Wednesday, April 08, 2020
In boundary 2, Mimi Howard reviews Fred Moten's exhausting ontology.
The German lectern, a neat stand-in for the enterprise of knowledge production, is possibly meaningful, is a possible object of phenomenological description, only because its value is culturally determined according to pre-existing conditions into which ‘we’ have been ‘thrown’. But something else is at work here. When Heidegger performs this self-imposed delimitation of phenomenology’s remit, blackness gets figured as the horizon-line of philosophical inquiry, marking out a constitutive edge where the study of ‘things in themselves’ falls short, fails to answer a question, or ceases to formulate one. Such epistemic failures flag up the relation between phenomenology and ontology, the region of inquiry towards which Heidegger’s would turn in later work, largely in attempt to address precisely the fundamental underlayers of experience that are resistant, or unavailable, to phenomenological description. In the past years, Fred Moten has been concerned with parsing the interrelation between blackness and ontology, tacitly interrogating the legacy of Frantz Fanon’s famous claim that “ontology—once it is finally admitted as leaving existence by the wayside—does not permit us to understand the being of the black man” (Fanon 1986).
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