Mythology, Madness and Laughter – Introduction

Michael Burns, a PhD student in Philosophy at the University of Dundee, starts off our discussion of Markus Gabriel and Slavoj Žižek’s Mythology, Madness and Laughter. – APS

First of all I’d like to thank Anthony for inviting me to take part in this book event, as this is a work that I think is truly worthy of consideration, and one that will hopefully lead to some lively debate and discussion.

To set the stage a bit, I’d like to offer a few introductory remarks about the book itself. I presume many were originally skeptical to see a book being co-authored by Zizek and a name that many in the English speaking world have likely not seen before, Markus Gabriel. I experienced this sentiment myself on first seeing this book, but ended up spontaneously ordering it one night based primarily on the subtitle, ‘Subjectivity in German Idealism.’ Upon receiving the book I ended up reading it at a very rapid pace, as I found the content to be one of the most exciting discussions of German idealism I’d seen in quite some time. I know there are quite a few of us who have been convinced, to varying extents, by Zizek’s underlying ontological project (one more explicitly developed in The Parallax View and brilliantly systematized in Adrian Johnston’s Zizek’s Ontology), and in this work Gabriel and Zizek develop this project in a more straight forward and philosophically rigorous way than Zizek has yet to do himself. This is also Gabriel’s first major publication in English, and while he may not yet be a household name to those working on Contemporary European philosophy in the English speaking world, this is surely on the horizon, as his work in German has already established him as a serious scholar of both German idealism in general and Schelling in particular. It is also worth noting that this is one of Zizek’s most straightforward philosophical interventions in recent years. His two essays are noticeably lacking both jokes and political pronouncements, but full of exciting, if controversial, philosophical insight.

To begin the actual summary of the book, I’d like to briefly outline a few of the themes which emerge in the introduction, the one portion of the book co-written by Gabriel and Zizek, entitled ‘A Plea for a Return to a Post-Kantian Idealism.’ The introduction itself is quite short, so I will simply point out a few of the themes they introduce in these pages that play a substantial role in the rest of the work. Continue reading Mythology, Madness and Laughter – Introduction”

Schedule for Gabriel/Žižek Book Event

Our book event covering Mythology, Madness and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism [Amazon US] [Amazon UK] begins this Monday. Below is the planned reading schedule. I’ve broken it up along the sections already given and tried to give a pretty easy pace. Note that each chapter begins without a section so I’m indicating those by 0 (i.e, 1.0, 2.0, etc).

  • May 10th – Introduction
  • May 12th – 1.0
  • May 14th – 1.1
  • May 17th – 1.2
  • May 19th – 1.3
  • May 21st – 2.0-2.1
  • May 24th – 2.2-2.4
  • May 26th – 3.0-3.2
  • May 28th – 3.3-3.4
  • May 31st – 3.5-3.7