position a""ording to the !ave fun"tion.B<3. %hat is to say !hile ea"h &!orld' 1the !orld of *uantum me"hani"s the !orld of "lassi"al physi"s3 may indeed fun"tion "oherently a""ording to entirely deterministi" la!s !hen left !ithin its o!n domain there is no reason !hy these t!o !orlds "annot be mediated by a moment of utter "ontingen"y !hen it is a *uestion of the diale"ti"al transition bet!een them. .<<<$ @?( Meh @AAC$ D3.

= B>( Žižek @AAC$ .<<?$ BB3.?).3 "an be said to e*ist only after they are measured 1Loos .e. %his un"anny fa"t of the *uantum me"hani"al !orld traditionally led many physi"ists to doubt the physi"al existen"e of the spe"tral *uantum obje"ts delineated by the !ave fun"tion. 4hen observed parti"les never appear in more than one position at the same time( but !hen not observed parti"les start to obey !hat is kno!n as the la! of &*uantum superposition'$ a parti"le is in all the possible positions it "ould be in 1i. &!ithin the "onstraint of its !ave fun"tion'3 at the same time and often interferes !ith itself 1HakaEato Hamiki 9as"aEio @AAD$ .<<<$ . And yet this presupposes the ma"ros"opi" observational apparatus as an external given and does not explain ho! this apparatus being &governed by the same *uantum me"hani"al rules that govern everything else in the universe' "ould emerge in the first pla"e 14einberg .<<C$ @. Fy emphasiEing Hiel Fohr’s famous response to Jinstein’s &Iod doesn’t play !ith di"e' 1&Kon’t tell Iod !hat to doN'3 Žižek exhibits an a!areness of the inappli"ability of the "ategory of "ausality to the "ollapse of the !ave fun"tion 1Žižek .B).>( Meh @AAC$ D3.@3.9as"aEio @AAD$ CC)CA3. %his intuition has been thoroughly undermined by *uantum me"hani"s.. 4ithin this positivist frame!ork it is the a"t of measurement by an external apparatus or observer that brings about !ave fun"tion "ollapse and physi"al observables 1photons ele"trons Iold atoms et". 8learly physi"al priority must be given to &an /absolutely existing’ universal !ave fun"tion' over and against the ma"ros"opi" !orld that "onstitutes our everyday reality 1Meh @AAC$ D( Meh .<<?b$ unpaginated3. In assuming &observability' and &measurability' to be prere*uisites for physi"al existen"e these physi"ists already presupposed too mu"h took too mu"h for granted namely the external measurement devi"e itself. In a""ordan"e !ith the 8openhagen interpretation su"h physi"ists restri"ted the !ave fun"tion to its use as a mathemati"al tool for the "al"ulation of probabilities and refused to make any "laim regarding its independent physi"al existen"e 1Ireenstein Majon" . %he se"ond problem !ith the !ave fun"tion "ollapse is that it upsets our natural intuitions about physi"al obje"ts and their lo"aliEability in spa"e$ it !ould seem "ompletely natural to assume that if a parti"le is in one spatial position it "annot at the same time be in another spatial position. %his is one sense in !hi"h Žižek "an be understood as applying the diale"ti"al method to the s"ien"e of *uantum me"hani"s$ "larifying the "ategories that "an be legitimately applied to *uantum me"hani"al phenomena. In The Paralla* +ie' Žižek exhibits a keen a!areness of this all)important diale"ti"al reversal$ 10 .?3.<<<$ >3.

C %he theory of *uantum de"oheren"e thus enables us to grasp the immanent transition from the domain of spe"tral !aves over into the domain of de"ohered "lassi"al &parti"les'..rom this perspe"tive the true Hegelian problem is not &Ho! "an !e make sense of for instan"e the prin"iple of *uantum superposition !ithin the "oordinates of the "lassi"al paradigmG' but rather &Ho! does the !orld of "lassi"al physi"s emerge at allG' #n"e the *uestion had been philosophi"ally reformulated in this !ay it "ould be"ome an authenti" proje"t for s"ientifi" investigation and it is !ith this problemati" that the relatively modern physi"al theory of *uantum de"oheren"e has attempted to grapple 1Meh @AAC$ =)A3. IV I "ontend that the diale"ti"al method is implicitly and instinctively operative in this physi"al theory and I suggest that in Žižek’s !ork on *uantum me"hani"s he is attempting to make the diale"ti"al aspe"ts of *uantum de"oheren"e thoroughly e*plicit. 1Žižek .<<C$ @D.<<<$ @).3.3 .In an initial moment it appears as if first 1ontologi"ally at least3 there are parti"les intera"ting in the mode of !aves os"illations and so forth 6a vie! for !hi"h *uantum superposition represents an inexpli"able paradox i. It is in this !ay that &parti"les' 1redefined as &narro! de"ohered !ave)pa"kets'3 "ome into being for the first time being understood not as the &ro"k)solid building blo"ks' from !hi"h empiri"al reality is "omposed but rather as the fragile result of systemati" de"oheren"e 1Loos .3. %he theory of *uantum de"oheren"e maintains that the *uantum !ave fun"tion !hi"h evolves deterministi"ally a""ording to the S"hrOdinger e*uation !ithin all mi"ros"opi" systems &loses' its "oheren"e on an extremely short times"ale !hen these mi"ros"opi" systems "ome into relation !ith their larger ma"ros"opi" environment thus bringing about the "lassi"al spatiality and irreversible temporality that !e take for granted in our de"ohered universe 1Loos .e.( Meh @AAC$ .<<<$ @?( Meh @AAC$ @.7( then in a se"ond moment !e are for"ed to ena"t a radi"al shift of perspe"tive : the primordial ontologi"al fa"ts are the !aves themselves 1traje"tories os"illations3 and parti"les are nothing but the nodal points at !hi"h different !aves interse"t. As Žižek earlier put it the !ave fun"tion "ollapse demonstrates that &a 6*uantum7 event 11 .( Meh @AAC$ .?3. It is therefore the mi"ros"opi" *uantum system’s interaction !ith its environment that brings about its de"oheren"e 1this environment fun"tioning as a &"ontinually a"tive position monitor'3 1Loos @AAC$ @). it demonstrates that a parti"le "an be in t!o pla"es at the same time "an interfere !ith itself et".

in that from !hi"h it is distin"t. It is only !hen this external limitation 1intera"tion !ith its environment3 is internali.e. It is only !hen a determinate being internali. Pia the appli"ation of the diale"ti"al method Hegel dis"erns that at a purely linguistic level the &determinateness' of a &determinate being' lies outside of itself in its &negation' i.<<<$ . Here !e have perhaps the first expli"it e*ample of the "ategory of unity of being)for)self !ithin the physi"al !orld the "ategory 1as a metaphysi"al "on"ept !ithout any underlying physi"al reality3 stru"turing these de"ohered parti"les from !ithin 1Hegel @ACA$ @?D)@C<3.e. +ike!ise a mi"ros"opi" *uantum system relates to its environment as its negation as an e*ternal limitation !hi"h !ill bring about its de"oheren"e. And it is in this sense that !e "an understand Žižek’s "laim that the !ave fun"tion "ollapse &prefigures the logi" of /symboli" realiEation’'$ physi"al reality is here a"ting in a thoroughly linguistic !ay the *uantum me"hani"al domain spontaneously passing over into another *ualitatively different domain 1the domain of "lassi"al physi"s3 in a""ordan"e !ith an un"annily speculative or dialectical logi" as though the diale"ti"al method from Hegel’s Science of Logic !as given full reign !ithin physi"al reality itself 1Hegel @ACA$ =B@)BC( Žižek @AAC$ . As 9essoa asserts *uantum de"oheren"e enables us to understand the "ollapse of the !ave fun"tion &as a physi"al pro"ess o""urring independently of an observer or even of a measuring apparatus' 19essoa Lr @AA=$ B><3.be"omes fully /itself’ realiEes itself only !hen its external surroundings /take note’ of it' 1Žižek @AAC$ ...=3.ed presupposed as a "onstitutive moment of its physi"al evolution that a mi"ros"opi" *uantum system manifests itself as a &parti"le' 1or group of parti"les3 i. And sin"e !e are no longer dealing !ith abstra"t "ategories but rather !ith &an /absolutely existing’ universal !ave fun"tion' the fa"t that &de"oheren"e by /"ontinuous measurement’ seems to represent the most fundamental irreversible pro"ess in Hature' "annot but strike us as an un"annily ideal fa"t of physi"s 1Meh @AAC$ @.B3. as a being)for)self.? .B .es its negation that it passes over into a &being)for)self' a self)limited entity 1Hegel @ACA$ @?< @?D)?A3.A)B<3. %hat is to say the physi"al phenomenon of *uantum de"oheren"e expli"itly repli"ates the logi"al movement from the "ategory of &determinate being' to the "ategory of &being)for)self' in Hegel’s Science of Logic.3. Simply put this entails that the !ave fun"tion is effe"tively sublated in the parti"le1s3 !hi"h result from its systemati" de"oheren"e$ the very semblan"e of these spatially lo"aliEable self)limited parti"les exerts an effi"a"y of its o!n not just for) us but for physi"al reality itself 1Meh . Although the 12 ..

.3 The Logic of 5egel trans.P. Loos J. 1@AAC3 &Introdu"tion' 1ecoherence and the 0ppearance of a "lassical World in 2uantum Theory Ferlin$ Springer)Perlag @)>. 1@=AC3 5egel.<<?3 &JinsteinRs 2istakes' Physics Today Hov$ B@)B?. 13 . 1@AD<3 Philosophy of Nature trans.. 1@=A. 2iller #xford$ #xford 0niversity 9ress. Saussure . 1@A=B3 "ourse in #eneral Linguistics trans.linguisti" transition from one "ategory to the next in the domain of pure thought is intuitively "omprehensible it is altogether another story !hen it "omes to su"h diale"ti"al transitions in the realm of Hature. Hegel I. 1@A=B3 -ant. K. Majon" A.4. Hegel I.. @@B Ho. Hegel I.<<<3 &Jlements of Jnvironmental Ke"oheren"e' 1ecoherence3 Theoretical8 !*perimental8 and "onceptual Problems Ferlin$ Springer)Perlag @)@D. 1@AAD3 Lectures on etaphysics8 trans.. by . HakaEato 2.4. -ant I. and 9as"aEio S.. Loos J.B)B>C.oy Harris +ondon$ Ku"k!orth. 9essoa Lr #.<<C3 The 2uantum "hallenge3 odern )esearch on the 4oundations of 2uantum echanics Sudbury$ Lones and Fartlett 9ublishers. by -arl Ameriks and Steve Haragon 8ambridge$ 8ambridge 0niversity 9ress.. In Hature the gap bet!een in)itself and for)itself be"omes palpable and it is no surprise that the metaphysi"al emergen"e of the "ategory of being)for)self in the midst of the physi"al phenomenon of the !ave fun"tion "ollapse !as originally paradoxi"al for physi"ists una""ustomed !ith diale"ti"al logi". 2iller He! Qork$ Humanity Fooks.s Lectures on the 5istory of Philosophy +ol6 78 trans. Simson +ondon$ . 1@AAD3 1ecoherence and 2uantum easurements Singapore$ 4orld S"ientifi" 9ublishing 8o.P.ran"es H.outledge and -egan 9aul +td. by J. Žižek’s !ork on *uantum me"hani"s thus demonstrates the immediate relevan"e and appli"ability of Hegel’s diale"ti"al method to "ontemporary philosophi"al and s"ientifi" problems$ the &paradoxes' !hi"h had traditionally plagued *uantum physi"ists simply dissolved a!ay on"e the diale"ti"al method !as mobiliEed for their apprehension resulting in the "urrent physi"al theory of *uantum de"oheren"e. S. B$ B. Hegel I. Ireenstein I. Meh H. 1. &e/eren0e+1 Allison H.4. Hamiki 2. I.s Transcendental (dealism / 0n (nterpretation and 1efense +ondon$ Qale 0niversity 9ress. 1... by Horman -emp Smith Hampshire$ 9algrave 2a"millan.. by 4illiam 4alla"e #xford$ 8larendon 9ress. -ant I. 1@AAC3 &%he 9rogram of Ke"oheren"e$ Ideas and 8on"epts' 1ecoherence and the 0ppearance of a "lassical World in 2uantum Theory Ferlin$ Springer) Perlag ?)B>.<<B3 "riti$ue of Pure )eason trans. Haldane and . 1@ACA3 Science of Logic trans. and ed. 1. 1. by A. 1@AA=3 &8an the Ke"oheren"e Approa"h Help to Solve the 2easurement 9roblemG' Synthese3 0n (nternational 9ournal for !pistemology8 ethodology and Philosophy of Science Pol. 4einberg S.4. by A.

Žižek S.<<=.ex Futler and S"ott Stephens +ondon$ 8ontinuum Fooks.<<<3 &2eaning of Ke"oheren"e' 1ecoherence3 Theoretical8 !*perimental8 and "onceptual Problems Ferlin$ Springer)Perlag @A)>.eal'. Available at$ http$SSla"an. 1.htm.th . by .la"an."omSEiEpassion. Žižek S. Žižek S. 1.<<<3 The Ticklish subject He! Qork$ Perso. 1@AAB3 Tarrying 'ith the Negative8 Kurham$ Kuke 0niversity 9ress.<<=. A""essed Luly @.Meh H. 1. 1. 1.. Žižek S.<<?b3 &4ith #r 4ithout 9assion$ 4hat’s 4rong 4ith . Žižek S. 14 .<<D3 &KeleuEe’s 9latonism$ Ideas as . Available at$ http$SS!!!.<<C3 The Paralla* +ie' 8ambridge$ 2I% 9ress.undamentalismG : 9art @'.htm. A""essed Luly @. K.<<?a3 (nterrogating the )eal3 Selected Writings8 +olume :ne8 ed. 1@AAC3 The (ndivisible )emainder3 0n !ssay on Schelling and )elated atters +ondon$ Perso."omSEiEplato. Žižek S. 1.th . Žižek S.

forms of judgment$ unity plurality totality reality negation limitation possibility a"tuality ne"essity substan"e "ausality and re"ipro"ity 1-ant . 2 In truth -ant fell vi"tim to the same oversight that plagued the first "ommentators on Hegel’s Science of Logic$ he mistook our familiarity !ith the "ategories for our "omprehension of them. 1 . Fy "ontrast Hegel’s Science of Logic "an be understood as a solid re!orking and expansion of -ant’s list of "ategories. 4 As -ant starkly puts it &#ur "ommon language already "ontains everything that trans"endental philosophy dra!s out !ith an effort5 If !e posit that !e had no su"h pure "on"epts of the understanding 6su"h as &"ausality' &substan"e' et". Ho!ever the opposite is true$ ma"ros"opi" obje"ts are extremely sensitive and immediately de"ohered' 1Loos .It should be re"alled that for -ant the understanding "ontains a mere @.( Žižek .$ >C3. 4hile -ant elaborates only @.. 6 As Loos provo"atively states &usually *uantum obje"ts are "onsidered as fragile and easy to disturb !hereas ma"ros"opi" obje"ts are vie!ed as the ro"k)solid building blo"ks of empiri"al reality.<<B$ @@B3.<<<$ @?3. "ategories "orresponding to the @. "ategories Hegel expounds over =< in"luding su"h "entral and fundamental terms as being essen"e existen"e a"tuality ne"essity and universality 1Hegel @ACA$ @?).7 then !e "ould not think or speak at all' 1-ant @AAD$ @?=3.3. 3 As Hegel "laims one must &speak of nature as the system of un"ons"ious thought or to use S"helling’s expression 6as7 a petrified intelligen"e' 1Hegel @=A. Su"h an error of "ourse re*uires no great lapse in reasoning sin"e as Hegel puts it &!hat is more familiar than just those determinations of thought !hi"h !e employ on every o""asion !hi"h pass our lips in every senten"e !e speak' 1Hegel @ACA$ BB3. 5 As Žižek puts it &%he eternal Absolute 6understood as the totality of the "ategories elaborated in the Science of Logic7 is the immobile point of referen"e around !hi"h temporal figurations "ir"ulate their presupposition( ho!ever pre"isely as su"h it is posited by these temporal figurations since it does not pre-e*ist them5' 1Hegel @ACA$ ?B@)B.<<D$ unpaginated3.