Philosophy ETDs

Author

Sarah Fayad

Publication Date

6-26-2015

Abstract

This paper analyses several, extant, discourses of breakdown in order to ascertain what class and quality of these phenomena might be sufficient for the attainment of greater social-political change: which phenomena might meaningfully challenge contemporary nihilism. To this end, this thesis considers works by Heidegger, Lacan, Kuhn, Dreyfus and Kelly, and Ratcliffe, among others. While the paper attests to the structural similarity of these discourses of breakdown—the rupture of some all-encompassing, totalizing, structure of intelligibility by the ontological excess of possibilities—it also finds some meaningful distinctions between them. In proposing a theory of multiple infinities,' or 'plural nothings,' and thus proliferating cites of ontological excess, this paper discovers that some events of rupture, though related to a nothing, may be limited in their scope and reach, and might therefore fail to challenge a shared world—or to undermine nihilism. The paper ends with a speculative phenomenology of the postmodern/post-nihilistic in order to better understand what is intended by the ameliorative accounts considered.

Degree Name

Philosophy

Level of Degree

Masters

Department Name

Philosophy

First Advisor

Thomson, Iain

First Committee Member (Chair)

Murphy, Ann

Second Committee Member

Johnston, Adrian

Language

English

Keywords

Philosophy, Aesthetics, Political Philosophy, mental illness, Heidegger, Lacan, Psychoanalysis, art, Kafka, Postmodernity, revolution, transition, nihilism

Document Type

Thesis

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