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Badiou, political nihilism, and a small-scale solution Open Access


Other title
set theory
political nihilism
political philosophy
revolutionary politics
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Vizeau, Brent
Supervisor and department
Morin, Marie-Eve (Philosophy)
Examining committee member and department
den Heyer, Kent (Education)
Burch, Robert (Philosophy)
Nichols, Robert (Philosophy/Political Science)
Department of Philosophy

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
In "Badiou, Political Nihilism, and a Small-Scale Solution", I argue that Badiou’s presentation of politics, exclusively on a large scale – that of the nation-state – betrays his underlying set-theoretic ontology. The consequence of presenting politics on this scale is that political events, opportunities for genuine political engagement, are extremely rare. This leaves potential political actors with little reason to believe they will have the opportunity to engage in politics. The absence of meaningful engagement, along with Badiou’s unique conception of truth, gives rise to the problem of political nihilism. But, just as sets are both composed of sets and couched within others, situations too should be viewed as scalable. Re-presenting politics on a multiplicity of scales overcomes the worry about nihilism, while better capturing the real complexity and texture of political commitments.
License granted by Brent Vizeau ( on 2010-08-05T19:49:05Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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