Repository logo

Metaphysics of race: revisiting four philosophical views.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



What does race mean in post-apartheid everyday life? Is race real or an illusion? The answer to these questions lies in the idea of how race emerged and is made real in terms of racial categories. South African apartheid government used to classify South Africans by law into a hierarchy, with correspondingly differential access to human rights and freedoms. These racial categories were based on how one looked, how one lived, and what language one spoke. In this context, race in South Africa became normalized through the assumptions about racial culture understood as an expression of race-given essence. Racial categories further created defined places for people in the material and social world. South Africans came to see themselves as these categories, making them subjectively real. This history means that after apartheid, most South African’s experiences continued to be shaped by racialized material and subjective realities. In this regard, it is worth asking: are we warranted in using classifications? What role do they place in shaping our ordinary ontology of race? What influence do they have on racism, and what do people think about race? Hanslanger questions the importance of using racial classifications and asks if they are warranted. In light of this, this thesis answers the question left by Hanslanger about whether racial classifications give us a fruitful way of understanding facts about race. It will argue that racial categories are not warranted; race is an illusion.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.