Date of Award


First Advisor

Asma Abbas

Second Advisor

Chris Coggins

Third Advisor

Rebecca Fiske


This thesis begins with a brief discussion of a subjective problem that plagues political thought and practice: how can we have faith in a politics that seeks to change the world? The introduction spins this problem into two, describing both the historical resilience of injustice, and the shaky philosophical moorings of a political subject given the caveats of a materialist philosophy of mind. I come to the conclusion that the philosophical writings of Alain Badiou represent the most substantive attempt to tackle this question on both the level of praxis and on the level of theory. The bulk of this thesis consists of an exegesis of Badiou's first two major philosophical works- Theory of the Subject and Being and Event-tracing the unresolved philosophical problems of Badiou's major influences in the contradictions and resolutions of his work. This exposition culminates in an argument for the structural inherence of subjective desire as a political operator in any conceivable rational universe, founded on Badiou's concepts of the materialist dialectic and forcing, which provides a stable ground for the assurance of a political subject capable of 'destroying the old, and ushering in the new'.