Zara Anwarzai

Date of Award


First Advisor

Brian Conolly

Second Advisor

Kathryn Boswell

Third Advisor

Asma Abbas


This project focuses on questions of self-constitution and agency as characterized by different philosophical traditions, contrasting in particular Cartesianism and Modern Philosophy with Martin Heidegger. Immanuel Kant and Christine Korsgaard are key to this discussion with their mutually compatible notions of the moral agent as something autonomous and always already unified. Heidegger’s Dasein opposes the Kantian and Korsgaardian agent, most distinct from the isolated Cartesian subject in its necessary embeddedness within the world. Both the self and agency, always seeming to be intrinsically linked to one another in critical ways, are predicated upon certain specificities of understanding of the world related to each specific tradition, and ultimately serve as fundamental points of access through which epistemological and metaphysical knowledge is attained. Thus with specifically these two critical aspects of being and access to philosophical exploration in mind, I not only intend to place Cartesian and Heideggerian philosophy against one another, but seek to further understand precisely what modes of being and existence are altogether foreclosed through those philosophers (such as Kant and Korsgaard) who sustain the Cartesian framework and tradition.