Hegel’s Hypocrisy

“Slavery is in and of itself injustice, for the essence of humanity is freedom; but for this man must be matured…”

Hegel’s main argument in the piece is captured here; while slavery is wrong, black people are not consciously mature enough to live freely, and thus must be enslaved for their own sake. One of his key points is the concept of man over God. On page 151, he writes “…Herodotus called the Negroes sorcerers:-now in Sorcery we have not the idea of a God, of a moral faith: it exhibits him as alone occupying a position of command over the power of Nature”. He goes on to cite this as evidence 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 own volition is involved and in which he realizes his own being”(page 150). To summarize, Hegel believes black people have not achieved the higher-level of thinking that would lead to an awareness of God, and so their culture worships man above all. Since they are incapable of thinking at this level, they cannot be granted freedom.

God created all men in his(?) image. No one man-or group of-was granted the right to determine who is above another, thereby assuming God’s role. A man who sees himself as important enough to determine who is granted the essence of humanity (freedom, to Hegel) seems to be a prime example of the worship of man above God, which Hegel vehemently argues against. Hegel places himself in the role God should have; the white man’s God is the black man’s white master (this often reappears in rhetoric used by American slaveholders). Which brings me to Hegel’s hypocrisy; his argument to justify slavery makes him the ultimate arbiter of who deserves freedom and who does not, thus assuming the role of a God himself, the very thing he argues black people do that makes them so intellectually lacking.

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