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.
Level of Degree
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Philosophy, Aesthetics, Political Philosophy, mental illness, Heidegger, Lacan, Psychoanalysis, art, Kafka, Postmodernity, revolution, transition, nihilism
Fayad, Sarah. "Politics of Poiesis: Postmodern Polysemy as World." (2015). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/phil_etds/16