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On Žižek and Trilling

From: Philosophy and Literature
Volume 28, Number 2, October 2004
pp. 430-440 | 10.1353/phl.2004.0029


J.S. Mill declares the true liberal prays for enlightened opposition. Slavoj Žižek's anti-liberal Kierkegaardian-Leninist philosophy, as presented in On Belief, is sized up as an opponent but fails to measure up philosophically. Žižek is not clear-headed; doesn't understand Kierkegaard; doesn't understand Lenin; or is too much of a soft-hearted liberal who only wishes he weren't. Žižek fears liberalism may threaten freedom. But the threats he sees — although real — are old news to liberals. Lionel Trilling-inspired hints concerning the proper care and feedings of the liberal imagination conclude the paper.