Reality and the Real: Variations on the Theme of Plato’s Cave

  • Slavoj Žižek
Keywords: reality, the Real, Plato, consciousness, quantum physics


On the basis of a series of philosophical, socio-critical ans scientific topoi, the article examines the relation between reality as a field that is seemingly independent of the subject and the Real as the place of the subjective inscription into it. This relation manifests itself in many domains, for instance, in Plato’s metaphor of the cave, the status of consciousness in neuro-science, the critique of ideology, as well as in quantum mechanics. In all these cases, the same pattern is visible: even though the existence of an originary, substantial subject can never be assumed, only the subjective inscription enables the emergence of a consistent reality. This relation may well be said to exhibit the form of a Klein bottle which is made of one geometrical surface and yet produces its own inside as distinguished from its outside; the subject represents merely the twisting of the surface into itself, thus remaining its blind spot, necessary for the inside of the bottle to maintain the illusion of a complete and consummate reality.


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How to Cite
Žižek S. Reality and the Real: Variations on the Theme of Plato’s Cave. FV [Internet]. 2019Jan.15 [cited 2020Oct.26];39(1). Available from: