Between the Void and Emptiness: Ontological Paradox and Spectres of Nihilism in Alain Badiou’s Being and Event and Graham Priest’s _One_

Open Philosophy 6 (1) (2023)
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In this study, I reconstruct and compare Alain Badiou’sBeing and Event(2005) and Graham Priest’sOne(2014), arguing that the ontologies pursued within the two texts are intriguingly analogous in a number of ways. Both Badiou and Priest are committed to thinking through classically ontological problems without denying the validity of the paradoxes they raise; both regard Plato’sParmenidesas an early and formative account of these paradoxes; both establish conclusions to the effect that unity – or “oneness” – is indeed a contradictory phenomenon; and both, as a corollary of this conclusion, develop frameworks which confer ontological prominence uponthe voidandemptinessrespectively, thereby arriving at what appears to be a shared ontological nihilism. In this comparative study, I not only enquire whether the frameworks adopted by Badiou and Priest really do lead to nihilist conclusions, but also attempt to clearly outline their trajectories of thought for the benefit of those who might be tempted to dismiss their seemingly outlandish theses out of hand.

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