Continental Philosophy Review

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 481–499 | Cite as

Laughing at finitude: Slavoj Žižek reads Being and Time

  • Thomas Brockelman


“Laughing at Finitude” interprets Slavoj Žižek’s intellectual project as responding to a challenge left by Being and Time. Setting out from discussions of Heidegger’s book in The Parallax View and The Ticklish Subject, the essay exfoliates Žižek’s response to the Heideggerian version of a “philosophy of finitude”—both finding the central insight of Žižek’s work in Heidegger’s radical proposal for “anticipatory resoluteness” and developing Žižek’s critique of Being and Time as indicating Heidegger’s retreat from that proposal within the very book where it appears. Žižek reads Being and Time’s existential thematic as proposing a radical subjectivism and, unlike other Heidegger-critics, praises this aspect of the project. Indeed, Žižek claims that the weakness of Being and Time as a whole is that it is insufficiently radical in its subjectivism. For him, Heidegger is a thinker of ambiguous value, one who develops a program from whose own demands he hides. “Laughing at Finitude” both articulates this accusation of self-deception in Heidegger and examines the imperatives necessary to avoid it, for a dialectical shift from the “tragic” voice in existential treatments of finitude and for a revolutionary collectivist re-conception of social “Mitsein.” It suggests, in the process, Žižek’s own intellectual itinerary.


Žižek, Slavoj Heidegger, Martin Finitude Being and Time Modernism Comedy Existentialism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Le Moyne CollegeSyracuseUSA

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