Nothingness without reserve: Fred Moten contra Heidegger, Sartre, and Schelling

King-Ho Leung*

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Contemporary critical theory and black studies have witnessed a surge in theoretical accounts of “blackness” as “nothingness”. Drawing on the work of the poet and cultural theorist Fred Moten, this article offers a reading of this recent postulation of blackness as “nothingness” in light of some of the similar theoretical endeavors in post-Kantian European philosophy. By comparing Moten’s “paraontological” conception of nothingness to Heidegger’s self-nihilating nothing, Sartre’s relative nothingness, as well as Schelling’s notion of absolute nothingness, this article argues that Moten’s paraontology presents a more robust and systematic conception of nothingness than those of Heidegger, Sartre, and Schelling. By way of this comparison with these “canonical” accounts from European philosophy, this article highlights not only the unique features of Moten’s sophisticated formulation of nothingness, but also some of unacknowledged presumptions and prejudices of traditional metaphysics which Moten’s work calls into question.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-57
JournalComparative and Continental Philosophy
Issue number1-2
Early online date24 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Blackness
  • Fred Moten
  • Heidegger
  • Sartre
  • Schelling
  • Nothingness


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