Hegel on Black History Month

Posted by T on February 25, 2008
History, Politics

The best argument for a liturgical calendar is that having a ceremonial calendar seems to be an inescapable concept. I am not there yet, but I have to admit that our secular civic-religious state, built on the ruins of a calendarless Protestantism, proffers a calendar that veritably bristles with memorials. February, for example, is designated Black History Month. So, to honor it in my own way, I propose to quote Hegel on Black History. After listening to his discussion, it will be possible to state rather unhesitatingly what Hegel’s view of Black History Month would be.

The quotations are from The Philosophy of History, by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Eng. tr. J. Sibree, (NY:Dover) 1956, from the section spanning pages 93-99. (I have taken the liberty to update the lexicography in minor ways.) Though the quotes are interesting enough, I intersperse a bit of my own commentary for those that might profit from it.

First, he divides the continent of Africa into three main sections: the Mediterranean coast, the Nile valley, and the Sub-Sahara. By geography and historical development, the first two couple directly into European and Asian history. The remainder of his comments on Africa pertain to the sub-Sahara.

The peculiarly African character is difficult to comprehend, for the very reason that in reference to it, we must quite give up the principle which naturally accompanies all our ideas – the category of universality. In Negro life the characteristic point is the fact that consciousness has not yet attained to the realization of any substantial objective existence – as for example, God, or Law –in which the interest of man’s volition is involved and in which he realizes his own being. This distinction between himself as an individual and the universality of his essential being the African in the uniform, undeveloped oneness of his existence has not yet attained; so that the Knowledge of an absolute Being, an Other and a Higher than his individual self, is entirely wanting.

Here, Hegel argues that a distinction between one’s own (subjective) self and an independent, objective, and universal world is necessary for there to be history. History is all about development; development implies the resolution of conflicts or difficulties in terms of underlying principles; without the basic orientation to an objective universe this is not possible.

Think of Calvin’s argument on the correlative nature of the knowledge of God and self, so that he cannot say which to begin with. Without knowledge of God, there is no knowledge of self, and without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God.

The Negro, as already observed, exhibits the natural man in his completely wild and untamed state. We must lay aside all thought of reverence and morality – all that we call feeling – if we would rightly comprehend him; there is nothing harmonious with humanity to be found in this type of character. The copious and circumstantial accounts of Missionaries completely confirm this, and Mohammedanism appears to be the only thing which in any way brings the Negroes within the range of culture.

This comment needs to be expanded to observe that Christian slavery such as was developing in the American South also had the ability to “bring the Negroes within the range of culture.” However, the revivals that Christianized the South were only in the process of taking place during Hegel’s productive years, and so he may be forgiven this oversight.

Next, Hegel backs up the assertion given above, by arguing that the African’s magic does not include the principle of transcendence, and thus does not rise to the level of religion properly so-called.

Religion begins with the consciousness that there is something higher than man. But even Herodotus called the Negroes sorcerers. Now in Sorcery we have not the idea of a God, of a moral faith; it exhibits man as the highest power, regarding him as alone occupying a position of command over the power of Nature. We have here therefore nothing to do with a spiritual adoration of God, nor with an empire of Right. God thunders, but is not on that account recognized as God. For the soul of man, God must be more than a thunderer, whereas among the Negroes this is not the case. Although they are necessarily conscious of dependence upon nature – for they need the beneficial influence of storm, rain, cessation of the rainy period, and so on – yet this does not conduct them to the consciousness of a Higher power: it is they who command the elements, and this they call “magic.”

In other words, trembling during the thunder storm does not necessarily involve the experience of God as God, though for some it might point in that direction. Far less does it entail knowledge of the (universal) Law of God.

In passing we should note that themes are brought out here that are with the typical conceit of the modern credited to the 20th century, such as the attribution of the need for a propitious nature as the origin of religion. Wittgenstein effortlessly exploded that thesis itself. Hegel, however, is more subtle. He continues:

The Kings have a class of ministers through whom they command elemental changes, and every place possesses such magicians, who perform special ceremonies, with all sorts of gesticulations, dances, uproar and shouting, and in the midst of this confusion commence their incantations.

Hegel’s observation of their “kings and ministers” rings true as phenomenon: we see the same thing in the west wherever large groups of Negroes gather together. If the nigger-disco is decoupled from magic, then the question to pursue is whether the Negroid urge to chaos has something more primal at its root than exercising power over nature. It is at that point, and chiefly at that point, that Hegel’s presupposition can be challenged.

In any case, returning to Africa, Hegel suggests that the instrumental creation and grasping of fetishes is a manifestation of the man regarding himself as superior to the natural order:

The second element in their religion consists in their giving an outward form to this supernatural power – projecting their hidden might in to the world of phenomena by means of images. What they conceive of as the power in question, is therefore nothing really objective – [nothing] having a substantial being and different from themselves – , but the first thing that comes in their way. This, taken quite indiscriminately, they exalt to the dignity of a “Genius.” It may be an animal, a tree, a stone, or a wooden figure. This is the Fetish – a word to which the Portuguese first gave currency, and which is derived from feitizo, magic. Here, the Fetish, a kind of objective independence contrasted with the arbitrary fancy of the individual seems to manifest itself; but as the objectivity is nothing other than the fancy of the individual projecting itself into space, the human individuality remains master of the image it has adopted. If a mischance occurs which the Fetish has not averted, if rain is suspended, if there is a failure in the crops, they bind and beat or destroy the Fetish and so get rid of it, making another immediately, and thus holding it in their own power. Such a Fetish has no independence as an object of religious worship; still less has it aesthetic independence as a work of art; it is merely a creation that expresses the arbitrary choice of its maker, and which always remains in his hands. In short there is no relation of dependence in this religion.

Undoubtedly, Hegel is a precursor to Schopenhauer’s view of religion as a sense of dependence. Wittgenstein would, I think, point out that the sense of dependence presupposes the very thing it was supposed to explain. But we should not be too reactionary in our rejection here. A sense of dependence is not sufficient to explain religion, but the converse does hold. There is an insight here. In all the world except Africa, there is some sense of the individual attaching or relating to something bigger than himself: even in contemplating a work of art. The Negro’s idol is completely in his own power: he will crush it if it fails him. Looking around for coreligionists in the rest of the world, we can perhaps see an analogy between the African fetish and the Kabalistic use of magical words. The jewish mystic has no particular reverence for words that do not “deliver the goods” as it were. On the other hand, when the jew thinks he has a word that gives power, he is not humbled before the ultimate speaker of that Word; no, he the jew is the immanent speaker, the appropriate user of that word; it is fitting that he should master the world by the use of his words. There is a strange harmony between the deepest spiritual currents of Jew and Negro that continues to stamp politics to this day.

Hegel’s insight into the aspect of images which are nothing but extensions of one’s own imagination and wielding of power may give insight into the Second Commandment. It is just this feature of autarkical and unauthorized images that is wicked when used as an access to God: it shifts the definition from the self-defining God to the self-powered man. Thus, we should probably say that all image-making has an element of the evil that Hegel identifies, but usually with a diversity of aspects. The papist bowing before his image has mixed motives: it is partly will-worship, but partly true awe before the transcendent. The remarkable thing about the African is that his image-making has reached its pure archetypal form of the one extreme, with no sense of transcendent reverence left at all.

It might in contrast be thought that there is one area where the Negro stands with an inkling of respect before a true Other:

There is however one feature that points to something beyond – the Worship of the Dead – in which their deceased forefathers and ancestors are regarded by them as a power influencing the living. Their idea in the matter is that these ancestors exercise vengeance and inflict upon man various injuries – exactly in the sense in which this was supposed of witches in the Middle Ages. Yet the power of the dead is not held superior to that of the living, for the Negroes command the dead and lay spells upon them. Thus the power in question remains substantially always in bondage to the living subject. Death itself is looked upon by the Negroes as no universal natural law: even this, they think, proceeds from evil-disposed magicians. In this doctrine is certainly involved the elevation of man over Nature, to such a degree that the chance volition of man is superior to the merely natural – that he look upon this as an instrument to which he does not pay the compliment of treating it in a way conditioned by itself, but [only in the way] which he commands.

The Oriental reverence for the dead ancestor may contain a bit of self-preservation motive: by revering our ancestors, the stage is set for my descendants to revere me, preferably by taking care of me when I am infirm. This differs with that of the African, according to Hegel’s insightful comment, in that the living “subject” actually commands and places spells on the dead.

Hegel continues with the implication for respect for self and others among the living that inevitably follows from the African’s outlook:

But from the fact that man is regarded as the Highest, it follows that he has no respect for himself; for only with the consciousness of a Higher Being does he reach a point of view which inspires him with real reverence. For if arbitrary choice is the absolute – the only substantial objectivity that is realized –, the mind cannot as such be conscious of any Universality. The Negroes indulge, therefore, that perfect contempt for humanity, which in its bearing on Justice and Morality is the fundamental characteristic of the race. They have moreover no knowledge of the immortality of the soul, although specters are supposed to appear. The undervaluing of humanity among them reaches an incredible degree of intensity. Tyranny is regarded as no wrong, and cannibalism is looked upon as quite customary and proper. Among us instinct deters from it, if we can speak of instinct at all as appertaining to man. But with the Negro this is not the case, and the devouring of human flesh is altogether consonant with the general principles of the African race: to the sensual Negro, human flesh is but an object of sense – mere flesh. At the death of a King hundreds are killed and eaten; prisoners are butchered and their flesh sold in the markets; the victor is accustomed to eat the heart of his slain foe.

By speaking of (lack of) “respect for himself,” Hegel nods a bit. In one sense, the African has nothing but “respect for himself.” I think we need to couple Hegel’s insight here to his framework alluded to earlier, namely: respect for self as instance of the broader “universal,” humanity. Self-consciousness has not arisen from the immediate animal urge to the level of regarding oneself as correlated to the broader kind. After Edwards, pure and arbitrary willfulness cannot rightly be called freedom. Here, the ego has crystallized and hardened to the point that others are seen as “mere flesh,” and there is no reflexis to the insight of “shared flesh.”

“Negroes are enslaved by Europeans,” Hegel continues, “and sold to America.” This is not quite right: in fact Negroes as already-existent slaves were purchased by Europeans and Americans, as Hegel himself must realize:

Bad as this may be, their lot in their own land is even worse, since there a slavery quite as absolute exists; for it is the essential principle of slavery, that man has not yet attained a consciousness of his freedom, and consequently sinks down to a mere Thing – an object of no value. Among the Negroes moral sentiments are quite weak, or more strictly speaking, non-existent. Parents sell their children, and conversely children their parents, as either has the opportunity. Through the pervading influence of slavery all those bonds of moral regard which we cherish towards each other disappear, and it does not occur to the Negro mind to expect from others what we are enabled to claim. The polygamy of the Negroes has frequently for its object the having many children, to be sold, every one of them into slavery; and very often naive complaints on this score are heard as for instance in the case of a Negro in London, who lamented that he was now quite a poor man because he had already sold all his relations.

Rushdoony reported that in much of Africa, the monetary unit was “man.” Hegel continues:

In the contempt of humanity displayed by the Negroes, it is not so much a despising of death as a want of regard for life that forms the characteristic feature. To this want of regard for life must be ascribed the great courage, supported by enormous bodily strength, exhibited by the Negroes, who allow themselves to be shot down by thousands in war with Europeans. Life has a value only when it has something valuable as its object.

This section bristles with insight. There is a physical courage that is not admirable. Churchill feared living in obscurity more than death.

In the sentence, “life has a value only when it has something valuable as its object” Hegel teaches that “life” is not valuable in itself, but only when correlated with something else that has value. The interpretive difficulty arises, is the “value” meant to be objective or subjective? In view of the flow of the passage, I would favor reading it as subjective value, or valuation. Then, one does not value even one’s own life if not oriented to an other. Think of the Frank Sinatra chart, Spring is Here:

Spring is here! Why doesn’t the breeze delight me?
Stars appear! Why doesn’t the night invite me?
Maybe it’s because nobody loves me.
Spring is here, I hear.

Turning to the political constitution of Africa, Hegel observes:

The standpoint of humanity at this grade is mere sensuous volition with energy of will; since universal spiritual laws (for example, that of the morality of the Family) cannot be recognized here. Universality exists only as arbitrary subjective choice. The political bond can therefore not possess such a character as that mere laws should unite the community. There is absolutely no bond, no restraint upon that arbitrary volition. Nothing but external force can hold the State together for a moment. A ruler stands at the head, for sensuous barbarism can only be restrained by despotic power. But since the subjects are of equally violent temper with their master, they keep him on the other hand within limits.

What Hegel is arguing here is that the rule of law is only possible where people achieve true recognition of principles outside themselves that are universal. To honor the prohibition of theft, more of a notion of property is required than merely, “this is mine.” That I own things is nested into a reflexive recognition that others have an analogous claim on their property, and that all these claims are mediated by a social fabric that we call universal law. Otherwise, mere arbitrary and willful assertion is all that is left, and this is the despot’s counterfeit law.

Doubtless, Hegel would want to “deduce” a law against theft rather than referring it to divine command. A major part of his analysis remains for us, however: a correlative universal/particular framework – my property/Property in general – is inherent in the meaning or sense of such a law.

Fanaticism – which, notwithstanding the yielding disposition of the Negro in other respects, can be excited – surpasses, when roused, all belief.

This statement stimulates admiration for its sententious insight. Is this not exactly what we continue to observe of the Negro even in the American city: a child-like passivity on the one hand, even complacency sinking often into indolence; and on the other, a violent rage that breaks out into mayhem that is beyond belief.

Remember Channon and Chris!

To prepare for war, “the King ordains an onslaught upon his own metropolis, as if to excite the due degree of frenzy.”

The drum beat, and a terrible carnage was begun; all who came in the way of the frenzied Negroes in the streets were stabbed. On such occasions the King has all whom he suspects killed, and the deed then assumes the character of a sacred act. Every idea thrown into the mind of the Negro is caught up and realized with the whole energy of his will; but this realization involves a wholesale destruction. These people continue long at rest, but suddenly their passions ferment, and then they are quite beside themselves. The destruction which is the consequence of their excitement, is caused by the fact that it is no positive idea, no thought which produces these commotions — a physical rather than a spiritual enthusiasm.

By “positive idea,” Hegel means a rational thought, as opposed to raw emotional response to sensory stimulus.

From these various traits it is manifest that want of self-control distinguishes the character of the Negroes. This condition is capable of no development or culture, and as we see them at this day, such have they always been. The only essential connection that has existed and continued between the Negroes and the Europeans is that of slavery. In this the Negroes see nothing unbecoming them, and the English who have done most for abolishing the slave-trade and slavery, are treated by the Negroes themselves as enemies. For it is a point of first importance with the Kings to sell their captured enemies, or even their own subjects; and viewed in the light of such facts, we may conclude slavery to have been the occasion of the increase of human feeling among the Negroes.

After a brief digression contrasting the occasional occurrences of slavery amongst the Europeans themselves, and before launching into a four hundred page History of the World, he concludes,

At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For it is no historical part of the World; it has no movement or development to exhibit. Historical movements in it – that is in its northern part – belong to the Asiatic or European World….

What we properly understand by Africa, is the Unhistorical, Undeveloped Spirit, still involved in the conditions of mere nature, and which had to be presented here only as on the threshold of the World’s History.

Thus, Hegel would obviously regard “Black History Month” as absurd – a contradiction in terms.

We are talking about a people that never even invented the wheel!

Of course, where the Negro has, through colonization or slavery, intersected with the other races, at that moment and to that extent he becomes part of history. Slavery having (in white lands) ended by the hand of white men, the subsequent history has been the extracting of favors and benefits from white men, by political action of other white men. Thus, there is something that could be called Black History – a footnote or parenthesis to White History. But it only requires an hour or two, not a month – not even the shortest month – to tell that story.


34 Comments to Hegel on Black History Month

  • Hegel’s line about their “Fanaticism” is spot on.

    As an English Literature major, I can comment on the literary contributions of the negro to Western Culture. We Lib Arts folks are required to take a “Diversity” class. In order to graduate on time, I was forced to choose “Poetry Collectives of Color.” Here we read Affrilachian Poets, the Nuyorican Poets, and the Dark Room Collective, while studying their contributions to contemporary poetry.

    My conclusion is that Black poetry is totally self-indulgent, foul, angry literature–much like their rap music. So the only contribution they make to poetry is that they brought down the name of poetry. I was going to give an example of some negro prose, but it would be in insult in a post that quotes from Hegel.

  • “If the nigger-disco is decoupled from magic, then the question to pursue is whether the Negroid urge to chaos has something more primal at its root than exercising power over nature.”

    Today I had the distinct privilege to witness from my study window a negro dressed as negros do, holding up his paints by the crotch as he walks or rather limps, become outwardly agitated by the Ron Paul sign in my yard. He began throwing his free arm wildly about uttering who knows what and then proceeded to slap and beat up my sign. I marveled as I watched this, it was almost too amusing to elicit my getting up and attempting to reason with this fellow. He walked or limped/waddled away slowly, holding up his paints and bobbing his head and arm. He certainly showed that sign who’s boss. What a creature.

    The other evening I happened across some video clips of blacks and Hispanics viciously fighting amongst themselves. They have backyard get-togethers which they videotape and post online of both the men and their women fighting. Then of course there are the random street fights however these as vicious as they are aren’t nearly as sinister and animalistic as standing around and encouraging your woman to tear up another woman in the back yard just for kicks and “social status”. A popular gang initiation ritual amongst black and Hispanic gangs is to have the initiate gang banged; everyone simultaneously just tears the junk out of the initiate, beating him or her senseless. And they post this on the internet. I’ve been tempted to email these clips to my MLK fans posing the question to them, do you own a gun yet? Because you will need it.

  • Mo,

    Sounds like you “wallowed in the valley of despair” as you sat “at the table of brotherhood” with the negro. The only part of MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech that is noble is a line that his people haven’t picked up on yet: We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”

    They have responded by meeting his challenge in the next few lines: “Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

    The two are one and the same.

  • That last sentence came out wrong – I’m not an MLK fan. It’s interesting how many well to do white folks simply won’t have any talk of negros being negros. Apparently for whity delusion is choice.

  • Mo,

    You forgot to mention all the terrible white gangs today and throughout history. While there are probably fewer white gangs today, white people simply prefer to murder black people and Hispanic people in their hearts, especially when they seem them do silly things (like attack a sign). Of course, I am not suggesting that this applies to you.

  • Troy –

    When it comes to the matter of hearts, we all have our horrors to confess. But this is not the point of this topic. Hegel’s thesis is that Africa has no history due partly from the fact that they lack self-control. And this is not merely due to the fact that they are sons of Adam. The Japanese are sons of Adam too, but they created a civilization even apart from Christianity. Of course their sinful nature has found outlets in other ways. (What these are would be interesting to pursue, but not here.) But there is something quite different about these two races. This fact may be uncomfortable to admit in the present era of collective insanity, but fact it is.

    Bringing in the doctrine of total depravity is to miss the point. Assuming most who visit here are reformed, we can take this doctrine as a given. And so given this, why is it that Negroes have never created a civilization? We may argue over whether Hegel’s thesis is the correct account of this, but let’s not argue against history and what we witness daily with our own eyes.

  • M,

    Good points. I really have not read the post. I merely saw the comment. I guess I committed a little blogging no no.

  • Okay, okay, I have read the post. Let me make a few comments.

    1. Hegel wrote,

    “From these various traits it is manifest that want of self-control distinguishes the character of the Negroes. This condition is capable of no development or culture, and as we see them at this day, such have they always been.”

    M agrees saying,

    “Hegel’s thesis is that Africa has no history due partly from the fact that they lack self-control…why is it that Negroes have never created a civilization?”

    In response, have you guys read the book From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race by J. Daniel Hayes? Talking about the Cushites, he writes:

    “What is critical is to recognize that these different terms refer to the same continuous civilization: a civilization that stood as one of the major powers in the Ancient Near East for over 2,000 years; a civilization that appears again and again in the biblical text. The Cushites are particularly important to this study because they were clearly Black Africian people with classic ‘Negroid’ features.”

    2. At the end of the day, unbelieving black people are created in God’s image and thus they do know the Triune God of Scripture, though that knowledge is suppresed. This fact seems to discount much of what Hegel says, including his near sub-human anaylsis of them.

    3. A recurring theme on this website is the idea that we did black people a favor by enslaving them. We supposedly brought them into the range of culture. Frankly, this just seems silly to me. If, according to Hegel, Mohammedanism is the only thing that had been able to bring black people into the range of culture, then why did not we not send missionaries with the gospel to them? Why not bring them into the range of culture that way? Slavery of that kind is a moral evil. Any justification of it by means of some kind of results is resulting to some form of ‘end justifies the means’ kind of morality. And if this ‘end justifies the means’ kind of morality is rejected, then the only thing we can say about the enslaving of black people is that it was a wretched evil, and we can, perhaps, show how God can bring good through our evil choices. God gets the glory, not white people. To attribute anything good to white people enslaving black people would be like trying to praise Joseph’s brothers for selling him into slavery because of the good God brought forth from their evil choices.

  • Troy, you aren’t reading very carefully. White people did not enslave blacks. Black slaves were transferred from Negro owners to White owners, in exchange for rum.

  • T,

    Perhaps I have been taught incorrectly; however, should I have simply taken your mere assertion as proof?

  • Troy — from the point you are starting from, yes, you can more or less take our assertions as true, especially where they differ from the vague gas of opinion we have all been baptized into by the govt schools and govt-controlled media. Or, you could do a bit of research and look for counter-examples.

    However, in this case, I don’t know of any serious difference of opinion. Even Wiki gets it mostly right (though wrong about the Quakers — many Quakers in Pennsylvania were slaveholders, and the abolitionist Keithites were banished).

    So do some research, and if you find counter-evidence to our assertions, let us know.

    In any case, suppose I am wrong about the Negroes being purchased, not kidnapped. But your statement was, “a recurring theme on this website is the idea that we did black people a favor by enslaving them.” It is simply not possible that that could be a “recurring theme” if we (even erroneously) do not believe that “we” enslaved them.

  • T,

    You are right that I need to do more research about black people being purchased, not kidnapped. However, I am not sure how this challenges the substance of my third point. Assuming you are right, it is not as though white people purchased black people to end their slavery, but seemingly to perpetuate it for their (white people) own ends. Am I wrong here?

    Also, what are your thoughts about the other two points?

  • Well, (1) is too vague. “Cush,” often translated “Ethiopia” in the older translations, often appears as an emblem of post-millennial hope in the Bible (e.g Ps 68). I don’t recall much that is said in the Bible about its civilization as such. However, Hegel’s thesis could easily be adapted if need be. Either Cush/Ethiopia should be regarded as an expanded “Nile valley,” or it could be that he needs to set aside a third small area of Africa, along with the Nile and Mediterranean coast. In any case, it does not seem fatal to Hegel’s basic analysis.

    (2) The image of God is of course not denied by us; Hegel’s view is probably heterodox whether in regard to Africans or Germans — though I am willing to give him a fair hearing.

    (3) I am doubtful that you have correctly identified a “recurring theme” of our blog. But if you have, it should be easy for you to find a paradigmatic thread and post a specific objection at that place for debate.

  • T,

    (1) I am not sure I understand. Are you denying the existence of a Cushite civilization?

    (2) I am willing to give Hegel a fair hearing as long as he does not contradict Scripture. He did, so I pointed it out.

    (3) For example, your post “On Negro Emancipation.” Do you want to take up this aspect of the discussion over there? I only brought it up here because you talk about it in this post.

  • Troy — re (1). There is disagreement about what Cush was precisely– some think, Arabia. Even a quick google search will show the range of scholarly opinion. Check out this site for example. I don’t necessarily endorse his slant, but the maps are interesting and substaniate my main point — Hegel’s exception of the Nile valley could easily (and for similar geographical reason) be extended to include the Sudan/ Ethiopic/ west-coast of Arabic lands. If Hegel’s thesis can be rescued so easily, then it is a quibble not a rebuttal.

    (2) But Hegel didn’t “contradict Scripture” as to the specific thesis presented here. The problems with his biblical anthropology would apply as much to his analysis of Aryans as Africans. The mistake there does not wipe out all of his very valid observations about civilizations.

    As to (3), if you concede (as you seem to) that being brought to America was a great providential improvement in the lot of those Negroes that made it, and their descendants, for which they should daily thank God, then you have granted everything important that I wished to get across on that aspect of the subject.

  • T,

    (1) I am not sure I understand your response. Are you saying that there was a Cushite civilization, but that scholars disagree with who the Cushites were and where they were located? In response, the fact that people disagree does not really provide a basis for holding to our biases.

    Also, I try not to give much weight to things found through google searches. You supposedly gave an example of a “scholarly” resource from a google search. However, the site believes America is in prophecy, and there is no reference to who is responsible for the content on the site. I am sorry, but I cannot take this as a “scholarly” source. It seems like you are really reaching here.

    I think you need to read From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race by J. Daniel Hays. He writes:

    “The Cushites are particularly important to this study because they were clearly Black African people with classic ‘Negroid’ features. There are two lines of evidence for this conclusion. First, the Cushites are presented this way in the ancient art of the Egyptians, and, later in history, in that of the Greeks and Romans. Second, numerous ancient literary texts refer, directly and indirectly, to the black skin colour and other ‘Negroid’ features of the Cushites.”

    He elaborates on these two lines of evidence in the book. Finally, you keep talking about rescuing Hegel’s thesis. I am still not sure what you mean. You will have to elaborate.

    (2) Hegel contradicts Scripture in regard to his understanding of man, specifically black Africans. He, then, draws conclusions that are biblically and historically inacurrate.

    (3) I agree that everyone should continually thank God for His many blessings to all mankind.

    (a) Why do you find it necessary to make sure that black people daily thank God? Because you think they are ungrateful? Is it not true that there are many ungrateful peoples (especially white Americans) in this world? So, why single them out?

    (b) Do you single them out because you think black people complain too much about slavery? I guess I am not sure how this relates to their thankfulness. I think they are very thankful that they are no longer slaves, and I think there are some that are thankful for their many blessings here in America. Is it, perhaps, the case that you do not like how they charge white people with immorality for perpetuating their slavery? I am not sure how you can object to this unless you think white people should not be charged with immorality, or if you think white people deserve some credit for the many blessings that black people have.

    I really do wonder if you have some hidden or suppressed animosity towards black people given some of the things you post on this site.

  • Troy — I put the link there mainly for the maps. I first read about the different views of what Cush is in commentaries when I was in seminary.

    The thread is about Hegel. I find it absurd to imagine someone thinking Ethiopia provides a defeater to Hegel’s observations. For all the reasons I gave, and others. If you reject all those considerations, then consider Ethiopia the exception that proves the rule.

    I don’t think Hegel has “contradicted Scripture” at least in the excerpts I gave. May I suggest that you list a sentence from Hegel next to a verse of Scripture to reveal the contradiction?

    You shouldn’t waste time speculating about people’s “hidden or suppressed animosity.”

    Racial politics are being used to destroy our civilization. We have a right to assert and defend that civilization.

  • Nay, a duty. Whites that passively shrug off the steady destruction of the civilization that their ancestors built so they can get back to the sports tube are deeply enmeshed in sin.

  • T,

    (1) I am not sure where Ethiopia came into all this. You seem to be attributing something to me that I have never claimed. In any case, I will remind you of my initial disagreement with a comment from Hegel and M.

    Hegel said, “From these various traits it is manifest that want of self-control distinguishes the character of the Negroes. This condition is capable of no development or culture, and as we see them at this day, such have they always been.”

    I was trying to show that Hegel is incorrect. The Cushites were an ancient civilization. As Hays says:

    “a civilization that stood as one of the major powers in the Ancient Near East for over 2,000 years; a civilization that appears again and again in the biblical text. The Cushites are particularly important to this study because they were clearly Black Africian people with classic ‘Negroid’ features.”

    This shows that Hegel is incorrect. Negroes are not incapable of development and culture. At best, Hegel would have to say that what he says may be true of some Africans, but it is not true of all Negroes by any stretch of the imagination. Of course this then discounts his view that Africa is no historical part of the world.

    M says something similar in a comment,

    “Hegel’s thesis is that Africa has no history due partly from the fact that they lack self-control…why is it that Negroes have never created a civilization?”

    Hegel’s thesis is incorrect. Negroes have created a civilization and thus do have a history.

    (2) You said you want a Scripture verse next to a line from Hegel to show a contradiction. Okay.

    Hegel writes, “so that the Knowledge of an absolute Being, an Other and a Higher than his individual self, is entirely wanting.”

    Paul writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

    Hegel says the Negro has no knowledge of God, whereas Paul says everyone knows God. This would be a contradiction. Hegel then builds on this with a sub-human analysis of the Negro. Christians could agree with this if they agree with Hegel that Negros have no knowledge of God. However, Paul says that no man can escape the knowledge of God; it cannot be finally eradicated. This, then, explains why a Christian can never give a sub-human analysis of the Negro like Hegel does. Like it or not, all Negroes are created in the image of God.

    (3) You wrote, “You shouldn’t waste time speculating about people’s hidden or suppressed animosity.”

    So, when a Christian professes obedience to God’s Word, yet then “seems” to live contrary to that, we should not waste our time with it? You claim not to be racist, but some things on this site seem to contradict that. This is not just speculating about motives. If it was, then according to you, it would be impossible to show self-deception. I think we both know this is incorrect.

    I admit that I may be wrong. Perhaps what I think amounts to racism is incorrect. I am willing to be corrected on this. I understand that racial politics are being used to destroy our civilization. However, Negroes as a class of people are not the enemy. What is the purpose in a post that argues that black people have no history, thus showing the supposed foolishness of black history month? What is the purpose in posting an article in which someone argues that black people should be thanking white people for perpetuating their slavery because of all the benefits of their coming to America? Why is it that I have seen nothing constructive about black people on this site, or anything that even hints about a godly desire to see them discipled? Why is it that some people commenting on your site are very clearly and without a doubt racist, some of whom state openly that they are pro-white, and yet they never receive any kind of rebuke from you or M?

  • Troy — According to this brief account, Cush is one of the “kingdoms of Nubia,” in northern Sudan, southern Egypt along the Nile River. It is therefore explicitly in Hegel’s second exception. Hegel’s whole discussion of Africa is under the rubric “Geographical Basis of History,” with his (of course) three-fold division of the world into seacoasts, river valleys, and uplands.

    Perhaps you have discovered an ambiguity in Hegel’s exposition between a strictly geographic exposition and a racial one. Instead of “Negro,” perhaps he should have said “upland Negro.”

    However, I suspect Hegel, though expounding on geography, would have seen an organic harmony between development as manifested in geography and race that is found in a particular geography. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? would probably interest him less, in view of his principle of immanence.

    Does Nubia represent an exception to the race/geography identification? If you insist so, I won’t argue forever; it’s not that important. However, it does not seem like much of an exception to me. (1) Their accomplishments were rather meager, especially given the 2,000 year span. You can get out of school without having even heard of the Nubians, and your knowledge of civilization illustrated by China, Japan, Persia, Egypt, Israel, Greece, Rome, and Germania will not be missing much. (2) Nubian culture, according to the article cited, was largely derivative from others: “Through earlier history, we see that the main examples of strong states of Nubia have taken the cultural framework from foreign cultures, be it Egyptian, Arab or Turkish.” This is certainly consistent with my point (not Hegel’s) that the Negro becomes part of history when he intersects with other tribes and races. And (3), the Nubians were also racially mixed: “As mentioned the name ‘Nubia’ points at the black condition of the inhabitants, in stark contrast to the peoples of the north, the Egyptians. Yet, there have been a number of important sweeps of immigration to Nubia. The people have been mixed with other ethnic groups several times, the easiest to identify over in the last two millenniums are the Arabs and the Turks.”

    Hegel’s main generalizations about the Negro ring true because we see the same characteristic behavior in the American ghetto, in a land separated by thousands of miles, circumstance, and Christianization. That he is on to something seems evident; if it needs refinement, that would be consistent with Hegel’s own view of development!

    More on your other points later…

  • Troy — now, as to your second point: we need to distinguish several layers of meaning here.

    The “knowledge of God” is ambiguous when dealing with the unregenerate. There is a sense in which men do, and a sense in which men do not know God. There is no shortage of revelation, but sinners suppress the truth. God sometimes responds to that suppression by “giving them over to a reprobate mind,” Rom 1:28. Moreover, He sometimes sends them a “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,” 2 Thes 2:11. We should take the serious warning from this situation: the relation to the “lie” of such a person is belief, not simply pretense. Such believe is false, but it is (truly) belief. It can come about that the revelation of God no longer plays a functional role in a man’s behavior or, at least as to what anyone can observe, his conscience.

    It is in this connection that I interpret Hegel’s remarks. He is saying that the Upland Negroes showed no knowledge of deity functionally.

    Hegel is not, of course, speaking as an evangelical Christian. So a question such as, are you saying these men are beyond the regeneration of sovereign grace? would be orthogonal to his understanding. In that sense, we could say that Hegel’s view is defective, but that’s rather harsh. If the absence of a full-orbed Christian theology, every non-Christian, and most Christian thinkers are going to fall short of the mark, at least by what they fail to say. But I interpret his absence-of-God observation along the lines of the above remarks.

  • Troy — finally, to your third point. No, of course you should rebuke fellow Christians that are living contrary to God’s word. But if your rebukee says, “this behavior is not a sin,” then you will need to present arguments and evidence to back it up. You say I “claim not to be racist,” but I don’t see where I claimed that. I neither claim to be one, nor not to be one. That particular label has next to zero significance in my vocabulary, and should in yours as well. I have never seen anyone would could simultaneously (a) define the term precisely, (b) show that by that definition it is a sin, and (c) show that it applies to the accused. So, step up to the challenge, or reject the very concept as communist propaganda and move on.

    True, Negroes are not the enemy. They are largely the dupes and pawns of manipulators. But we must oppose not only the manipulators, but the content of the manipulation as well.

    Thus, “What is the purpose in posting an article in which someone argues that black people should be thanking white people for perpetuating their slavery because of all the benefits of their coming to America?” Not thanking white people, but thanking God; and publicly; and moving on. The purpose would be to abandon racial politics of the shake-down.

    “Why is it that I have seen nothing constructive about black people on this site, or anything that even hints about a godly desire to see them discipled?” Because not every conceivable worthy desire is part of the purpose of this blog.

    “Why is it that some people commenting on your site are very clearly and without a doubt racist, some of whom state openly that they are pro-white, and yet they never receive any kind of rebuke from you or M?” Well, I’m pro-white. You are not? Then shame on you!

    As I said, I don’t know what is meant by “racist” anymore, so I don’t know if anyone posting here is “guilty” of it. I think it’s pretty clear from the discussions that where there is substantive content that we disagree with, we interact; as here for example.

  • T,

    (1) You wrote, “It can come about that the revelation of God no longer plays a functional role in a man’s behavior or, at least as to what anyone can observe, his conscience. It is in this connection that I interpret Hegel’s remarks. He is saying that the Upland Negroes showed no knowledge of deity functionally.”

    I am not sure what you mean when you speak of the revelation of God no longer playing a functional role in a man’s behavior. Are you saying that men can live in this world with absolutely no reliance on a knowledge of God? Are you saying that morally speaking there may be no point of contact with some people?

    (2) You said that the term “racism” or “racist” has next to zero significance in your vocabulary, and it should be the same in my vocabulary. I understand your desire for a little precision in our defining of terms, but I have to wonder if this is simply an evasion tatic. Maybe dispensationalists should use a similar tatic against covenant theologians who are unable to give a precise definition of the term “covenant” that they can agree on.

    I suppose I would define racism as hatred in one’s heart towards another based on race, which manifests itself in words and actions. This would be a violation of the sixth commandment. Generally speaking, this is what I mean by racism. I have no allegiance to the term if you do not like it and want to use another.

    Perhaps it is next to impossible to know if someone is being racist by their words, besides a direct statement by someone saying that they hate a person because of their race. Maybe the intention behind the words that are used is the determining factor, in which case it would be very difficult to determine if someone was being racist on this blog.

    It is difficult for me to think there is no racism given all the red flags that constantly surface on this blog (comments from guests included). I suppose if you think that you and others who comment on this site are in no danger of being racist as I have defined it, then I will not press the issue any further.

  • Troy — yes, there is a point of contact, but that point of contact can be more deeply suppressed, or less. Your points were already addressed above.

    I think we should invent a new epithet — hatism. A hatist is one that suspects smoldering hatred as the motive wherever a provocative thesis that goes against the current political regime is put forth. Clearly, you are a hatist.

    Now, does that help you to see how useless all this flinging of epithets is? It does no work at all.

    Your opening salvo six months ago worried about racist red flags, to which I pointed out that your examples dealt not just with racism, but with all the isms of our controlled media — racism, sexism, and homophobia. I submit you need flags of many colors.

    Responding to “red flags” is something that is still at the irrational, “henid” stage — like a bull responding to a red towel. They are useless at the level of rational discourse. You need to work harder to articulate your feelings rationally, or — as I hope — recognize that the primal feelings have been corrupted by the controlled establishment and use that as an insight to find your way out of the quagmire.

  • T,

    I am glad that you agree that there is a point of contact, and that this point of contact can be more deeply suppressed, or less. The problem with this admission is that it contradicts what you have said previously and the conclusion of your main post.

    Let me explain. Hegel is arguing that the Negro’s knowledge of God is entirely wanting, and thus they are incapable of producing history. I have pointed out that this view of the Negro is unbiblical because all men know God, thus contradicting Hegel’s view. You have tried to rescue his view by saying:

    “It can come about that the revelation of God no longer plays a functional role in a man’s behavior or, at least as to what anyone can observe, his conscience. It is in this connection that I interpret Hegel’s remarks. He is saying that the Upland Negroes showed no knowledge of deity functionally.”

    The very fact that men cannot completely escape the knowledge of God means that there will always be a measure of the knowledge of God that plays a functional role in man’s behavior. For example, a conception of right and wrong displays a knowledge of God, even though it may be greatly suppressed.

    The biblical view is one of degree, whereas Hegel’s view is that the knowledge of God is “entirely wanting.” This then leads him to conclude that without a knowledge of God Negroes cannot produce history, which means they have no history. However, if the biblical view is correct, a knowledge of God is a matter of degree, then black people are capable of producing history. This has been demonstrated in the Cushite civilization. Your response to this was that it was not a very significant civilization, but such a point is irrelevant. It still shows that black people are capable of and have produced history, which contradicts the main point of your post, which was that blacks have no history other than being a footnote to white history.

  • It still shows that black people are capable of and have produced history, which contradicts the main point of your post, which was that blacks have no history other than being a footnote to white history.

    Explain why then Black history is actually just a couple of footnotes?

  • Troy — You are starting to go in circles and forgetting earlier points. In #20 I give a number of points with respect to the Nubians; your response only remembers the first.

    Moreover, I think you are oversimplifying Hegel’s etiology. The lack of fear of God is just one aspect of the problem, not the whole.

    As I granted in #21, at the end of the day, Hegel’s theology is of course defective. For some, and apparently you, reading an author proceeds until a contradiction or falsehood is encountered, at which time his entire opus is cast into the furnace. Whereas, I look for correlations, even if there are departures here and there. The mathematics of correlation might be a good model for how we should read. It is the final integral that estimates the “value” of the author, not point-by-point exactitude.

    It is “obvious” to me that Hegel’s basic observation has a great deal of validity. Only someone that not only rolls up the windows and locks the doors when driving through down-town, but also puts on blinders could deny this.

    Should this diagnosis lead to hopelessness and despair for the Negro? No. But the proper “no” should not be derived from modern sentimentalism and naive “all men are created equal,” but rather by saying with the Psalmist, “instead of my fathers my children.” (Ps 45). If you are a Negro, you should acknowledge the hard providence of God in the state of your people, acknowledging that it is both just and benevolent, and ask Him for the special grace to erase the need for this degradation starting with you and continuing progressively in your descendants.

    The truth is never unwholesome, as Dabney said. The lies of modern humanistic racial sentimentalism only do harm: The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel, Prov 12:10.

  • T,

    There is not much to respond to, since most of what you said does not follow from the things I have said. For example, while the main point of the post was refuted, it does not mean the post or Hegel is without any value. Of course the little value it does have is in fact “obvious,” as you state, which is not saying much for Hegel. Who would deny that God’s special and common grace has been greater among the white man? Of course, this is no praise to the white man over the black man, anymore than sovereign election provides a foundation upon which to boast.

  • Troy — you are missing the fact that Cush (1) racially intermixed with other nations and (2) intersected with other nations via trade and commerce. So it is not a “refutation” of the “main point” of the post by way of counter-example.

  • […] slavery was a gentle amelioration of the slavery which in Africa was ubiquitous and coupled with cannibalism; and the sudden emancipation, far from being to Lincoln’s credit, only set loose a savage […]

  • This is a great website for people who do not read or who look at words and have to be told what they just read. “It is good for a man to think for himself.”

  • This is a great website for people who read words but have to be told what to think. “It is good for a man to think for himself.” I read this and can think of hundreds of texts to use as counterarguments. It’s really good to use 19th century ideas (which have 150 years of research to clarify and refute them) to explain 20th and 21st century concepts.(Read: The previous sentence is pure sarcasm.)

  • Atlpro/Prof. Atlm:

    Anyone can go down to Barnes & Noble and buy the book and read it for himself. The whole point of going to a blog is read the blogger’s ideas — with complete freedom not to do so, of course.

    Also obviously, I don’t consider the “150 years of research” that has ensued to have added very much to what Hegel already laid out.

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