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Publication of this open monograph was the result of Emory University’s participation in TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem), a collaboration of the Association of American Universities, the Association of University Presses, and the Association of Research Libraries.

TOME aims to expand the reach of long-form humanities and social science scholarship including digital scholarship.

Additionally, the program looks to ensure the sustainability of university press monograph publishing by supporting the highest quality scholarship and promoting a new ecology of scholarly publishing in which authors’ institutions bear the publication costs.



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Funding from Emory University and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation made it possible to open this publication to the world.

Ontological Terror: Blackness, Nihilism, and Emancipation



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In Ontological Terror Calvin L. Warren intervenes in Afro-pessimism, Heideggerian metaphysics, and black humanist philosophy by positing that the "Negro question" is intimately imbricated with questions of Being. Warren uses the figure of the antebellum free black as a philosophical paradigm for thinking through the tensions between blackness and Being. He illustrates how blacks embody a metaphysical nothing. This nothingness serves as a destabilizing presence and force as well as that which whiteness defines itself against. Thus, the function of blackness as giving form to nothing presents a terrifying problem for whites: they need blacks to affirm their existence, even as they despise the nothingness they represent. By pointing out how all humanism is based on investing blackness with nonbeing—a logic which reproduces antiblack violence and precludes any realization of equality, justice, and recognition for blacks—Warren urges the removal of the human from its metaphysical pedestal and the exploration of ways of existing that are not predicated on a grounding in being.

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© 2018 Duke University Press

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