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abstract

Hegel’s remarks on Africa in the Lectures on the Philosophy of World History are notorious among critics and defenders alike—in particular Hegel’s claim that the Atlantic slave trade, while unjust, was superior to native African slavery and thus should be abolished only gradually. Joining an ongoing conversation in black studies interrogating freedom’s status as a structuring desideratum of critical and political practice, I argue that for Hegel, the European enslavement of Africans was essentially an emancipatory project that would rescue the Negro from his impenetrability to world spirit and introduce him to the long dialectical march of world history. Specifically, I argue that Hegel’s distinction between Atlantic and African slavery reprises his distinction between good and bad infinity in his Science of Logic. As the case of slavery illustrates, however, neither distinction holds. Hegel could imagine no freedom for the Negro except in the form of infinitely more slavery—the slave labor of the negative through which the Negro would (never) become free. In such a project, freedom remains forever on the dark side of a middle passage. These conclusions challenge us to consider what radical politics without a concept of freedom would look like.

keywords

blackness, Atlantic slave trade, freedom, good and bad, infinity, world history

[End Page 414]

On February 21, 1860, on the eve of Southern secession, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II gave an impassioned speech in defense of American slavery on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Nearing the climax of his argument, Lamar proposed to read from a book he described as “an imperishable monument of human genius.” According to this author, and here Lamar quoted at length, “The ‘natural condition’ itself is one of absolute and thorough injustice, contravention of the right and just. Every intermediate grade between this and the realization of a rational State retains, as might be expected, elements and aspects of injustice; therefore we find slavery, even in the Greek and Roman States, as we do serfdom, down to the latest times. But thus existing in a State, slavery is itself a phase of advance from the merely isolated sensual existence, a phase of education, a mode of becoming participant in a higher morality and the culture connected with it.”1 So it came to pass that during a discussion of President James Buchanan’s 1860 State of the Union address, a slaveholding congressman from Mississippi, who would soon draft that state’s Ordinance of Secession and who would later become the first Southerner appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Civil War, read aloud from a freshly published English translation of a lecture course delivered five times between 1822 and 1831 by a late German philosopher named Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

The remarks on Africa in the Lectures on the Philosophy of World History are indeed notorious, from Hegel’s fast and loose reliance on sensationalist travel literature to his bland acceptance of European imperialism and the Atlantic slave trade.2 Let it be said: Hegel’s antiblack racism is as beyond dispute as its defenders are beneath contempt, no matter how many of his books they may have edited. Peter C. Hodgson, a leading translator of Hegel, dutifully glosses these passages as “of course prejudiced and inaccurate,” only for his foot to waste no time finding his mouth: “But it is still the case today that democracy has taken root in Africa only with difficulty. . . . And even in North America, where the manumission was abrupt, another century was required to achieve basic civil rights.”3 Likewise, in my own copy of the Lectures, Duncan Forbes dismisses all allegations against Hegel with buttery smarm: “It is also fashionable to display one’s broadmindedness by criticizing Hegel for being arrogantly Europo-centric or Western-orientated. . . . But isn’t Hegel’s perspective broadly the right one? Or at least should one not wait until world history has shown its hand a bit more clearly?”4 One might ask Forbes just how much historical [End Page 415] injustice fits under the umbrella of “broadly.” Of course, this is little more than white supremacy with a wink. But I will agree with Forbes that tarring Hegel as a racist is of limited analytic value. It is all too easy, in fact, to chalk Hegel’s racism up to his times and go about one’s business, confident that if an occasional prejudice were sufficient to sink a given philosophy’s ship, the entire Western canon would be underwater.5 The far more important question, therefore, is not whether Hegel is racist but how.

This article advances one answer to that question. Through a close reading of the Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, as well as other works, I will argue that Hegel’s remarkable stomach for slavery in fact reflects his commitment to freedom in his philosophy of world history. Recall that for Hegel, world history is the long dialectical gestation of world spirit concluding with the actualization of freedom in the form of the rational state. Like the sun, world spirit moves east to west, from Asia through Greece and Rome to Europe and especially the Germanic nations. Africa, which Hegel calls “an unhistorical continent” (190), is notably excluded: “From the earliest historical times, Africa has remained [geblieben] cut off from all contacts with the rest of the world” (174). In describing Africa and its inhabitants, Hegel will rely compulsively on this word bleiben, meaning “to remain.” Jacques Derrida has observed that bleiben is integral to the dialectical mechanics of what Hegel calls the Aufhebung, sometimes rendered in English as sublation and literally a “lifting up.”6 But bleiben’s role in the dialectic is ambivalent: Sometimes it describes what remains yet to come, the future that world history holds in reserve until the time is right; other times, bleiben describes what remains left out, leftover, or excluded from history—the sod turned up in history’s harrowing wake.7 Yet, in Hegel’s remarks on Africa, it is slavery itself that will broker an unhappy merger between the not yet of historical development and the never of historical exclusion. On the one hand, as long as “the Negro” remains in Africa, where the natives enslave one another, he will remain outside of world history, cut off from freedom; on the other hand, insofar as the Negro comes into contact with Europe, he will remain indefinitely enslaved. In the latter case, freedom will become possible but only through dialectical mediation: that is, through labor, time, and struggle. As Alexandre Kojève puts it succinctly, “Freedom = Negativity = Action = History.”8

In other words, for Hegel, slavery is an essentially emancipatory project. This by itself is somewhat unremarkable. The historical apologias for slavery in the United States—like latter-day arguments in favor of debt peonage, [End Page 416] Jim Crow, mass incarceration, and policing—rested not infrequently on the belief, sometimes sincerely held, that black people would never be truly free unless freedom was first withheld from them, carrot-like, as a prize to be won through keeping one’s head down and hands busy. In this respect, Hegel is no rare bird. Of greater note is the concept of freedom that Hegel is forced to construct in order to keep his system from collapsing under the weight of the very contradictions on which it thrives. For Hegel, freedom takes time, a notion now widespread from Marxism to the black radical tradition, including W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, and Martin Luther King Jr., who considered Hegel to be his favorite philosopher.9 Yet the moment this point is conceded, the gulf between now and freedom dilates to forever, thanks to, as I will show below, the perpetual delays of what Hegel calls the bad infinity. This is a freedom that will always remain on the dark side of a middle passage, a freedom to come that never comes, continually postponed or deferred through the dialectical mediation that history itself is. Hence Hegel’s answer to the question of abolition in the 1820s was the same as Lamar’s in 1860: “Not just yet, gentlemen, if you please.”10

A final word before I turn to Hegel’s text. I write this article as a scholar whose first love was philosophy but whose research is now firmly headquartered in cultural theory, where I work on early twenty-first-century U.S. culture and politics. I conceive this piece, therefore, as joining an ongoing conversation in black studies interrogating freedom’s status as a structuring desideratum of critical and political practice. I am thinking, for instance, of what Saidiya Hartman in her groundbreaking book Scenes of Subjection calls “travestied emancipation,” that is, emancipation as a political reconfiguration of the relations of slavery rather than their abolition.11 I am thinking, too, of the raft of projects now traveling under the name Afro-pessimism that have begun to think antiblack racism as an ontological problem, rather than a “merely” social or political one.12 These interlocutors’ work allows me to pose a few questions that will float unanswered around the edges of this article: Can we think politics or history without freedom? Can we think freedom without the future? What would a radically presentist notion of freedom look like? Would we even recognize it as freedom? Can a transhistorical desire for freedom be assumed? Can we countenance our own and others’ desires for unfreedom? What will happen if we try?

Hegel’s remarks on Africa in the Lectures on the Philosophy of World History are found in a section on the role of geography and climate in world history, a kind of terrestrial phrenology of spirit.13 Hegel begins by [End Page 417] clarifying that by Africa he properly means neither the north African coast, “which might be described as ‘European Africa’” (173), nor Egypt, which Hegel lumps in with Asia, but inner, sub-Saharan Africa, where pestilential swamps, impassable mountains, and raging rivers have “made penetration virtually impossible” (175; translation modified). Africa’s chief climatic characteristic, therefore, is its “enclosedness” (Gedrungenheit; 173). But it is not just the continent that is closed. The same goes for “authentic Africans, that is, negroes,”14 whose nature remains unpenetrated by culture, religion, the state, or any “awareness of any substantial and objective existence” (177). The Negro is world history’s remainder: “In Africa proper, man remains at a standstill [stehen bleibt] at sensuous existence, and has found it absolutely impossible to develop any further” (172; translation modified).

In his roughly contemporaneous Lectures on the Philosophy of Spirit, Hegel connects the Negro’s spiritual self-enclosedness with his “animal physiognomy”; such connections, Hegel assures us, are “not to be underestimated.” Likewise, white skin “is to be regarded as the most perfect, not only out of custom, but [because] this skin color is the result of the free activity of blood,” through which “the inner feelings can make a sign of their presence.” Whiteness allows for the possibility of a kind of subcutaneous semiotics through which consciousness will make its first forays into being-for-itself, mutual recognition, and eventually the entire gamut of ethical life (Sittlichkeit), from family to rational state. In marriage, for instance, the blush acts as a kind of shibboleth by which ethical and unethical feelings of love are distinguished: “One may speak unblushingly of natural functions which, in extra-marital relationships, would produce a feeling of shame.”15 The Negro, in contrast, is opaque; blackness cannot be penetrated by feeling, from within or without. In this way the Negro resembles the African continent itself: “They do not attain to the feeling of man’s personality,—their mind is entirely dormant, it remains [bleibt] sunk within itself, it makes no progress, and thus corresponds to the compact, undifferentiated mass of the African land.”16 Hegel calls this the Negro’s “abiding in himself” (Insichbleiben).17

It is African impenetrability that has given birth to slavery: “The mind of the natives remains [bleibt] closed, feels no urge to freedom [Freiheitstrieb], and endures without resistance universal slavery.”18 Slavery is “the basic legal relationship in Africa” (183), and the Negroes sell one another and “let themselves be sold, without any reflection on whether this is right or not.”19 It should come as no surprise, then, that “the only significant relationship [End Page 418] the negroes have had and still have with the Europeans is that of slavery” (183). Now Hegel is the first to admit that “slavery is unjust in and for itself, for the essence of man is freedom” (184). The long dialectical march from natural injustice to the rational state, however, was bound to contain “certain elements and aspects of injustice” along the way (e.g., Greco-Roman slavery). In other words, when and only when slavery “occurs within an organized state”—namely, in Europe and America, not Africa—it is transformed into a “phase in man’s education” (184; emphasis mine). The essence of man may be freedom, but before he can be free (frei), “he must first become mature [reif]” (184). Here Hegel presents a clear policy prescription: “The gradual elimination of slavery is more fitting and correct than its sudden abolition” (184; translation modified). As Susan Buck-Morss has suggested, Hegel may have in mind here the rocky aftermath, hotly debated in the British press, of the Haitian revolution that had concluded in 1804.20 In any case, Hegel apparently feels confident enough in this advice to break the rule he gives to philosophy elsewhere—namely, to keeps its nose out of policy matters. (Fichte, for instance, “need not have perfected his passport regulations.”21) But it is not what Hegel says in this sentence that is surprising; it is how he says it. Slavery’s “gradual elimination,” which Hegel is endorsing, is allmähliche Abschaffung; its “sudden abolition,” which Hegel is against, is plötzliche Aufhebung.

This is shocking. True, this sentence could be a by-product of the editorial decision to draw from Hegel’s students’ notes, but one can be doubtful about a mistake of this magnitude. Hegel advising against any kind of Aufhebung would be like Nietzsche converting to Christianity or Plato admitting that the cave was not so bad after all. Then again, a “sudden” Aufhebung sounds like a contradiction in terms, since world spirit develops “in gradual stages rather than at a single step” (63). Somewhere Hegel must have gotten his wires crossed. This is indeed what we find when we look a few lines earlier at Hegel’s justification of the Atlantic slave trade. Of course, slavery is unjust; everybody knows that. But Hegel goes on: “The Negros are enslaved by Europeans and sold to America. Nevertheless, their lot in their own country, where there is an equally absolute slavery, is almost even worse” (183; translation modified). This is a strange sentence. David Farrell Krell has suggested that in this passage Hegel is making a distinction between “absolute slavery” (i.e., the enslavement of Africans by Africans) and “relative slavery” (i.e., the enslavement of Africans by Europeans).22 But the issue is finer than that: Hegel is attempting, in a kind [End Page 419] of logical high-wire act, to tell two absolutes apart. On the one hand, slavery in Africa and slavery in America are “equally absolute” (ebenso absolute); on the other hand, slavery in Africa is “almost even worse” (fast noch schlimmer) than slavery in America. In other words, African slavery is not only just as bad as but also very nearly worse than Atlantic slavery. This is what comes of trying to distinguish between two infinites: On one side, absolute slavery as an infinite process of emancipation, unjust in itself but justified by the infinite arc of world history; on the other side, absolute slavery as infinite recidivism, a vicious circle of injustice, a black infinity, the ultimate black-on-black crime.

Now to be fair, Hegel is no stranger to splitting infinity’s hairs; he has done it before, in the Science of Logic. There Hegel takes pains to distinguish the true concept of infinity from what he calls the bad or spurious infinity (die schlechte Unendlichkeit). Typically, when something is negated, it perishes, giving way to its contrary. But when finitude is negated—that is, perishability as such—this negation yields not infinity, as might be expected, but, rather, ever more finitude: each time the infinite transcends the finite, the finite simply moves the goalposts and sets up a new limit to be negated. Hegel calls this, quite beautifully, “the sorrow of finitude.”23 This sorrow’s result is the bad infinity, a “progress to infinity” in which finite and infinite alternate in eternal tedium. Hence, “the bad infinite is in itself the same as the perpetual ought” of a moral philosophy such as Kant’s: the bad infinity always ought to be more than it is and thus “remains [bleibt] burdened by the finite as such.”24 Bad infinity remains riddled with negation; only when this negation is itself negated is a truly affirmative infinity achieved. In the true concept of infinity, both the finite and the infinite are sublated (aufgehoben), each passing beyond itself (negation) only to arrive again at itself (negation of the negation) without having “advanced one jot further.”25 True infinity consists not in one moment (the infinite) over against another (the finite) but, rather, in the mediation of both moments into a unity. The distinction between the good infinity and the bad infinity can thus be grasped with the help of imagery Hegel cribs from basic geometry. The image of the bad infinity, as a progress to infinity, is “the straight line,” and one finds the infinite “only at the two limits of this line.” By comparison, “as true infinite, bent back upon itself, its image becomes the circle, the line that has reached itself, closed and wholly present, without beginning and end.”26

Now if that is all a little dizzying, this is understandable. In fact, Hegel has as difficult a time keeping good and bad infinity straight as he does [End Page 420] Atlantic and African slavery; indeed, as the issue of slavery illustrates, good infinity’s circle often turns out to be vicious, in every sense. To understand this, let us turn once again to Hegel’s remarks on the Negro character. Among the Negroes, Hegel tells us, “the arbitrary will [Willkür] is the absolute.” Take African fetishism. Not only do the Negroes construct their fetishes at random, investing “the first object they encounter” (180) with magical properties, but they also junk them just as indiscriminately: “If the rain does not come or the crops do badly, they bind and beat the fetish or destroy and discard it, and at once create another to take its place” (181). As Hegel observes in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, it is all too easy to think of the arbitrary will as freedom, in the sense of “being able to do as one pleases.” But in fact, arbitrariness remains burdened by the bad infinity: “With this possibility of proceeding in turn beyond any other content which it may substitute for the previous one, and so on ad infinitum, [the arbitrary will] does not escape from finitude.”27 The “freedom” of the arbitrary will amounts to little more than chasing one’s tail through a bad infinity of arbitrary pseudo-objects—“pseudo” because “the object in question is nothing more than the will of the individual projected into a visible form” (180–81). Subject has not yet become substance. Arbitrariness pervades Negro consciousness, from the indiscriminate violence of cannibalism, human sacrifice, and fanatical war to the cycle of concubinage and abandonment that passes for African kinship. Thus does black life remain trapped within the sorrow of finitude.

Indeed, religion, marriage, family, civil society, and the state are all impossible in Africa for the simple reason that “there is in the first place no bond, no fetter [kein Band, keine Fessel] for the arbitrary will” (186; translation modified). Thus, Hegel concludes, “intractability [Unbändigkeit] is the distinguishing feature of the negro character” (190). Literally, Unbändigkeit is the absence of any Band, that is, any binding or restraint: “Since slavery is so prevalent, all those bonds [Bande] of ethical respect which we cherish towards one another have disappeared” (184; translation modified). Sunken into unfettered slavery, the Negro has nothing to lose but his chainlessness. This is why the only possible form of rule in Africa is despotism: “Sensuous barbarism can only be restrained [gebändigt] by despotic power” (186). Despotism, too, is arbitrary, but despotism, at least, has “an imposing quality, because it places restraints on [bändigt] the arbitrary will” (186). In Africa, only violence “deserves respect” (186). The Negro must be taught some respect, and this respect will take the form of a bond [End Page 421] that binds blackness, bands and brands it, clamps it down, and bends it back into the shape of a circle, fetter, or manacle. Thus is the Negro sentenced to a true infinity of hard labor; the black-in-itself will have to become black-for-another. In the famous dialectic of lord and bondsman found in the Phenomenology of Spirit, the object of the latter’s labor, the “thing” (das Ding), will become for the bondsman a “chain [Kette] from which he could not break free in the struggle.”28 The bondsman will be put to work; it is only through being forced to confront the independence of the object of work that the slave will realize his own independence as a subject. Work, Hegel writes, is “desire held in check,” the “negative middle term” through which the bondsman will achieve self-consciousness and freedom.29 This is freedom’s middle passage, the slave labor of the negative.

Slavery will ultimately be abolished, therefore, only by a certain science of logic. We might express this logic in a kind of mathematical formula: slavery equals freedom over time. The Negro will be freed from his unbondedness only through bondage; the only way to loosen the bands of bad infinity will be to tighten them, to cinch them into the true infinity’s perfect circle. “Slavery,” Hegel says, “ought not to exist, as it is by definition unjust in and for itself” (184). The essence of man, after all, is freedom. Nevertheless, without the backing of “the substantial ethical life of a rational state,” the authentic idea of freedom is “present only as an ought, in which case slavery is still necessary” (184; translation modified). Now an ought is a curious thing. As Hegel puts it in the Science of Logic, “What ought to be is, and at the same time is not. If it were, it would not be what merely ought to be. The ought has therefore a restriction essentially.” But because restriction and the ought must determine each other reciprocally, this infinity can only be expressed as a “progress to infinity”—in other words, the bad infinity.30 So slavery will be abolished, one day; at any rate, it ought to be. But this will take labor and time—Lord knows you cannot rush history. The idea of a freedom that ought to be will act as a kind of governor on the engine of history preventing the Aufhebung from going too fast—from becoming, as Hegel fears, “sudden” (plötzlich).

This is, interestingly, the most extreme consequence of Hegel’s decision to break with the strict rules of play Kant set forth in the Critique of Pure Reason. For Kant, freedom, like God or the immortality of the soul, cannot be assumed within the limits of theoretical reason. Freedom can only be treated, from that perspective, as a regulative principle, a purely transcendental idea worthy, at best, as an object of rational faith. Kant sought to [End Page 422] prove neither freedom’s actuality nor even its possibility before he turned to practical reason and the moral law.31 For Hegel, by contrast, for whom the rational is real and the real is rational, Kant’s abstract concept of freedom must be concretized in history, shepherded through its various substantial shapes until it reaches full actuality in the form of the rational state.32 What the Lectures on the Philosophy of World History let slip, despite themselves, is that this process of actualization has a name: slavery. Injustice is justice, historicized. For in the end, nothing will justify slavery better than the fact that it ought not to exist.

Andrea Long Chu
New York University

notes

1. Lucius Q. C. Lamar, Lucius Q. C. Lamar: His Life, Times, and Speeches, 1825–1839, 2nd ed., ed. Edward Mayes (Nashville: Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1896), 629–30. Lamar is quoting from the G. W. F. Hegel, The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree (New York: Colonial Press, 1857), 97–104. I owe my knowledge of this speech to Robert Bernasconi, “Hegel at the Court of the Ashanti,” in Hegel After Derrida, ed. Stuart Barnett (New York: Routledge, 1998), 306–7 n. 74. Bernasconi, in turn, owes his knowledge of it to Michael H. Hoffheimer, “Does Hegel Justify Slavery?” Owl of Minerva 25, no. 1 (Fall 1993): 118–19.

2. G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction: Reason in History, trans. H. B. Nisbet, intro. by Duncan Forbes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975); hereafter cited parenthetically in the text by page number. For commentary on Hegel’s use of his sources, see Bernasconi, “Hegel at the Court of the Ashanti,” 41–51.

3. Peter C. Hodgson, Shapes of Freedom: Hegel’s Philosophy of World History in Theological Perspectives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 86.

4. Duncan Forbes, introduction to Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, xxii n. 1.

5. For this version of the argument, see Joseph McCarney, “Hegel’s Racism? A Response to Bernasconi,” Radical Philosophy 119 (May/June 2003): 32–35.

6. It is always worth reviewing how Hegel’s dialectic works. In teaching the dialectic, I prefer to direct students to Hegel’s remarks on love and marriage in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right. For Hegel, love is the first step in the transition from the abstract contractualism of Kantian morality to the full substantiality of ethical life (Sittlichkeit). In the first moment of love (affirmation), I am an independent individual, rights-bearing but isolated. In the second moment (negation), feeling “deficient and incomplete,” I renounce my independent existence. In the third moment (negation of the negation, also known as the Aufhebung), I “find myself in another person,” through whose recognition of me I gain self-consciousness. This self-consciousness is actualized through marriage, which Hegel understands not as a contractual relationship between individuals but as a substantial ethical unity. Marriage is a neat example of the Aufhebung’s oft-remarked dual function: in marriage, I am destroyed qua individual even as I am preserved qua member of the matrimonial union. See G. W. F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, ed. Allen W. Wood, trans. H. B. Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), §§ 158–63, pp. 199–203.

7. Jacques Derrida, Glas, trans. John P. Leavey Jr. and Richard Rand (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986), 1–2.

8. Alexandre Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit, ed. Allan Bloom, trans. James H. Nichols Jr. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980), 209.

9. For Du Bois’s and James’s relationships to Hegel, see Lisa Lowe, The Intimacies of Four Continents (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015), 134–75. For King’s, see John Ansbro, “Martin Luther King’s Debt to Hegel,” Owl of Minerva 26, no. 1 (Fall 1994): 98–100.

10. Lamar, Lucius Q. C. Lamar, 630.

11. Saidiya V. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Oxford, 1997), 115–24.

12. For an overview of Afro-pessimism, see Jared Sexton, “The Social Life of Social Death: On Afro-pessimism and Black Optimism,” InTensions 5 (Fall/Winter 2011), http://www.yorku.ca/intent/issue5/articles/jaredsexton.php.

13. For phrenology, see G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), §§ 309–46, pp. 185–210.

14. G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of Mind, rev. ed., trans. W. Wallace and A. V. Miller, rev. Michael Inwood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 40; translation modified.

15. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, § 163, p. 203.

16. Hegel, Philosophy of Mind, 41.

17. G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Spirit, 1827–8, trans. Robert R. Williams (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 91; translation modified.

18. Hegel, Philosophy of Mind, 45. Freiheitstrieb translates literally as “freedom drive,” a term that Fred Moten uses to describe “the resistance to enslavement that is the performative essence of blackness.” See Fred Moten, In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 16. It is helpful to compare the two uses. For Moten, the freedom drive is an ever-present ontological force of black resistance to slavery. For Hegel, slavery is itself a substitute for a missing desire for freedom.

19. Hegel, Philosophy of Mind, 41.

20. Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009), 65–74.

21. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 21; emphasis removed.

22. David Farrell Krell, “The Bodies of Black Folk: From Kant and Hegel to Du Bois and Baldwin,” boundary 2 27, no. 3 (Fall 2000): 120. Krell paraphrases the passage in question this way: “The slavery that permeates their own land is absolute slavery, and what the Europeans contribute to the welfare of these people may be called—though Hegel does not say so—relative slavery.” In making a distinction (unsupported by Hegel’s text) between the absolute and the relative, Krell is essentially squaring Hegel’s circle for him, defining away what I argue is a more complicated problem.

23. G. W. F. Hegel, The Science of Logic, trans. George di Giovanni (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 102.

24. Ibid., 110–13.

25. Ibid., 117.

26. Ibid., 119.

27. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §§ 15–16, pp. 48–50.

28. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, § 190, p. 115.

29. Ibid., § 195, p. 118; emphasis removed.

30. Hegel, Science of Logic, 103–8; see also 113, 120, 131.

31. See Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Werner S. Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1996), B xxx, A 558/B 586.

32. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, § 260, p. 282.

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1527-9383
Print ISSN
0891-625X
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414-425
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2018-10-02
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