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Ontological Terror: Blackness, Nihilism, and Emancipation

By Calvin L. Warren

Associate Professor of African American Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University

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.

Read the full description at Duke University Press. This book was published as part of the TOME initiative.

From the author

Publishing Ontological Terror as open access seemed like a necessary and revolutionary idea. Fragments of my work are often shared via social media and other forums—there is a public interest in black nihilism.

The question of black existence hits the contemporary moment with seismic force: black youth are dying at staggering rates, black infant mortality rates are abysmal, spiritual pulverization and emotional distress are more quotidian than exceptional. What is black life (and death) within this structure of continual obliteration? My students have asked for answers to this question, and they want to share these answers with their friends, family, and peers. But expensive texts often make knowledge accessible only to a privileged group. Open access publication allows me to reach beyond the walls of the academy and encourages my colleagues to assign the book in their classes.

Hear more from Calvin Warren in the TOME Author Testimonials video.