Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Joshua Rayman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alex Levine, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lee Braver, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Adriana Novoa, Ph.D.


black, bodies, brown, existentiell, identity, racism


I use Heidegger’s Being and Time to understand and critique racial discourse, but to also determine Heidegger’s reach into issues like racial identity. I start by examining how his introductory statements in Being and Time on the term “existentiell” suggest a path towards a conception of identity. I then go into how a racial identity could, through his terminology, be conceived as what I call a “fear existentiell.” I demonstrate how society assists the individual in maintaining a racialized existence that is embedded in fear. I move toward an examination of Heidegger’s three concepts of death to demonstrate how two of these death concepts (verenden and ableben) are often attached to a racial identity through racial discourse. I move into a discussion that relies on W.E.B. Du Bois’s conception of the black American as a problem for America and, using his seminal question, “How does it feel to be a problem?” I show that the individual’s existence, as discussed in Heidegger, becomes a problem for itself through the racial discourse about its identity. I call this “Being-a-problem.” At first, I discuss it as inauthentic, as it is driven by social fear and generalized discussions about racial identity; however, I later demonstrate how it can move from inauthentic Being-a-problem to authentic Being-a-problem. I end with an analysis of racial discourse, showing that it exemplifies what I call, “race reports,” which are comprised of reports about the individual’s racial identity that conceal a person’s potential for authenticity.

Included in

Philosophy Commons