Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
I argue that examining the concept of “opacity” can hold together a growing tension in a contemporary phenomenology of whiteness: on the one hand, an insistence that whiteness is subjective and habitual; on the other, the insistence that whiteness is also an active, objective world horizon or ontologizing force that shapes the subject. In making this argument, I explain how the notion of opacity shapes a hermeneutical phenomenology of whiteness that can wrestle with how whiteness hides itself as benign through utilizing a symbolism of evil within theological discourse, even as it can come to function more concretely in the world as it is embodied through a network of moral discourses. I move away from a mere eidetic phenomenology of whiteness in order to examine how whiteness in this way shapes theological vision. Particularly, I make a detour around the immediacy of “white sight” in order to examine how modern sight develops as perspective arises as a symbolism of color and darkness is enmeshed in a broader symbolism of evil. The notion of “opacity” continues to hold this examination together as this development of modern vision and perspective develops from within the trajectory of the Christian mystical doctrine of the “darkness of God.” The two figures at the heart of my study, Gregory of Nyssa (335-394) and Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), bring us to the heart of this question of seeing into the darkness, and especially Cusa focuses this matter directly on modern perspective. This detour shows how darkness of color comes to be tied to a negative meaning within the making of the modern self and “new world.”
Pederson, Nathan David, "White Enigma: Opacity, Perspective, and the Theological Formation of White Subjectivity" (2022). Dissertations. 3945.
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