, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 7–30 | Cite as

Subject of the event, subject of the act: The difference between Badiou's and Žižek's systems of philosophy

  • Todd McGowan
Original Article


The philosophical positions of Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek emerge in opposition to the deconstruction of the history of philosophy and to the corresponding rejection of the category of the subject. The subject becomes in their thought not a philosophical trap to be evaded but a political possibility to be realized. However, just as their embrace of the category of the subject distinguishes them from the theoretical landscape in which they exist, it is also an important point of divergence between their philosophical systems. Crucial to both such philosophical systems – and the distinct conceptions of the subject that emerges from them – is the significance of ruptures in the continuity of history. Badiou's ‘event’ and Žižek's ‘act’ name these ruptures. This article introduces and compares these respective approaches, drawing attention both to the important ways in which their thought diverges and to how Žižek's system implicitly responds to the contradictions in Badiou's.


Badiou Žižek enjoyment event act rupture 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd McGowan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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