What the Hegel?

“Slavery is in and for itself injustice, for the essence of humanity is Freedom; but for this man must be matured. The gradual abolition of slavery is therefore wiser and more equitable than its sudden removal.” (Hegel, 157)

The racism in the excerpt from Hegel cannot be understated. It is written with this sense of having no doubts in his knowledge, even though it is clear he has attempted to learn nothing about the people of Africa. His judgement of African peoples against the supposed successes of those in the West make for an insulting and shallow explanation of the thousands of years of civilization in Africa.

The quote that I chose to start this post with seemed to really sum up just how little he saw in those of Africa. He argues that slavery is injustice and therefore immoral, but thought that this is only true for those from civilizations that he thinks are “matured”. Hegel’s version of “matured” is a civilization that is similar to/is a western nation.

After this slavery endorsing end to his summary of African people, Hegel ends all discussion of Africa there. Claiming a lack of “movement or development to exhibit” he decides there is nothing from Africa to speak of. I think the claim earlier in the excerpt about the north of Africa, and how it doesn’t really count as Africa just sums up how ridiculous his argument is. Those African nations “must be attached to Europe” because they are more like western nations and if those examples are included in Africa then his argument is void. Besides being incredibly racist, Hegel is academically dishonesty with his analysis.

One Reply to “What the Hegel?”

  1. Yes, there are many flaws in Hegel’s stance, although (sadly) it’s also been influential and not without its (often more sophisticated) followers. What most intrigues me about what you’re pointing out here is when you get beyond denouncing Hegel (entirely justified) to show that Africa itself is a construct, often of European imaginations, expectations, and prejudices. Implicit in your post is a sense of there being many Africas, which is something we’ll explore over the course. And it might be worth thinking about the ways Black Panther tries to acknowledge that without homogenizing all of Africa into one uber-Africa, full of harmony.

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