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Hegel and the Third World

The Making of Eurocentrism in World History

Teshale Tibebu

Publication Year: 2010

Hegel, more than any other modern Western philosopher, produced the most systematic case for the superiority of Western white Protestant bourgeois modernity. He established a racially structured ladder of gradation of the peoples of the world, putting Germanic people at the top of the racial pyramid, people of Asia in the middle, and Africans and indigenous peoples of the Americas and Pacific Islands at the bottom. In Hegel and the Third World, Tibebu guides the reader through Hegel’s presentation on universalism and argues that such a classification flows in part from Hegel’s philosophy of the development of human consciousness. Hegel classified Africans as people arrested at the lowest and most immediate stage of consciousness, that of the senses; Asians as people with divided consciousness, that of the understanding; and Europeans as people of reason. Tibebu demonstrates that Hegel’s views were not his alone but reflected the fundamental beliefs of other major figures of Western thought at the time.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii

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pp. ix

My sincere gratitude goes to many friends, colleagues, and students for their moral support and encouragement during the research and writing of this book. I thank Fikru Bekele, Tilahun Afessa, Pietro Toggia, Abebe Zegeye, Abye Assefa, Tilahun Sineshaw...

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pp. xi-xxviii

In this work, I aim to provide a contribution to the critique of Eurocentrism, with focus on the understanding of world history. I immerse myself deeply in the foundational structure of this Eurocentric knowledge production: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s (1770–1831) philosophy...

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1. The Hegel Controversy

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pp. 1-21

The seminal commentaries on, reflections on, and critiques of Hegel are by no means exhaustive, yet they provide a glimpse of how Hegel was both appropriated and rejected during his time and afterward by different philosophical...

Part One: Dialectic of Nature and Spirit

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pp. 23-129

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2. Nature and Spirit

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pp. 25-41

The distinction between nature and spirit is central to Hegel’s philosophy, including his philosophy of history. To understand Hegel’s views on history and race, including his portrayal of Africans and people of the Third World...

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3. The Struggle for Recognition: The Dialectic of Lordship and Bondage

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pp. 42-73

Hegel first mentions the germ of what became his famous theory of the struggle for recognition and the ensuing dialectic of lordship and bondage (or mastery and servitude) in an untitled manuscript written in 1802–1803. It was published posthumously as...

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4. Race, Gender, and Class

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pp. 74-129

In the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel provides a trenchant critique of biological determinism. In this chapter, I first discuss this critique. Later in the chapter, I show how in the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences Hegel embraced the racism...

Part Two: Philosophy of History

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pp. 131

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5. Philosophy of History

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pp. 133-170

Hegel sees history as an empirical science and the philosophy of history as its thoughtful and rational comprehension. In Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, he writes, “The sole end of history is to comprehend clearly what is and what has...

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6. Africa: The Domain of the Senses

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pp. 171-229

In his philosophy of world history, Hegel defines African existence as one confined in the sphere of natural immediacy. Africa is located in the state of nature, and Africans’ life is fixated at the level of sense-certainty. This level of consciousness represents...

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7. The Orient: The Ferment of the Understanding

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pp. 230-296

Hegel provides a blueprint of his views regarding the Oriental world in his piece “Fragments of Historical Studies.” There he describes what he calls “the spirit of the Orientals.” In the trope typical of orientalism, he writes: “The Orientals have...

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8. The Greco-Germanic World: The Home of Self-Conscious Reason

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pp. 297-323

We saw in the previous chapters the structure of knowledge that undergirds Hegel’s Eurocentrism as regards the Third World. Th is chapter addresses the Greco-Germanic Geist and the claim of its essential difference from and absolute...

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pp. 324-351

I have attempted in this work to show how Hegel invested a significant part of his formidable intellectual power to rationalizing Europe’s global domination of the Third World. In the Philosophy of Right, he justifies the right of “civilized nations...


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pp. 355-373


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pp. 375-409

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780815651635
E-ISBN-10: 0815651635
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632498
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632495

Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 2010