You are on page 1of 337


An African-centered
of European Cultural
Thought and Behavior

by Marimba Ani
(Dona Richards)

Africa World Press, Inc.
P.O. Rox 1892
Trenton, i'I( w Jersey 0Bn07
lNDIANAPOLIS, IN 46202-5195

Africa World Press

P. 0. Box 1892
Trenton, NJ 08607

Copyrigh(©Marimba Ani, 1994

Flrsl Printing 1994 Author's Note ............................................ ...... ... .. ..... ... .. .............xi
Dedication .................................. .. ..... ................ .. ...... .......... ... ... xiii
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
Introduction - John Henrik Clarke ........ .... .. ................................. .xv
• ·r el ricval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic,
Incantation .. ... .............. .. .... ... ... .. ...... .... ... ............. ... ..... .... .. . ... ... .xix
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise wthout the prior written
Acknowledgements ....... ..... ................................. ...... ...... ...... .. ... .xxi
permission of the publiser.
Glossary .. ... ... ........... .... .. .. ... .... .................. ... .. ...... .... .. ..... . ... .... ..xxv
T cxl Design by Jonathan Gullery
Cover Concept and Design by Aziza Gibson-Hunter Charts
Cover Artwork by Amura Onaa
lrllcrlor Mask Drawings by Smith-Chinyelu
A. The Process of the European Utamawazo .. ......... .. .... .. ..... ..... .xxix
B. European Utamawazo: Mind Control for World Domination
I .lhrary of Congress Cataloging-ln-Publlcatlon Data (Chapter 1) .. ...... ...... ...... . .... ..... ..... ........ .. .......................... .xxx
C. Christianity as a Core Mechanism of the European Asili
Anl, Marimba (Chapter 2) ........... ............................................ .. ..... .. .. .... .. xxxi
Yurugu : an african-centered critique of European cultural thought D. European Aesthetic and European Dominance
anct behavior / Marimba Ani. (Chapter 3) .................... .... .. ... .. ...... ............. ... ... ... .... .. ...... .xxxii
p. cm. E. European Cultural Ego and World Domination
Includes bibliographical references and index. (Chapters 4-5) ......... ... ............. ..... ...... .. .......... ... ... .. ......... .xxxiii
ISBN 0-86543-248-1. - ISBN 0-86543-249-X (pbk.) F. European Behavior and Ethics in Racial and Cultural
1. Europe-Civilization. 2. Ethnocenttism-Europe. I. Title. Domination (Chapters 6-8) .. . ..... ... .... .. .................... .. ........ .xxxiv
C:B203.R5 1992 G. The Ideology of European World Domination
!MO' .01-dc20 (Chapters 9-10) . ........ .. ................. .. .. ... ....... .... ...... . . ..... . .. ... .xxxv
91-71027 I l. The Tangle of European Cultural Pathology Creates
CIP the System of European World Domination (Conclusion) ........ .xxxvi


/Jol elatjn' ................................... ............. ......... ... ... ...... .. . ...... ...... 1
Tl1t•sis a1Jd Process ...................... ...................................... ... ... ...... 3
l·:vtd C'l1 ('('. ..... , ............... , ......................................... .. .... . ....... . ...... 9
c'onrl'pts a nd '1'1 ·n11s .......................... ...... .............................. .... .. 10
l' 1 • 1 ~ p1 •1 • ll V < ''l Hiid ()f>Jt•1·tlv 1•'J ................................................... ,, .... :l:l
Chapter 3 - Aesthetic: The Power of Symbols
Chapter I - Utamawazo: The Cultural The Meaning of "Aestheti c" ... . ..... .. ...... .... .. . ........ .. .. .... . . .. ............. 199
Structuring of Thought The Tyranny of Rationalism ... .. ..... ............................ .... ...... .. ... .. .. 202
An Aesthetic of Control .... . .......... .. . ... ... ..... ................. ..... .. ...... ... .210
"White," "Good," and "Beautiful" ....... .. .... . .. ...... . ....... ... ..... . ............ 219
Archa ic European Epistemology: Substitution of Object for Symbol ...... 29 The Myth of a Universal Aesthetic ................................ ................ 222
Dic hotomization and the Notion of Harmony ................ .. .................. 32 The Connecting Thread: Aesthetic, Utamawazo, and Utamaroho . .... .... 226
H0ification of the Object: Devaluation of the Senses ........................... 36
Th eory of Humanness ...... .. ...... ...... ....... ... .. .... ... .. . .. ........ .... .. ... .... . 44
\ The New Dominant Mode ... .. .. ... ...... . ... .. .. ...... .... ... .... ...... . ... ... .. ....... 51
I.ineality and Cause: Scientism and "Logic" ... ........ ........ .. ..... .. ... .... .... 56
Sup~emacy of the Absolut e, the Abstract, and the Analytical ............... 69 Chapter 4 - Self-Image
Dcsacralization of Nature: Despiritualization of the Human ...... ...... ...... 83
Alternative Models .. . .. .. ..... .. ... . .. .... .. .... .. .... ... .. . ..... . ..... ... .... ... ...... ... 97 Self-Image and Utamaroho ......... .. ... ....... ... .. .................. . .. ... ... ..... .. 237
The Character of the European Utamawazo ... .. ..... ... ................. .... .. 104 "Rational Man" ..... . .. ...... ..... .. ... .. ... ...... ... ... ... .... ..... ... ......... .... .. .... 239
The European as "Male" ...... ............. .. ... .... .......... .. ... .. .. ... ... .... .. .... 242
"Scientific Man" ..... ...... ........... ...... ........... .. .. .. ... ....... . ................ 244
Chapter 2 - Religion and Ideology The Problem of the "Mad Scientist" .. ....... .............. ......... .. .... ........ .. 245
"Civilized Man" .. .... .. . . .... . ........... ....... ......... ... .... .... ...... ................ 246
"The Conqueror": Expansionism in the European Utamaroho ............ 248
/\ Point of Departure ... . .... ........ .. ...... . ... . .. .... .. ..... .. ... ... . ........ ... .. .. 109 "World Savior" .. ... ...... ... ... .... .. . .. .... .. ...... .. ..<.. ........... . ..... ... ... ... ... .251
'l'h0 Platonic Influence .. .... ..... .. .... ... ... .... .. .... ... ........ .. . ................ 111 Race and Natio nal Identity .. . ... ... ....... .. ... ........... ...... .... .. ... .. ........... 255
Til l' .lud<1ic Heritage .. ... . ........ ............ . ... .......... ... .. .. ............ . ......... 117 Media and Self-Image ...... ... . .... ........ ... .. .... ..... .. ........ .. ............. ..... 265
T lw Mon otheistic Idea l: Incipient European Cultural Chauvinism .. .. .. 120 Th e European Self-Image in the Literature of White
T l i t • Jucl t'o-Chr is tian Schism .. ...... ............. ... .. .. ............. .. .............. 124 Nationalism ............................... ............... .... ... .. ... . .. .. ... ... ... ...... 271
The Roni an Cooptation: Two Imperialistic Ideologies ..... . .. .. ... .. ........ . 129
'l'lil· Thre at o f Non-Orthodox Christianity .... ..... ... ...... ..... .. ............ .. 137
J\111-(usline and Political Conservatism ..................... .. .. ....... ............. 143 Chapter 5 - Image of Others
l ' m ~t- l y ti:a1ti on and Imperialism: "Saving" and "Ruling" .. .. .. ... .. . .. .. .. ... 149
( 'llris t ia nily, Colonialism, and Cultural Imperialism: "Heathen," The Complement of the European Self-Image .. ..... .. ... ... .. .. ... .. ...... ... 279
"N,1tive ," a nd "Primit ive" . ..... ... ... ......... .. ... .. ...... ..... ... .... .... ....... ... 153 Why the "Other" ls Black ("Non white") .... ..... .. ... ...... . ... ......... ... ...... 282
( ' 111 is linnity and European Paganism .................................. .. ......... 162
Slavery, Its Aftermath, and the Image of Others ........ . ...... ..... .. ........ 291
1'.111 i11rc hy in the Development of European Religion ..... ... . .. .... ... .. .... 171 Ml•di a and th e [mage o f Others .... . .... ...................... . ..... .. .. . ............ 294
'l'lw H<'ligion a11d Rationality Syndrome .... ....... . ... .... ........ .. .... :. . ... ... I 78 Exigl•11c ic:; of the European Utamaroho .. ... .. .................. ... .............. 296
'l'll L• Tt>chno-Soc ial Orde r ............ .. ... . ........ ... ........ .. ... ....... ... .... .... 183 'l'hl' 1':11ropcan Response to the "Non-European" Utamaroho .. .. .. .. ....... 301
Th e l<ernrd Vers us the "Apo logy" .............. ..... .. .. ... . .... .. ........... .... 191 linage and Value-Defin itio ns ..... ... .. . ... .. ... .......... .... ..... .. ... . .... ... ..... . 306
Conclusio n: RC' ligion and Power .. .. . ... ... .. .. ... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . ... .... .. ... J94
Chapter 6 - Rhetoric and Behavior Chapter 9 - Progress as Ideology
What's in a Lie .............. ............................ ...... .. ..... .... .... ..... ... .... 311
Hypocrisy as a Way of Life ... ..... .. ... .......... .......... .............. ............. 312 Whose "Progress?" .......... .. . ..... ... ... ... ........................ ... .............. .489
The Rhetorical Function of the "Christian Eth ic" .............................. 317 The Anatomy of "Progress" ........................ .. ... .................. .......... 490
The Rhetorical Ethic in Operation ................................................ 324 T he Inevitability of "Progress" .. ...... ............ .... ............................. .495
"Ethical Theory" and the Rhetorical Ethic ....... .... .... ................ .. ...... 328 T he Critique of European "Progress" ........ ... ................... ... ..... .. .... .497
The Ethnological Significance of the Rhetorical Ethic ...... .... .......... .... 331 Utamawazo, Utamaroho, and "Progress" ................................ ..... ..503
An Ideology of Imperialism .. ....... ................. ....... ............. .. ......... 507

Chapter 7 - lntracultural Behavior

Chapter 10 - Universalism: The Syntax of
The Question of Norms ..... .... .... ......... ..... .. . ........... .... .. ... ...... ....... 337 Cultural Imperialism
"Individuality," "Freedom," and "Self" ........................... ... ..... .. .... .... 339
The "Protestant Ethic" and European Behavior ....................... ....... 356
The Tradition ....................... ...... ..................................... ....... .. 511
T he Cultural Role of t he Early Church ............................................. 358
The "Myth of Objectivity" and the Uses of Scientism ........................ 515
lkformation: the New Role of the Church ...... ......................... .. ...... 361
Claude Henride Saint-Simon .... .......... . .................. ...... .. ... ............. 520
l'rotestantism and the European Ego .... ... ....................... .. .... .. ....... 367
John Stuart Mill ....... .. .... ...... ... ...... .. .. .... ..... ..... ................ .... .. .... 521
Themes i n Interpersonal Interaction: Survival, Competit ion, Control ... 375
Emile Durkheim ..... .. ........... ........ ............. ... .................. ... ... .. .... 522
l~pistemology and Behavior ..... .. ......... ........................ ... ........... ... 389
The Poli tical Function of "Objectivity" ....... .... ............................... 524
l~ u ro p ean "Self" and the Problem of Love .... .............................. ... .. 393
Implications of European Internationalism .................................... 528
lnl racullural Versus Intercultural .......................................... ..... .... 399
The Call for a "World Culture" ...................................................... 535
Concrete Human Behavior Versus Abstract European "Humanism" .. . 541
Universalism and the European Asili ........ ....... ..... ....... ... .. ............. 550
Chapter 8 - Behavior Towards Others
l\.~1/i as Matrix ................. ..................................................... .... .401 CONCLUSION
'l lw Concept of the "Cultural Other" ............... .......... ....... ...... ...... .402
European Versus "Non-European" ................. .. .. ...... ..... ........... .... .404
Vurugu: The Incomplete Being
Tiie "Cu ltural Other" and European "Law" ........... . ..... ............ .... ...... 409
l'olltical Violence: Seek and Destroy ........... ................. .. .... ..... ..... .4 16 Whal It All Means ... .................... .... ......... ... .... ............................. 555
l'ullural Violence: Destroying the Will. ... .................................... .... .427 The Workings of Yurugu ....... ........................................................ 556
Cieno<:idal Behavior: "Wipe Them Out" .................................... .. .... 433 lltamaroho in Disequilibrium ......................................................... 560
Theories of Euro-Caucasian Behavior. The Question of Cause ........... .4'17 l'owcr as Logos .......... ........ ..... ......... ...... ............... .... .. ... .. ....... .563
l·:w·o1wan Ideology and the Concept of the Cultural Other .. ...... .. ....... .tin Imposing th e Cultural Self ........ .... ........... .......... ............ ... .. .......... 567
?ltr111WWC1ZO and Imperi alism ............ .. ... ... ... .... .................... ..... .... A 79 Tl I L' For111s of Expression of European Cultural Nationalism .... .. ......... 568
Co11<'lusron: Th e Logic of Supremacy ;ind D1:strucllon .. . .. ... . . . . .. .. . .'182 J'owards a Vision of the Human Spirit ........... .... .............................. 569

Noi.·-. ........... ....... ...... .... ..... ..... ...... .. .... ........... ... .......... ..... ... .... 571

111 11111 1w11 1111v ..................... .. .................. ... ........... . ...... ......... .. . (i0:1

1111 It ' .. li:! I

Author's Note
According to the Dagon people of Mali, in West Africa, Amma,
the Creator, ordained that all created beings should be living mani-
festations of the fundamental universal principle of complementarity
or "twinness." This principle manifests itself as the wholeness which
is created when female and male pairs join in all things. Such pairing
establishes equilibrium, cooperation, balance, and harmony. Amma
therefore equipped each being with twin souls - both female and male
- at birth. But in one of these primordial placentas the male soul did
not wait for the full gestation period to be born. This male being was
known as Yurugu (Ogo), who arrogantly wished to compete with
Amma and to create a world better than that which Amma had cre-
ated . With his fragmented placenta he created Earth; but it could
only be imperfect, since he was incomplete, that is, born prematurely,
without his female twin-soul. Realizing that he was flawed and there-
fore deficient, Yurugu returned to Amma, seeking his complemen-
tary female self. But Amma had given his female soul away. Yurugu,
forever incomplete, was doomed to perpetually search for the com-
pleteness that could never be his. The Earth, he had defiled in the act
of self-creation, was now inhabited by single-souled, impure and
incomplete beings like himself. Yurugu's descendants, all eternally
deficient, originated in an incestuous act, since he had procreated
with his own placenta, the representation of his mother.
To my mother,
Delphene Douglas Richards
And to my daughter,
Delphene Djifa Atsufi Fumilayo Douglas Richards,
in whom her spirit has been reborn.

In the tradition of Afrikan Ancestral Commemoration,

This book is dedicated to the Egun of the Maafa
Who trusted in us, their descendants, to carry out the Victory
For which they sacrificed so much.

It is for all Afrikan people, therefore,

Who have fought for the simple Truth -
Race First!

And it is especially for those who do not understand

the meaning of that Truth.

For those Afrikans who would be seduced into the

labyrinth of academia,
this book was written to free your minds,
that your spirits might soar,
and you would become Warriors and Fundi,
rather than professors of white power.

It is for and to our Youth

who must believe in the power of their Africanness
So that they will be able to destroy
And to rebuild with African vision.
Introduction by
John Henrik Clarke
In this book, Professo r Dona Richards has opened up a
Pandora's box called racism that will not be easily closed by the cre-
ators of racism or its victims. What she is saying will have to be seri-
ously considered if the reader of her words is ever to know peace.
This is a pioneering and ground-breaking work dealing with a
neglected aspect of European culture. Most books about Europeans
deal mainly with what Europeans think of other people. In this book
Professor Richards has analyzed the European influence on the world
based on what they think of themselves and how this thought affects
most of the world.
\ Without saying it, she has emphasized that for the last 500 years
the world has been controlled by a form of European nationalism.
They have created a concept called the "cultural other" that has influ-
enced their vision of themselves and other people in their contact
with Africans, Asians, and people of the Pacific Islands. They have
declared most things primitive that they could not understand. They
have laughed at the gods of other people. This cruelty was com-
po unded when, through propaganda and the misuse of the Bible,
they taught other people to laugh at their chosen gods and adopt the
god of their conqueror.
I have referred to this as the manifestation of the evil genius of
Europe. They were the last branch of the human family to emerge into
that arena called civilization. In their conquest of the minds of most
nf mankind they have been able to convince themselves and others
t llat they were indispensable to civilization, and without them it
would no t have existed .

What the European has fo rgotten and made his victims forget is
1ll;H ove r h alf of human histo ry was over before most of the people
o l t\l rica and Asia knew that a Euro pean was in the world. The emer-
1~c·1w1 • of l·:uropeans or whit e peopl'c as lh E' handlers of world power
,111d t lwl r .1hilit y to rn11vl11ce rnill1011 s of peopl e tha t this is the way
l l ll1 1gs sl11111ld Ill' b tlw g11 '< 1l 1•st sl nglt• p rnpag<u1cln 111i rn rle i11 l1 isto ry.
111 t lw l !ii 11 .111d I lit II 1T11t111 v l·:11rupt'ill l!' 11t>t rn al y c•0J rn1i11•cl 111osl

of the world, they colonized information about the world. They devel- studied people without understanding them and interpreted them
oped monopoly control over concepts and images. The hallmark of without knowing them.
their colonization in this regard was the colonization of the image of Professor Richards in her book asks this revealing question:
god. After a number of years under European domination, the slaves
and the colonial subjects of the Europeans would not dare to mention What is the relationship between the way in which Europeans con-
the wo rd god in a language of their own creation or visualize god
ceive of the world and the way in which they relate to majority peo-
ples? Put another way: What is the relationship between the
through the lens of their culture. dominant modes of European thought and the dominant modes of
The political and social sciences and other academic disciplines their behavior towards others?
used to explain human existence and to prophesy the possibilities of
progress came under European control. The Christian church in If the people in Africa and Asia and the former European colonies
many ways became the handmaiden of European world domination are to emerge into full independence, statehood and world respon-
and to some extent it still is. sibility, they will have to answer the above question creatively and
in their favor. Then, in a collective sense, they will have to participate
When in 1492 Columbus, representing the Spanish monarchy, dis- with others in a world that can be free , that can recognize European
covered the New World, he set in train the long and bitter interna-
tional rivalry over colonial possessions for which, after four and a influence without accepting European dominance.
half centuries, no solution has yet been found. Inasmuch as there are not enough soldiers in Europe to hold
Capitalism and Slavery down five empires of people that outnumber the population of
Eric Williams, University of North Carolina Press, 1944 Europe, the victims of European aggression need to ask, "How did
they do it?" The European conquest of the mind of most of the peo-
The above statement indicates the arrogance of the Europeans ple of Africa and Asia is their greatest achievement. With the rise of
in the expansion beyond their shores on the lands of other people. independence movements and millions of people demanding the right
Since the re-emergence of Europe in the 14th and 15th century to the to rule themselves, the European monopoly of the minds of most of
present day, part of what~ refer to as their evil genius is their ability mankind was over. Imperialism and colonialism will not die easily.
to d rain the diseased pus 6t their political sores on the lands of other The former colonial subjects of Europe are fighting to regain what
peoples. With consistency they have attempted to solve their prob- slavery and colonialism took away-mainly their self-confidence and
lems at other people's expense. The European has a grab bag of ratio- the image of god as they originally conceived him or her to be.
llales for seizing the land and resources of other people in order to In order to understand the new information and revelations in
justify their domination. this book, the readers might have to approach it as carefully as the
Prior to the period that I'm referring to, the people of the world writer has. This will be an intellectual experience that has its own
were not referred to by their color. Therefore, the concept of a white reward.
people is a creation; the same is true of black people, of yellow peo-
ple and brown people. The concept of race that now plagues the John Henrik Clarke
whole world is an artificial European invention. Professor Ashley April, 1992
Montagu has referred to it as man's great myth . While the word race
anrl the concepts around it are artificial, the effects of its creation are
real. The application of this concept has affected the lives of most of
the peoµl e of the world . It was par t of th e basis of the s lave t rade and
of the colo nial syste m that fo ll owed. 111 thei r text hoo ks, rrav •iogues,
and somc tit111!::; it1 th t•f r ii1t 1:rpn•l atto11 of tlw Bl bll', tl w l·:m n pl 'flll has
!inld or lt 1[1 ·111 •d 111,11 tl11 ·v w1•1<• t li P 011l y 1wopl1 • l11 t!w world w l10 n1'
'a t Pd .111 vtltl 11µ. 111,11 d1• .1 1 v1 • , 111 l w t 11 ll1·d 11 11 1111111 1 l-:1111 1p l'.111 11
d1 ·~t 111v1·d 1111,tt • 1·11lt111 11 .111d1lv lll.0 111111 •, 111.111 1!11 v l>11ll t t'llt'Y l1 ,1v1•
(Taught to me by Armah and Kambon)

Two thousand seasons of restless sleep

Beneath the destroyers' fragmented image
We used their definitions of ourselves
To disconnect our consciousness
Lines drawn in denial of deeply textured souls
Life/Force/ Energy
Nyam a.

They knew even as we slept

That our spirit was more powerful
Than their white death.

In our will-less sleep

We have allowed the Earth to be defiled.
The wake of two thousand seasons
Of Spiritless matter. ..
Destroyers' work.

Confusion in Maafa aftermath

Within our lost knowledge
Enemies have blurred the line
Between us and them.
Are we destroyers ourselves?

No - We are the Springwater

Compelled by Ancestral consciousness
Issu ing from Ani's Wl)mb
We divine• n viclorio11s dc'st iny
II a/Ocl 11.

We are awakening,
Announcing ourselves, self-determining
With Nubian will
Crystal vision
Shaping a new reality
Ancient genius rediscovered Acknowledgement
So Dayi - The Clear Word.

Balancing the scales Tiko Ba Si Igi Le Hin Ogba Ogba Ma Nwo *

Restoring spirit to matter
The Whole completed
To Whom Praises and Thanks are Due:
Made cosmic again.
I live close to my ancestors, and most particularly to my mother.
Rhythm is the key to the Way I thank them everyday for the blessings that they continually bestow.
Alternating Death with Life My responsibility to them is what this book is about. It helps to ful-
Joining us to each other. fill the oath that I took, by having been born African, to avenge their
We are the Healers. spirits. I acknowledge them here for giving me life, for my connection
The Victory is ours! to the Universal Life Force (Ntu), for being my collective conscious-
ness, and for the spirituality with which I think.
We call upon Onyame, Olodumare, and Amma This work has been mandated by the Maafa, the great suffering
Invoking the Nommo-power of Blackness of our people at the hands of Europeans in the Western hemisphere.
Carried in the genes of Race Memory It is hopefully a partial solution to what Professor John Henrik Clarke
Hesse! has identified as "the imprisonment of a people to image." The minds
of African people are still crowded with the image of Europeans as
Ancestors and Children to be born superior beings. This is a condition which locks our will and freezes
Keys to the circles of connectedness our spirit-force. Professor Clarke has said that we must "instill will
and clarity into the African mind to reclaim itself." That is what he has done for
Africa redeemed me. In turn I have attempted here to establish a basis for the demys-
The universe in harmony tification of the European image, so that our collective conscious will
Return and move forward can once again be activated .
To the Way I owe my awakening and growth towards a Pan-African,
Of a natural order Nationalist consciousness to Professor John Henrik Clarke, who
African World Order allowed some of us as young people who worked with SNCC to liter-
Resplendent reflection of Ma'at. ally sit at his feet in his Brooklyn apartment in 1965-66 and drink of his
wisdom and knowledge concerning the history of the Pan-African
Ase! world. This close contact with Professor Clarke tapped my African
center and I developed a passion tor the realization of the Pan-African
Afl<:!r 111y expcriC'nLe with SNCC (the Student Nonviolent
C'oorcllnatlng Comu1itl<-'<') In Mississippi , and some travel in the
Mollu: rln11cl , 1 l>Pgall g1ml11al(• sluclies in m1tllropology. That contra-
xxii YURUGU YURUGU xxiii

diction led to a dissertation meant to uncover the roots of anti- Asante Sana to my daughter, Ojifa, who has also sacrificed, suf-
Africanism and European imperialistic consciousness in the disci- fered, worked on, and thought about this book. More than anyone,
pline of anthropology. The research began what has to become a 20 she has shared this experience. Her 16 years have been the years of
year sojourn through the bowels of European thought, leading t o the this manuscript. She has lived through it with me. This in itself was
conclusions of this work. an ordeal for her. She has collated pages, processed words for index-
Professor Clarke was later to come back into my life as a men- ing, and listened while I explained and worked out concepts. Her
toring force. When I finished graduate school in 1975 he brought me thoughts and perceptions have been invaluable. She has suffered
into the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter long weekends grounded in our apartment while I worked. Closer to
College. He then advised me to write articles on aspects of my analy- me than anyone else I know, she "shares my space." And I thank her
s is and helped me to get them published. for hanging in. Her faith and love kept me going. Djifa, Nina kupenda!
Perhaps, more than any single person in the African world com- My students at Hunter, especially those who participated in our
munity, Professor John Henrik Clarke has stimulated young people of seminar on Critical Theory during the spring of 1993, have been
African descent to search for an African-centered truth. I take this exposed to the concepts presented here. Their insights, reactions,
opportunity to express my love and gratitude, and to acknowledge critical comments, and enthusiasm has encouraged me to finish. I am
the genius of this master teacher; this molder of minds. For a great indebted to the nurturing relationship which we have shared.
teacher is one who can point in his sunset years to hundreds of Linda and Jessica started me off with typing "almost" final drafts.
younger African people who owe t heir ideological commitment and It is to Herriot Tabuteau that I owe so much. He "saved me" when I
political development to his/her inspiration. Ase! did not know how I would be able to get the manuscript typed . A pre-
The specter of continuing the research, indeed of developing med student, who could work on the computer (having written and
an'African-centerecl paradigm within which to place Europe for cri- published his own book at the age of 16), he processed the entire
tique, was awesome. I was certainly tempted to let this project go. manuscipt efficiently and with great care. It was a critical juncture for
And then in 1979, Molefi Kete Asante introduced himself to me, ask- me. Herriot also gave me critical feedback on the ideas and concepts
ing that I write an article for a book that he was doing. My acceptance that it contained . I thank the Nsamanfo (ancestors) for bringing us
of this t ask resulted in Let The Circle Be Unbroken. But his work together on this project.
Afrocentricity in 1980, gave me and countless others the affirmation we Nichelle Johnson , a young friend, former student, and organizer
needed to move further towards the vision. It was the African-cen- of the Daughters of Afrika at Hunter College, worked with me on the
tered perspective stated boldly in print by an African author. Molefi endnotes, bibliography, index, and proofreading. Her spirit was just
articulated what others had implied and what their work had meant. what I needed. She is careful, precise, and thorough. Asante Sana,
He stated what we were feeling . Nichelle!
It was this same Molefi Asante who, one day when he was visit- I thank Andre Norman for being patient enough to introduce me
ing New York, pulled out a dusty manuscript and began to read. I to the Macintosh, as he has done with so many of our people. That
subsequently mailed more chapters to him. He read all 686 pages, skill made my editing so much easier. I t hank him for allowing me to
writing comments in the margins. When he finished he was enthusi- invade his family's apartment for specific "computer help" that I
atic, saying, "Marimba, you must publish this!" It was the first time needed. His is a nurturing spirit.
that anyone had taken the time to read the entire work, and lie made Adupwe to the Egun for sending my spiritual brother, Amura
me believe in the nPcessity of its completion. Oflaa who is always able to visually manifest what I see and Amura,
I n·wrolt' t>v<>ry chaptn, did a n c--lephant <•mounl of new rest•arch, Mf'dasi for your help with the charts of explanation .
•1ml dl v1• lopt•cl a llwor<'lira l formu lallrnl whlrh I 11st•d to 111<1kl' Sl' l\Sl'
1 We collectively thank the Ancestors for the genius of Al Smith
111 wli.11 I II.HI frn11ul 11 a pah1f11l .111d t•x l1:111s1ll1~i 11t11JI. This was u who brought Af rica11 juogement to this work through mask symbol-
prrll't"•'• l w1111lcl 11111ililVt' 111111pl1·1t·d l1.1cl 111 v 11101 11111 Mt1l1•l1 a111l ism. Al, thank you for yrnir suppor1ive energy and friendship.
1 11 , , , ,111 t '1111 1,,. 11111 · t. 1Y"d 1111 111v c 11:.1 " I '11111 .•,.,111 t I. 11 lw •1.1vi11v. wl ll'll
'l'h<• l111lowi11 ~ 1w11pl1• lll'lped in vrtrious invaluable ways; James
, v1 •1 I w111dd r11·• 111111 Wl1• 11 111• v1111 1t111t11-1 t11 f111t il li Iii ii l1ci(ll I t 1111y1·1 s, (' .irnlt• l11v l.1•1• , P1·r·.lll't'11 Milxwdl, Ci<>yuka Ev.111s, Mark
x.xiv YURUGU

Staton, and Spencer Forte.

To Patricia Allen , my editor, I must give more than thanks. I offer
my understanding. I apologize for the volume of this work. It required
months of laborious work. I know that the task was exhausting. Yet
Patricia went through it several times, making extensive, painstak-
ingly thorough editorial comments. She has helped me to strive for
excellence in the presentation and form of this work, but I am respon-
sible for any problems of style which remain.
Asili The logos of a culture, within which its various
Had it not been for Kassahun Checole's judgement that this book aspects cohere. It is the developmental
was worth publishing, it may never have "seen the light of day." germ/seed of a culture. It is the cultural
Asante Sana, Kassahun. essence, the ideological core, the matrix of a
I give thanks to my cousin, Sandra Lawrence, for keeping our cu ltural entity which must be identified in
family together while I immersed myself in this project. I also thank order to make sense of the collective creations
my father, Franklyn Richards, and the other members of my personal of its members.
family and lineage, for their support during this endeavor.
Medasi to my sister Gerri Price for our friendship. She supported Utamawazo Culturally structured thought. It is the way in
me in this project without even knowing about it, for she taught me which cognition is determined by a cultural
about the Victory in confronting th e enemy which is ultimately only Asili. It is the way in which the thought of
fear. members of a culture must be patterned if the
. And f!nally, I want the African world to know how grateful I am Asili is to be fulfilled.
to my sister and brothers, Aziza (Claudia) Gibson-Hunter, Jawara
Sekou (Keith Hunter) and Kobi Kazembe Kalongi Kambon (Joe Utamaroho The vital force of a culture, set in motion by
Baldwin), for their African-centeredness, for their love for me and for the Asili. It is the thrust or energy source of a
Af;ican people, and for their consistent encouragement and imani culture; that which gives it its emotional tone
(faith) in this project. They share the vision. and motivates the collective behavior of its
members. Both the Utamawazo and the
To You All , Asante Sana! Utamaroho are born out of the Asili and , in
turn, affirm it. They should not be thought of
· Marimba Ani as distinct from the Asili but as its manifesta-
(Dona Richards) tions.

Cultural Other A conceptual/existential construct which

allows Europeans to act out their most
extreme aggression and destructiveness, while
s imultaneously limiting their collective self-
destruction on a conscious level.

Hhetorical Ethic Culturally structured European hypocrisy.It is

a statemeut framed in terms of acceptable
1111 11 ;i i lw ll,1vlor toward s others that is meant
1111 rl1l· lrn l<".tl p 111po•,1•:; 011 lv . 1t s put pose is t o
(ll• 111 111 l11t 1•11d1•d vl1·tl111" o l l :1 11 111wr1 11 <·1111 111'111
xxvi YURUGU YURUGU xxvii

and political imperialism. It is meant for Objectification A cognitive modality which designates every-
"export" only. It is not intended to have signifi- thing other than the "self" as object. This
cance within the culture. Its essence is its process mandates a despiritualized, isolated
deceptive effect in the service of European ego and facilitates the use of knowledge as
power. control and power over other.

First World People African descendants throughout the world. Desacralization The alienation and objectification of nature. In
this view, nature becomes an adversary. This
Majority Peoples The members of the indigenous core cultures approach to reality originates in unnatural-
of the world regarded collectively, excluding ness.
the European minority.
Materialization This begins with the separation of spirit and
Nationalism Ideological commitment to the perpetuation, matter. This separation, in turn, results in the
advancement, and defense of a cultural, politi- denial of spirit (despiritualization), the loss of
cal, racial entity, and way of life. This use of the meaning, and the loss of cosmos (interrela-
term is neither limited to, nor determined by tionship).
the boundaries of a "nation-state" as defined
eurocentrically. Despiritualization The denial of spiritual reality. The inability to
experience spirit. Objectification used ideo-
European Nationalism All forms of thought and behavior which pro- logically results in the desacralization and
mote European Hegemony/global white sup- despiritualization of the universe.
Reductionism The reduction of phenomena to their most
White Nationalism An expression of European nationalism which simplistic manifestations. This occurs when
identifies caucasian racial characteristics with the mind is not able to apperceive deeper,
superiority and African racial characteristics more textured levels of meaning. As a cogni-
with inferiority. tive deficiency, it prevents comprehension of
metaphysical truths.
Cultural Imperialism The systematic imposition of an alien culture
in the attempt to destroy the will of a politi- Reification This occurs when theory is used as law rather
cally dominated people. The mechanism of than metaphor and when process is replaced
cultural imperialism causes cultural insecu- by factual manipulation. Reification is the
rity and self doubt within the dominated hardening of dynamic, vital truth into dead-
group. Separated from their ancestral legacy, ened dogma.
they lose access to their source of politi(;al
resistance. Lineality The intP.rpretation of phenomena as being
made up of unidimensional, separate entities
Sci<•11tis111 Th<• ideological usP of "scit•11cT," dl'f111Nl l·:1no arranged in sequential order. This conception
c1•1 11rlc,ll ly, ;is ;111 ;1dlvil y wlih 11 s;111c ll1111s ,di is nec.:<.'ssarily secular and results in desacral-
t li1111f( I 11 ,111< l lll•ll;tvlc tt , I h, ;1 lc·111c•I1t•\'lll1ll's 11,ul iou. It d<•nics <'ircularily and the spiral of
· 11111·d, Ilic 1t11:t11•t.t •1 l.111d111d 111111111 1111v mj.l,1111<' dc•vP lnp11lf'11l II pn•venls I ranscen-
d1•111·1• o f ot dl11.11 v 1luw .11111 span\ 1lwn•hy
xxviii YURUGU

denying ancestral ontological experience.

Dichotomization A mechanism which accompanies objectifica- C08M08 - 8PIRIT •

tion. It is the splitting of phenomenon into con- •OBJECTIFIED UNIVERSE•
frontational, conflicting parts. It facilitates the
pursuit of power over other, and is therefore
suited to the European Asili.

Spirit The creative force which unites all phenom-

ena. It is the source of all energy, motion, THE PROCESS OF
cause, and effect. As it becomes more dense, EUROPEAN UTAMAWAZO
it manifests as matter. It is the meaningful
Mlnua Equal
level of existence.

Spirituality The apprehension of cosmic interrelationship.

The apperception of meaning in existence, and

the degree to which one is motivated by such

meaning. Spirituality is one's ability to relate
to the metaphysical levels of experience. It

unites thought and feeling and thereby allows

for intuitive understanding. This cognitive
/affective sense is transmitted through collec-
tive ancestral relationship. The absence of
spirituality is an ancestral legacy.

Yurugu A being in Dogon Mythology which is respon-

sible for disorder in the universe. This is a
being conceived in denial of the natural order,
which then acts to initiate and promote
disharmony in the universe. In African Cos-
mology such a being is deficient in spiritual FULFILLMENT THROUGH
sensibility, is perpetually in conflict, is limited AFFIRMATION
cognitively, and is threatening to the well- AND PERPETUATION OF
being of humanity.
.s::; Q)

c.. c:
in c..

Pla10'8 discovery.
(concept of truth) (The we:y Europeans 819;rt
CAN BECOME IDEOLOGY to think) defines the universe
(politicized mythology) for use of European power
over others


The ACADEMY (no meaning)

RATIONALIZATION (total contlOI) based on their lJTAMAWAZO
the trainin ~ which teach the "Rest of Us"
for the DOMI~ (to Rule) to THINK ACCORDING TO
a'ld the DOMINATED
(to BE ruled)

:·> .-·- ·. , . • .


Africans (and other Majority Peoples) define ourselves u

"infer1or objects" of European Domination:


Nf1d«y -
Spd, OM't Be Contrali.d

European ANttl«lc
Cau- Self-Hatred
lnfertorfzatlon and Rejection
of the •Non-European• (natural) Being


s ~;:::;::::::::;.::;:;:: . . . . . ...._
uropean Cultural lmpena\\stn
ASILI -- Lacks Spirit - Seeks Power

~\ Violent
~ \~~ -:\ Xenophobic

Competitive ~~ ·=t, \a :;:

1>~ "'\:J~.-\) \.
.·'.b ·\~
Con1rolled \ "\illf.·' !_,>~. ~Aggressive (unllm,
...., 9'::\ Genocfdal
Aggressive Olmlted} ~ t;~ ~
No Splrttual Community ~~ \ti~

lntraCultural Behavior • \ "• "

·.;. J:l)i1~,,,.,,dJ:..r···

This behavior helps to maintain the Integrity

"------ of European Culture by displacing aggression.



Un Ive rsallsm
·- "C ...
~ tii~
:§ .c ~ -
c ~ ~ 0 ---------..
::t 0
-::t ·-
u .c
Q. .=CD
c: This study of Europe is an intentionally aggressive p olemic. It is
0 an assault upon the European paradigm; a repudiatio n of its essence.
::> ~
Q. It is initiated with the intention of contributing to the process of
LL de mystification necessary for those of us who would liberate our-
0 Q) ~ selves from European intellectual imperialism. Europe's political
m_ Q)
:E 11' 0 .c domination of Africa and much of the "non-European" world has been
1- .E 5 IA-- - - - - - -- 1 .c accompanied by a relentless cultural and psychological rape and by
(/) Cl
> :::s Q) devastating economic exploitation. But what has compelled me to
...0 :e>0 write this book is the conviction that beneath this deadly onslaught

~ ~~
.c a. lies a stultifying intellectual mystification that prevents Europe's polit-
1- 0.
f2 - :I ical victims from thinking in a manner that would lead to authentic

LU "C en
CC ~ Cl) >- se lf-determination. Intellectual decolonization is a prerequisite for

- ~l
f l)

the creation of successful political decolonization and cultura l recon-
s truction strategies. Europe's political imperialistic success can be
acc redited not so much to superior military might, as to the weapon
of c ulture: The former ensures more immediate control but requires
continual physical force for the maintena nce of power, while the lat-
...J t c r s ucceeds in long-lasting dominance that e nlists the cooperation
cc of its vic tims (i.e., pacification of the will). The secret Europea ns dis-
::> cove red early in their history is that c ulture carries rules for think-
~ ing, and that if you could impose your culture on your victims you
u could limit the c reativity of their vision, d estroying their ability to act
z with will a nd intent and in their own interest. The truth is that we a re
w .111 "i nte llec tua ls, " a ll pote ntial visionaries.
0 This book discusses the evolution of that process of impositio n,
cc ,,.., well as the cha racteristics of cultura l beings who find it necessary
w l o Impose the ir will o n o thers. It is no t a simple process to explain,
, LL
•.h1n• the lools we need in order to dissect it have been ta ke n from
'"' th rough colo nia l miseducation. 1 It is necessary to begin, there-
11111 ·, wi th a painful wean ing from the very episte mological ass ump-
"z~ ·1111t1·/m1n ha Yur11lm lt·r111 nwn nlng, "Corne o n dow n, let's fi ght!" See
1't1t11 w1•l1 u, < >i 1w111 hl'kw,1.l1•1111t• .11 11 1 ll11•d 111kwu Mo1d 11lm lkc, Toward the
/11r11/11111 11(11111 o/ ,\1111 " " / 1/1°1t1 f111 1", Vol I, I low.1n l I J11lv1· 1·,f ty l 'r•·11s,
w. I 1h h ·~'I 1111 I)( ' l'IH'I p ~II
2 YURUGU Introduction 3

tions that strangle us. The weaning takes patience and commitment, social theory is the collective creation of every aspect of our history
but the liberation of our minds is well worth the struggle. of struggle and victory. It began when we began; challenged by the
My chosen field is African-centered cultural science - the first invaders of the Motherland. It received new life from the Middle
reconst ruction of a revolutionary African culture. I teach Pan-African Passage. It was shaped during the crucible of the Maafa. And now
studies . The experience convinces me more and more, however, that encompasses the visions, thoughts, and creations of every African
teaching Pan-African studies well means teaching European studies soul; every mother and father, every child. These are the names I
simultaneously. To be truly liberated, African people must come to would list.
know the nature of European thought and behavior in order to under- I have attempted a comprehensive critique of the European tra-
stand the effect that Europe has had on our ability to think victori- dition, but the degree to which the minds of people of African descent
ously. We must be able to separate o ur thought from European (especially our youth) are freed to envision a victorious African future
thought, so as to visualize a future that is not dominated by Europe. will be the judgement of its success. The critique will be called "racist"
Th is is demanded by an African-centered view because we are by Eurocentrists, but it was not developed for them. And as Aziza
Africans, and because the future towards which Europe leads us is Gibson-Hunter says, "'racism' is the fire ignited by the Europeans; our
genocidal. response is only the smoke." And though the "liberals" would have it
Chinweizu describes hims elf as an "occidentalist"; Iva Carr- otherwise, there is no way to extinguish a fire without experiencing the
uthers calls for the study of "Aryanology."2 These African-centered smoke. Europeans have made the fire; we will put it out.
scholars have made contributions to the demystification of
European thought and behavior; the African liberation movement is Thesis and Process
indebted to them. And there are others (far too many to be men- To be of African descent and to study anthropology is to be
tioned here); Ankobia* who are paving the way for an African-cen- st ruck by the pervasive ant i-Africanism of the discipline. And if one
tered social theory. In the spirit of Cheikh Anta Diop and Bobby then approaches the discipline critically, it emerges as a tradition of
Wright there comes Ayi Kwei Armah, Kwame Agyei Akoto, Kobi K. K. l·~urocentricism, functioning to satisfy the needs of the European
Kambon (Joseph Baldwin), Molefi Kete Asante, Ifi Amadiume, 1•tlios. The critique of anthropology led me right into the belly of the
Frances Cress Welsing, Wade Nobles, Jacob Carruthers, Amos lll'aSt, as 1 discovered how deeply it was embedded in the bowels of
Wilson, Na'im Akbar, Kariamu Welsh-Asante, Maulana Karenga, Linda t lw t::uropean cultural/historical matrix. I had no alternative then but
James Myers, Aziza Gibson-Hunter, Asa Hilliard, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, tu embark on a critical study of the totality that is European culture;
K.C. Anyanwu, Cedric Robinson, C. Tsehloane Keto, Haki Madhubuti, to lay bare its ideological underpinnings, its inner workings, the mech-
Abena Walker, and others; a vanguard that is codifying the language ,11ilsms that facilitate its functioning.
of African-centered analysis. The standards for bold African affir- Anthropologists, through their use and abuse of the culture con-
matior had already been set by Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Ida B. 1 ·11 pt Ii ave inhibited this necessarily critical process. They have gen-
Wells, Anna Julia Cooper, Edward Wilmot Blyden, Marcus Garvey, 1·1 illly ignored the political implications of culture by deemphasizing
Carter G. Woodson, George James, John G. Jackson, Chancellor lh Ideological function. They have typically focused their attention
Williams, Yosef Ben Joachannan, John Henrik Clarke, Malcolm X, and 1111 s upposedly "simple" and "isolated" non-European societies.
the names we cannot mention, the names we do not know, the hun- I ltt 011gli this conventional use of the culture concept these societies
dreds of political prisoners and prisoners of war, who have spent out li.1w he<'n theoretically and superficially abstracted from the politi-
their youth since the early 70's in jail. Most of all, the intellectual tra- , .II 1·c111t<'xls in which they exist. This use allows anthropologists to
dition of African affirmation cannot be separated from the s piritual 1~111111• t ile i111plications of European exploitation, while the condi-
force which exists in every African person, as they si ng Md make 111111•. 111 c:olonialism and neo-colo nialism provide them with their
musk and protect thei r famil ies aocl misc tlwir cl1lldn·n. Acadc·mia- 11hj1 ·1·ts" of s tudy.
~ r~hropl't\ 11 ntlsroiwl'pl 1011 IHI~; 110 pl;i('(-' rm \IS , t\lrf< rill {'••11t c•rNl Anthropology Is not si mply a "ch ild of i111pcrl alisrn.'.:1 1t is a man-
111• .tillh111 nf tlw Jo:11111pt·.111 t•l l111s Tiiis b why Vl'I Y ft•w ant hropologists
\11/111/1111 1. ,1 I wl 11 1111 11t.1I ldt 1111111 , 111011 wlt11It·1tl 111 l11tll1 •, '' 1111111 t11dy Iii• lll Sl'IVl ''l. l 1•. tlt1•l1 OWll ( ltlt111.11 h 1h kwrn111ds Tlt!'lr polltl
flt1 f.\1111lfd1111 I flllf 1111 l tlltl 1 lllllJllllllll 'lll
4 YURUGU Introduction 5

cally superior position allows them to study others, but not to be of prescriptive authority. 6 To its members, culture re-presents
studied. The few who do study Europe do so in isolated bits and values (which they themselves have created together out of
pieces (Nordic myth, peasant society, folk culture). Even "urban shared experiences) as a systematic set of ideas and a single
anthropology" does not approach European culture as a totality. A coherent statement.
Eurocentric social science cannot be used to critically examine the 4. It provides the basis for commitment, priority, and choice,
European cultural tradition. Yet there is no reason the concept of thereby imparting direction to group development and behav-
culture should not be used to study the extraordinary character of ior; indeed, it acts to limit the parameters of change and to
European imperialistic behavior. In fact, the African-centered per- pattern the behavior of its members. In this way culture helps
spective makes it compelling. Fortunately, this perspective has sep- to initiate and authorize its own creation.
arated me from the tribe of European anthropologists. 5. It provides for the creation of shared symbols and meanings. It
Our present endeavor requires the "de-Europeanization" of the is, therefore, the primary creative force of collective con-
culture concept. It must be made relevant to the political needs of sciousness, and it is that which makes it possible to construct
those who have been victimized by Europe, 4 and Europe must be a national consciousness.
brought into focus as a cultural entity. By emphasizing the ideologi- 6. For all the above reasons, it impacts on the definition of group
cal function of culture, it is possible to make sense of the intimidat- interest and is potentially political.
ing confusion and superficial complexity of the European experience. Willie Abraham's understanding of the nature of culture is help-
Understanding culture as ideology allows us to approach European ful in our study, and he perceptively acknowledges its applicability
culture in such a way as to make it a visible, extremely cohesive and to the exat,!nation of European development:
well-integrated phenomenon, in a sense more "simple" than we might
suppose. Beneath its deceptive heterogeneity lies a monolithic Culture is an instrument for making ... cooperation natural. Its suc-
essence; an essence that accounts for the success of European impe- cess depends on the extent to which it is allowed to be self-authen-
rialism. This is not to sa/that this endeavor is an easy one. But that ticating. Though it allows for internal discussion ... the principles
should not dissuade us. Its difficulty makes it all the more imperative, of decision in such discussions are themselves provided by the cul-
all the more urgent. ture. By uniting the people in common beliefs and attitudes ... cul-
Wade Nobles defines culture as "a process which gives people ture fills with order that portion of life which lies beyond the pale
a general design for living and patterns for interpreting their reality." of state intervention . . .. It fills it in such a way as at the same time
Its "aspects," he says, are ideology, ethos, and world-view; its "fac- to integrate its society, on the basis of common reactions, com-
mon actions, common interests, common attitudes, common val-
tors" are ontology, cosmology, and axiology; and its "manifestations" ues. It creates the basis of the formulation of a common destiny and
consist of behavior, values, and attitudes. 5 These are the aspects of rnoperatio n in pursuing it. If one looks at the West one finds that
European culture that we will bring into focus in this study. Let us see 1his use of culture is well-developed. It is what is involved, when one
how culture and ideology "fit" together; how an ideological emphasis hears it said that this or that belief will destroy a certain way of life,
in the interpretation of culture is more consistent with its meaning and 1hat that way of life must be defended no matter what the cost. 7
and significance. If we look at the phenomenon of culture, we are
impressed by the following characteristics: The ideological thrust of culture is inescapable. It boldly con-
1.. It acts to unify and to order experience, so that its members ft on ts us. Culture is ideological since it possesses the force and power
perceive organization, consistency, and system. In this 111 dlr<:'cl activity, to mold person~lities, and to pattern behavior. This
respect it provides a "world-view" that offers up orienting con- 11·1 o~n ition i111plies a theory of culture. Raymond Betts puts it this
ceptions of reality. w.1y. "Ideology is hPre used in a cu ltural sense, to denote the verbal
2. ll gives people grn11p identi fi ca ti o n, as 11 lrnll<ls nn sh;11<•d hi s- li'1111ography by whir h a p<'op le represents itself in order to achieve
torkal 1•x1wrl1•111' l\ l'r1 ·i1H11 g ,, sc·n sl~ ol cnll t•1·t lv1· r 11ll 111 nl lrl1'11· 1111111111111al p111 pose."K Leonard 13nrr<'l1 says that iclC'o logy is "the spir-
• ' 11 y 1111,11111 1d l1111 ·ll .-1· tu 11l lo1111d.1ti1111 ol gw11p C()IWsi11n."'1 13otlt n 1l1u rt:!
;t, 11 "11·11 "II" 1111•111111•1 . ''wh .11 111 d11," ll11•1 1•hy 111•.11111..: 11 "v11h • " 111tl lcl1•11l11gy 1111 • 1·xt11•1111•ly polltl«'.d ht 11.Jll1rt·, sl11 rl' tlwv an• a l><Hlt

6 YURUGU Introduction 7

the definition of group interest, the determination of group destiny sistency, and the force of its ideology, give it an incomparable degree
and common goals. Political behavior is simply behavior that issues of power. The two-pronged question, "why" and "how," determines
from an awareness of group definition as distinct from other groups. the method and approach of our inquiry. We have approached sig-
We think politically when we assess our group interest in relation to nificant cultural creations and behaviors by asking: Why do they
the interests of other groups and determine whether those interests exist? How are they made forceful? These are the questions of ideol-
are compatible with or in opposition to ours. We act politically when ogy.
our behavior and s trategies reflect those assessments. Cultural iden- The divisions and subdivisions through which the study is pre-
tification and ideological commitment are bases for political con- sented are, to a great extent, superficial. They have been created for
sciousness. With this "repoliticized" understanding of culture we are convenience and to aid us in the perception of a reality that we gen-
prepared to begin our study of Europe. erally experience as one forceful totality, not in analyzable parts. The
The approach of the study must be, of necessity, holistic and order of presentation is not meant to imply a lineal or hierarchichal
synthetic. Exhaustive ethnographic description of European culture relationship between these "parts," for they overlap in a way that
is of limited value even if it were feasible. The attempt to achieve defies compartmentalization, and their relationship is circular and
detail would only serve to divert our attention from ascertaining the reticular.
fundamental nature of the culture. The successful approach to the In all cultures there is the taken-for-granted, assumed, and habit-
analysis and synthethic understanding of European culture demon- ual aspect that though generally less visible than others, and rarely
strates its organicity, discovers the relationships and interdepen- <.'Xplicit - exerts the most profound influence on its members. This is
dencies between its various aspects. As with any culture we look for precisely because it functions on such a deep level. According to
consistency and pattern. Idiosyncrasy and anomaly are only useful in Edward T. Hall these "hidden controls" become habitual responses
that, through contrast, they help us to recognize what is character- that are experienced "as though they were innate." 12 Anthropologists
istic. This is revealed through an ideological focus and a methodol- talk about world-view as that aspect of culture that functions to
ogy by which we search for the interrelationships between the n·place presented chaos with perceived order by supplying the mem-
dominant modalities through which the ideology of the culture h<' rs of a culture with definitions of reality with which to make sense
<'Xpresses itself. European culture, like culture universally, is an ongo- of their surroundings and experiences; it is the meaningful organiza-
ing process in which meaning is created and reaffirmed. The appre- t Ion of experience, the "assumed structure of reality. "13 This "deep
hension of meaning in the culture and the mechanisms through which structure" of culture, as Wade Nobles has called it, has a most pow-
il is reinforced are critical concerns of this study. t•t.ll.!l influence on the shape of the culture and the thought-patterns
This endeavor is facilitated by the identification of "themes," c if 1" members. 14
which, as Morris Opler called them, are "dynamic affirmations" that This is only one of the reasons that this study begins with a dis-
act to determine behavior and to "stimulate activity." The translation c·11ssion of European thought; there is another. European culture is
of a theme into behavior or belief becomes its "expression." 10 Again 1111lq11e in its use of cultural thought in the assertion of political inter-
there is an ideological focus. Suddenly the complexity (vastness) of 1•,,t , While the logic of any culture, in the sense of what its members
European culture becomes approachable. We are in pursuit of the . 11 c· taught to accept as "making selise," may become for them part of
"explanatory principles" of the culture. 11 Through an axiological focus 111 ;1ss11111ed reality, Europeans have used their "cultural logic" in an
(values) the pivotal axes of the culture are clarified, and through an l'ff1·1·t1vc ly aggressive manner: (1) The culture "teaches" its "logic"
emphasis on synthetic functions we apprehend unity beneath the 0
111d world-view to the ordinary vdrticipants, who then assimilate it,
surface diversity (heterogeneity) of Europe. Looking beyond the ,,. 111111· 11, a11d push it bcnc>atll the surface, from where it influences
superficial for thal which has ideological significance, we have sought tf 11 11 n1lll•«tfw !Je>havior and n.'sponses. (2) Then "special" members
tile modes of standardization all('l th<' mechn11isms or k•giti111f7.<ll ion. 1111111 l 'trlll!r<• t·t·gnrd<•d rlS "i11lcflc•c·tuals," "st:holars,'' "theorists" -
It Is lhcs<' as.1wcts of E11ropt•an c111Lun• 1liat glv1· IL ord1·1 , 1111d onl<'r ' t I 111·v1• 11 H' .1~1i t1111pl t.111" 11! t ltls wmld·vlt·w and u·pr<.·scnt tlwm as t lw
Is tlw 11u,.;1 fo1T1•f11I ,11 11 11>1111• nl 1•11111111 •. l11<ll'1 •d, 1111• 1n1 ..11•11t •1l11dy l 1 111'h 11l ,1111ilvc•r .;11 " Y'ilc·11111l tl111111-111t , OJH· flwt pn·1w11ts sla11<1ards
11·v1•11h 1ll.11 tlw l11q 111 " ,-. lvt • l·.111 opc .111 111 d1•1, II 11v1 1 wl11•l111tn l{ 1 1111 11
I I111•h , 1 .i 111111,If 1t v, .11 u I I 111Il1 I11 11 w wrn Id 'l'l 11 ... 1• 11 11 • 1 c111'. I cir re •d t I tt •
8 YURUGU Introduction 9

seminal theorists of the culture, when actually their ideas simply often make costly political errors because of the lack of this rhetori-
reflect the assumed reality of the mainstream culture. The manner of cal and hypocritical component in their own culture. They misinter-
their presentation is, however, authoritative. (3) In this way the pret European language and fail to predict European behavior. They
European world-view takes on ideological force not only within, but are always therefore shocked by the intensity of the hostility and
outside the culture, since it can be imposed as universal, speculative, aggressive nature of that behavior.
and self-conscious. (4) At the same time, its parochial and axiologi- Part IV closely examines the themes of "progress" (Chap. 9) and
cal character remains well-hidden and camouflaged beneath a "universalism" (Chap.10) in European ideology. Together they are
pseudouniversalism. the cutting edge that intellectually and culturally disarms the victims
This is the most difficult aspect of European culture. But once of European domination. The study co ncludes by offering an inter-
understood it is the key to the ideological thread that runs from one pretation of European culture that relates its extreme rationalism to
mode, one theme, one characteristic to another. The thought process its intensely imperialistic behavior towards others. The various
is consistent, reflecting the consistency of the ideological thrust that themes, modes, and patterns under discussion converge to form a
must be laid bare. It is part of the nucleus of imperialism. Chapter 1, s ingle monolithic reality. Imperialism emerges as the overwhelming
which begins Part 1 of this work, attempts to characterize the epis- persistent theme of this critical statement, which demonstrates how
temological and ontological themes of European thought in order to epistemology, axiology, aesthetic, iconography, and behavior all link
establish a context in which to place the other dominant modes of together in such a way as to form an impressively solid and sup-
European culture. To approach Europe critically, we must first under- po rtive network, girding the quest for European power.
stand that the language of European value is the language of an
abstract scientism. Our task, in short, is to throw into question pre- Evidence
cisely what is assumed to be beyond question in European culture, Once we have discerned the explanatory principles of European
namely, its scientific epistemology. By doing this we succeed in bring- f' Ulture , we discover many varied sources of information. They
ing European ideology into view so that it can be recognized in other l11clude the historical record of European behavior, both from the
patterns and creations of the culture. The ideological implications of vi<•wpoint of those with whom Europeans have interacted and from
the epistemology become a decoding tool for the critical interpreta- t lw viewpoint of Europeans themselves. The emphasis, however, in
tion of culture. I <'r1 ns of information-gathering, is on the various vehicles of European
Chapter 2 reviews institutionalized religion as a system that :w lf-expression , in the belief that it is by looking at the statements,
sacralizes the ideology, achieves internal social and political order l w h ~tvior, and modes of expression of those who have considered
and imperial authority vis-a-vis other cultures. Chapter 3 discusses t ll cmsclves European that we can begin to get at what "European"
aesthetics as an expression of value. European conceptions of beauty 111t•ans. It emerges then as a desired "way of being" for a particular
and European principles of pleasure reveal a further statement of the 1{1'1>11 r> of people. Our ethnographic sources are those vehicles of self-
ideology and the collective psyche. The theme of universalism rears ' xpression that reveal how Europeans see themselves and their cul-
its head, since the discussion of "art" is used by Europeans as a tool t 111 t'; i.e., what they would like to be and how they wish to appear to
of imperialism. This concludes Part I, which leaves us with an under- c11lw rs. W e can then understand the logic of the behavior implied by
standing of the mental, philosophical, and aesthetic habits that act to t I ll'se l<feas, using the record of European behavior towards others.
support a particular style of behavior. Wes tern European literature is also a very valuable source of
Part II, (Chaps. 4 & 5) examines the images and concepts of self 1111111 n1 .1L ion. I have used Europea'1 social theo ry because there is so
and "other," which support the discussion in Part 111: the patterns of 11111< 11 .1xlolo1:,ty to he found hidden in its jargon and in the thought pat-
behavior within European culture (Chap . 7) n11d to wards othe rs 11•111 " I hat t'llH'q.~ fro111 it, <1 11d I have o ccasio nally used the literature
(Chap . 8) . Chnpter 6, whirh l>egios Part Ill , dlsruss<•s Ilw n ·la t i o 11shlp 111 wl ii 14' nat lo nHl b m, ;is it T11anlrests crucial aspects o f European ide-
lw tw1 ·1•n what l·:lll'o P<'illl S Wi\ltl us to lwllt'V<' llwy ilt «• tlol11 g mid wllnt nl111 :v n11d t l w 1•:11ropt.'illl sl' lf lr11t1gt• ;md Image o f others. Often I have
;It tu:dl y ti .1pp1•11 ., II Is v1• 1y t111pm'l it1tl lo 101tl11 -. t.111cl 1111 ~. hn•111·l1 1t h1•d ,11 1d 11•fc •rt l'd to tl11• w11rd -; a11d fdf':11; 11{ ll1osc.· plillosnph crs and
111 twr·1•1 1 w1;11 1 llld ll t•l'd , .1 \It Wt I I' '\hi! 1· 111•11pl1· lr 1111111tl11•1 I l l lllll t"i ll 1c•111hh w lco 111 1· 11111'1i tl1· 11 ·d l·'. 11111p1 ·" »1' 111! tl tl 11 k1•r-; T il ts d is
10 YURUGU Introduction 11

cussion is in part a synthesis and affirmation of previous African-cen- the culture, at the same time stating preconscious, hidden experience
tered critiques of Europe as well as a recognition of those critical in a more outward modality. Mythology creates ikons out of collect ive
voices that have been largely ignored by the European tradition. unconscious experience. Ideology is an intensely self-conscious exten-
These critiques also become a source of information. sion of this process, which began with preconscious "mythoform" (if
However, the most important source is my own experience of we are to accept Armstrong's term). Ideology involves the more inten-
the culture. Experiencing the intellectual core through its academies, tion~! use of the sacred ikons of the culture for political purposes,
feeling the weight of its oppression because of my Africanness, I have ~hat 1s, for the survival, defense, and projection of the culture. Ideology
been both semiparticipant and "observer," amassing evidence of the 1s mythology politically interpreted.
nature of the European reality through direct confrontation. The These facts of the presentation of culture can be understood as
advantage of being African is that it has allowed me to penetrate experiential actions (intellectual, emotional, spiritual) in a consistent
European culture from a "non-European" frame of reference. process. Each cultural activity leads to or grows out of the other
when all the causal circumstances are present. The process moves
Concepts and Terms from the preconscious (mythoform) to the conscious (mythology) to
Ultimately the liberation of our thought from its colonized con- the self-consciousness (ideology). But this is neither a hierarchical
dition will require the creation of a new language. 15 Those involved nor a strictly unidirectional process. Ideology is not necessarily the
"highest " stage, except in a political context. (Unfortunately our real-
in the development of African-centered theory are steadily moving
ity has become dominated by political definition, and we have no
towards that goal. At this stage we are prepared to create new con-
choice but to give more attention to this facet of life.)
cepts to facilitate our approach to the subject matter, which fit the
methodology demanded by our critique. To understand and to . . The ideological aspect of a culture can have two thrusts: (1) It
explain the nature of European culture, we need a concept that is 1s m every culture - giving direction to the lives of its members and
l o their group creations; (2) It gives the culture momentum. But in
both analytical and synthetic. This concept must enable us to explain
the European experience as a product of European culture and to some cultures the ideology is also outward, seeking to project the cul-
ture, assuming a competitive and hostile posture towards other cul-
explain the culture (thought, behavior, institutions) as a product of
its ideological core. Indeed, any culture must be understood in these tures. All cultures do not have an intensely developed ideological
terms. s tatement in this last sense. The lack of an aggressive ideology seems
to be related to the lack of the perception of a threatening "outside"
Robert Armstrong discusses the idea of a "primal consciousness"
wo~ld, the inability to perceive other cultural groups as "the enemy."
as "the code of awareness that instills each person, causing him to
111 l::uropean culture, the outward ideological thrust, the aggressive
inherit and in turn to help constitute his culture, dictating the terms
under which the world is to be perceived and experienced ...." 16 This sta11ce, is developed more intensely than in any other culture. As we
consciousness acts as a "generative germ"; it is thus "the causative l'Xamine the culture, we find that its dominant modes of expression
factor of culture." This "preconceptual," "preaffective," "prespatial," n•vcal an almost fanatically political or confrontational conscious-
and "pretemporal" factor functions to maintain the integrity and 1wss in which all cultural phenomena that are "other" or differe nt are
1 011sldered hostile to the group interest. The heightened political
homogeneity of the culture. Armstrong calls it the "mythoform." 17
Armstrong's approach to what he calls "humanistic anthropology" is .1wurl!ncss begins in the preconscious mythoform; the bio-cultural
far in advance of Eurocentric social science, and "mythoform" opens
up more liberating possibilities than the traditional European anthro- We need yet another concept, one that combines mythoform,
111ythology, and ideolo gy in one causal atom, so to speak. In the pre-
pological paradigm. As he presents it, mytlioform links the lll1Con-
scious and the co nscious expressions of cult urc. 111 tt>rms of '11' 111 " lurly I have introduced the concept of asili, a Kiswahili word
llt .11 I ~ 11 scd In s~e ra l re lated ways to mean "beginning, " "ori gin, "
consciousness, then, wC' could S:\y t hrit t lw mil t11 :11 p1 <>t't•ss ts from
".,01 1n t'. " " 11 11111n•" (I nt lw S('llSt.' o f llw "nature'' o f a pers on or thing),
111yt twronn to 111 yt l10lo1N to lcl t•oloHy H111 w1 • l111v .. to 1·xtf•11d
.. , I ·' .1•11! c• , " 1111t I "f111u I.1111c •t1 I ,, I pt I1w tp I('," It ran also ht' takt' n to uwan
Arrn •.l11111g'•, '111w1•ptl1111 M ythol11~ l1 · .1l •,••kt1 ·1111-. p11 • 1·111 ., v11ll11 •:, 1 ~l111-(
v11tl111l•1111111111 Ip lo I 11lln llvl , •• tl w I 1111 ';\ ltlll' 114" 1' 11) II''' ·.011 •. wllhh1 "•,1·c•cl " (l,c · or 1._i111) 111111 "1w1111 " l l c·, lllC' sn1111 ·1· 11t t11l1l11li11•! p rllwlpk
12 YURUGU Introduction 13

of development). All of these meanings fit the idea I am attempting to a lineal process, we always come back to the center; the asili is our
convey, and I have taken the liberty of using asili as a term and fash- reference point; explaining cultural phenomenon within the context
ioning it into a conceptual tool that the nature of this present study of a specific cultural tradition. Asili has an ideological focus, since it
demands. is concerned with that which compels and demands particular forms
Asili as a conceptual tool for cultural analysis refers to the and content of expression. Asili allows us to recognize culture as a
explanatory principle of a culture. It is the germinal principle of the basic organizing mechanism that forges a group of people into an
being of a culture, its essence. The idea of a seed, the ubiquitous ana- "interest group,'' an ideological unit. This is the case even when the
logical symbol in African philosophical and cosmological explana- descendants of an original culture and civilization have become dis-
tions , is ideal for our purposes. The idea is that the asili is like a persed in other areas of the world; as long as they are connected
template that carries within it the pattern or archtypical model for through a common asili, they constitute a diaspora, manifesting the
cultural development; we might say that it is the DNA of culture. At continued life of the civilization. Asili allows us to distinguish the
the same time it embodies the "logic" of the culture. The logic is an peripheral, the anomalous, and the idiosyncratic, and at the same
explanation of how it works, as well as, the principle of its develop- time asili allows us to interpret patterns of collective thought and
ment . Our assumption then is that the asili generates systematic behavior (in terms, of the cultural asil1). Asili is both a concept and
development; it is a statement of the logos. The asili of a culture is for- a cultural reality. If we assume it (the concept), then it helps to
mulative, and it is ideological in that it gives direction to develop- explain a culture in terms of the dominant and fundamental principle
ment. It accounts for consistency and pattern in culture, also its of its development (its reality).
tenacity. The asili determines cultural development; then the form Asili, then, will enable us to understand and explain the behav-
that the culture takes acts to maintain the integrity of the asili. 'It acts ior, thought, and creations of a people in terms of the origin and logic
as a screen, incorporating or rejecting innovations, depending on of their culture. In this case, it enables us to understand European
their compatibility with its own essential nature. It is as though the thought and behavior as being part of an ideological whole. European
asili were a principle of self-realization. It is a compelling force that religious philosophy and aesthetics become particularized in the con-
will direct the culture as long as it remains intact: i.e., carried in the text of the European asili. It remains now for us to determine the con-
"cultural genes." In order for the culture to change (and this includes tent and nature of this particular asili. Once we have done that,
the collective thought and behavior of those within it), the asili itself European culture becomes explicable as an ideological totality. This
would have to be altered. But this would involve a process of destruc- does not mean, however, that a definitive asili is conveniently visible
tion and the birth of a new entity. Cultural asili(s) are not made to be for us initially; rather its nature emerges from the most forceful char-
changed. acteristics of the culture as they are "felt" through confrontation and
Obviously the introduction of this concept implies a theory of observation. It is a question of the perception of emphasis, focus,
culture. This theoretical framework has certain advantages. First, the and priority. These gel into our conception of asili as the seed, which
assumption is that every culture has an asili, since it is the germi- is then understood as being the formulative germ. But asili is not an
nating seed of cultural formation, and that asili is determined by the idea, like Armstrong's mythoform. It is a force , an energy that asserts
collective, fundamental nature of its members. Second, the asili of a itself by giving direction to and placing limits on cultural creativity.
particular culture can be identified and consequently its inherent Asili is the primary determinative factor of cultural development and
nature delineated. Third, this presents us with a powerful tool of an essential explanatory principle of cultural theory.
explanation, since we have a concept that helps to explain the In the present study, I have used two other concepts to com-
organicity, structure, and development of any culture: Asili accounts pletnent the asili concept. I have borrowed other Kiswahili terms to
for its driving force, telling us "what makes it tick." connote the Ideas in qll estion . Utamaduni means "civilization" or "cul-
A'iili is a synthesizing <:oncept in that it allows 11s to explain and l urC'"; waz o means "I lwut!hl "; a11d rohu is "spirit-life." I have created
to s Pr' lilt• wily 11 1 whlC"ll tlw_vario11:; i•:> p1.1 ct ~ o f n rnll11 n · n •lal(' and t I 1c..' r·o1 ic1'pl 11tw11a111a.zo to c o11vey t lie Idea or"tho ught as determined
ho,>-V llll'y 1 ol11 •1e· 'l'lll s 1 rlt11·.1l r't>li1ll011 <; ltlp t.1kp~. pl.11·1• wllltl11 ll11 • ld1
hy nil Iur c..· ." Ami I ltaw 111111Hh1< t ·<I flfarnamlw, 1R !; ll~htly more difficult
ulti ~h .II 111,111·1 . 11111 11' 1 11lltll l', thr · tt~ tlt h 11llit11 1ti.111 lwli1 1-: ll111ll1•d liv l111 •x pl.ll11 , ,, •• tltt • "•, plllt llll' ol 11 1•11ll111t•," ;1li.;n lli t• "('ollcc liv(' 1wr

14 YURUGU Introduction 15

sonality" of its members. and presuppositions about the nature of reality, and the way in which
Utamawazo is very close to what is meant by "world-view," but the culture presents its members with definitions and conceptions
it has more of an ideological emphasis than the way we usually use with which to order experience. Utamawazo, however, places more
that term. Gregory Bateson's "eidos" is similar, but again, there are emphasis on conscious mental operations and refers to the way in
differences. In his book Naven, Bateson introduces the concepts which both speculative and nonspeculative thought is structured by
"eidos" and "ethos" as tools for investigating what he calls "cultural ideology and bio-cultural experience. Utamawazo allows us to
structures," a collective term for the coherent logical scheme of the demonstrate the ideological consistency of the premises of the cul-
culture. This is somewhat like our asili. The investigator can deter- ture and to identify those premises as they tend to be standardized
mine the "scheme," he says, by "fitting together the various premises expressions of a single cultural entity. Julian Jayne uses the expres-
of the culture." 19 Eidos is "a standardization of the cognitive aspects sion "collective cognitive imperatives," 24 and this is very much what
of the personality of individuals," and, again, the "cultural expres- we mean by utamawazo. It focuses on epistemological definitions in
sion of cognitive and intellectual aspects of personality." Ethos refers the belief that as culture acts to fix definitions of truth and truth-
to the emotional aspects of cultural behavior; "the system of emo- process, the culture constructs a universe of authorization that
tional attitudes which governs what value a community shall set upon rejects and incorporates ideas with reference to a cultural predispo-
the various satisfactions or dissatisfactions which the contents of sition in intent and style. And, what is more, the asili adds dimensions
life may offer." 20 Bateson offers an explanation of how this process of purpose and direction, that are forceful. Utamawazo, then, cannot
works: be understood unless it is placed in the context of asili. Utamawazo
accounts for perspective.
The culture into which an individual is born stresses certain of his
potentialities and suppresses others, and it acts selectively, favor- Wade Nobles defines the ethos of a people as "the tone, char-
ing the individuals who are best endowed with the potentialities acter, and quality of their life, its moral and aesthetic style and mode.
preferred in the culture and discriminating against those with alien It emerges as a set of guiding principles that define the underlying atti-
tendencies. In this way the culture standardizes the organization of tude they have toward themselves and their world."25 Karenga defines
the emotions of individuals. 21 ethos as "the sum of characteristics and achievements of a people
which define and distinguish it from others and gives it its collective
A really valuable aspect of Bateson's approach is the concept of self-consciousness and collective personality." 26
"standardization" as "the process by which the individuals in a com- Utamaroho, like ethos for Nobles, accounts for "attitude," "char-
munity are molded to resemble each other in their behavior." 22 acter," and "aesthetic" in a collective sense, but it does not include
Interestingly enough, he says that the concept of ethos can be "valu- the "guiding principles" that have a determinative function ; that
ably" applied "even to such enormous and confused cultures as those would be closer to our asili. In terms of Karenga's use of "ethos," uta-
of Western Europe. "23 If we look at the way in which Bateson explains maroho does include the idea of "collective personality," but it is not
the process through which the ethos is standardized from an African- in any way self-conscious. Utamawazo has a self-conscious expres-
centered perspective, we can understand that the "discrimination" sion, even though it originates in the meta-conscious asili, but uta-
against those of us with African "tendencies" is, in a sense, a natural maroho remains on an unconscious level of feeling. Utamawazo is
result of the standardization process that functions in European cul- cognitive in expression, while utamaroho is affective. Utamaroho is
ture. The culture "chooses" the personality-styles that "suit" it, just many things at once. It is a concept that denotes the way in which the
as our personalities have been influenced by the African asili. asi/i acts lo forge a collective response among the members of a cul-
Utamawazo, thought as determined by culture, is Bateson's ' me to life and to the world as they confront it. But this response, in
eidos in that it focuses on the way in which culturf' acts to determine t lw sense of Ltlcmwroho , is 11ol thought out or planned. It is more of
collective cognitive s1yle. It refe rs to the thought patti.·rns of a gro up .111 insti11c1ive renrllon caused by 1hcdr "spirit." Used this way "s pirit"
nf 1wn1>1<> who <1n· r111t11rally rc•lat <•cl, 111 so fill ,,!'; llwiw lhrn1gllt p;-il - 11 •fPl'S to till' PSM'tltlnl n.11lm • nf .1 l>t·inl-(. It is lhe idea that a pe rson,
11•111 · I 111 vc • I wt •tt cll't 1·1 111 l1wd hy 1111' n tit 1111 • (}f< 11111111Jfl ,fl l'l 11 lw "wrn ld (Ill , 1-;ii li. Ill I h is r,1',f'). •l l'lllllltl', Ol ).(t'<Hlp 11f tWopl e J)OS!-'ll'SS Ull
vl1 •w" l111111111 •1 ll1 •<1s1·11 ll11 · •, lq11tf1 c i1111c·111111C'l11plt y•1lt'11l 11·1•1111 11pllu11 'I l111111.111•1tnl (111111pllv~~ 11.d) 111li•.1.1111·1• lla111 d 1•tr•1111!1H·•· llH'll' 1111 lq111•
16 YURUGU Introduction 17

character or "nature." But the physical and nonphysical essence is the life of its utamaroho. The utamaroho of a people is a force made
here linked as it is in the concept of a "gene" which carries "memory." powerful through its collectiveness. The unique character of the cul-
We speak of utamaroho as we might speak of "temperament" ture - its accomplishments, limitations, brilliance, institutions, and
and "character" and emotional response. These may sound like the posture vis-a-vis other cultures - are spirited by its utamaroho. But
terms of psychology, but utamaroho is not "individual"; it is collective. the utamaroho must be continually regenerated by the institutions,
The question of relationship between culture and personality is not creations, and patterns of thought and behavior in which it is
a new one. The fairly recent "psycho-historical" studies assume a reflected. The utamaroho (collective personality) of the people will be
Freudian posture for the most part, using psychoanalytical theory to warlike, if the asili demands war for its fulfillment, its self-realization.
analyze cultural developments in the context of historical circum- The utamaroho will be spiritualistic or materialistic, creative or con-
stance.27 The "culture and personality" school of anthropology is trolled, depending on the nature of the asili of the culture. The uta-
much older, its theorists attempting to discover the ways in which maroho will be an indication of the kinds of activities that are
culture influences the personality of its members. They have usually pleasurable and desirable for the members of the culture. It will deter-
emphasized alternatively world-views or "patterns" (Benedict) and/or mine what they consider to be beautiful and, to some extent, how
"configurations," \'themes" (Opler), and language (Mead) as these they move and speak. The axiological aspects of culture will be
phenomena act to determine the style of the culture in question. related to its utamaroho, which significantly accounts for motivation
Spengler (1926) talks rather obscurely about the "soul-image" of the in a collective sense. The asili is the seed that produces a force. The
Western European as being "Faustian." force is the utamaroho of a people. It is the collective personalization
Utamaroho does not categorize the ethos(es) of cultures into of the asili and represents the possibility of its continued existence.
types, as previous ethnological theories may, but, as inseparable The utamawazo is the thought modality in which the people's men-
from asili; it focuses on the uniqueness of. a particular culture with tal life must function in order for them to create and to accept a cul-
respect to its emotional rather than cognitive patterns. While the ture that is consistent with the originating asili.
character of a culture's utamawazo is expressed most obviously in lit- Utamaroho and utamawazo are extremely forceful phenomena
erature, philosophy, academic discourse, and pedagogy, utamaroho in the European experience. They are brought together in the asili,
becomes more visible in behavior and aesthetic expression whether the root principle of the culture. Neither the character of the
visual, aural, or kinesthetic. At the same time utamaroho is the inspi- European utamaroho nor the nature of its utamawazo are alterable
rational source from which the utamawazo derives its form, for uta- unless the asili itself changes. Understood this way, the culture is
mawazo is not simply "thought," but "forms of thought." The asili the unfolding of principles already implied in its originating process.
defines the utamaroho (spirit) and gives form to the utamawazo. The But the asili concept does not imply its own cause. Chapter 8 reviews
asili is in turn energized by the utamaroho (life-force). Utamawazo other theories of the origin of European behavior. My theoretical dis-
(thought), utamaroho (spirit-life), and asili (seed), influence, rein- cussion, however, is limited to a delineation of how the culture works,
force, and build on each other in a circular process and in a reality not what caused the asili to come into being. These three concepts
that precludes their rigid distinction as "cause" or "effect." This cir- allow us to approach and understand European culture as a unique
cular process and synthesis is culture itself. It would no,t be possible product of its fundamental aspects. They become intensely political
for one of these cultural phenomena to contradict another within the concepts as European culture is intensely political, and t hey cohere
same cultural experience. By their very definition they are support- in the ideological thrust of the culture. Thus, with their introduction,
ive, compatible, reaffirming, and mutually generative. They are the we have properly politicized the idea of culture by giving it an ideo-
interlocking pieces of one ideological system. logical fOCUS.
Utamaroho is a special part of this process, si11<.:e it is tliC' en 'rgy There are a few more terms, although they do not represent
source for all or the cultun•'s rolle<:tivP forms. Tlw asifi Is the seed, new <:ouccpts , th at s hould be discussed for the sake of clarity, so
tlw m li.tln, lwt 01w1· In cxlsl<'l\C'(', tl1 t• 11tn111e11 11flo I:-; 1111· vltr1llty of tl1t• thnt my US(' or then1wi ll tH· understood front tlw u11sct. It would seem
c·1ill 1tt 1• It Hll.11.11 1l 1•c•s It ~ crn1llt111t•tl lift• Tllf • miff IPllllH'I•. 1111• 1 u ll tirc • •llisurdly <H'i\d1•111i" to ao.,k 111<• qm•stlon, Wllill ls "Europea11?" M11cl1 of
111 t11lltll lt :1c•lt , 11111 It t1111 •1, ,u tl111111v1t tltc 1111111 of It •, 11111111<111111 11 .md w h ,11 p.iss1·s frn l11l111111 .1l l1111 In tlt1• .w111lc•11tl«'s Is c;lmply n1w lnttH p.111
18 YURUGU Introduction 19

egyric of the European experience. In these instances, there never This is the kind of definition that is assumed as we make our way
seems to be a problem identifying what is meant by "European" or though the plethora of undergraduate required courses , texts , tele-
"Western." Norman Cantor reveals his Eurocentric perspective as he vision, and even movie spectaculars that deal with "Western civi-
introduces his three-volume work Western Civilization: Its Genesis lization" Eurocentrically. But when an African-centered critique of
and Destiny, while using the rhetoric of academic "objectivity": Europe is attempted, suddenly it becomes, if not invisible, an evasive
entity of uncertain definition and demarcation. Once when I made a
Most of us are products of the Western heritage, and our traditional comment about the "European world-view" a colleague asked me to
ways of thinking about historical events have been shaped by the which of the "many" world-views re presented in the European tradi-
forces that molded much of Western culture. In all our modes of tion, I was referring. Though he had praised the tradition consis-
thought, we inevitably show the impress of the Western heritage.
We imbibe our ethics, religions, philosophy, science, art, and liter- tently, now he argued that it was not uniform, nor did it represent a
ature from families, schools and a social and intellectual environ- single reality. But European nationalism, so strong and so pervasive,
ment which in turn have been formed by centuries of growth and is created not by diversity, but by the perception of unity. This is R.H.
development. 28 Tawny's perception:

He feels comfortable talking about "the basic foundations of our The societies composing Europe are in varying degrees the heirs of
t~e first great age of Western civilization; nor was the partnership
civilization," and goes on to ask the following question:
dissolved when that age was wound up. Greek philosophy and lit-
How and why did the West attain intellectual, economic, and mili- erature, Roman law; the long adventure of Christian missionaries;
tary preeminence in the world by 1900? Why does the history of the the medieval church; feudalism; the Renaissance, the Reformation
West, in spite of many retrogressions and failures, appear to be a and Counter Reformation; the Revolution - all these and much
story of progress toward new forms of thought and art toward the else have reacted to them. Their religion, their literature and art,
achievement of greater and greater wealth and power?29 their ~cience, their economic systems are a cosmopolitan creation,
to which all have contributed and all are in debt. Such things, it is
true, do not in themselves create unity, but create the conditions
He continues:
of it. They cause Europe, amid all its feverish jealousies and terrors,
Some qualities of European thought and social life are unique. Other to be a single civilization, as a contentious family is still a family, and
civilizatio ns have merits that the West lacks , but certain ideas a bad state remains a state. They make its culture one, its crimes
domestic tragedies, its wars civil wars.32
occurred only to Europeans, and certain techniques were discov-
ered and applied only by them.
This is the cultural entity under examination in the present study.
For Cantor the fundamental problem to be addressed by stu- I have used the term "European" most consistently in this study,
dents and teachers of Western civilization is, "Why and how did the but 1 consider it to be interchangeable with "Western " "Western
distinctive ideas and institutions of the West develop?"30 Toynbee European," and "European American." Oswald Spengler.talks about
answered that only the West responded to challenges, and that the "Western-European-American," which he considers to be the only
West was marked by its creative vitality. According to Cantor, "Thus culture in the phase of "fulfillment."33 What is "European," like other
far no scholar has offered a full and thoroughly satisfactory explana- cu ltural phenomena, is in part an intuited whole and therefore does
tion of the developme nt of the unique qualities of Western civiliza- 110 1 lend itself to simplistic "scientifically" rigorous definition. Yet the
tion." That is precisely the o bjective of the present study, though no t te rm Is understood and used by .<\cademicians, theorists, and lay peo-
from the sam e pers pective as Cantor's. As to whnt lw nwans by the ple alike. The definiti o n of any parti c ular culture is not a lineal
"W<-st ," Ca11tor say s speci fl ci\lly, "tltt• c o11n1 ril'S o f Wvsh·ni E11 ro pc pre 1<' t'SS, l>ul a neressarily circular one. W e begin with the assumption
t111<I ll1t • h rt1 11< 111 ·~. ul Wt !>11'11 1.1•ivlll1t1tlo11 rrnmd lo Nm I h .111d I .n1Ht
0 111 t h1 • c-ultural phc110111c>11011 o f "Europc'a tmess" that le ucls itself to
/\ 11 w1l1 ,, " 11 A111I h1• ll ;1•. 1w1d1 It' 11 •111 111.11 1'1 liltt v lt •w 1'11111111 •.111 •, 1111 · dt•st·1 ipl lt111111HI t· xpla ri.1!11111 , llt•c fl lllH' w1• l1av1• nlrc·ndy pcrceive?d nncl
1111, 111 11pl1 , , •.,p1111 -.1hl1 lw · w.... tc-111 1•ivlll11 11 1t 111 " c•X p P t lt<t Wl'd (I t'll) It I o ht• 0,111 Ii. 111 I Ill' (>r(I( t''t!. o l d!'st r lhl11g wl t<1 l we
111 · 11 1•lv1• , Wt' lt 11111• l o Hl v1 II 1111 d1•h1dll 1111 ii dtt •.i tl y t11l11•1111lly pus

20 YURUGU Introduction 21

sesses. But this does not lead to any kind of lineal or temporal prior- A product of modern Europe civilization, studying any problem of
ity, nor is it "seen" in the same way that a material object is "seen." Universal History, is bound to ask himself to what combination of
What is European will forever be, in part, a product of how it is expe- circumstances the fact should be attributed that in Western
rienced. To abstract these reactions from its definition would not Civilization, and in Western Civilization only, cultural phenomena
only be impossible, but would leave very little of value or relevance. have appeared which (as we like to think) lie in a line of develop-
What is European is not simply a group of characteristics, and ment having Universal significance and value. 34 [his itallics]
to attempt to enumerate such characteristics would not only mis-
represent my intention, but would leave this study open to obvious Max Weber has asked the "right" question for Eurocentric rea-
criticism. Any one or a number of the generalized characteristics that sons and therefore cannot offer an answer that is useful to us. The key
will be discussed as European can be found to some extent in other to the African-centered answer lies in his parenthetical statement -
cultures . And a discussion of the etiol ogy of "Europeanness" using "as we like to think." That is the only element that is universal about
such an approach would be further complicated by the fact that it has "Western civilization." Its utamaroho ("we like") and its utamawazo
been one of the more significant manifestations of European c hau- ("to think") combine in a manner dictated by an asili that causes the
vinism to claim cultural creations that can be shown to be of non- culture to consistently project itself in universalistic terms. This ten-
European origin. The contradiction in this attempt is obvious, since dency is specifically discussed in Chap. 10, but it is a recurring theme
the self-conscious identification of the cultural entity that would be throughout the book.
referred to as "Western" occurred chronologically much later than Is European synonymous with "modern?" Is it, after all, a stage
many of the institutional developments with which Europeans choose in universal cultural development? The answer depends on one's per-
to identify. As cultural traditions go, the "West " is, after all, quite spective. The question is, therefore, moot. Part of the difficulty is
young and biologically or racially Europeans are, of course, the "new with the definition of terms. The significant point from an African-cen-
boys on the block." Individual characteristics do not identify them tered perspective concerns what happens if we say that European cul-
as being "European": rather it is the way in which they are combined, ture merely represents what will be the eventual form of all cultures.
and the fact that they are reinforced throughout culture, that fuses The answer is that there is no possibility for a viable critique of what
I hem into an ideological force. It is only in the context of European Europeans have created, because there is no other ("non-European")
r ulture that the identified themes take on ideological significance. It perspective. Other ideologies become impotent, because to identify
was this realization that led me to the concept of asili, as the orga- "Europeanness" as an inevitable stage in "non-European" develop-
nizing and meaningful center of culture. ment is to say that they ("non-Europeans") do not exist - certainly
With this understanding and objective in mind, we need not not as directives, as influences , or as agents of change.
become involved in the argument as to what cultural institutions are Most of the potentially valuable critiques of European culture-
''European inventions," and "how much" or "how little" a particular of which there are a precious few - have suffered from a common
culture has "contributed to the progress of civilization." These are malady. Since they syntactically make European culture into a rep-
merely the polemics of European chauvinism, and they become s ig- resentation of a universal stage in human development, they are left
nificant only as ethnographic data in this study. For part of the defi- with no place to look for solutions or creative alternatives. "Western"
nition of what is European is to be found in those things with which problems become the problems of "modern man" in these critiques.
those who call themselves Western or European have traditionally Thereby they are superficially universalized, and Africans must
<.: hosen to identify, and, similarly, the way in which they view them- become "modern" before they can even deal with them. Europeans
selves in relation to o ther peoples . What is presented herein is a M e , in this view, the only ones with the authority to criticize their cul-
unique configuration of characteristics I hat are comhhwd in such a l11 re, and the criticisms they make and the solutions they find are
way that I he f'rnplrnsls, prior ities , a11cl manifest ed lwliav lo r;d tl'n- said to have universal significan ce. European imperialism, in this way,
d1·1wlt·s fon11 .111 t•xp1•rlt' Jlt'Pd \: tllt11ral/ lllst01kal ll'iilll y ll tn l ht1s l rtt Is 11nt sc•cn us the product of the> behavio ral patterns of a particular
tllt1t11 t11 1l y IH·1•11 11•(1'1I1•cl Ill ,\S "W1 "' '''" l·:11111p1·1111 ,'' W1"1l1·111 ," 111 , ,1•: n 1lt urnl wn11p 11or nf t·1•rt ai11 l<ind s nr pcoplt•, 1.lUt rather of the "uat-
Wl' ltall 11•f1 ·1 In II , "l\ 11111p1 ·,11 1"" lt·11tlt•111 It•'> of itll p1•opl1• nt n p111tl1•ul 111 Pl'rlm l of r 11lt11ral <IC'vc•l-
o p1111 •11t T it•· .11 1-(111111 ·111 1·1111t l11111 1h " l~v1 • 1 v 1 11111111· h1 11·111111•0, 1•:111 11111'.111
YURUGU Introduction 23

as it becomes more modern," so there is really only one valid culture, refers to the commitment on the part of the members of a culture to
and the only ideological alternative is the "more-than-modern" one. its political defense, its survival, and its perpetuation. Jn the case of
To be useful, "modernity" has to be redefined, so that, for Europe it also involves a commitment to its supremacy, to its expan-
instance, we can speak of modern African dress or modern African art sion, and to the destruction of other cultures. European nationalism
using an African-centered frame of reference. Presently, the concept is therefore dangerous to the rest of the world. But it is very impor-
of modernity is much too Eurocentric to be either practical or of the- tant to understand that this does not mean that nationalism is a neg-
oretical value in a critique of European culture. We must begin with ative phenomenon universally. It is indeed "natural" to be centered
the assumption that Europeanness is not inevitable. And since we in one's culture and to seek to preserve it. That is part of the essence
wish to describe "a certain mode of cultural being as opposed to "a of culture. But the content of European nationalism becomes prob-
certain level of history," 35 European development is a product of lematical: (1) because it implies imperialistic aggression; and (2)
European ideology. Consequently, it represents a particular view and because it is usually not recognized as the expression of group inter-
approach to the world - as partial as any other. And, as. any othe.r est, thereby making it difficult for other groups to defend themselves
ideological construct, it can theoretically, therefore, be re1ected, cn- against its effects. An important objective of this work, therefore, is
tiqued, or replaced. This is not to say that the rejection of to make European nationalism recognizable as such.
Europeanness is an easy task, or that Europe does not give the illu-
sion of being ubiquitous. But the question of the universal validity of Perspectives and Objectives
European forms must not be confused with the successful expan- This study was not approached objectively. It is not possible to
sionism of European culture. And the resistance to Europe, as it is be objective towards Europe: Certainly the victims of its cultural ,
now defined, can only be achieved through a commitment to that political, and economic imperialism are not objective, if they are sane.
resistance. Those who begin with the assumption that they are sim- And Europeans cannot be "objective" about their own cultural his-
ply dealing with the character of "modernity" are doomed from the tory. The question, then, becomes: What could objectivity possibly
start, for they have already accepted the terms of European ideology. mean in terms of human mental attitudes? The implications of the
Some problems in terminology arise in referring to other cul- concept of objectivity are discussed critically in this study and else-
tures. The term "non-European" is used reluctantly because of its where.36 It is a concept that acts to mystify Europe's victims: one of
usual negative connotations, and because it implies a Eurocentric the most effective tools of European ideology.
frame of reference. But in this case it is appropriate since the focus The claim to an absolute ultimate truth is a psychological neces-
of the study is Europe exclusively: So that what is "other" is indeed sity for the European mentality. And since we have accepted it , it is
a negation of what is "European" (i.e., "non-European"). This fact not an edict that has constrained most of us who have been trained in
withstanding, I have felt more comfortable using other terms, and European academies. But African-centeredness breaks that hold by
they require some explanation. The term "First World" is used. to recognizing the truth as a process in which we immerse ourselves
refer to the descendants of the oldest civilizations known to us: Afnca because of a commitment, not to some universal abstraction, but to
and its Diaspora. "Primary cultures" is also used in this way. a certain quality of life. From an African-centered perspective, we
Europeans in this sense represent a secondary, derived, and youn?er understand truth to be inseparable from the search for meaning and
people. I have sometimes borrowed Chinweizu's term from the title purpose - the unique concern of human consciousness. As African
of his book, The West and the Rest of Us (1978) and refer to those of scholars, it is our responsibility to create systematic theoretical for-
us who are not European as "the rest of us." And I have referred to mulations which will reveal the truths that enable us to liberate and
tllese "other" proples and cultures as "majority," since Europeans utilize the energies of our people. In this view, the self-determinist, the
,111cl tlw cul\11r«> tlwy have created reprc>scnt a small "minority" when revolu tionary, and the sc holar are one, having the same objective,
vli'W«•d 111 llll: wml<I context. involvc•d in lite same truth process. The claim that we make is not to
"N,1tlnn.tlh111" a~; ,, l' 11ltt1rnl pllt'1t«mw11n11 h• ,, v1• 1 v hlJl1dfk.1nt H spurio11s "nhjn:tlvl1y ," h111 In lt1111l·sty. I, th crC'fore, have made no
,1•1p1 ·1 I 11l l ,11111p1 •.1111 •11111111· 1111!1tl11•11•l1111•11l ll1I• •.t1tdv N.1tl111111lli.111 .1tlt•111pl to t'i 11111111f1;1~t· 1'11 lwr 111y rclnt innship to Europe or my goal
111 t111 1 1• II •I' I 1111l ll111lt1•d l 1y 1111 1111111·pl 11l '11,1tl1111•,t.1t1•,''1.1tlt1•t II 111 lltHIP I t.dd11 H Ill )<. •,t 11dy.
24 YURUGU Introduction 25

As Wade Nobles says, the types of questions we ask are influ- value, particularism, European interest and Eurocentricism;
enced by the culture to which we belong. 37 Theory is born out of 3. to examine and expose expressions of European nationalism;
commitment and intention. Every theorist puts pa rt of herself (or 4. to understand the asili, or fundamental germinating principle
himself) into the theoretical formulations and conclusions that she of European cultural development; and thus
(or he) produces. But that does not make them any less valid. When 5. to provide a tool for the explanation of European thought and
dealing with the social sciences, theories gain validity when viewed behavior as part of a consistently patterned ideological con-
in relationship to one's frame of reference, one's center. That center struct.
is culturally meaningful only when it issues from a collective con- This is achieved through an ideological focus that recognizes
sciousness. The view of Europe presented herein will be convincing Europe as the powerful monolith that it is. The compelling ques tion
only to the extent that one is freed of European assumptions and this study asks and answers is: What accounts for European power
Eurocentric ideological commitments. But that is not because of any and Europe's successful domination of the world? The objective of
weakness in the arguments or evidence presented. The record speaks this book is our liberation from that control, so that we can indeed
for itself. Ultimately validity is judged in terms of interest. This the- reclaim ourselves and what belongs to us, and in the process, trans-
ory of European culture is valid to the extent that it helps to liberate form the universe, thereby reestablishing primary equilibrium. The
us from the stranglehold of European control. int ent is to speak with the voice of African nationhood and to be
This study represents a view of European thought and behavior inspired by the collective vision of our people and our ancestors.
that grows out of protracted personal confrontation with European
culture, out of an awareness politicized by means of African con-
sciousness, and made intellectually positive through a grounding in
African-centeredness. "Afrocentricity" is a way of viewing reality that
analyzes phenomena using the interest of African people as a refer-
ence point , as stated by Asante38 . African-centeredness provides the
theoretical framework within which the dominant modes of European
expression have been set for analysis here-in. This process estab-
lishes a system for critical evaluation. Its standards are severe. Its
questions uncompromising.
The most insidious expression of European nationalism is man-
ifested in the process of codification through which behavior and
thought patterns have been standardized by validating theoretical
formulations provided by European academia. We need only to
decode its workings in order to understand the mechanisms of
supremacy and break its power. The objective of this study is to place
the European experience under scrutiny in order to reveal its nature.
We turn the tables by trans forming "subject" into "object," and in the
process we are ourselves transformed into victors rather than vic-
tims. We emerge from the yoke of European conceptual modalities
I hat have prevented us from the realization of the "co llective con-
.seto11s will " of our pcople. 39 Our objectives arc, specifica lly:
I. l u cl1•111onstralt> t he 1clatio11s hip hc t wc(~n Europc•an 1ho 11ght,
I 111• 11 ;1I111 1• nf I·'. 11 rn1wnn. lr1i. I It 111l011s, l·'.u ro1wi1r1 ,111ll Af 1 f<'fl 11 ls Ill ,
.11 1d I· 11111p1•111 1 l111 1 wrl, 1l l~ 1 Jt;
:.! lei 1111111vc• tltt 1lo.ti< 11f 11 11lv1•1ll:il l:.111 f111 111l'.111 n1w11 11 1l111h1,

... unconnected consciousness is destructions
keenest tool against the soul.
-Ayi Kwei Armah

Chapter I

The Cultural Structuring

of Thought
Archaic European Epistemology:
Substitution of Object for Symbol
The African world-view, and the world-views of other people
who are not of European origin, all appear to have certain themes in
common. The universe to which they relate is sacred in origin, is
organic, and is a true "cosmos." Human beings are part of the cosmos,
and, as such, relate intimately with other cosmic beings. Knowledge
of the universe comes through relationship with it and through per-
ception of spirit in matter. The universe is one; spheres are joined
because of a single unifying force that pervades all being. Meaningful
reality issues from this force. These world-views are "reasonable"
hut not rationalistic: complex yet lived. They tend to be expressed
t I1rough a logic of metaphor and complex symbolism.
Rob the universe of its richness, deny the significance of the
symbolic, simplify phenomena until it becomes mere object, and you
1t.1ve a knowable quantity. Here begins and ends the European epis-
l P111ological mode. What happened within embryonic Europe that to c>ventually generate such a radically different world-view?
WI1at part did Platonic thought play in this process? Whether or not
all of Western philosopl1y Is "but a footnote to Plato," certainly his
lnllt11 ·11rc 011 the Europt•a11 slyl<' o( sp eculative thought and ultimately
1m t 111' 11tw11mo" w" t 1w ~1·111'1 al 1m•111lscs attct assumptions of the cul-
t 1111 )1,1" l>1 •1·n l11111111l11tlv1· .11111 s1•111lt1:1l Any cl tsc11ssl11n of th<' ui\lure

30 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought JI

and origin of European epistemology must focus on, if not begin, wi~h The Greek word psyche indicates an understanding of an autonomo us
Plato. This is not to say that he was not influenced by the pre-Socratic self distinct from everything surrounding that self. The primary func-
African philosophies that preceeded him. 1 But what Plato seems to tion of this self becomes the "knowing" and "thinking" of scientific
have done is to have laid a rigorously constructed foundation for the act ivity, which is no longer connected to "intuiting." According to
repudiation of the symbolic sense-the denial of cosmic, intuitive the Platonic view the highest endeavor is philosophy, and therefore
knowledge. It is this process that we need to trace, this development the most valuable person is the philosopher, the lover/ seeker of
in formative European thought which was eventually to have had "truth," the one who "thinks" best. Other functions and human activ-
such a devastating effect on the nontechnical aspects of the culture. ities are devalued. This new self becomes fiercely isolated from its
It led to the materialization of the universe as conceived by the environment. Why autonomous, distinct, and isolated? Because this
European mind-a materialization that complemented and supported "thinking being," if it is to be capable of scientific cognition, must be ,
the intense psycho-cultural need for control of the self and others. most of all, independent.
Contrary to our image of the philosopher as being otherworldly In Eric Havelock's analysis (developed obviously from within
and remote, even irrelevant (Aristophanes, The Clouds), Plato the confines of the European world-view) the dominant mode in pre-
appears to have been very much aware of himself as a social and ide- Platonic Greece was the poetic, exemplified by the epic of which
ological architect. His success was eventually overwhelming. The Homer's writing is so representative. The success and appeal of
power of his ideas is evidenced by the way in which they have con- l lomer's epics depended on the identification of the audience with the
tributed to the growth and persistence of a new order. This is pre- characters and plot. His works were memorized and recited, and they
cisely the power of the Euro-Caucasian order: its ability to sustain and rested on the strength of oral expression. When successfully drama-
perpetuate itself. Plato's innovations were ultimately incorporated tized they evoked emotional response from an audience that felt itself
into the culture because they were demanded by the asili. to be personally involved with the.subject matter. This, according to
The dialogue the Republic is Plat o's ideological justification of I lavelock, was an "unsophisticated," nontechnological mode that
the State he wishes to bring into being. What we witness in the dia- would prevent the development of a "reflective, critical" psyche. "The
logue can be viewed epistemologically as the creation of the object. doctrine of the autonomous psyche is the counterpart of the rejec-
In previous and disparate world-views, we see a knowing subject inti- t Ion of the oral culture ." 2 In his view Plato was the visionary, mainly
mately involved in the surrounding universe. The acquisition of l t>sponsible for the transition from the Homeric, oral mode to the lit-
knowledge involving immersion in this universe until, through sym- "rate, critical mode. The "old" poetic represented the "habit of self-
pathetic participation , meaning is revealed, expressed, and under- ltl cntification with the oral traditions." It represented emotional
stood via complex and multidimensional symbols. But in the "new" lut cr relationship. ln other words the success of the poetic mode rests
epistemology we exchange symbols for "objects." The creation of the wi th the ability to forge the world into a phenomenal universe, an
object requires a transformation of the universe, no longer experi- 1•xpcrienced reality. Within this context the self is dependent on its
enced but rather, "objectified." This transformation is achieved Px periences. The crux of the matter for Havelock and Plato is that this
through a changed relationship of the knower to the known. In the 1lt •pen<lence lodges us hopelessly in the concrete, unable to break
Republic, Plato performs this feat: a psycho-intellectual maneuver by 1110:;<:' from each instance reaching beyond to an abstract statement.
which the subject is able to separate her/himself from the known. I l.1velock says that Plato was arguing for "the invention of an abstract
This separation is at o nce the key that opens the way to "knowledge" l.111gl1age of descriptive science to replace a concrete language of oral
as conceived by the European and the key that locks the doo r to the 111t•111o ry.":1 ·
possibilities of the apprehension of a spiritual universe . Accord ing to lhe new epistemology, in order to be capable of
Two things occur, one effecting the other. First , th<' psyche • 1It l<'a l I bought, we must be independent from that which we wish to
11nc\Ngoes a I ransfo rmation: Slowly the " self" ts 1wrretvecl diffc n:11tly I< 1111w'. 11nl11volvcd, clc:taC'ht cl , r<>mot c. Clearly, what this allows for is
(10111 lwfnrP; tl1 t •ll, llw un l"'.:<' rse ln wltlch lll<ll ~wl! rl'lillt·s ls JWf<'t•ivcd • 1111tw l First, w<· ilt'lill·vt· c·nnl rol of the self, the sc•lf no longer able to
di111·1 I•11 t Iv I)I'!'. ll llW 1l1t• 11 1'1' of t ht. r1 ·l. d lon·•hlp h 1'1 1.11 l).(l 'Ci. Tl H' s •lr
I 1... 111.111tp1t1.111·d liy II<. 1·011I PK t \11 f11r1, It 1s <l :wlf with o ut cont ext
I , l tt l l11111{t 't ,, 1·11•11i1li Ill l11Jl, l1111 l1 •11d It l>1 •1·1111 11•i "1111' t l 1l11 h lr1 1{ t,1d 1j1•1 t " (with I 1 111 t\ It h 111 1 I 1·t 111:1 111 1d \l's II 11 '1t ' ii wll I 1rn 1t 11 11·,11ii11µ, , n " 111 1 11 ~w lr")
32 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 33

This idea of control is facilitated by first separating the human being was the realization of the cultural asili. Plato had layed an elaborate
into distinct compartments ("principles"). Plato distinguishes the trap. Once the "person" was artificially split into conflicting faculties
compartments of "reason" and "appetite" or "emotion." Reason is a or tendencies, it made sense to think in terms of one faculty "winning"
higher principle or function of woman/man, while appetite is "more or controlling the ot her(s). And here begins a pattern that runs with
base." They are in opposition to one another and help to constitute, frighteningly predictable consistency through European thought,
what has become one of the most problematical dichotomies in continually gathering momentum for ages to come. The mind is
European thought and behavior. This opposition results in the split- trained from birth to think in terms of dichotomies or "splits."6 The
ting of the human being. No longer whole, we later become Descartes' splits become irreconcilable, antagonistic opposites. Holistic con-
"mind vs. body." The superiority of the intellect over the emotional ce ptions beco me almost imposs ible given t his mindset. First the
self is established as spirit is separated from matter. Even the term d ichotomy is presented, then the process of valuation occurs in
"spirit" takes on a cerebral, intellectualist interpretation in the which one term is valued and the other is devalued. One is consid-
Western tradition (Hegel). 4 ered "good," positive, superior; the other is considered "bad ," nega-
As we understand it, Plato's "reason" is the denial of spirit. tive, inferior. And, unlike the Eastern (Zen) conception of the Yin and
Reason functions to control the more "base appetites" and "instincts." the Yang o r the African principle of "twinness" (Carruthers refers to
The European view of the human begins to take shape here. It is a this as "appositional complementarity"7) these contrasting terms are
view that was to grow more dominant through centuries of European not conceived as complementary and necessary parts of a whole.
development and that was to become more and more oppressive in They are, instead, conflicting and "threatening" to one another.
contemporary Western European society, where there is no alterna- The process of dichotimization in the European utama wazo is of
tive view offered. For Plato, s elf-mastery, like justice in the State, is ~reat s ignificance, for it is this dichotomized perception of reality on
achieved when reason controls: which the controlling presence (imperialistic behavior) depends. The
11111maroh o, which needs to control, is dependent on the antagonistic
.. . in the human soul there is a better and also a worse principle; oppositions presented by the cognitive style (utamawazo) of the cul-
and when the better has the worse under control, then a man is said tural myth (mythoform). Realities are split, then evaluated, so that
to be master of himself; and this is a term of praise; but when owing 011e part is "better," which mandates its controlling function. This , we
to evil education or association, the better principle, which is also
the smaller, is overwhelmed by the greater mass of the worse-in will see, is a pattern throughout Platonic thought. Moreover, it is a
this case he is blamed and is called the slave of self and unprincipled pattern that develops consistently as a continuing characteristic of
. . . look at our newly created State, and there you will find one of I lie European utamawaz o grounded in the nature of the originating
these two conditions realized; for the words "temperance" and "self- 11siti. Robert Armstrong says it this way,
mastery" truly express the rule of the better over the worse . . . the
manifold and complex pleasures and desires and pains are generally L>ualities abound, constituting our civilization. Our religio n is
found in children and women and servants, and in the freemen so premised upon good and evil, and indeed could not exist were it not
called who are the lowest and more numerous class . . . . Whereas for the presence of evil which endows it with meaning and efficacy.
the simple and moderate desires which follow reason, and are under We <1nalyze the unitive work of art into form and content; and we
the guidance of mind and true opinion, are to be found only in a few cons truct a logic based upon right and wrong. Our languages are of
and those the best born and best educated .. . . These two . .. have suhject and object . . . Our science is one of the probable versus the
a place in our State; and the meaner desires of the many are held hnprol'.> a ble, the workable as opposed to the unworkable, matter
down by the virtuous desires and wisdom of the few.5 111 1d a11t i-man er... all revealing inore of the nature of the scientist's
111 lnd than of the <lCt11al nature of the physical universe.8
Dichot omization and The Notion Of Harmony
111 1·m 1t ll111cs,

The Platon ic view sacr iUct•s ll w wl10lc•1w stt nl pr•1s(l 11liood in

order to Sl'l ll1<' ~ I age• 011 wI 1"1<-h 1Iw L•pls t L'"" 1l11Hk11 I f111111d. it 11111·, ol ti 11 • W1 · :lt'I' 1111• w111 ld 1l:1 d1·lk 11I •ly c 1111stlt11lt'!I o l l>olh t<·rms in an i11 1l-
f·'.111 op1«111 vh•w wll l~ 11 · pl.1y1•d out ( '11~!11 l dv 1 • tyh·'t w1 •11· lwt11g 111old1•d 1tlt1• •1 ys 11·11 111I 1·1111t r11·11l111i 1111f1•11 111H I llo11ml t111-11·t lwr hy ll11· t1•w;lo11
111 .it l1•n:11 11111!1 lp1\\1·d 11 11'. ' 11dlll 1 .tl tuu •.11tt1•d .111 11/t 11111111111 ii tll.11 ll 111t 1 xh l'l l11•l w1•1•11 11 11'111 . 'l'n Ill' :•1111· 11111• l1 •1111l111 ·111·ll1 t1 ~1 · H, lly
34 YURUCU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 35

definition, of greater value than its opposite . .. perceive the universe in terms of "self" as opposed to "other,"14 and
the ideological significance of that distinction and the implied rela-
In large measure then, the myth of the consciousness of western tionship between those two beings is the point at issue.
Europe is the myth of bi-polar oppositions.9 As duBois points out, the "Greek male human" defined himself
very much in terms of opposition to what he was "not"-"barbarian
Armstrong foreshadows a basic premise of this study as he female animal." This brings us closer to the origin of a nascent
relates this polarizing tendency to the structure of the Euro-American "European" consciousness. She asserts that, "The Greek male strug-
state, its religious ideas, and its international posture. gled against imaginary barbarism, bestiality and effeminization." 15 In
her view the opposition between self and other did not always imply
It is not inevitable that there should inexorably be a division of t he
world into friend and foe with the result that the history of foreign s uperior/inferior relationship. But certainly the Greek/male/human
policy in recent years at least is more accurately to be character- thought it was better to be that (superior, i.e., Greek/male/human).
ized in terms of our determination to identify and to perpetuate And this perceived separation gave Plato, then Aristotle, the polar-
enemies than to create)riends. 10 izing mechanism with which to work. It was already present in the
(jreek consciousness, a consciousness resting on an utamaroho that
We have already completed the circle, for it is possible to trace had a predilection for postures of superiority and dominance. Polarity
this tendency of conceptualization and behavior from classical was necessary for the hierarchy that followed. DuBois refers to the
Greece. The theme is confrontation. The mode is control. Page duBois hie rarchical structures as a "new ordering" based on a "new logic,''
refers to this as the "polarizing vision" based on "confrontation one that establishes the "Great Chain of Being" based on "relation-
between opposites," which she identifies as being adumbrated in the s hips of superiority and subordination."15 But Platonic conceptions
art and architectural style of the "metopes" of Athens. In duBois' n·present a formalized ideological statement of hierarchical thought,
analysis, Greek thought about "difference" (barbarian/Greek; the terms of which were already present in the Greek mind . We agree
female/male) was analogical and became hierarchical as a response 1111 the significance of these formulations, however. "Hierarchical
to political crisis following the Peloponnesian War. 11 Ideas of difference formulated by Plato and Aristotle continue to
The thrust of her study (Centaurs and Amazons) is significant in define relations of dominance and submission in Western culture and
this discussion for two reasons: (1) because of its recognition of the 111 philosophical discourse today."16
ideological significance of the style of Greek speculative thought and This brings us to yet another related and salient feature of the
(2) because it affirms our recognition of those cognitive characteris- l·'.11ropean utamawazo. It does not generate a genuine conception of
tics that distinguish the developing European utamawazo from pre- llilnuony. An authentic idea of harmony cannot be explained or
viously established traditions. 11nderstood in this world-view. "Harmony" is mistakenly projected
When is it, in Greek thought, that "appositional" relationships .1s rational order, an order based on the mechanism of control. What
become "opposites?" When does it become necessary to perceive l'lato recognizes as "harmony" is achieved when the "positive" term
pairs as being in polar opposition and exclusive, rather than as com- 111 th e d icho tomy controls (or destroys) the "negative" term/phe-
plementary and diunital?12 This may be the point of o rigin of the 11nn1e11on/entity: when reason controls emotion, both in the person
European consciousness. 1 suspect that the need occurs at a much ,111d in the state. (In the African and Eastern conceptions, harmony is
earlier point in the archaic "European" experience. Classical Greece ,11•l1it'vcd through the balance of complementary forces, and it is
was merely an important phase of standardization. It had inherited a ludc·<·d impossible lo have a func tioning whole without harmonious
particular asili, already carrying the cultural genes. 11111-1ractio11 and the existence of balancing pairs.)
DuBois believes that the s hift from polarity to hie rnrcl 1y corre- /\ lhC'C>ry of thr univc rsr, a theory of the state, and a theory of
sponded to "the s hift fr0111 the d1·111oc ratlt city or 1111· fifth <'<'ntu ry to 1111111:11 1 na lurt• llrl' iinplied in r talonic rpistcmology. 17 Justice, or the
;11)1't1od IH tlw fourth 1·t·11trn.y of q11t·~ti1111h1!{tlw1J11/I,\ ,,.,, .1 Imm " 1•1'1 '1lp 1;11od, Is .1clllt•vpc( wl11·11 tlw "lws1" crn1lrnls llw "worst.'' The universe
11rlHl11·. ol llw 111111,tl .plllt111g 11 •11tl1·111 v lhl'l l 111 ll11p111t111111111111 " I 111dt'11 ·cl tlt111111!lt •,11l Ii c·o111111l. l11 tl11• Sl .1\1•, lhl' "ltiglwsl" co11t rol llw
• l11dv, ll11w1 vcit, l w!·.111• 1 II 11111v 111 11• •tlh1 •1"11.11111.11 " 11111 111dv1 •1.• di !11 l11wP1. t "'1'111 pi 1•,1 111 1-. 1·11w.l.1111lv .11 w.11 wll l1l 11 lil111l->"lf .11l<I Is 110!
36 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 37

properly human until his reason controls his emotion, i.e., men were ideological statement with political implications. His c reation was to
to control women. The political implications of this consistent and become a determinant and support-a foundation and an inspira-
unified theory are not difficult to extrapolate. Plato has already tion-for the dominance, intens ification, and valorization o f one ten-
described what for Europe becomes the "Ideal State," one in which dency in European behavior to the detriment of other inclinations.
the human being who has gained control of himself in turn controls The need to control and to have power over others ascended to a
those who haven't (women, of course, were perceived as not having A position of priority. It became an obsession, always st ruggling to
the necessary control). It would follow that the universe is then put negate whatever humanism existed in the culture, because of the asili.
in order by the nation o f people who are "higher" (controlled by rea- The universe presents itself naturally as cosmos , as "subject" to
son). It is also significant that Plato indicates that the "higher" ten- which we are linked as "subjects"; ancient African cultures viewed the
dencies will always be "less" in number a nd the "lower" of greater world so, and the early Greeks inherited this view. According t o
mass. This rationalizes an ideology of control by the few within the I lavelock, Homer's success rested on the identification of the reader
State and world dominance by a small racial minority. 18 If indeed this or listener with the subject matter of his epic. 19 The human being of
splitting of the person is artificial, inaccurate, and undesirable-if these ancient civilizations was a cosmic being (and remains so for
indeed emotion is an inseparable part of the intellect and of human I ha t matter in the contemporary African world-view). Plato wanted to
consciousness-the n this new epist emology ("mental habit") can be c hange all that . He was proposing a "revolution" in thought. This
interpreted as a justification of what was to be manifested as "re volution" was necessary in order to satisfy the European uta-
European racism, nationalism, and imperialism. The group that has maroho. Perhaps he should have said, Let us pretend that the uni-
the power to enforce its definition of "reason" so that it becomes the vc-rse is not subject, but object; that we are not a part of it; but
most "reasonable," consequently has a mandate to control those separated from it; and let us do this solely for the purpose of exper-
whose reasoning abilities are judged to be less (and so there is a l111e ntation, in order to see what implications such a conception might
need to "measure" intellectual a bility: enter I.Q. mythology). l1ave. But he didn't say let's pretend. Rather, he said authorita tively
On the level of epistemology we have seen that this splitting of I ha t in o rder to "know" we must be dealing with "objects." The way
the human being facilitates the achievement of that supreme mental lllat we create "objects" is by totally detaching ourselves from what
state (of being) that in European culture has come to be identified II Is we wish to know. By eliminating or gaining control of o ur emo-
with the ability t o think, at least to think rationally. Unless the intel- 1Ions we can become aware of ourselves as thinking subjects, d is-
lect is separated from the emotions, it is not possible to talk about 1li tel from the contemplated object. Through this separation, this
them distinctly, to concentrate on gaining knowledge by controlling 11·moteness, this denial of cosmic relationship, we achieve "objecti-
or eliminating the emotional relationship to a given situation, thing, 11< iltio n." That is a necessary achievement if we are to be ca pable of
or person. l'ic•11tific cognition. To think properly about an object, to gain knowl-
"dgc o f (maste ry over) an object, we must control it. We can only do
Reification Of The Object: 1lils i[ we are emotionally detached from it. And we gain t his emo-
1l"nal distance from the "object" by first and foremost gaining con-
Devaluation Of The Senses
11n l owr ourselves; that is , by placing our reason (intellect) in control
In establishing this new epistemological mode, Plato used his 111 our e motions (feelings) .
imagination: He created a reality. Hypothesis became theory. He V(~rnon Dixon discusses a "d es cendant" episte mological view
demonstrated brilliance, perception, and vision. He must have known 1•11·illy rt'cognizable as Platonic in definition.
what he wanted the future to look like, ta king into conside ration the
political and ideological need s of his society. But· when theory thal 111 l hl• E11ro-A111<•rica11 wor ld view, there is a separation betwe~n the
o riginates in imagination becomes more Ihan a us<'ftil c pistc mologic-al 111 1• ~l·ll n11d Ilie nonsC'lf (p he no me nal world). Through this p rocess
to ol for s p<'citic tas k!' assod :\l l'<I with s c:lc>11Llfic 111ws 1iga1lo11 , It rn11 111 ..... pi1 1alln1J llw plw1w11w11nl wnrlcl beco11ws an Object, an "it." By
IH•<'OJl l( ' d a 11 ~t· 1 011s, ht.:l'1111sl ' It 1• 111 h1ch·1·tl ol1t11srnl 1• lt w n •.1!1ty ii l-; I >I111•1·1, I 1111 •,111 1I1t• Int 11111 y nt pl 1e·11o nwn;i rnnrclvf'd as constituting
.1t11 •111pl l11 1-{ l o d .u llv n1HI d\•. trn t tlw 1118.illl 111 It I•: 1ft1 111pll11 J.( t1 11w1 ll 11• 110 1p11•1f, 11i.1t l'l, .1111111· pl11 ·1101111 •1w 11ta1 .111· lltt· a 11tlthl~Sis nf sub-
1• 1 I, r•un. 111 .,,.11c1111 •11 lu11 111•11:. T i ii' pl 11·111111 11•11rll world hi'( 011ws
lt•1 I l'l,1t11'11 lll1•0ty n l ~11 nw l 1 d i(• 1111 .11111 • 1v1• 11!11.1ll y t«'llwd t11fo .11 1
38 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 39

an entity considered as totally independent of the self rather than extol their virtues and therefore Plato's contribution to European
as affected by one's feelings or reflections. Reality becomes that thought. Havelock is convinced of the correctness and appropriate-
which is set before the mind to be apprehended, whether it be things ness of Platonic epistemology just as he is convinced of the superi-
external in space or conceptions formed by the mind itse!f. 20 ority of the "Platonic Man" in relation to the "Pre-Platonic" or
"Homeric Man." We will see that Havelock is talking about a supposed
The key is "control." Clearly, reason is positive, valued, "higher"; superiority, a mental, even moral superiority. This is assumed just as
emotions are negative, devalued, "more base"-because they have a the superiority of European civilization is assumed because of the
tendency to control us. Such control is an indication of powerless- ' overwhelming success of European scientific-technological pursuits.
ness. To understand the self as a cosmic being is to be powerless. It For Havelock, as well as for Plato, the cave or the world of the
is politically unwise and undesirable; it is morally reprehensible. senses is presented as a world of illusion. But this implies that Plato's
Better people are "more reasonable," less emotional. This is what t 1ieory of ideas and objectification allows one to escape to reality. Yet
Plato implied. This is the essence of his "authoritative utterance." t H~ither raises the question of the illusion of "objectivity," the illusion
And what he said was prophetic, nay prescriptive, for those who were of control. This illusion has indeed facilitated the "real" growth of the
"emotional" (spiritual) indeed were to be rendered powerless. <;<·i entific-technological order and the ascendance of the European
world, but that should not allow us to mistake it for the only "reality."
Here then is the concept of an "object," fiercely isolated from time, In one sense the history of European thought has been based on the
place and circumstance, and translated linguistically into an
11sc of metaphor as literal description. It is as though with Plato, the
abstraction and then put forward as the goal of a prolonged intel-
lectual investigation.2 1 l1111itations of the written "word" were forgotten; the complexity of the
· v111bolic mode was abandoned for the simplicity of unidimensional-
The above is Eric Havelock's description of the process of objec- 11 y, The symbol became the object. And this manipulation paid off. It
tification. In his view this separation of the self from the remembered enhanced the ability to have power over others.22
word introduced a new cognitive mode and allowed the Greeks to Superiority of the Platonic epistemology is aided by dichotomies
"gain control" over the object and thereby, so we are told, eventually t I1.1 I hecome grounds for invidious comparisons, further justification
to "escape from the cave." Or at least their leaders (the philosophers) lilt C'Ontrol mechanisms. The contrast of "knowledge" and "opinion"
escaped and the descendants of the philosopher kings (Europeans). l11 •comes another such dichotomy for Plato. Once it is established as
h •.tatement of value it is used by Europeans to devalue alternative
It is very important that we place this process in proper historical
context. The "European" had not yet "developed," but Plato had • pl•• temologies, modes of cognition, world-views, therefore cultures,
11111 Pvcn "religions," as we shall discuss in subsequent chapters.
helped to construct a yardstick by which the "true European" would
be measured. The vicious and violent internecine war against the 1lavelock accuses the Homeric poets of only being able to deal
"barbaric" tendencies in archaic Europe would go on into the wlt l1 "opinion." The term "accusation" seems appropriate because it
eleventh century (and of course beyond, on a lesser scale, but none I d1·1·inecl "lowly" and "unfit," even immoral for rational man to func-
the less vigilant). This was a war to ensure a particular world-view, 11i 111 ht this way. The Homeric poets were, according to Havelock,
which, as we shall see, was complemented by the institutionalized v1 ltt11i.: prior to the great Platonic Revolution that taught people (only
manifestation of religion identified with European culture. II 11 '•II prrior ones) how to think. In the Platonic state of mind one is
It is a testament to Plato's success that Havelock speaks for the 'I' 1lppt•cl to deal with "knowledge." Why? Because the mind in this
contemporary European academician in his unquestioning praise of l hlt ltt1s separated itself from "the object." Much of Plato's argu-
1111 11t c1•nters on this object. It is in one sense the nature of the object
Plato's work. Approximately 2500 years after his concepts were> intro-
duced as "new" to the Greeks aud as "radical" and "rt>volutiunary," ih11t d1 •tt·n11i11es the val idity and truth of statements made about it.
they arc still part of tllC' "takC'n-for-grantccl," 1u1d1•rlyl11g, pn·supposl- 1111 11· 111'1' "proper'' objt'C'ls of knowledge, and then there are those
tJon.d fo1md:\tln11 of l·'. uropc;111 sdwla1 ly thrn1µllt a11d 11f llH' <'u!{nttlvP 111,11 1111• "h11pn11wr" or inad1·q11atC'.
.1•.p1·1·h l//(111111111111 .P) 111 llu• 1•111t11r1• 11~ .1 wt111l1· Wl1il1· l't.llo l111tl to A 11·t.111•d di< l1ot11111y rnt whlrli Plato's mg11rnp11l clepen<ls is that
111~111 fqt lh1 v.dh111 y 111 1111"11 101111 pU•. 11.1v1•J111 I 1 ,111 11111 11.ll1·,dly 111 lw1•1•11 ' p1 •11 <'pll1111'' .111d " lrnnwlc-dH(\" wl11•11• p1·n·t•ptlo11 fairs about
40 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 41

as well as mere opinion. In the Theatetus Socrates argues that per- he argued for not only discredited other epistemologies, it estab-
ception is of the body in which exist the senses. The senses are like lished a hierarchy in which certain kinds of people (the overwhelm-
"instruments"; the sense organs must necessarily "specialize," as it ing majority) were inferior. His arguments were ultimately effective.
were. Socrates says that one.cannot "hear" through the eyes, nor i;hey succeeded in influencing centuries of subsequent European
"see" through the ears, and so on. He makes much of the fact that the development, as other form idable European minds joined his ranks.
appropriate preposition is "through" and not "with" when we are As such, his ideas helped to reveal the asili of European culture.
dealing with the "body" and with perception. 23 What Socrates gets Page duBois' perspective renders a very different view of
Theatetus to agree to is that things that the body perceives are "sep- Plato's revolutionary alteration of the Greek literary mode from
arate," and that it is only the "mind" that can relate these things, can poetic analogy to the more precise language of discourse, different
compare them, can say whether they exist or don't exist. According from that of Havelock. This change served the purpose of preparing
to Socrates we perceive "through" the senses (body), while we reflect minds to accept a new state order; a radically altered internal struc-
or know "with" the mind. Theatetus, like Protagorus and o ther ture. duBois says,
Sophists, had argued that perception was knowledge . Socrates
"proves" that it is the mind that "unites" our ideas about the objects Once Plato's project of diaeresis, of division and categorization,
we sense. We "think" with our minds. was explicitly acknowledged, the focus of discourse shifted away
Again the genius of Plato: Another characteristic dichotomy- from reasoning through analogy, from the Greek/barbarian dis-
an architectonic one, culminating in the infamous Cogito, ergo sum tinction, to internal divisions, towards hierarchization which ratio-
nalized differences inside the troubled city. Plato denied the utility
of Descartes about twelve centuries later-is born as "mind" is sep- of the Greek/barbarian polarity, turned his attention to male/ female
arated from "body." The "splits" that we have mentioned are worked difference, but concentrated finally on reasoning based on subor-
out in such a way that they deny and prevent interrelationship. They dination and dorninance. 25
do this on a cognitive level, a semantic level , and through the "logic"
on which they are based. The splits then move to the level of culture, It is as Havelock suggests, a new mode for the development of a
world-view, and belief. They begin to effect experience, because 11 ew consciousness . But while for Havelock this represented an
although they may not be accurate, they limit people's ability to expe- 1111questioned "good" and the creation of the "critical" mind, for
rience the universe as an integrated whole. It is the essence of "tra- duBois the move to discourse from the poetry and more poetic prose
ditional" medicine that the person be considered as a whole being. ol the fifth century was made necessary by the elaborated, detailed
Richard King argues that in the African conception, not merely the /l)gos, language appropriate for articulating new relationships. She
"brain," but the entire body is the human "computer." In that sense, ·.ays of the Platonic view,
we also "think" with o ur sense organs, which perhaps helps to explain
"genius" on the basketball court. 24 Every logos-that is, every argument, every rationalization, every
Evidently, Plato did not anticipate problems resulting from such discourse-should be subject to the same type of subordination
artificial separations as the mind/body dichotomy. His concern was and hierarchy, as well as organic connection, as the body described
with providing an edifice of "logic" that could be used at once as an at its moment of creation in the Timaeus. 26
unquestioned foundation of "truth" and to discredit other views. This
was necessary because the other views were seen as being "com- lt1 other words, the structure of Platonic discourse itself forced
petitive," since they could lead to divergent forms of social organi- f hose who used it to accept a particular concept of social order.
zatio n. Plato was concerned solely with the intellectual hahits and 1\1 llllt111t! In the very syntax of our speech as we learn the English lan-
behavior of those who would be participating in the new soci<'ty. I le p11. 1 ~P , the jus tification of our "inferiority" is embedded, and, what is
docs not st•cm to have been com·<-' med wit 11 th e q11alit y nf llw lr llves. 111111 t• , Ill<' accept llrat fact ris we "master " the language. (And it is not
.ic 1 lrl <·11t1\I , !-{ivc:11 tlw 11nt11rc of Eu ro pean cultural history, that the
'l'IH'rt' lllld tn h<' a s t ;111tlarc~ for llw d< •fi11ltlrn1 uf ll lltll. '1'11<.• Snplll ~ t s
w 1•11 • ,1 l1t •11w 111l1111" tli11 ·11 t wltlt 1111'11 1lljllltt11·11h IJ1.1t 111 w 1wtl 1111• Wo lY w 111d11111st1·r, wl1lrl1 d1·sl g ll t•h'~ t Il e 111al<• 1-{emkr, n1ca11s "to gain con-
111 ,11111111 11l 1« l11tl vHy 1'1 41(1111,ul t o 1 :t.111l h l1 cl11~ 111o1 Tilt' d1111 111 ~ 1 tli;1t 1111l 11v1• 1 " ) lt1tl<'l'cl tltl•· .111 ;'1y:;l•. 11f Jllat1111i l' Llinught ls not nw re ly n 11
11 .11l1 ·11il< 1 xc• tc lkf' It lw lp" l111•xpw11· 1111' upp11"•~l v1• ;1 111( 11 •p1t•<;•,IVP
42 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 43

forms within European and Euro-American culture that shackle We are witnessing the uniquely European phenomenon: the
Africans, other "non-Europeans," and to a lesser extent, women. Why process by which epistemology becomes ideology. Jurgen Habermas
is it that speech in European-derived s ocieties is the mark of status seems to be arguing that this is a universal historical process by
in the culture? And why is it that African people in America and the which one world-view s upercedes and devalues
Caribbean have maintained such distinct language styles? Here we Plato sought to construct a world made up totally of conceptual
have the intuitive resistance to a change in consciousness. The cre- reality. In this world there was little room for sense perceptions. They
ation of African-influenced languages in circumstances of oppression occupied a very inferior position. He wanted the citizen to become
can be understood as a force that insists on the maintenance of an more and more acculturated to this conceptual reality. Doing so
ancestral world-view. meant that the citizen's senses were trusted less and less until 1

European culture ended up at one end of the spectrum of which Africa

But this , I think, is what you would affirm, at least, that every dis- might be at the other. Europeans are not trained to use their senses
course (Logos) should be constituted like a living being, having its nor to be "perceptive" (in so far as that is taken by them to mean "non
own body (Soma), so as to be neither headless nor footless, but hav-
ing a middle as well as extremities, which have been written so as intellectual"), whereas Africans relate to the universe using sense
to be appropriate to each other and to the whol e.27 perceptions as highly developed tools-media, if you will-that are
a valued part of the human intellectual apparatus.31
DuBois says that Phaedrus' discourse "moves from head to foot, Sensations, says Socrates, are given at birth. Not only that, but
from the middle to the extremities and returns finally to the whole. they are given to .animals as well as men. And they are natural. All of
The form of the argument exemplifies the patterns of subordination which functions to devalue the senses and sense perception in the
and control which it defends." 28 DuBois perceives the almost fanati- European world-view. A very strong theme in European moral and
cal consistency and thoroughness in Plato's attack on the traditional political philosophy is the idea that human beings are superior to
social reality. Every thrust is part of a directed methodology that other animals and that they must protect that superiority in order to
seeks to guarantee the nature of its result. be truly "human." Knowledge in the Platonic view is long and slow in
This is, indeed, the genesis of Western scientific thought; not of coming. One has to work for it. Is it "natural" to human beings? In a
science itself. Plato set the mold, neither for a critical method, nor for sense it is only cultural. The senses are afterall only instruments, and
authentic critical thought with which Europeans proudly identify what causes perception to be inferior to knowledge is the nature of
themselves, but for a method of thinking, discourse, argumentation, its "object," (the all-important concept of the "object.") The objects
and organization that would guarantee social control by people (men) of perceptio n do not have the true reality that the objects of knowl-
like himself. His genius was in understanding that to do this sucess- edge must possess. 32
fully he had to influence the style of thought, language, and behavior The senses, perceptions (what is natural to the human) function
of all human beings, i.e., t heir total experience. As we learn to think only in the world of appearances and therefore are below the line that
"Platonically," we are convinced that that is the only correct way to separates "adults" from "children" in Platonic thought. Our senses
think. The mode of the academy is s till at the base of social control. can only tell us how things "seem" to be. True knowledge, on the
Gregory Vlastos remarks of Plato, o ther hand, relates to the "real world" of "ideas." We are then above
tile line and are doing important things. Anyone can do what is nat-
... his views about slavery, state, man and the world, all illustrate 11ral and stumble around the cave in darkness. Light and dark are
a single hierarchic pattern; and ... the key to the pattern is in his two sides of this value dichotomy, irreconcilable opposing forces.
idea of logos with all the implications of a dualist episl t•molo~y. Th<' Since ltght becomes the metaphcv for truth. The mind, it seems, exists
slave lacks logos: so docs llw multitude in the s1al e, lht' body in the twltind Lhe organs through which we perceive. And only the mind is
1r1an, ,md mat erial tlt'C~~ssity i11tlw11nivcnw . C>tdt•t is impos vcl <'Hpable or making judg •mcnts. Sensing is easy and immediate.
011 tl 11•m !Jy a 1>1·111•voll'11t s1qwrllir: u1m; l\ 't', ~11.11dl.111 , 11111111 , d1 •111i K1111wlt:d~.W ct111ws only 1111011gh difficult r<" flection- part of a "long
111 u c tlw c u 11111 11111 ll ll1• l1 ~ .111tli111lty h ll11 • pr1•,.,t•111"1l1111 ul luJ!u.~. lt1 .111<1tm11hlt'so111«11111e·1·s s of 1•tl11c a tl w 1 " °l'I
1111Ii1111l11lt'llc ·c111.1111lt111111, •, l,1vc ·1y h 1 • •11111.11 111111•1111 I l1 ,11 11111t1y
1\111 wh y w.1s It •1n li11p<11 l.11tl Ill dt •l1t1:; .. !ht• •il'll SI':: In tl1i s w.1y'1'
w lll111111 •'1 1111l1111 1•111l11 111I llw 1111 11111 1111111 w111 Id .111cl 11f 1111111 , " 1 •
44 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 45

Why did Plato so persistently and unrelentingly drive home the def- this way. That makes historical sense, since Greece developed out of
inition and confines of this epistemological mode? It was an episte- its cultural and intellectual association with early African traditions.
mology that implied a social, ethical, and even political theory. Plato's The African and Native American world-views have similar cos-
epistemology did indeed eventually become the foundation for a form mic concepts. Their intellectual traditions and thought-systems rest
of social organization that would facilitate domination of the many by on the assumption of cosmic interrelationship. These conceptions
the few. It helped to create a world-view. The epistemology took on form a basis of communal relationships as well as a sympathetic rela-
ideological implications in Plato's presentation and his commitment tionship with the natural environment. How would such a conception
to its assumptions. His dialogues were ammunition for the prosely- of the human being interfere with the ground rules of Platonic epis-
tizers who would follow until the assumptions of his epistemology temology? Why was it essential that he cast doubt on the validity of
became the assumptions of a cultural tradition. These epistemologi- such conceptions? A cosmic being must be whole. In such a being rea-
cal assumptions translated into an ideological statement in the civi- son and emotion cannot be experienced as disparate, unconnected,
lization that would claim them as tradition. and antagonistic. A cosmic self cannot objectify the universe. The more
"intelligent" s uch a self becomes, the more it understands language
That which is apprehended by intelligence and reason is always in as merely metaphor. This idea is common to the thought-systems
the same state; but that which is conceived by opinion with the help mentioned. The highest, most profound truths cannot be verbalized,
of sensation and without reason is always in a process of becom- and one reaches for the dimension beyond the profane word where
ing and perishing and never really is. 34 the meaning of the symbols becomes clear. But for Plato the "cosmic
self" is incapable of knowing; it can only perceive, sense, intuit, and
Friedrich Juenger says "being" is good, valued, and intelligent.
have "opinions." (The ascendancy of the so-called "left-brain.")
"Becoming" is devalued , inferior, irrational. In Plato's ideology,
Plato establishes instead the "autonomous, thinking self."
"Reason establishes itself as a bsolute, dominates all other modes of
According to Havelock, this "self" or "psyche" is a thing or entity
apprehension, understanding . ... It refuses to admit of any concepts
1·apable of not only scientific cognition, but of moral decision. 36 Plato
not established by itself. . . . All non-intellectual concepts are held to
not only put forth the idea of the "thinking self"-an idea which must
be unreasonable, and are discarded."35 In this statement, Friedrich
llnve predated him-but he simultaneously discarded other aspects
Juenger points to the ideological, absolute and uncompromising
of our "human" beingness as invalid or unworthy (unreal) and
thrust of Platonic conceptions.
d(•clared this superconceptual function-this totally cerebral activ-
11 y-as the essence of humanness. Therein lies its uniqueness,
Theory of Humanness ·,1 rnngeness, and significance all at once . He had proferred a new the-
A theory of the human being has already been implied in our dis- 111 y o f humanness (man/woman). Much later, caught in the throes of
cussion of Platonic con ceptions. We, as humans, are not whole 1•vull1tionary theory, it became very important in European thought
beings , but rather made u p of parts that are in continual conflict with 111 Pmpl1asize those characteristics that were thought to separate
one another. We a re made up of "reason," "intellect," and our "better .11 1(1 distinguish "humans" from animals. "Intelligence," of course, was
natures," which are constantly seeking to control our desires, k· ·v; the essence of man/woman. (For Michael Bradley it is the "dis-
appetites, emotions and to put our "senses" to proper use. The bet- 1 11wry of tirne. ")
37 Using Platonic conceptions and elaborating them,
ter part must control the "baser." According to Eric Havelock, Plato l11tl'lllg<•nce:: took on a particular definition.
"discovered" the "psyche" that came to refer to the "iso lated , think- Stk•nlists have talked in terms of two parts or "hemispheres" of
ing self." The self was no longer conceived as a cosmic being, Lhat is, 1111 hr:1111 for some time. The left hemisphere is believed to control
a being that experie nced itself as intimate ly invo lved with o ther '1·1 t.1111 kinds of thought processes, while the right hemisphere con-
be ings in lhe cosmos. /\. "cosmic scH" irnplir·s thr.t the reali ty of self t 1111'. otlH·r kinds of thought processes.:18 The implications involved
is phcllOlfl(~nalJy part of otlwr rcalllit•S pr<'S«tltl•d ag ii n·~ult of ~t·11 - , ,, I' l111p01 li111l to this disrnssin11 and will be discussed later.A related
t l1•11t, < Oll!•('lnw:, ,111<1 :,p!l llt11ll ('01•xl!>t(' ll< 1• In ti 11· 1111lVPt '•P. ( '11·.11111:1 p11t111 tu II" 111i11l1• l w11· l:-1 llt<1t wlltle nil r 11llun•s and all people involve
11 1,1 II 11•l1•1•.1111111' 1111.LVI n••' ''",11111111<'11 , IJ.11111 1.111 d (llll{tll\11') whPIC' l111tlt "lt1•111bph1•n· moclt"•," ""to •; p1 •1tli, 111 "11<i1111;tl" fullctioning, cul-
I l.1v1 •l111 I I· tt•tVl11v tl1.1t " p11 · l'l1llt11111 ~ ( 111 •1·1 1• 1111tl1•1 •1f1111cl 1111• ... :11 ltt
46 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 47

tures and therefore their members can value one style of cognition the confines of European culture, molded by the needs of the
over another. In such cases one will be emphasized and encouraged, European utamaroho. The asili-demanding power-made approp ri-
while the other is not. A person will be rewarded for thinking in the ate use of the "universal truth" idea.
valued mode, and such habits of thought will be reinforced in the The task here is to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive
formalized learning and socialization processes. The same person analysis of European thought and behavior b y examining related
will be "punished" for thinking in the "devalued" mode, and will "fail aspects of Platonic theory in terms of their ideological significance in
for doing so." subsequent European development. This analysis ends a nd begins in
In nineteenth century Europe, in which unilinear evolutionary synthesis which is the asili demonstrating the consistency and cohe-
theory reigned, European scientists said that the left hemisphere was sion, the monolithic character, of the tradition under scrutiny.
"major," because it was associated with "thought" and "reasoning," Plato's theory of humanness is a c rucial aspect of his over-all
which set humans apart from animals. The right hemisphere was theory. He successfully creates an illusion of the isolated self, and so,
labelled "minor" and less advanced or less evolved. It had a "lower" in twentieth century European (Euro-American) society, this self is
capacity, dealt with "emotion," and had to be directed by the left indeed experienced as the psyche . This conception of the
hemisphere. Clearly this was a nineteenth century version of the autonomous thinking self has locked the European into a narrow and
Platonic conception, which split man/woman into reasonable and limiting view of the human. It precipated a kind of spiritual retarda-
emotional tendencies, superior and inferior faculties , and mandated tio n in which painful isolation and alienation either incapacitates par-
the dominance and control o f the emotional as normative state of ticipants in the culture or makes them extremely efficient
being. And so "order" and "justice" were achieved. Plato stated the competitors, aggressors, and technoc rats (tec hnicians). In the
case for this kind of order in the person and, by extension, in the Theatetus, Socrates uses the term "soul" as synonymous with "mind."
State. Nineteenth century evolutionists were giving "scientific" back- Given the Platonic conception of significant mental faculties , this
ing t o the same kind of imposed "order" among the world's cultures, means that the soul became identified with cognitive thought, with
with the more "reasonable" (higher and rational) cultures controlling ''cold" calculation, with a lack of emotion and a denial of feeling and
the more "emotional" (lower and less advanced) ones . sensation. What theory of the human being does this imply? And what
The point that is critical to this analysis of European thought and kind of utamaroho and behavior develops in a culture that accepts
behavior is that Platonic theory and epistemology and its subsequent such a theory? If I am right in suggesting that these Platonic concep-
development, enculturation, and reformulation provided the most t ions did indeed become normative and then tremendously powerful
effective ideological underpining for politically and culturally aggres- .1s cognitive models, and if we can accept the relationship between
sive and imperialistic behavior patterns on the part of European peo- uramawazo (cultural cognitive character) and utamaroho (affective
ple precisely because the argument was stated in intellectual and drnracteristics) as being intimate and co-generative, then clearly a
academic "scientific" terms. Plato not only helped to establish a the- 111odel begins to emerge of patterned thought and behavior reinforc-
ory of the human that would valorize "scientific" cognition to the ing each other as they develop.
exclusion of other cognitive mo des, but he established the Academy. In the Theaetetus, Socrates talks about the soul perceiving under
It has since become a characteristic of European culture that asso- Its o wn "power." He makes the distinction between the body and the
ciation with academia represents association with truth, superior •,rn1J or mind. Through the organs of the body we perceive "hardness,"
reasoning capacity, and impartiality or "objectivity"-this also means "1·nld," "red," etc., but with the mind (soul) we "reflect," make judge-
a lack of commitment to anything other tha n the supposed "abstract llll'llls, and "think" about "likeness," "difference"-things that require
truth." What Platonic conceptions allowed for, consequently, was lwow ledge of the "forms" or of "being." The soul reflects with its own
that tile most politically motivated acts (e.!.(., wars of aggressiou, "power," and the objects that it perceives are u niversal. Universality
r<ldally basecl slavery) ,.ould he j11s1ifiecl lt1 w hat JH\Ssetl fm u-pnlit 1- 1•11H'l l~('S as superiority ai.d value. In the chapters which follow, the
'ill. "sckullfl<'" kntts: ti ll' tc>rn1s of.'\ s uppwwd " 111il vt·1 ~11 l lrntl1," tlw .1t t 1 llrnl<' of 1111lwrsalily wi ll h(> trnt:ed alrn 1g the road o f European ide-
••11•111.d, lllll 11.111 111 111! "ld11.1 .. -Tiii s WHS 11111 111'11•i. ·1.11l ly tlll' l'l.1to11lr olol{y .is II clt>v1•lnpt; ;1111l l1Mc!Pns l111t1 tl1 e framework of tilt> cultu re.
11lit1•1 ll V<', 11111 It h tilt' u·w to wllh 11 tllh111l1t l'ptl1111 w.1'1 p11I w!lhl11 Wh11l Is II llt ttl tlw su11I, 111l11d, t>t p·1y\ lw l111s tlw llucly and
48 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 49

senses do not? Clearly it is control and with control comes power as recognition of values.39
in "the ability to dominate." The desire (need) for control and power
are the most important factors in understanding the European asili. Not only does Plato's epistemology bring control accompanied
We will see that the sensation of controlling others and of therefore by power, but also its attendant theory of (hu)man produces the
having power over them is the most aesthetically, psychologically, European conception of the authentically moral being. For Plato, with
and emotionally satisfying experience that the culture has to offer. rationality comes the power to make moral decisions , and only this
It therefore satisfies the utamaroho. It is the pursuit of these feelings new "autonomous thinking self" (Havelock) can properly be the seat
and this state of being that motivates its members. The sensation of of moral decision. This position, however, represents a confusion
control and power is achieved in many ways in European culture, but between the spiritual and the s cientific/rational. Having equated
what is significant here is that in its earliest and formative stages, human potential with an abstracted rational faculty, Plato takes us
Plato laid the basis for its achievement through an epistemology out of a humanly defined social context as the ground or determinant
that rejected the poetic participation, thereby gaining "indepen- of our being. He then places us back into an artificial social construct
dence" (Havelock) from poetic involvement in order to both "create" that is now a reflection of his abstract concept of the "good" and of
and to apprehend the proper object of knowledge. The "object" was the "true"; a denial of the lived and experienced reality. But in fact,
in this way cont rolled by the mind that contemplated it. With this our concepts of morality must reflect our ideas as well as our feeling
knowledge came power, because the world could begin to be under- about proper human interrelationship. The "rational" person is not
stood as being comprised of many such objects capable of being necessarily the "moral" person. It may be "rational" (efficient) to think
manipulated by the knower, the knower who was aware of himself in terms of selective breeding, cloning, and extermination in order to
(women didn 't count) as knower and as being in complete control. produce the "master race." It is neither spiritually nor morally com-
The "pre-Platonic" man, in this view, was powerless, lacked self-con- pelling to do so. Plato seemed to be hinting that scientific method
trol and was indeed manipulated by the myraid of emotions he was would generate "right" action. But war in the twentieth century is
made to feel by the images around him . Such is the picture that we both rational and irrational at the same time. European horror movies
are given. in which mad scientists do crazy things are expressions of this seem-
We cannot overstate Plato's significance precisely because we ing contradiction. Yet that personality is a "logical" extension of the
find European theorists and scholars making the same argument, Platonic equation of the moral and the rational.
painting the same picture in the twentieth century. Henri and H.A. This argument has been expanded, refined, and camouflaged in
Frankfort are concerned here with the distinctio n between ancient, the terms of "modern" European "critical" philosophy. Jurgen
"primitive man," and "mythopoeic" thought on the one hand and Habermas seems to be arguing for a kind of universal language of
"modern," "scientific" man, and "scientific thought" on the other: "communicative rationality," in which social/cultural beings rely on
their own intellectual examination of issues as the basis for judge-
Though (mythopoeic thought) does not know dead matter and ment, as opposed to relying on their cultural traditions as a source
confronts a world animated from end to end it is unable to leave the of validation of choices/actions. 40 This for Habermas would be part
scope of the concrete and renders its own concepts as realities llf the process of "rationalization" and can lead to authentic moral
existing per se.[p.14] behavior or at least a criterion for determining such. His own lan-
~11 age is that of European philosophic disco urse of the 1980s; the
... the procedure of the mythopoetic mind in expressing a phe-
nomenon by manifold images corresponding to unconneclecl f'l.'\lo nic model ho ned t o cerebr:\l perfection. It is "rationality" at its
avenues of approach clearly leads away from rather than toward, 11 1ost impressive calling for a universal rationalism as the basis for
ou r postulate of causali ty wllich seeks to cliscovc>r identical causes ''rallonal action orienta tions"40 and rationalized s ocial order.
fo r identical effec ts th rough-out tile phcnomt>11nl world. I p.l O] I l.liw r t11 C1s 11scs Piaget's ti .eory of cognitive development in relation
tu the valued prut:!~Ss of "d<'CPlll ratio n ," in which a priori cultural def-
111ythopo11tk ll HHtJ<ill 11 1. 1y t;111 T 1'!•d 1111 l1"1i. ll1111 111 101 h •11 1 tllrn1111tt h1111011s nn• d<•val11ed 111 t IH• dc•ti•t 111l11 rtt ion o f "I n 1th" and r ight action .
111 111 .l1\11 lt•,l1h11{ 11 <'1111111111.i lc•d 11p .1ll. il kV'•I •111 , 11111 1111• ·1v·1t 1·111 h Wltll1· l11• nllnws Im tlw pm lilt•11111 f 11 "11t11p l.m " vkw :-tlld 1·a11t ious u:;
tl1 l l'1 t11ltt• II 11111 hv nhJ•'< ll\w 1111'.1•11 11 t11 111•11 l ·l, 1111 1 liv 11 1 •1 11t1l l111 1.1!
50 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought SJ

against "the imperatives of a one-sided rationality limited to the cog- people were in fact not like this, he would make them so. He would
nitive-instrumental," he insists that "the decentration of world under- fashion their minds to think the way they had to think to make his
standing and the rationalization of the lifeworld are necessary plan work. He would train them with the "syntactical condition of the
conditions for an emancipated society." 41 To approach the rational is mathematical equation," because "numbers drag us toward
to do away with difference. Here lurks the same utamawazo that is Beingness."43 In other words there were changes that he had to make
uncomfortable with ambiguity. There is a difference between the in the cognitive habits (utamawazo) of the participants in the culture
arguments of Plato and those of Habermas (who emphasizes process if he was to succeed in the creation of the new order.
as opposed to reified ideal), but the differences are not cultural/ide-
ological. These two philosophers represent variations-one more The N ew Dominant Mode
refined, more liberal, more recent than the other-of the same uta- The birth of the archaic "European" utamawazo was accompa-
maroho. nied and supported by the introduction of the literate mode as the
In his theory of (hu)man and of the State Plato succeeds in exor- dominant and valued mode of expression in the culture. The written
cising human and social reality of its problematical and ambiguous mode preserved communication in an ever-increasingly precise form
character. He does this by creating his own reality in which the math- in what was to become "Europe." Writing had been used much, much
ematical abstraction reigns. "Real" truth, he says, is what we do not earlier in other cultures, but as in the Kemetic MDW NTR (ancient
experience. It is unchanging being. Our experience is not real, but ''Egyptian Hieroglyphs"), it involved forms that symbolized much
constantly changing, becoming. What this allows him to do is in fact more than sounds or objects. The MDW NTR contains transforma-
to create an "unreal" reality in which ambiguity, creative imagina- tional symbolism that embodies African conceptions of universal and
tion, and uncertainty of human truth is superficially eliminated. Of cosmic truths. 44 It is an indication of the nature of the European
course, there is no such thing as "unreal" reality, so in truth the prob- world-view and of course an example of the intensity of European
lematical still exists. Plato's Republic is a theoretical structure. His the- cultural nationalism that European scholars so consistently charac-
ory of the human is unrealistic. It leaves out some essentials of terize the MDW NTR of Kemet as being merely "concrete."45 This form
humanness and so as a model to be imitated has a tendency to cre- of "reductionism" is an effort to oversimplify ancient African writing,
ate Marcuse's "one-dimensional man." Each of us is suited to one task the earliest form of writing. It is an effort to make the MDW NTR
or mode of participation in the State. The Philosopher-King and appear conceptually limited and sometimes contradictory. In truth,
Guardians will be able to determine our proper place and so our des- the MDW NTR was too complex for Plato's purposes. He needed a
tiny, very neat, very simple. The Republic is modelled after the modality that robbed the symbols of their "symbolic," their esoteric
"good," an abstract unambiguous, unchanging, monolithic reality. In <'Ontent. They had to be disengaged from the cosmos.
order for it to work, people within it would have to be convinced of It is important to understand the process by which the liter-
the theory of the human on which it rests. Stanley Diamond explains ate mode became dominant in the culture and to understand exactly
why the artist was seen as a threat to the State; what is meant by the "literate mode" in this context. Although for
111any centuries to come it was inaccessible to most of the population,
The artist does not believe in abstract systems; he deals with felt
It still had a valued place in nascent, archaic, and feudalistic European
and ordered emotional ideals and believes order is attained
through the contradictions, the tense unities of everyday experi- society, and so greatly effected the shape of the culture. We are
ence. Thus, the artist himself may be unstable, a changeling, and describi11g a process of development, and because the development
this is a threat to any establishment.42 li.ict a "direction" does not mean that other characteristics were not
ld<•nt I liable. The poetic or, as Henri and H. A. Frankfort call it, the
On the other hand. the m;.11 hcmatician wollld fnir much better i\S '' 1uyt hopo<'tic" tont inuccl to exist among the vast majority of the pop-
l'lal o's vic•w nf the ic'lc-al man forth<' Ideal St at<'. I IL' c•m pl 1aslzcs 111ath- 11111, lrnl it wns n·ll'gatvcl lo a cltvnlued position, implying inferi-
1•111;it ks Ill tll<' c111Tlnl111111 for-Iii<• g1111rdl:-i11s F111 l11111 ''m.lthl'lll.1lks" nrlly nf l111t•llt•1 lual cn paclty Tll<1t is why "thc> primitive," defined
11.1· 1111' ..,1i,1pP pf t 1111 h 11111 1·,111 p111vtd1 t 111' •,11l11t 11111 111 .tll pr 111>11'111'. 1 ~11111< f'lll J'I< .lily, is .dw.1ys .1ss11d.1t1~t1 wit Ii :i l;wk of wrlti11g, ;rnrl this
I h•t l' ,,,,1111 . 1 t k11f111 I 11111 t•pt 111 l1tllll1lll 1111 1 111 ll11pllt d A11d II I: I 1tll1 ·tl 111•1!11! "1111· llt1•1.il1•,"
52 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Tho ught 53

In nascent Europe the literate mode had ideological force. c ultures that are labelled "primitive." And these are the te rms they
Remember that according to Platonic epistemology we must achieve use to characterize the abilities of children of African descent and
objectivity in order to know and that in his terms this is achieved by other groups who are seen as lacking cultural and racial value within
causing our reason to dominate our emotions, which in turn gives us the societies in which Eu ropeans dominate. In fact, European acade-
control. We gain control over that which we wish to know, therefore mies "create" such nonminds. 47 In each of these instances, including
creating an "object" of knowledge. The mode of preserved commu- Havelock's critique of the mental habits of humankind "before" Plato,
nication (which had characterized most c ultures and which would the statements made have id eological significance. They are sup-
prevail in Greece centuries after Plato), was the poetic, the oral, and porting a c hosen way of life, a set of beliefs. The objective is to estab-
to some extent the symbolic mode, although Greek culture was not lish the "way of life" as s uperior to all which either preceeded it or
nearly so well developed in that regard, borrowing from other cul- that is different from it. It is the ideological nature of Platonic episte-
tures their sacred and religious concepts. This mode relied on the mology that makes this possible: an epistemology dictated by the
identification of the knower with the known, on powers of memo- European asili, carried in the cultural genes.
rization, and familiarity of the listener/participant with the subject- For Plato, the poet does not appeal to the proper "principle" in
matter being used . The symbolic modes of the more ancient and the person or to the proper part of his or her soul. And so the poet
developed civilizations a lso required apprehension of abstractions, would not be able to h elp in the task of lifting us out of the darkness
but these were not the rationalistic abstractions that would come to of the cave and correcting our ignorance towards the "light" of truth.
dominate in European thought. The poet obstructs the proper functioning of reason and does not
In the analysis of Eurocentric theorists it was this memory, this help us to gain cont rol over our emotions.
e motional identification and "involvement" caused by the poetic,
"oral," and "Homeric" mode that had limited "pre-Platonic" man. This The imitative poet . .. is not by nature made, nor is his art intended,
c haracterization thrusts us into yet another "split," another to please or to affect the rational principle in the soul; but he will
dichotomy of invidious comparison. And with this another aspect of prefer the passionate and fitful temper, which is easily imitated . ..
the supposed "superiority" of the European rears its h ead. The "pre- his creations have an inferior degree of truth . .. and he is ... con-
cerned with an inferio r part of the soul; and therefore we shall be
Platonic" man (Havelock's term), whom Homer's epics represented
right in refusing to admit him into a well-ordered State, because he
and whom they addressed, was in trouble according to Havelock. He awakens and nourishes and strengthens the feelings and impairs
is described as being "nonliterate," whic h of course h as much more the reason. As in a city when the evil are permitted to have author-
ideological force than just saying that he preferred the poetic form. ity and the good are put out of the way, so in the soul of the man,
It s urfaces as a weakness and inability to conceptualize, a negative as we maintain, the imitative implants an evil constitution , for he
characteristic. It devalues him as a person. This "nonliterate," "pre- indulges the irrational nature which has no discernment of greater
Platonic" person also picks up a host of other characteristics, which, and less, but thinks the same thing at one time great and at another
in the European world-view, are either valueless or absolutely nega- small he is a manufacturer of images and is very far removed from
tive. Havelock describes the "Homeric man" as being in a "sleeping" the truth.48
state, as though drugged. His mind is governed by "uncritical accep-
tance," "self surrender," "automatism," "passivity of mental condi- Plato's argument with the poets is that th ey do not foste r the
tion ," "lavish employment of emotions," "hypnotic trance,'' view of the State and of the "good" of which he wants to convince peo-
"complacency." He uses "dream language" and is the vic tim of "illu- ple; o f which they must be convinced in order for them to play t heir
s ion." He is in the "long sleep of man" and is even "la zy ."~ 6 Why is parts we ll. The Re public is pe rfect because it is absolute. But what if
I l ~lwloc k so hnrd on those whom he places i11 inte llcrtual opposition h11rn an realities arc not absolute? Suppose the re are ambiguities
l o l'ldlo'! It ls ;1s H this stage in Cree k history 0t l·:mopc'a n clcvt"lop- 1·11cl( 111ic to human cxis tc•1cc'? Plato s olves this problem by s imply

11w11t 1111rnt I>«' clc •s1111yt•d; c •rl!tlnly tho rougl 1ly n •1>11dlall'd W<• wil l see "«' llminati111.(' the a111bl g u o 11s na t ure> of our cxisteuti al reality, by pre-
ht .11h !!t•q1w11t 1•l111pt 1•t!J 111 tlth o;t11<I Y why tl11 1 t:1• .111 • 111c·c· l-.t• ly tlw 11•1ul!11J.{ that II isn't Ilwr1> Who, uft <•r <ill , Is ne<1tlng "illusion" a11tl
t1 ·1111• tl1 1ll l.11111111 1111 '> 11 •,1 to rlc "u 11111 · .11111cl1 •1111 ·,1111111 11·1 111lt 11 n · ~ . who 1·1 cII ·.ill 111J. wl111"1 t ' il lII y'I" Tl IP phllosoplt y 1u1d t•rl yi1t~ t II • l?t'/llll>lir
•.. 1y·. 111.11 1111111,111 he luw: fl t ll1to 11 1·,11 1 .1t 1•).(111 l1·~ . 111. 11 ll 11•y .11 1· 1•111 II
54 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 5.5

suited to specific tasks by nature, and will be happiest doing that for earlier Greek ethic was not. (Of course, once the "questioning" takes
which they are best suited and that such is best for the order of t he place in the Socratic dialectic, not too much more "questioning" is
whole. Isn't that convenient? Plato doesn't need the poets "messing" necessary.) Within the logic of European nationalism these ideas were
up this picture-they won't help him sell his myth. t o be later echoed in nineteenth century evolutionary theory where
If the poets and the poetic in us is bad and backward, certainly Victorian culture was judged as the "highest" form, representing a
the other side of the coin is that our better, more rational natures are more objectively valid moral state, the assumption being that
brought out by the literate mode, the substitution of object for sym- European values were arrived at "critically" and "rationally" and were
bol. When the literate mode dominates, we nurture a new and differ- therefore universally valid. This was a legacy from the "enlighten-
ent mindset. That is the important thing. That is the significance of ment," so-called.
Plato's work. Contrast Havelock's characterization of this "new" man Plato had set the stage for important ingredients of the European
with that of the "old." The new man is governed by "self-conscious self-image. He sees himself as a critical being, rational and in absolute
critical intelligence," "individual and unique convictions," a "critical control. His mission is to control and rationalize the world, and this
psyche," "inner stability," "inner morality," and "calculated reflec- he achieves t hrough the illusion of objectivity. Plato himself must
tion." He is "self-governing," "emancipated," "reflective," "thought- have been something like this. Stanley Diamond draws a portrait:
ful," "self-organized," "calculative," "rational," "self-generated,"
"awakened," "stimulated," "thinking abstractly," and "autonomous." He was it seems, a man of a certain type, incapable of tolerating
In the rhetoric of European value the deck is clearly stacked. This ambiguity, intuitive in his conviction of an objective, superhuman
"new" person is smart/What we see is the epistemological basis of the good ... . He believed in logic with the cool passion of a mathe-
matician, and he believed, at least abstractly, that the perfectly just
conviction that literacy renders progressiveness and that when the
city could be established, through perfectly rational and perfectly
literate mode becomes valued and finally dominant, we have a autocratic means. 52
"higher" form of culture in terms of European ideology. So that in a
meeting on general education at Hunter College in New York City in The desacralized written mode allowed the object to be "frozen,"
1984, it was assumed that to educate our students we must teach reified into a s ingle meaning; Kemetic MDW NTR is not of this nature:
them about "Western" European civilizations, since that is where
human beings learned to be "critical," indeed to "think." The ordinary consideration of the Egyptian symbol reduces it to a
But the European is certainly not very "critical" if that means primary, arbitrary, utilitarian and singular meaning, whereas in real-
questioning the European world-view as Plato inspired its configura- ity it is a synthesis which requires great erudition for its analysis
tion. The world of literacy, it is believed, is a world of objectivity, a and a special culture for the esoteric knowledge that it implies.53
world of "impartial" truth. Oral media is "subjective." In it personal-
ity is merged with tradition. How do we change this? "The funda- R. A. Schwaller De Lubicz characterizes the MOW NTR in the fol-
mental signs enabled a reader to dispense with emotional lowing way, distinguishing them from the merely literal mode: "sym-
identification .. . ."49 Plato urged a move away from "emotional bolism," which is a mode of expression, he distinguishes from the
involvement," "unquestioned precepts," and "imitation." (foday "symbolic," which is the application of a "state of mind," or, again, a
Habermas urges us away from predecisive validity claims based on "mentality." "Symbolism is technique; the symbolic is the form of
cultural tradition.SD) Plato supposedly introduced "technical" learn- writing of a vital philosophy ." 54 "The symbol is a sign that one must
ing "on the highest level of consciousness." 51 So while Plato is seek- l1 ·.1rn to read, and the symbolic is a form of writing whose laws one
ing to produce minds capable of the "highest'' form of thougltt, 11n1s l know; they have nothing in common with the grammatical con-
"nonlitcrate man '' ~merges as being bar<'ly abk lo "think" at all. •11ntct ion of our languages. It is a question here, not of what might be
lndl't'd , wt• n urnot lw sure t hnt he is <'V<'l1 "to11st·lo11s." t\11<1 , what is 1 .lllt•d "llleroglyphlt: l<1ng ~1age ," but of the symbolic., which is not an

ll\Ort \ 1111 ~ 1•plstt-111olugy is st.;t' ll tc1hilVf'1t1rn;1l li11plll'nll1111 t.; n:-; well. fm111 of wrilf11~" lk l.11hic•z ls co11n•rnc d with clcscrihing
'Flu l111'1.1lc· p,11tll lpa11t of lilt ldc•,11 t.; llllc • Ii., 1111111• 111111 ,d l11•1 1111:,1• l1IG ' tlw pll111 lplt·:-. 111.11 1J.UVt•111 lht• •,y111hol .11ul llH• ~y111lmlk 111 11w
1 ll1ii · 1111 • .1!11j1•1 t tcfq11t .111111lt1H, c•rlt lc 1"111 1 ,111tl 111\ly•,I•,, wl1Jlc • tilt' · p1 •":ti l1111 11!" vlt.11pllll11 ~,npliv.1101 ,, r .1t l1111,dl s tlc plillnsnpliy .'' I le•
fl y 111111 tlw11 • " •" ' "''. 1111 J111 •1111{/\'t1l111 l111 /L'll11J.!1', b11t 011l y 1 lill·w
56 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 57

glyphic writing, which uses the symbol to lead us toward the sym- ifiable truth. Anything else was mere opinion, subject to the whims
bolic. "55 The significance of these passages is that it affirms my belief of human nature. Logic helped one to maintain one's "objectivity"
that the MOW NTR of Kemet does not represent a "primitive" form of (emotional distance). The statement below, from a contemporary
secular or profane script and is not therefore "pre-European." Rather, introductory textbook by H. L. Searles, demonstrates the ideology of
it represents a quite different view of reality-a mindset that sought Platonic epistemology. According to the author, the study of logic
to understand the universe as cosmos, therefore careful not to should enable students to:
attempt the separation of spirit and matter. So that when we speak
of the literate mode as championed by Plato, we mean to stress a ... develop a critical attitude toward the assumptions and presup-
positions which form the background of his own and many others'
unique definition and use of that mode: one devoid of the "symbolic" arguments in such fields as politics, economics, race relations, and
in De Lubicz' sense. This writing lacked something. It was only able other social sciences, where the facts are not fully verified but con-
to deal with "one-dimensional realities," and as Diamond says, tain elements of tradition, preference and evaluation. 57
It reduced the complexities of experience to the written word ... Haberrnas wrote in 1987, that we must form a reflective concept
with the advent of writing symbols became explicit; they lost acer-
of "world" so that we can have access to the world. 58
tain richness. Man's word was no longer endless exploration of real-
ity, but a sign that could be used against him ... writing splits Searles statement sounds like those of Havelock comparing "pre-
consciousness in two ways-it becomes more authoritat ive than Platonic" and Platonic "man" or like those of Plato debasing the poets
talking thus degrading the meaning of speech and eroding oral tra- in relation to the State order. Searles can only make these statements
dition; and it makes it possible to use words for the political manip- sound reasonable because Plato had argued so well such a long time
ulation and control of others. 56 ago, when Europe was not even in its infancy but in the last stage of
a gestation, that perhaps began as a mutated conception in the
It was not that this literal mode represented or led to higher Eurasian steppes (Caucasus). Searles statement is an excellent exam-
truths, but that the claim was made that it did and that it gave the illu- ple of the longevity and ideological strength of the Platonic influence.
sion of having done so, making this medium useful. It worked! It It is a statement of Platonic epistemology, now taken for granted
helped to control minds, values, and behavior, just as any media because it is etched into the European world-view and utamawazo; it
does, but in a new and for some a "desirable" way. The written lan- is assumed. Plato, however, had to argue for its supremacy, fighting
guage was more impressive than speech. Platonic epistemology the Sophists, the powerful ancient mystery systems, ancient Kemetic
achieved this once it was valued. Then speech came to imitate this (Egyptian) science, philosophy, religion, and other philosophical and
writing, which was no longer "magical," sacred, and truly symbolic. ideological possibilities. He had to change the mental outlook of the
The permanence of the written word gave it ideological strength. culture. His task was to shape an utamawazo that would suit the uta-
Written dialogues, written laws, and strangely enough, written maroho of those who would come to identify themselves as European.
prayers-the sacred reduced to profane "scriptures"; all of this The psychological habits of the poetic or "mythopoeic" mode had to
became evidence, for the European, of the superiority of his/her cul- he replaced by the illusions of the literate mode. By the time Searles
ture. ls writing some twenty-five centuries later, these habits are so
Ingrained that Europeans are not even aware that the "logic" that
Lineality and Cause: Scientism and "Logic" I hey are taught cannot explain Zen philosophy, African ontology, or
Consistent with this literate modality as frame of reference, t>Xislential, phenomenal reality. They are not aware of the fact that it
there is an association between the "critical mtncl" aud the "logical Is rwitl1er "total" nor "unive rsal. · Edward Hall says it this way:
mind" in Platonic epistemology, which idcalizc•d ohjc>cllfkalion and
. . in l1is strlvi11gs [ 01 orcler, Western man has created chaos by
lnslst!'d o n the lit era te 1nn<l ~ as vil lucd tt.•1.: l111iq1u• c111d fu r ther tlt.·uvlug that part of Ills s<'lf that tntcgrntcs whil e enshrining the
1•11l w 1w1•d tlw ldc ·a ll1at llll' rt· t111ly 11111· 1 u1r1 •t I 1111'1t1od nl rl'11rll·
p;11 h 111 .11 1t 11w1w11t 1..•x1H •t ll'tll'I' •. W1•s1t•111 1 m111 11 s~·s only a small
t'1 w I 111111, 1111d I It.ti WW· vt.1 ' In~!< ." 'J'l 1h Id• ti ol "lt il{h''' h Pl l'<it•tll (.,, .1~; ll i11•tl1111 11f llh 1111 • ':11111hllltl1•s, llH 11 • 1111· 111.111y dHt.·rt>1lt arnl

1li1111Hlt It w1 •1•• 11 l{l 1.11.11111 11• I Ii.ti 1·ow t 111.l1111t> wrn ild ll.1v1• ,1Ii• ul11t 1', Vl't
58 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 59

legitimate ways of thinking; we in the west value one of these ways ical thought. These characteristics are all related, but their visibility
above all others-the one we call "logic," a linear system that has as dominant themes emerge at different times in the development of
been with us since Socrates.... Western man sees his system of the culture. They are introduced here briefly, so that we can pick
logic as synonymous with the truth. For him it is the only road to them up later as recognizable themes contributing to the over-all
reality. 59 configuration of European thought (utamawazo) and behavior.
Dorothy Lee, in Freedom and Culture, tells us that European cul-
While I am arguing for the seminal nature of Plato's work and its ture codifies reality in a lineal manner. She bases her conclusions on
powerful influence in the formulation of the European utamawazo, I comparisons with specific "non-European" cultures that she finds
do not want to give the mistaken impression that his work was very have "nonlineal'' codifications of reality. Her work helps to elucidate
influential at the time of his writing. Only a tiny fraction of the Greek the assumption of lineality in the European utamawazo. In European
populace followed, had access to (i.e. was literate and privileged) or culture reality is codified - understood, perceived, organized - in
was convinced of this new epistemology. And its accessibility was to lineal, sequential relationships. Events are viewed in terms of tem-
remain restricted for many centuries to come. But what makes it so porality.61 The line underlies the European aesthetic apprehension of
important is that those few who did have access and who were con- the given. Its presence is taken for granted in life, and in all academic
vinced were also those who set the intellectual and ideological pat- work. Teachers, says Lee, are always drawing them on blackboards.
terns for the civilization that would follow. It was as Plato wanted it She goes on to say that "progress" is the "meaningful sequence,"
to be-the few made decisions for the many. The "logical" ones led "where we see a developmental line, the Trobriander sees a point, at
those who "could not reason well." most a swelling in value." Europeans "take pleasure and get satisfac-
According to Havelock, Plato was looking for the "syntax of true tion in moving away from a given point ... the Trobriander finds it in
universal definition." Platonic epistemology allowed one to choose the repetition of the known, in maintaining the point; that is in what
between the "logically and eternally true" and the "logically and eter- we call monotony." 62
nally false," whereas the poetic mode did not.60 Plato identifies the Lee has hit on the ideological significance of lineality in European
"logical" with the "eternal," while the poetic is seen as being tempo- thought. Change or movement away from the point in a lineal direc-
rally limited, all illusion. But now some Europeans are discovering tion toward another imagined point as far as that line can extend (the
what other cultures have always known: verbal -linear logic is only future) is "progress" as it is defined in European culture. This con-
one aspect of our consciousness, one part of our cognitive apparatus. ception becomes the basis for willed cultural behavior. "Progress," as
/\s humans we have other tools that are global and intuitive. But we shall see in Chap. 9, is the idea that initiates change, that gives sup-
within European culture these have almost been put out of commis- posed supremacy to the culture, and that justifies exploitation of oth-
sion, made inoperable, deformed by a civilization whose epistemol- l' IS . This idea of progress rests on the assumed reality of the line. All
ogy ignored them and considered them almost "inhuman," certainly things are reduced to sequential relationship on a line: one dimen-
"uncivilized." Deficient in the ability to grasp cosmic reality, organic sional and unidirectional. This time line joins the points of "past,"
interrelationship, Europeans were deprived of the source of a differ- "present," and "future," where the function of past and present is to
ent kind of power, which comes from joining. They turned, therefore, Hive value to the future by virtue of inviduous comparison, and then
lo those forms of intellectual manipulation which seemed to yield t I w future is used as a standard by which to evaluate the value of the
power over others; the nature of the asili. pl'l'sent and the past. The future reigns supreme. Any form of cultural
The dominance of written codification is accompanied by other la·liavior is justified in the pursuit of this never attainable future. And
conceptual habits that support it and that it supports. Epistemology .111y <ult urc whose utomawaz o does not allow for the abstract yet
meets with ontology as concepts or space and lime begin lo adhere 11pp11•ssiw r11Lurc or the progress ideology is thought to be doomed
111 theories of humanness, knowledge, and truth I .ine:tlily in Europenn 111 f,tllurt'. .Joli n S. Mbiti, w r iting from a Eurocentric perspective , has
tho11!.{hl has al l or lht:iw in1pllcations. It Is prPiwn t In tl1t• 11a!.n•nl 1111:- to s.w ahnut /\frlcn11 religlo11s tho11ght:
Europ1•11n enncrptlor1s of purpn:w illHI rn11:;ullty; In llw :;t'n1larl1.a
tli'111 111 tl11w tll,1t pill'. t ' 11pfi.1•,1!, 1111111•,totll'l ty111 th• 1•1ilt1111•, 111 tlw : 111l111111 o1 " tllc•h 1 rn11 ·i•pl ol t111w IHt w o clltm•11:.lt11lo\I. with uSasa (prl'
ti 11111111111 ,11 tlt111 t 111 l~11111p1 .1111.-llHl1111·., pldl11•.11plil1•,d , 1111d ldt •11l11v, 11 ut) 111tl" / 111 11,1111 (p.11.1), Alr11 .1111w11plt·-. 1 .11111ol 1·11t11t .1lt 1 . 1 µ,-lo
60 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 61

rious "hope" to which mankind may be destined ... . Here African is the enemy of the technological or so it becomes in the European
religions and philosophy must admit a defeat: they have supplied experience. Juenger refers to this mechanical time as "dead time,"
no solution.... Do religions become universal only when they have and identifies its symbol as the clock. For Newton, time was an
been weaned from the cradle of looking towards the Zamani (past). absolute, while to others it is a mental construct that relates our
. . and make a breakthrough towards the future, with all the (mytho- experiences and ideas . Newtonian time, says Juenger, is linear, unin-
logical?) promises of "redemption?" ... It is in this area that world
religions may hope to "conquer" African traditional religions and terrupted, inexorable motion.67 Neither we nor our experiences effect
philosophy, ... by adding this new element to the two dimensional it.
life and thinking of African peoples. Only a three-dimensional reli- Time in European culture loses its phenomenal character and is
gion can hope to last in modern Africa which is increasingly dis- instead experienced as absolute and oppressive. Once again we have
covering and adjusting to a third dimens ion of time. 63 a concept created by human beings, reified than used against them.
Within the logic of European development this process is necessary,
Sadly, while African himself, Mbiti strives so hard to take on an because mechanical time is a precondition for the triumph o r ascen-
alien utamawazo that he loses sense of African metaphysical con- dance of European science and technology. They are the supreme val-
ceptions. The African conception of time is not merely "profane" or ues because they are "progress." Several theorists (Juenger,
ordinary, but also sacred. Indeed it is the European lineal conception Mumford, Joel Kovel, and others) have made the connection between
that is one dimensional. This is one of Mbiti's most obvious errors . the establishment of watchmaking in Geneva in 1587 with the ascen-
Past, present, and future are meaningful only as relationships in a lin- dancy of Calvinism there in the sixteenth century. Calvin intensified
eal sequence, necessarily unidimensional. They do not represent the importance of the idea of predestination. 68 While preparing peo-
three dimensions. In the African conception, sacred, cyclical time ple for salvation in heaven, Calvinism trained them for assembly-line
gives meaning to ordinary, lineal time. The circle/sphere adds dimen- production on earth. In Juenger's words:
sion to the line as it envelops it. The sphere is multidimensional, and
it is curved. Sacred time is not "past" because it is not part of a lin- It ["lifeless time"] can be split and chopped up at will, something
eal construct. The ancestors live in the present, and the future lives that cannot be done with life time or with the organisms living in it:
in us. Sacred time is eternal and therefore it has the ability to join seeds, blossoms, plants, animals, men, organic thoughts. This is
past, present, and future in one space of supreme valuation. This is why technology works with fragments of time, . .. and . .. employs
time--study experts-men who watch over the rational exploita-
what Mircea Eliade has called hierophany. 64 Rituals that express
tion of lifeless time . . . all these are methods which subject live
sacred time, connecting it with ordinary experience and punctuating organisms, partaking of vital time, to a mechanical, lifeless time. 69
life, restate and affirm values, beliefs, and symbols, thereby placing
daily existence in a meaningful sacred context. African societies do Because the dominance of lineal conceptions has lead to
not need an abstract European concept of the future to give their Europe's overwhelming technological success does not mean that
members "hope."65 The European idea of progress is not a universal there are not other viable conceptions. All objectives are not tech-
statement of meaning. nological/scientific. There must be other "times." Lineal time fails
What Mbiti is probably getting at, however, has nothing to do s piritually. It pushes us constantly towards anxiety and fear. The
with religion per se, but rather has to do with technology and its European is always asking him/herself, even while she/he rests:
place in the society. Indeed, technological success (European-style) Where am I going? What will become of me? Lineal time is one dimen-
depends in part on the assimilation of a lineal conce pt or secul ar sional because it has neither depth or breadth, only the illusion of
concept of time, as the most meaningful or ultimate temporal reality. IP11gth. It leads to evo lutio nary theories. Reality is perceived as the
Friedrich Juenger makes this po int. He says that for the Ellropcan, t'ttntinuous deve lo pment of one entity through necessarily temporal
time like the "future" becomes a fo rce tlrnt <lomi11:ttes human life. ">lugcs. On<' stage is mon' "evolutionarily advanced" than the one it
Thi$ is ccrt~i nl y no t tl1 P spirllnrill y 1•nll l/,l1lt•1ll11Y, l'Ol1 <'l'P1 ll1<1 l Mhltl tullows. s ince th r y nr<• :u rn n ~<'d or "unfold" in a temporal sequence .
. 111o k1·:-1 II 0 111 111 I H~. Tlnw, 11\ E11 t'1 11w1111 i1 rn lt'ly, !-IPt v 11 !-t t 111.. l1•c h11olog 1'11t• ro nc· (•pt Is h ils t•d 011 nss11mP<I llnc-nl connections. The connec-
ll 1d 1)1 dt •J, 1\lld ol' 1 L,\IC Jt lo, llll lllJ\lll lill l l trld 1114 '1' 11,llt lc Il l 1111 'I'l l!' I l )S lttll ' ll1111s 1·xl:1t 1111111• 111!11<1•1 o f llH >'ll' who :, l\Mt' . t El1101wa1 1 u111mnwazo
62 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 63

(cognitive style); they are not universal realities. Evolution cannot be curate" orally transmitted mythology. Yet this concept of his tory
"seen." What is experienced is "difference." The continuity is the the- rests on a conception of time that is not validated by phenomenal
oretical aspect. Evolutionism posits that it is the same entity that reality. "Time" in this view moves ceaselessly towards some point
changes and therefore "develops." In spite of its obvious theoretical never reached in the "future." This sense of telos is an important
short-comings, evolution persists as a European metaphysical aspect of European mythology. It gives meaning to European life.
assumption-not just a theory. The assumption is maintained "Purpose" is taking humankind into the "future." Yet this peculiarly
because it suits the utamaroho leading to power over others , not European conception of the "future" creates more serious problems
because of its accuracy. for the members of the culture than it can possibly resolve. Ironically
Marshall McLuhan says that "all media are active metaphors in it is this "future" approached by the ever present line of time through
their power to translate experience into new forms. 70 Edmund which the European seeks fulfillment, but at the same time assures
Carpenter affirms that the written media encourages linear concep- her/him of never being fulfilled. The "future" in this conception rep-
tualization; "The spoken word came to imitate writing," and this resents unattainable perfection. It is an abstraction that is unreach-
"encouraged an analytical mode of thinking with emphasis upon lin- able and, therefore, is unknowable.
eality. "71 The written mode as understood in ancient Greece was a What is unknowable for the European causes anxiety. The
nonpoetic mode that suited a secular view of human events. In the European psyche needs the illusion of a rationally ordered universe
subsequent development of European culture lineality became dom- In which everything can be known. Yet European mythoform creates
inant until the lack of a cyclical, multidimensional notion of time an unknown and unknowable future whose only relationship to the
became a reflection of the profanation o r secularization of the world past and the present is that it determines them and cannot be deter-
as seen by Europeans. The contemporary spiritual malaise that we mined by them. This antagonistic situation causes emotional confu-
witness in Euro-America and in Europe, I would argue, is linked in part "lon, anxiety, and fear for the European. Yet this oppressive future
to narrowly based lineal conceptions, as well as to other features of 1·d nnot be avoided, because the clock moves him/her toward it at an
the European utamawazo and world-view. The assumption of lineal 11ncontrollable pace, which seems to move faster and faster. All of
time is an ontological prerequisite to the European idea of "progress" I his is an effect of the limitations of lineal, secular time. It is neither
and that of unilinear evolution. The valorization of the written mode pl 1e11omenal nor sacred nor spiritual. Participants in the culture have
encourages and supports these conceptions. It is linear, it accumu- ' 111ly one recourse against the fear: science. (The purchasing of "insur-
lates, and it has physical permanence. Therefore, to the European ,11 wc" is another attempt to escape the fear, but it does not work.)
mind, it gives the impression of "truth": objective and eternal. In •,. ll•nce becomes a force conjured up to battle another powerful force.
nascent Europe people could begin to talk about the "correct histor- (I .Ike a battle of "Gods.") Science predicts! It prepares Europeans for
ical perspective" (Havelock), and in retrospect, Europeans looking 1lw luture . It is through science that they seek to relieve their anxiety
back on their development see this as an advance aided by the syn- l 1y ~al ning control over what controls them. It is therefore dictated by
tax of the written word. "Chronology," says Havelock, "depends in I 111' < 1$i/i. It works only up to a point. Failing in the end to provide ful-
part on the mastery of time as abstraction." The participants in "oral flll1rn•nt, for, after all, the European conception of science is above all
culture" do not have this sense. Mircea Eliade's view, like that of ,., 11lnr aud rests on alienating, literate, rationalistic, linear concepts.
Dorothy Lee and Juenger, is very different from Havelock's. Instead 1 lw 1no nste r that the Europeans have created-this abstract and
of viewing nonlineal conceptions as symptoms of "backwardness" 11pptt•:;t;ive future-continues to threaten, to intimidate, to frighten.
and "ignorance," he sees them as being indica tive of a theory of I " 1 1 yl lilug is thought to move inexorably towards this future, a move-
humanity in opposition to, perhaps deeper than, that of the European. 1111·111 llml Imparts value (progres.;), a nd yet the perceived destiny is
He finds, "in this re jection of profa ne, continuous l'ime, a certain mete:l- I• 11 111 od11ting. T hus, lincality is despiritualizing, while simultaneously
physical "valoriza tion" of hu1na n exis tc nce." 72 1 111 11 llh11t l11 1o< a11 esS<'11lial 111gre<lle nt to tlte structure o f the mytho-
The European conc1·pl ion of h Isl t)t y w<1s }:1 ·t'ltl,11 ost L·nsihly I 11 f111 111 II l wlps l o crcal<' 1lw Illusion of the supe riority of European cul-
iwparalt• ii fit'l'cel y from "111-yt It," 'l'n t I 11'111 II tis W 11!1 1111111 lt1 •t 1111\I k ( lttd I 1111• 1111 lt·11111 •111lwrs, 111111 ll11 ·11·f<1 n • ht ~ tlw os1li.
t atlo11 ) nl -:1q wrln rll y .w1•111 11 l1 ·, w11t tc-11 hht111y1 1: 11pp11.,Pd 111 "l u:w All p111 po'li• l wc 11111 Ps '' f l11H I c 1111s1• " Wlttl1• it llHIY lw a mh t;\kc• to
64 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 65

view Aristotle as an especially creative or intuitive mind, and history tional relations between phenomena, so it views space as a mere
suggests that he "borrowed" (to use a euphemism) much from the system of relations and functions. Space is postulated by us to be
ancient Kemites ("Egyptians"), 73 Aristotle does exhibit a particular infinite, continuous, and homogenous - attributes which mere sen-
manifestation of the Platonic influence and therefore needs to be con- sual perception does not reveal. But primitive thought cannot
sidered in this examination of the development of the European uta- abstract a concept "space." 76
mawazo. His formulation both intensified and foreshadowed two
epistemological and ideological tendencies that became crucial And this experience consists in what we would call qualifying asso-
themes and identifying characteristics of the European world-view: ciations. Primitive thought naturally recognized the relationship of
the assumption of cause and scientism (science as ideology). The cause and effect, but it cannot recognize our view of an impersonal,
mechanical, and lawlike functioning of causality. . . the category of
Aristotelian typologies, in their emphasis on particular aspects of
causality .. . is all important for modern thought as the distinction
Platonism, had tremendous influence on medieval thought and laid between the subjective and the objective... science... reduces the
the groundwork for subsequent definition of the rationalistic chaos of perceptions to an order in which typical events take place
endeavor, an endeavor that became the European obsession. according to universal laws . . . the instrument of this conversion
For Aristotle, "metaphysics," or the science of "first causes," is from chaos to order is the postulate of causality.76
the "divine" science. It is the "first philosophy," the study of the prin-
ciples of other sciences. It is divine by virtue of the fact that the Cultures prior to European classical Greece most certainly did
nature of divine thought is that it must necessarily have "itself for its urder events in terms of universal laws, and impersonal, external
object." 74 Metaphysics, that which is beyond the physical, is indeed rause is not the only possibility for conceptualizing causality. What
the "place" for the discussion of "cause," since cause is a concept, a f.'rankfort portrays as a weakness is certainly only a difference. It is
way of making sense of observed and experienced phenomena, that the European asili that transforms "abstract," "impersonal" concep-
cannot itself be observed and is not inherent in that phenomena. We llons of reality into an advantage, because the asili defines the goal
can see "effects." We cannot see their "causes." Cause is a meta- .1s "power over other," and it is in this sense that African and other
physical concept. Yet with all of the European emphasis on this con- 1·n11teptions appear to be defeated.
cept of cause, they end up by lacking a true "metaphysic," because Frankfort's statements are characteristic of Eurocentric schol-
of the "success" of a materialistic world-view. 111 ship as it attempts to draw the line between European civilization
The concept of cause is the basis of a tradition of European sci- o111d what came before it. (This kind of "before" can of course also be
ence that deals exclusively with the physical and in which the meta- 1·1111tcmporaneous-that is the effectiveness of European evolution-
physical is debunked as "mystical" and antiscientific. De Lubicz " ' y lheory and ideology in combination.) Again we can see the impor-
argues that there is no "cause" until it produces an "effect" and that 1.111ce of Plato. From the terms that Frankfort uses he may as well be
that relationship is by no means certain since any number of condi- d1 1\Wing the line that separates the "cave" from the world of ideas.
tions may effect the potential "cause," thereby changing its "effect" But the re are other interpretations of the implications of the
from what we would have rationally thought it would be. 75 Yet r u11cepl of causality. Kwame Nkrumah, in his book Consciencism
European science is predicated solely on the predictability of the ( l %4), makes an attempt to synthesize "external causality" with the
relationship between cause and effect and treats this relationship in \ l rinrn concept of causality, which he characterizes as "internal."
a totally mechanistic way. It is a science that has attempted to mate- < t•d rlc X. Clark, however, delves deeper into the spiritual implica-
rialize a spiritualistic concept, just as from an African-centered view- l1011 s of these two views. He implies that Nkrumah was attempting the
point, it has attempted to materialize a spiritual universe. But the "'Irt: n1l'l y d tffk ult, if no t the impossible. For Clark thes e two views of
"discovery" of cause and the formul atio n of universal laws o f causa 1 ·lll·~alit y r<'prcsenl dlffc·rcnt axiological mo dalities and different lev-
tion a re seen from th e f.u ror<'nl ri c vit•wpolnt as r<> prc>s(•1tli11 g 1 1-. 11r <'flll!Wh 11 rs 11t·ss. E11 ro p~i111 culture glorifies Lhc ego in the context
pro~n·ss. I lc•11 ri r:rank(ort S t 't'S It a:; tlJI' I t:Uls lo t It Ill I In n of the 11l l11dlv1d1 1,tl ls 1n, whll1· Af rlt·,1111·1dt ur<' 111i11l111iz<->s the E'l{O fo r thC' sake
"'111ytl11 1p111•1<·" to flit • "s1 l1•11tlll<" 1111t ul· 111 '' ' •l'll '• I' 111 111w11• M1 .11111 g 1u11p lcl1·1tllt y. E11111p1·, 111 s 1l1<•tc..'fn 11· cn11-

t 111ll y .1l t1•111pl " t n d l'111tH1 .t1,1 tl' l11d1• p 1•11 d1 •11t 1· 11 1111 1 l i lt' lci rc1·s 11f

111•.I .1 11 11 ul 1•111 1110 11µ 111 • 1•1•1 •, ;t,d1ll 1l11·u 11

(111 11 1 1t1i1111 11•,11 11 t 1111 11• 11111111•" 111 111 .11 1• ' 111'111 .111 1 111 ,11 k1111wlc ds:io tl 11 I.wt 1h.1t ( tl H y) , 11 (111~
66 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 67

with everything else in the Universe have been caused," while for givens as "universal" truths, European c ulture as some how the most
Africans "everything in the Universe is related, is dependent and is rational, and the rational model of the universe as the only accurate
caused," including themselves; they believe that "things happen view. This has led to what De Lubicz calls "a research without illu-
because they do. " 77 In Clark's analysis, the European "why," which is mination." For him the basis of all scient ific knowledge or universal
different from the African "why," issues from a consciousness that knowledge is intuition. Intellectual analysis is secondary and will
remains locked in to the "lower order" of spatial-temporal dimen- a lways be, at best, inconclusive. The African world-view: Spirit is pri-
sions. African consciousness, on the other hand, functions more on mary!
the level of spirituality that becomes the meaningful dimension. The European definition of science is not the only way of defin-
(Leonard Barrett makes a similar point with regard to the African ing what science should be. For Hunter Adams, science is the "search
conception of illness. 78 This different emphasis in the conception of for unity or wholeness within o r without all human experience"
causality is, in Clark's view, "the manifestation of a totally different [Adam's italics] 81 and for Wade Nobles, "science is the formal recon-
state of consciousness" in which the African is able to move beyond struction or representation of a people's shared set of systematic
ordinary time and space to a higher level on which events can a nd cumulative ideas, beliefs, and knowledges (i.e., common sense)
become meaningful in terms of cosmic or universal causation. 79 stemming from their culture.. . ."82 The definition of European science
Yet the idea of cause is problematic even within European logic. reflects the European consciousness, and the style of thought gen-
Of Aristotle's four kinds of causes, "material," "formal," "efficient," and e rated by that consciousness has become ideological. In this role it
"final, " the final cause is crucial for our analysis. According to is identified as "scientism." Nobles warns us: "Thus the danger when
Aristotle the final cause of an object, thing, or phenomenon is its pur- \)ne adopts uncritically the science and paradigms of another peo-
pose, the end for which it exists. In his view determining the final ple's reality is that one adopts their consciousness and also limits the
cause of an object or phenomenon is the most important objective of <1rena of one's own awareness."83
science. At the same time this tradition rigidly separates science and Aristotle's role in setting the st age for the development of sci-
belief. Yet the idea of final cause can only be understood to be a 1·ntism as a European attitude toward truth and value was significant.
belief! The belief in the idea of "final cause" gives to European thought For him the world became a hierarchy of beings in which each realm
its strong teleological c haracter. It leads to an assumption that every- lill fi lled a purpose for the realm "above" it. This was a world-view in
thing that exists, exists for a purpose, and that purpose is the most the making, a world described in terms of telic relationship. The cru-
important thing about it. This idea manifests itself in ideologies as 1·ia l mechanism was "cause." But causality is not the only way of relat-
diverse as Judeo-Christian thought and Marxian analysis, and per- ing p henomena. The tyranny of mechanical causation in European
haps finds its ultimate expression in the idea of progress, a critical t ltought precludes the perception of cosmic interrelationship, iden-
component of both of these traditions. European science therefore t lfi c.:ation, meaningful coincidence, complementarity, and the "circle."
states what must be taken as an act of faith (the belief in cause) in an Aris totle's insistence on the idea of cause was necessary if people
absolutist and deterministic manner. Clearly, the result is dogma and wt•re to accept "purpose" as the essence of the universe. "Purpose"
its purpose is ideological: "scientism." h an essential ingredient of the progress mythology and the techni-
What should be method only becomes ideology, which rests on , al o bsession that would develop subsequently in European culture.
the following myths, according to Carl Spight: (1) that science is fun- It Is impossible to worship "efficiency" without a prior emphasis on
damentally, culturally independent and universal; (2) that the only 111t•cha nical causation and materialistic purpose. All of these con-
reliable and completely objective language is scie ntific knowle dge; (3) ' Ppti ons require a lineal mo d ality. The regenerative and renewing
that science is dispassionate, unemotional, and a ntirc ligious; ('1) tha l • v1· !1• inte rfe res with and cannot be tole rated by this view. (De Lubicz
logic is the fundamental tool of scie nce; and (!'>) that the scientific l 11 l k~; (l bout the "closed, self-re n ewing Osirian cycle" of ancient
method leads systematically and progress iv<'ly t nwa1d ti H' t rut 11.1111 l\1•111 ct.H~)
The func t·io n o f scie nce inFuropi·nn nilt11n· li<·<·1111ws th;it of Psttih· Jn the Africa n world view it Is t hf' C'tNrial cyC'l f> of Ii fe that offers
llshln g an i11v11liwrahlc· s011t r ,· of .111tl1wll y 111.111.11111111111•1 l111 ll1·11H<'d tl w po~;s ll> l llly uf trn 11 sc·t·1 11 l<·111·1·, of h11n111111inus intPrre lations hip, of
111 1l'latlnn t11 111l1C r c11lt111•"· It 11 .1» 1111• t 1111' 11f 1°1f,l111l•, IJl11 J.1 l•:w np1•1111 wltol 1•1w:-.s, llll t'J{lilll1111, .111d .111tlw11tlt uq~. 1111 1 ll y. T ilt' 1·t1111't'pl Is splr
. ~
68 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 69

itually satisfying. The European, on the other hand, is perceptually inability to think "logically." Levy-Bruh! referred to the "pre-logical"
and phenomenally (experientially) limited by his lineal conception of mentality. This is because Europeans needed to be able to say that
reality. There is no link between past, present, and future save a there was only "one road to reality," and that road could then be con-
"causal" link. There is no sacred time. History is limited to the secu- trolled by one culture, one civilization, one type of person-yes, even
lar. Even the most meaningful religious image in the European tradi- one race. And what unfolds in these pages is the way in which that
tion-that of the Christ-is only seen to have value in so far as it can control, that power, was achieved: the necessity of the monolith! The
be placed within an "historic" sequence. It does not have a sacred asili of European development allows us to understand these "eido-
validity, but a secular one. The dominance of lineal models perhaps logical" (Bateson) developments as preparation for the putting in
helps to account for the spiritual malaise of European societies. place of the powerful monolithic state culture that has become
Edward Hall believes that the alienation of the European from Europe.
nature is related to the dominance of lineality in the European world-
view. "We live fragmented, compartmentalized lives in which con- Supremacy of the Absolute, the Abstract,
tradictions are carefully sealed off from each other. We have been and the Analytical
taught to think linearly rather than comprehensively." 85 "It is not that
In the Republic, Glaucon and Adimantis are seeking abstract
linear relationships don't help to order certain aspects of experience,
"virtue" as opposed to "virtue" always attached to a concrete situa-
but they will not alone generate a holistic view."86 By insisting on the
t Ion. Havelock again sees this as part of the backwardness of
dominance of one mode the European has lost sight of the whole. But
'' l lomeric" as opposed to "Platonic" Greece. In the former modality,
this was necessary! Just as t he mode of objectification had to be ele-
llllC o nly learned of concrete instances of virtues. The Platonic "rev-
vated to supremacy in order for the "right" people/minds to achieve
nlutio n" in thinking was not only to "separate the knower from the
control. Lineality was fundamental to the system of "logic" that
known," but also to introduce a special kind of abstraction that was
Aristotle introduced, which was thereafter equat ed with truth.
Io become identified with European thought. In the Euthyphro, a sim-
Vernon Dixon quotes from the Metaphysics:
lh r concern arises. Socrates convinces Euthyphro that he cannot
It is impossible for the same thing at the same time to belong and not tt·cognize" piety when he sees it, because he has no "idea" of it.
to belong to the same thing in the same respect; and whatever other I '11t llyphro's actions are therefore, according to Socrates, plagued by
distinctions you might add to meet dialectical objections, let them be " hH onsistency." It is above all permanence and consistency that are
added. This, then is the most certain of all principles . .. . 87 ,whlcvcd through Platonic abstraction, the "unchanging" form to
wltk h all things subject to change can be referred. But is this not
Dixon characterizes European (Aristotelian) logic as "either/or 11wrl!ly an illusion-at best an operational method? Situations such
logic," which is based on the laws of contradiction, the excluded .1~. 1111 • 1me with which Euthyphro is confronted will always arise in the
middle, and laws of identity. He says that "either/or logic has become l111111i1n condition. There will always be times when one's duty to the
so ingrained in Western thought that it is felt to be natural and self- <;, u 1 ~: Hnd one's duty to one's father conflict. Having an "idea" of piety
evident." He contrasts European logic with what he calls the "diuni- will uol necessarily help one to make the right decision-if, indeed,
tal logic" of the African world-view, in which things can be "apart and 11111· 1•Jdst s . ranatical commitment to such an "idea" tends to result in
united at the same time." According to this logic, something is both 11111rnllst k, self-righteous, and antihumane postures. "Piety," after all,
in one category and not in that category at the same time. 88 This cir- 11.1 •1 to dn with meaning and value and as s uch is necessarily attached
cumstance is unthinkable given the European world-view. 111 1111' "l1111nan ," the existential and the concrete. Plato invents the
One problem evidenced repeatedly when Europeans look at ' ltl1•.1" whklt Is other than human, and what he claims to achieve by
"non-European" or what they consider "prc-Europc>an" cultures is tl 11l 11 ~! ~o Is to rid "t1utli " of the• Hn1biguily that is inherent in the
their misunderstanding of the relationship betwcc>n thl· oue and the 1111111 111 Tlw Nep11f1/h lt<a·ll ls s11cll a n " lcl t>a" or "l ..onn." It is a s tate of
many, het ween unit y and diver sit y, For 1wopk• ot llC'1 t llm1 l·'.111 opt:"mts I'' 111•1 11011 t hilt :.olVt". h11111a11 prnl>kms l>y t'liml11111i11g t ht'lll. In f'hE'
ll11•sp PXl'>I sl11111llm1t~n.i·>lv 111Hl 1t1l' llOI •;1· •11 to lw 111111111<11\ 101 y, Tl11· li1•1111/i/1r tl11 • ,1111l>IH11lty a11rl fw·o11.,lstP11ry ol 1!1t• •·01wn•tl' dlsappPars
1':11111pn.i 11 111rn.t 0111 111 vt1'W'I 1111 ..11• c 111111 pll1111 i. .1>1 11'.1111pl1 •r. 111 tlw 1 It t•1 ll'pl11c1·tl by tlll' l'lot1111h 1llH1!1111 tl1111 "tlw ld1·;1111 tlw C.1111d"
YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 71

The fact is that the existence of "piety" and "virtue" as abstrac- ularized and distorted it for ideological use. It is interesting that the
tions, and as intellectual "objects" distinct from the "knowing self" mysteries of the universe for Plato become profane, as the esoteric
must be demonstrated. It cannot be assumed. The only convincing becomes exoteric, and at the same time deceptively elitist. While it
argument is that the illusion of objectification and the use of such is an epistemological system that everyone is forced to relate to, only
abstractions may, under the proper circumstances, be handy tools the very special few are capable of knowing the "Ideas," and so must
with limited applicability. It is unreasonable to accept them as onto- teach and rule the rest. Again the creation of power.
logical givens or as being necessary for all kinds of "knowing," as This idea of the Platonic abstraction raises an interesting point.
Plato argues. But then, he must make this argument, because his It is important that all of us be able to see relationships between par-
intent is not only philosophical but also ideological, i.e., social and ticular events and phenomenon and that we "understand" or organize
the m. We want our children to be able to think "conceptually," i.e. ,
Havelock has only praise for Platonic epistemology. For him it lo feel comfortable with concepts that can be used to make sense of
represents "advance" in human intelligence. The object that the lhings, to solve problems. We don't want them to be forever limited
knower knows must be an abstraction. It must be the quality in iso- lo the familiar circumstance, unable to apply a concept to a "new" sit-
lation, the "thing in itself." The Platonic forms are of this nature (yet uation or problem. There is also the very simple cultural reality that
certainly impossible to imagine). According to Havelock: In all societies and cultures people must abstract from experience in
order to organize themselves, to build and to create and to develop.
The abstracted objects of knowledge as known and as stated , are Abstraction has its place. It is not a European cognitive tool (method-
always identical with themselves-unchanging-and always when o logy) , but a "human" one. Contrary to European thought, it did not
statements are made about them or when they are used in state- IH·gin with Plato or the Greeks.
ments, these statements have to be timeless .89 Plato separates the world into two parts-or rather creates two
worlds: the world of "appearance" and the world of "reality." This sep-
What is it that the knower "knows?" Only these abstracted iden- i1111 lion has continued to characterize European scientific thought.
tities. According to Plato they have greater reality than concrete 1'11r Stanley Diamond this is problematical as "concepts become real
instances, because they are more "permanent." Yet it would seem to 1· 11111 ics rather than metaphors and as such have power over peo-
us that the concrete has greater reality: the material as manifestation pl\'." Concepts become reified. This, indeed , appears to have been
of spirit. Havelock says of Plato, "He tries to focus on the permanence 111.11n's o bjective. Plato "isolates the abstract from the concrete (and)
of the abstract whether as formula or as concept, as opposed to the 1111· inte llectual from the emotional."91 However, as Diamond points
fluctuating here today-gone tomorrow character of the concrete sit- 11111 , I lie Platonic abstraction is but one kind of abstraction and it is
uation." Plato skillfully creates the illusion of "permanence." He draws tlils style that has become entrenched in European thought:
the notorious "line" to separate the invisible from the visible, the
"intelligible" from that which can only be sensed or felt; and those . . l'vcry linguistic system is a system of abstraction; each sorting
things (ideas) that "are" from that which merely "seems to be." In 11111 of experience and conclusion from it is an abstract endeavor;
Plato's writings, "Ideas" and "Forms" are written with capitals and so •·v1 ·ry tool is a symbol of abstract thinking; indeed, all cultural con-
adumbrate the written symbolization of the European "God," while v1•1 ll Ion, all c ustom is testimony to the generic human capacity for
things in the sensual world, opinions, and poetry are written in the 11>st met ing. But such abstractions are indissolubly wedded to the
1 1111rn· tc; tl1cy are nourished by the concrete, and they are, I
lower case-just as are the "gods" of people who are not European.
h1olh•v1'. ultimately induced nut deduced. They are not, in short,
In his obsession with the abstract and the absolute, Plato has
" Ill'< lfl<';llly Platonic abstractions, and they do not have the politi-
borrowed from the teaching of the Myste ry Schools that preceded ' l11•cl Pl'Y<'hological connotations of the latter.92
him and from which he learned. (There are also E11rocentric scholars
who s.iy thnt it w;is 111 1: otlH·r wny around : tllat tr11< lltin11 s attrl1H1lt'd IJl111111111d l111s pL1 rcdwd llw siHnlfka11ce of the Platonic style of
l111111t 11•111EJ.t,VPI11< l1wlly c;11itl• l11l1•1 a11d w1•11· 111111 11 •111 1·d l1v l'l.1l11 'l!l> d1• t 1.11 llt111 It 1:1 hkotugi<',tl h1 h11t·11l. It:-. rote· ls In cs t nbllsh epistc-
l h lt.1~ t.tlct 11 ll11• ld1•1111I .1 .. 1c·11•rl , 1'11· , ~y 11il 1111l1 1 dl y -.t11tc•d 11'11111, 11111l11l{l• 1tl 1t11ll11111l y .llld, 111 c·o11t •if', llll11•r kl11d •: nt n11llimlly c·<l11 llle11
1pJ111111C l1 ,iJ1ll' llld\' 1111 1111 1 (1 • p{tltll11i t•t dl ~i11l•t1Jlll'll l 1 Hllll l11 1 11,1, 1
72 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 73

be derived from and supported by it. The special nature of this rela- emerged from the disinterested stirring of an idle curiosity anxious
tionship in European development will unfold in the chapters that fol- to think more clearly for its own sake, but also as a response to the
low. Those colonized by Europe (as well as Europeans themselves) crisis of Greek moral and belief systems. On a sociological level, it
are taught that Platonic abstraction is abstraction and that because is in effect an effort to identify a hidden ground among warring
their thought-systems are not based on such abstractions, they are views and a rhetoric serving to win consent to a method aimed at
incapable of thinking "abstractly." This is merely one aspect of producing concensus.93
Europe's assault on the rest of the world.
Certainly abstraction is valuable in specific situations, when rea- Even in its tentativeness, Gouldner's portrayal of the implica-
soning about certain kinds of things, e.g., concepts of "opposite," tions of Platonic philosophy, and importantly of Plato's motives, is
"sameness," "difference," etc. But we all know that there are very few refreshingly honest in its lack of ordinary European chauvinism. The
instances in which these abstract categories can be applied accu- implications that Plato's intentions may have been more than "acad-
rately and without qualification to concrete realities. Plato knew this 1·mic" is strangely sacrilegious in a thoroughly secular society.
and so therefore called reality as we know it "unreal." He says that it Perhaps the Sophists were the most effective critics of the Platonic
is only our perception that is contradictory, not "Reality" (with a cap- Order from those among the "ancestors" of the European. They
ital "R"). Perhaps my major argument with the Platonic argument is apparently presented the greatest threat to his new state, as they
the dictum that the mode of abstraction must be applied to our moral illtacked it at its epistemological base. So they come out to be the
conceptions and our relationships wit h each other, or as Kant puts worst moral villains, since immorality is equated with relativism.
it, our "judgements." The Kantian imperative is, after all, morally and I .<'Wis Richards says:
existentially irrelevant. To be meaningful it must be applied to con-
According to the philosophy of the Sophists there does not exist
crete human situations and be qualified and conditioned by those sit- any objective truth, only beliefs. "Man is the measure of all things,"
uations. The use of abstract "universal" formulations in the European s<1 id Protagoras. There may be many contradictory opinions about
experience has been to control people, to impress them, and to intim- t lie one and the same thing and all of them equally true. The wise
idate them. These formulations have political significance not moral 111an is he who can change the opinions of the many through the art
or ethical significance. They do not help people to live better. That is of persuasion. This explains how they believed that they could
why Eric Havelock is wrong when he implies that the Greeks were prove "the wrong logic as the right one and the right as the wrong
capable of living more morally after Plato's influence. And that is why, tll1 C."~ 4

despite the ascendancy of European scientific thought, European cul-

ture is in many ways less moral than the majority of cultures that We would do well to look more closely at the writings of the
have an authentically moral base. ~1 .,pl1ists from an African-centered perspective. It would seem that
Abstraction is then a tool that all people use to integrate them- I l11•y were dangerous, because if one believed them, the painstaking
selves into their environment and to organize their thinking and their ' •" gumen ts" in the Platonic dialogues might not hold water. Things
knowledge. Clearly the Platonic emphasis that grew to dominate 1t1 •' not necessarily what they are made t o appear. Jn contemporary

European thought, behavior, and social organization did not have I ' t 1ro American society the skill that pays off is that which enables one
this purpose. Alvin Gouldner's interpretation is closer to mine than I 11 111ake aggression look like "defense," oppression look like "free-
that of most European scholars: cl11111." and cultural imperialism look like "enlightenment." The
11pl al st s, we are told, were dangerous because they "undermined the
Plato's effort to find transcendental universal Ideas which he pos- • •llH t•pts of religion, family, the slate and moral behavior.'' (But isn't
tulates to be real is probably related to the very practical problem 1111' whal Plilto hacl to clo?) "They taught that religion was an inven-
conrronting l he Greek morality of his tim<': Ondh1H a common 111111 111 1lw ph 1losop hcn~. •hat Gods were the creations of man, and
l:!rn1111cl among cliv<'rsc bC'liefs <1 n<1('Stal>lis hl11g 11 hasii; fnr u111fyinR lhul llH' lt1ws WNt' 11.1:.sed hy the strong for their own protcC'tion .
tllPlll, of c 11111posi11g e11111p1•tltlfl clalius and v11l111 01 •,11 111.11 11ll 111 •c·cl I Iii • d;111~1·1 of ~: w Ii t1 •.w llt11 i.:~: to i-;(wlc•ly was vast. Tit<• young people
11111 lu • 11 1•,111 d 11•lt1l111•;t1c ,Il ly, ,1•1 It 1111" w1•11• of 1 q11.1I v11 hw '1'111'
1 111 •1 1.tlly w1•11• .1pl to 111•1111111' l11fl111•111 ·l'd ,1 11cl 111l111 •cl '" 1 ~'

. .
de v• l11p111P11I ol 11111v1•1 1111f tf1 11111111111•1 lllHV, 1111 11, 11111 only l1.1v1•
11111 , Ill L11 I l' l.111111!1 vh·w ... w1·11· to 11 •,111111111Ullltl1tl11111d l111p1•1
74 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 75

ial control, while the Sophists seem to have had a more pluralistic there could be many and contradictory opinions about the same
view, recognizing the validity in cultural diversity and world-view. In thing and all of them true! What blasphemy! Worse, sedition!
Gouldner's words, this recognition leads them to: Arthur 0. Lovejoy uses the phrase "metaphys ical pathos" in a
way that seems to bring together Gregory Bateson's "eidos" and
. . . a critique of the conventional distinctions between Greeks and "ethos" into one idea. A sense of the eternal gives aesthetic pleasure
barbarians, aristocrats and plebeians, slaves and masters, viewing to the European mind, says Lovejoy. 97 The idea of immutability and
these as artifices contrary to nature, and, indeed, viewing the gods
pure abstractness are pleasing to the European utamaroho. Lovejoy
themselves as men's own invention. The diversified customs and says of Platonic thought:
beliefs they encounter lead some Sophists to conclude that when
men disagree about institutions, laws, or customs, it does not nec-
essarily follow that some of them must be right and others wrong; Having arrived at the conception of Idea of Ideas which is a pure
and that there is not necessarily any one unvarying standard of truth perfection alien to all the categories of ordinary thought and in
by which the validity of social beliefs can be judged. Institutions need of nothing, external to itself, he forthwith finds in just this
transcendent and absolute Being the necessitating logical ground
and laws, from this standpoint, have to be evaluated in terms of the
differing conditions that prevail in different communities.96 of the existence of this world .... And if any reason for the being of
the sensible world was to be found, it must necessarily, for Plato,
be found in the Intellectual World, and in the very nature of the
Obviously this would not do at all. This epistemological stand sole Self-Sufficing Being. The not-so-good , not to say the bad, must
was incompatible with the Platonic objective. No wonder Plato be apprehended as derivative from the Idea of the Good , as
spends so much time "refuting" the Sophists in his dialogues. The involved in the essence of Perfection. The self-same God who was
Sophist's view did not yield power, did not suit the demands of the the Goal of all desire must also be the Source of the creatures that
European asili and was therefore rejected as an epistemological desire it. 98
To understand the function of the abstract-absolute modality is The experiencing of the sacred and the eternal, as opposed to
to understand European development and its relationship to alter- 1•rofnne and secular time seems to be essential for human spiritual ful-
native patterns of development , that is, to other cultures. An effective llllmcnt o r at least satisfaction. But in majority cultures this experi-
critique of European culture must trace its development from one 1•1 1ce is ac hieved in other ways. The power of ritual drama as a
critical juncture to the next, at which point the need to solidify new 1 1111 ural mechanism capable of restructuring ordinary categories of

orders has always been met by another dogma, another ideological t ll11e aud s pace is profound, startling, and impressive: a different kind
statement of European supremacy. This process leads towards ever 111 transcendence indeed from the artificial construct that serves as
more intense despiritualization and greater control. 1lw bil.sis for rational thought. This is not a transcendence in which
The culture that Plato has initiated is not a good one for the cre- w1 • participate existentially. Ritual drama, on the other hand , acts to
ative mind nor for those who are not European. In light of this inter- t1.111s form the psyche to redefine reality for a special moment. It
pretation, Plato's anger towards the Sophists makes more sense. 111 •1 11111<•s .1 phenomenal reality. The European conceptual fram ework
They become enemies, almost the symbol of evil because of their t rc·. it s phenomena as objects and so takes away the power of experi-
rejection of the rational. To state explicity that man was the measure ••111 t•d rN1 lit y. As Norman Brown has said, "Secular rationalism is
of all things, as Protagoras said, was to undermine the new order. Of 11.Il ly11 relii,iion."!J!I
course, the Platonic view implied the same thing, but he limited it to William James is a Europe:\n philosopher who appears insane
"rational man," and he defined "reason." Once the new "measure of \\.·I11 •11 Vll'Wt •<I in terms of E11ropeun philosophy, because of his refusal
man" had been decreed, it couldn't be changed . WPll over one thou- 111,111 c•pt lls 10 111.{ standi 11 ~ tradition, his rejection of the European uta-
sand years latc>r in th e same tradition, Saint Simon and ot lwrs would 1111111 111 11, .1 .1111es cri tiq uc>s what he call s "monistic idealism" o r the
echo Plato's t·dicl. Tlwy would say llinl llw 11 c•w i;oclc·ly ·> llrnild 111' "111lll111w plly nr 1111· <1lnwt11te." II<! says th aL it is essentially "nonhu-
d1•rlv1•d lro111 prl11rlpll' > ol m tlo11;,J ll1111111'11. Ah1'11li 11l1.111 Wd'•"1·111 1" 1
111.11 1" , " Ill I JJl'll l tc•r art s 11111 ·rnffPr:>, l\or loVt's 1101 llal •s; It has no
11t•.lt1· 1111 tlw 1c·11ll 1, 1~l 11 11 111 -. awla ,, 'l l11l1 · 1'11t • '-111pll hh lliu l •11d tl 11111 1 1w1 1 cl ., cl1•.,1 11•1t, 111 .1 'lpl1. 1t lc111s , 1111 f.1111111 "; 111 s111'1 '1•ss1'h, f1 IP111ls rn
• 111•11!11 .,, vi< l111 l1 ·s 111 d1 •l1 ,ah " "Al1•,11ll1th111," lit' s 1I V'i, dl1 t,1t1 •s ll 1,1t
YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 77
phen~mena on a "progressive" scale. Later, however, in the 1960s
nothing in this life is real. "The great claim of the philosophy of the
expenmentation on the brain, it was discovered that both hemi-
absolute is that the absolute is no hypothesis, but a presupposition
spheres of the brain, the "right" and the "left" were involved in
implicated in all thinking, and needing only a little effort of analysis
"higher" cognitive functions and that these two halves were not in
to be seen as a logical necessity." 100 James' own "pragmatic" con-
o?position or an~agonistic to one another as the European world-
ception of truth is as follows: v1ew would predispose one to think, but that their functions were
True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate ~ompl~mentar~.· ~ach hemisphere, according to "split-brain" theory,
and verify. False ideas are those that we cannot. .. . The truth of an is fashioned to different modes of thinking, both highly complex."103
idea is not a stagnant property inherent in it. Truth happens to an The term "mode" here is very important. It is the Kuntu of African phi-
idea. It becomes true, is made true by events. Its verity is in fact an losop~y: th.e .manner in which a thing is perceived, apprehended,
event, a process: the process namely of its verifying itself, its veri- made mtelltg1ble, and expressed. It is the modality and as such it
fication. Its validity is the process of its valid-ation. [James' italics ) IOI ~ff,;cts ~h: contours of what we receive, perceive, and experience. It
is med1~ a~d therefore has a complex and intimate relationship to
Plato would not have had any patience for James' "pragmatism" c?mmumcat10.n. The Kuntu can do much to determine, limit, portray,
and neither has the European tradition. It does not "fit" the ideolog- distort, or ennch the phenomenon being presented.
ical needs of this minority culture. Does not "suit" the other dominant . Roger Sperry at the California Institute of Technology has ear-
modes of the culture. It does not satisfy the power needs of the asili. ned out investigations to further the understanding of the "bimodal"
The synthetic mode yields cosmic conceptions. The European ~ature of our brains. His work has produced the following informa-
world-view has succeeded in leaving the culture with no authentic tion: (1) that there is a connecting "cable" of nerve fibers between the
cosmology, no true metaphysic . Everything is physical, material, and two hemispheres of the brain; (2) that when this cable is severed
separate. The ultimate approach to knowledge is objectification and each hemisphere operates independently; (3) and that each hemi-
analysis. Willie Abraham talks about the European "tendency to rip spl:ere perceive~ its own reality, but that this reality is only partial
things apart." 102 There are some things, he says, that cannot be or mcomplete without that of the other hemisphere. The intact brain
"divided" without destroying their integrity. It would seem that the has. a "corpos callosa" (connecting body) that facilitates communi-
human would be one of these. The European scientific approach tears ~at1on. between the two hemispheres and so unifies the thinking/feel-
human beings to shreads in order to understand them. The essen- n1g be~ng. The principles expressed are those of an African cosmology
tialist view assumes man/woman to be irreducible. The analytical In whic h we have the fundamental "twinness" of the universe· the
mode splits things up. Remote and absolute abstraction is made romplementary functions of opposites that cooperate to for~ the
applicable to the here and now through an analytical methodology. p1 oper working of the whole. But our notions of what constitutes
What seems to have occurred very early in European development litl e llige.nce have been molded by the minority Western European
was a predilection for one of the cognitive methods that we as human worlcl-vi~w, and so we have difficulty thinking holistically in this
beings were capable of employing. The absolute, the abstract, and the 11·gnrd, si~ce.the European world is predicated on first separation,
analytical suit the European utamaroho, an utamaroho that needs the dlC'lmtom1zat1on, and then "dominance" of one of the opposites.
sensa tion of control. Th~ two h e mispheres are now known as "left" and "right." The
Empiric al evidence supports this intepretation. As me ntio ne d It'll lt ('nlls ph ere is tho ught to function in a verbal, analytical mode
previously, early on in the history of European scientific thought, lan- whllt• the r ight hemisphere is nonverbal, global, or "synthetic," spa~
guage-related skills, an d methods of "knowing" were associated with tl,11, complex, and intuitive. Clearly just as the latter was previously
a portion of the brain that was labelled "major," while the portio11 that l<1 111w11 as the "minor'' func tion, it h as consistently and systemati-
generated othe r types of responses was called "minor," and as is in<li- ' 1lly, c·vcn-011e could say- inslitutioually, been d evalue d in

ca l t• cl by tlw ~r111cH1tir rel41tionship o f thcs<' two lt•n ni-;, tlw "mlnor" I .rn op1•a11 dvlllznt 1011/cult urc>. It is rare ly even recognized as being a
w .1•1 tl111111!llt to lw " l< ·ss ll 1.-vc•ln1w<l" than tl w " 111.ljot "'!'his was 11:11 • 111111·1· nl "l11t1·l,·11t'< It Is 11l'itl1er "ll·st<•d fo1" nor cncouragrd.

111.1! 111''c111 1111 11 1," htlv1•11 tl11 1 pn•dllt •t'll<ll • of tl11• F.11111pP.11111l111rl 1111 11111 h1ll·lllg1•111 1• 111 l ~1 1111 1 w1U1 'iHi ll'ty 11.1·; 1>1 1 1•11 l<l1 •11tllwd wi th tlw cogul-
11111 .11 c v11h1tl1111.t1y 111rnl1•I•' tl1i1t .dl11w r111 I It• • '11111111111111111 Ill
78 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 79

tive mode that is generated and controlled by the left hemisphere of these ancient people not yet "consciou s?" According to Jaynes, it
the brain. Hunter Adams prefers to talk about "cultural styles of know- was because of the structure of their b rains, which had two distinct
ing" rather than splitting the brain in this way.104 "chambers." They used only one part for s p eakin g, thinking, learning,
Perhaps the most recent vintage of this Eurocentric view, "sci- etc. The other was used for the "voice" o f the "gods." In other words ,
entifically" stated, is to be found in the work of Julian Jaynes . His the- ancient human beings were told what to do by "voic es" in their he ads.
ory is that human consciousness as "we" know it did not begin to "Voices" told them to build pyramids and civilizations . T he y took
develop until the Second century before the Christian Era! This means these voices to be the authoritative speec h of divine beings , and so
that the Great Pyramid of Gizeh and the calculations involved in its they obeyed. One question that comes to mind is: What couldn't they
creation, the medicine, mathematics, chemistry, and state organiza- do? Well, says Jaynes, t hey were not capable of "introspection ." (One
tion of ancient (Kemet) Egypt, not to mention Sumeria, were all has only to read the ancient Kemetic texts to know that he is mis-
accomplished without "consciousness." "A civilization without con- taken.) And they could not be "self" directed. The voices of the bicam-
sciousness is possible." 105 Jaynes' theory is interesting and ultimately eral mind were a form of social control; the last stage in the
of the classical Eurocentric genre, while on the surface giving the development of language, a development that made civilization pos-
impression of being unique and innovative. It is a new variation on an sible. In the bicameral stage of "civilization," "the language of men
old theme. For Jaynes, consciousness has the following features: 0) involved only one hemisphere in order to leave the other free for the
"spatialization." (2) "Excerption" - we only "see" a part of any partic- la nguage of gods." 109 It seems that one of the things that led Jaynes
ular thing. It is ironic that he should say this since it is the left-brained to the development of h is theory was his observance of schizo-
European modality that keeps people from comprehending globally. ph renics . He tells us that schizophrenic hallucinations are like the
(3) "The Analog 'I'" which allows us to imagine ourselves doing things, guid ances of the gods in antiquity. Stress is the instigation in b oth
i.e., "The Metaphor 'Me."' Of this feature of consciousness, Jaynes instances. During the eras of the "bicameral mind" the str ess thresh-
says, "We can both look out from the imagined self ... or we can step olct o f human beings was lower, like that of schizophrenics today.110
back a bit and see ourselves." (4) "Narratization," from which "we are St re ss , he says, comes from decision making, and that is what caused
constantly seeing ourselves as the main figures in the stories of our lwlluc inations of the gods. Jaynes writes:
lives." (5) "Conciliation," "bring[ing] things together as conscious
objects." 106 According to Jaynes, human beings in ancient times could . .. the presence of voices which had to be obeyed were the
speak, write, listen, read, learn, make decisions, think, and reason, but a bsolute prerequisite to the conscious stage of mind in which it is
were not "conscious": I he self that is responsible and can debate within itself, can order
and direct, and that the creation of such a self is the product of cul-
. .. consciousness is an operation rather than a thing, a repository, 1ure. In a sense, we have become our own gods. 111
or a function. It operates by way of analogy, by way of construct-
ing an analog space with an analog"!" that can observe that space, .Jaynes' theory is quite physiological. The difference between
and move metaphorically in it. It operates on any reactivity, '\ •onscio us" and "unc onsciousness" human beings, or rather "pre-
excerpts relevant aspects, narratizes and conciliates them together rn11scio us" h uman beings, lies in the structure of their brains. The
in a metaphorical space where such meanings can be manipulated l wu te m po ral lo bes o f the b icam e ral brain connected by the tiny
like things in space. Conscious mind is a spatial analog of the world ''.11t1 N ior commissure'' across "which came the directions whic h built
and mental acts are analogs of bodily acts. 11111 l'fvilizalions and founded the world's re ligions, where gods spoke
Consciousness operates only on objectively observable tilings. [italics 111 111en an d we re o b eyed because the y were human volitio n," 112
added.] 107 l11 <'t t1 t1c the "modern" brain with the right a11d le ft h emisph e res as we

l11111w It. Tile left he misphe re, a ccording to .Jaynes, co n ta ins the
H~ takes 1-lavcloc k's view one s te p fu rtlw 1, "Tlwre Is In J.(<'1w ra l ·1p t•1•1·ll ilrt'Hs "; Ilic s 11pplc11 11 11t nry 1110 1o r rortex, Broca's area an d

no cn11:a·inus11 ess in tile llicrcl .... Tl1 e bl!glnu l111-(:.t (i f .1t·tltm .ire noL In
W 1·1111t k1·':, i\ll'il T lw J,1 11 1•r 1~1 tile " m ost t11clts1w nsable t o normnl
«n 11 1wlo11 <; pl11w., n •n•H l l l'i , .11 1<! 11101IV< '!i; 1lw y tll't ' 111 ti 11· 11< I huh .111 d
111•111·11 •· '1'111-i < m 1pll'd wlll1 hh f1•t• ll 11 ~ 111111 lh t• ilgllt hr nl 11 is "la rge ly
'i jlt't•c lw•1 o l Ht11 I" - 11 11• ll ltu llC' lw1 '>'• l1.1d 1111 ' 'Hll ~. " 1011 Why Wl'H ' 1111111 1'1 "•' .u y,'' 11 1 l1·d lrl 111 Ill1 t11 11 lt1dt• lli11 t t lw t lHl1l l>1'11h 1 l:o u "v1•
80 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 81

gial" remain of the "chamber" of the voices of the gods in ancient human!)
times. These "voices" that caused past civilizations to be built were But there are other views of the modalities of human con-
afterall only "excitations" in what corresponds to Wernicke's area on sciousness. Erich Neumann offers a Jungian-influenced conceptual-
the right hemisphere of the contemporary human brain. ization, to some degree reminscent of the right-brain/ left-brain
But cultural/environmental changes were to cause physiological distinction. His distinction is between "matriarchal consciousness"
changes in the brain. Writing and trade interfered with the "voices." and "patriarchal consciousness." Matriarchal consciousness is prior,
Writing no longer stressed the auditory, and trade meant interaction is linked to the "moon spirit" and "moon time," as it is grounded in
with other groups of people who were hearing "other" voices, which natural and cyclical rhythms; it is intuitive and becomes "impreg-
at the very least was confusing. The gods also failed in the "chaos of nated" wit h ideas, rather than "willing" them. Understanding in this
historical upheaval." 114 The result was "consciousness." The result is modality is not divorced from feeling. It involves natural processes
also a continued valorization of the left-brain cognitive modality by of transformation, so that knowing and comprehending affect the
the European. Beneath the complexity and ingenuity, even intellectual knowing being. Matriarchal consciousness is also associated with the
creativity of Jayne's theory of consciousness, are quite visible the still darkness of night that is pregnant with growth.
earmarks of the European utamawazo as well as its ideological ten- Patriarchal consciousness relates to "daylight and sun." It is
dencies: Universal, unilinear evolution, "progress," and the intellec- associated with independently willed thought. Neumann says how-
tual superiority of European culture is assumed. The differences ever, that it is self-deceptive, "interpreting itself as an absolutely free
between earlier civilizations and those that came later are understood system." It is "highly practical," efficient, and quick to react. It fol-
invidiously: "contemporary differences between the hemispheres in lowed matriarchal consciousness in development, detaching itself
cognitive functions at least echo such differences of function between from the unconscious .
man and god as seen in the literature of bicameral man." 115
For Jaynes the process has not ended; it couldn't. "Evolution" We see processes of abstraction, which assist in the free disposal
does not stop; after all "progress" is not reached. That is the beauty and application of ideas and ... lead to the manipulation of abstrac-
of these ideas for the European mind. And so he imagines us to be still tions like numbers in mathematics and concepts in logic. In the
in the throes of "transition" from the grip of the bicameral mind, still psychological sense such abstractions are in the highest degree
without emotional content. 117
fighting the aut hority of the gods, or their "voices"- even though now
we can only "read" their voices (except for those of us who are "schiz- In "patriarchal consciousness" the knower is not affected by
ophrenic.") Jaynes never says what "we" are moving towards. Is it
what is known; rather the knower controls the idea. While matriarchal
toward a one-hemisphered brain? The illusion will then become the rnnsciousness involves "affect-participation," "the abstract thought
reality, and that is truly psychotic. I agree with Jaynes on one point. of patriarchal consciousness is cold in comparison, for the objectiv-
We see the same thing, but we see it from different perspectives.
ity demanded of it presupposes an aloofness possible only to cold
"Science" has become secularized; its view of the human, profane. blood and a cool head."11 8
And as this happens people (Europeans) search for the loss "autho-
for Neumann, as opposed to Jaynes, both modalities represent
rization" of the gods past.116 1111 ms of consciousness, even though one is linked closely to the
But typically Jaynes has falsely "universalized" a cultural phe-
1111 c.:onscious . But in an African-centered view this is not negative,
nomenon. He is describing European science and the European l l l ct' it allows us to be in tune with a universe in which we partici-
malaise. In his view "we" are going through a necessary stage in the
march towards "enlightenment," which, if I interpret hlm correctly,
1'·''l ' as one form of being. Clearly both forms of consciousness are
111•\'l'ssary. They complement one another . The whole brain has two
results when human beings "realize" that there is nothing more than
IJ,lfw s. P<•rhaps European c.:ulture has been molded by a Platonic,
themselves, that they can look to no greater authorization for thr ir "p.111 t.nrhal" consc ious rwss, and seeks to destroy ''matriarchal con-
clN' isions. This lt"ad s to the 11!Um;it <' ;)lid I of :11 cl< ·~a na ll z:l l ln11 11f t llc
, 1 l1111sncss " b<'ct1 11sc o f tlw d cas trn ct lvc, confrnn til tl onal n ature o f the
11-11lv1•1«1' ('l'ltn 11k 1-1nmliw'l:-i l·'.11rnpc- lf ' lffl''l t'llh 1111ly 11 •,11111ll 111il11>1 ltv
1•: 111 o p 1•.111 /lf11111 11111/io "M,1trl;11 d ial (' 1111srf o11 s 11 Psi-;" r«prc:wnts a loss
111 1111· w111ld, 1~l v 1 · 11 ti lt' 111111111 • 111tlw1·:111opt'1lll 111111 1•pll o 11 1111111·
11l 1·1111t1nl l11 tl11 · l ~111111 w11 11 vll'w 1\11d .1• II· t111H) !lt"1 l11 n·s11 rf.w1•1·v1•11
82 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 83

European feminists fight against it. Desacralization of Nature:

When Plato deified the "patriarchal consciousness," he reified Despiritualization of the Human
"form" that inhibited the further "transformation" ("matriarchal con-
sciousness") of the human spirit. As a result European culture does From the outset, let me say that, in discussing these European
not allow its members to become complete ("full-term") human conceptions we will have a problem with gender terminology. First of
beings (the symbolism of Yurugu). Jaynes may be correct but only all, it is awkward, but nonetheless important to refrain from the use
with regard to the European. Maybe they will succeed in the elimi- of "man" to refer to "human" as the European has done in discourse.
nation of one of the hemispheres of their brains, therefore being for- Second, the confusion is further complicated by the fact that when
ever off balance, in a state of perpetual disequilibrium. (Or is that, in discussing the European, I will be talking about European men for the
fact, how they came into being?) This is certainly a description of the most part, because Plato.and those who followed in his wake, ignored
culture. women and did not include them in their self-concepts of "philoso-
According to Levy-Bruh!, who offered an earlier version of pher," "king," or "the European," and that is why they could refer to
Eurocentric theory, "logic" began with "civilized" thought, based on themselves collectively as "European Man." In one sense we are talk-
the principle of contradiction. "Primitives" made use of "prelogical," ing about ideas that effected and were adopted by European women,
"collective representations." The mode of participation contradicts children, and men. The issue, then, becomes complicated, and the
the European emphasis on recognition of discrete entities. In anthro- reader must indulge me as I attempt to deal with these problems gen-
pological theory this cognitive style of thinking has been called "prim- l'rated by the European world-view.
itive," "native," and sometimes "folk." But aren't we really dealing The way the European is taught to view nature and his/her
with two different world-views, which in turn, generated different proper relationship to it is particularly important, because it is, in
epistemological and ontological conceptions? Indeed, the objective part, the consequences of this conception that are most distinctive
of this discussion has been to scrutinize the "taken-for-granted" 11f European culture. European ontology generates a conception of
aspects of European culture or "mind," which is afterall a minority nature and the human, and of reality.
phenomenon, 119 so that they can no longer be assumed to be "uni- What is the implicit idea of nature and its significance that
versal": two (or more) world-views rather than two developmental <·me rges from Plato's dialogues? Alvin Gouldner says:
stages of human thought as Levy-Bruh!, Julian Jaynes, and countless
other European theorists would have them. ln Plato's view ... ends are not resident in nature but in the uni-
versal Ideas or eternal Forms which transcend nature, in which
The African metaphysic, the Native American and Oceanic nature only imperfectly "participates" and apart from which it is
"majority cultures" (it is safe to generalize here), all presuppose a fun- i111lcrently disorderly. From his standpoint, therefore, nature can-
damental unity of reality based on the organic interrelatedness of 1111t Ile controlled by the external influence of some regulating end
being; all refuse to objectify nature, and insist on the essential spiri- 1tr drs ign. L21
tuality of a true cosmos. What became known as the "scientific" view
was really the European view that assumed a reality precluding psy- Elsewhere Gouldner talks about the ideas of those who were to
chical or spiritual influences on physical, material being. This view rPslr 11dure the society:
also resulted in the elimination of a true "metaphysical" concept and
of an authentic cosmology. David Sidney says that, < 1111 011cciving of a ll nature as intrinsically hostile or indifferent to
11tl11d- havi11g, that is, an abiding disposition toward disorder-the
Levy-Bruh! . . . exhibited an ethnocentric prejudice iu assuming that pl.11111Prs'proposC'd changes arc felt to be made and maintained only
only the positivistic, antimetapliysical position rurrcnt i11 his time 111{o1l11 sl nal urc, 110 1 with its cooperation. From Plato's standpoint,
was logicn l as well as sc ientific and llint mctaphyslrnl postulates 111l11d 1111d reason, and llt<>rdore orderliness are not in but above
WCI c ,1 prim i ptt'IOl-:i<' al (IS Wl"'ll ilS pn'SCit'lll If w. I''II 11.111111• a 11cl 111·t•cl l u rlld!if<'r il."~2

N11I11t t• t'llH't g1 •:-; a:, l It\' Wot Id of l>P1' ot11l11g, 11 H' Sl'l IS·..ll L' WPl lcl o(
1 l11w1 t 111d1 1 tlt.111 "111'1 11~" .11111 , 1111 11·lrn1', 111 lw 1tl w11ys 11111 ln 1l11•d
84 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 8.5

conditioned and moulded in accordance with the absolute and per- rooted in the origins of the Christian idea. (Unconsciously, perhaps,
fect ideas that issue from the "World of Being." And the human being, it is precisely the European heritage that he wants to claim.)
insofar as he is part of this imperfect nature, which only "imitates" but Though Niebuhr's style and subtlety make his ideas appear to
cannot "be," must be controlled and moulded as weII. 123 What begins be unfamiliar at first, it is possible to recognize, if we know how to
to emerge is a view of nature and of the human that places them in look, a characteristically European interpretation of the relationship
opposition to one another, by virtue of the fact that only that part of between "human" and nature:
the human being which is other than nature (the rational) is superior
to it. This idea of the basically hostile relationship between "human" Human existence is obviously distinguished from animal life by its
and nature, in which the human seeks continually to control nature qualified participation in creation. Within limits it breaks the forms
of nature and creates new configuration of vitality. Its transcen-
is characteristically European. It runs through European culture lin-
dence over natural process offers it the opportunity of interfering
eally (in a chronological historical sense) and collaterally or syn- with the established forms and unities of vitality as nature knows
chronically in that it has both effected the course o f European them. This is the basis of human history, with its progressive alter-
development and informed the collective behavior and social con- ation of forms , in distinction from nature which knows no history
structs of the culture. but only endless repetition within the limits of each given form ....
The Christian view of nature again exhibits the influence of Since man is deeply involved in the forms of nature on one hand,
Plato's idea of the disorderly and chaotic, even hostile "nature" that and is free of them on the other; since he must regard determina-
must be controlled. The "pattern" or "design" (standard) to which tions of sex, race and (to a lesser degree) geography as forces of
Gouldner refers, is what the Christian uses to measure the morality ineluctable fate, but can nevertheless arrange and rearrange the
of other peoples and to mould them. Katherine George comments on vitalities and unities of nature within certain limits, the problem of
the Christian view of nature as evidenced in reports of newly "dis- human creativity is obviously filled with complexities. 125
covered" lands in the sixteenth century:
and finally Niebuhr says,
The dominant attitude in these accounts conceived of civilization-
Graeco-Roman civilization in particular- as an essential discipline Nature and spirit both possess resources of vitality and form. The
imposed upon the irregularities of nature; as nature -blind nature- resources of nature may be more negative. The vitalities of nature
without restraint and guidance, runs to monstrousities, so culture and its forms may be the indispensable presuppositions of human
without civilization runs to disorder and excess. 124 creativity rather than its active agents; but they cannot be disre-
1-{arded. . . the vitalities and unities of nature may play a more neg-
Raw nature, "fallen" nature, which for the Greek was disorder, is for ative part in human destructiveness than those of spirit. The
the Christian even worse: it is sin. 124 11<\lural impulse of sex is, for instance, an indispensible condition
of all higher forms of family organization as it is the negative force
of d estructive sex aberrations. In the same way the natural cohe-
Rheinhold Niebuhr attempts to present a more "modern" expla-
sio n of tribe and race is the foundation of higher political creations
nation of Christian concepts, a more philosophically and politically as also the negative determinant of interracial and international
attractive interpretation in terms of contemporary European •lllilr<.:hy . 1 ~ 5
lifestyles than that offered by the Church's scholastic heritage. The
results of an astute mind wrestling to make Christian ideas into both In spite of Niebuhr's continual qualifications, the view of the
something distinct from and simultaneously a ppropriate to the 11•l;1tlons hip between "human" and nature that he offers is ideologi-
European utamawazo, and to rescue the Churc h from the more bar- 1 nlly rn nsistent with and characteristic of European thought. The
barous tendencies in European history are most intcresllng. Niebuhr 11·l11lt1111slllµ l o na ture i~ one of arrogance and exploitation as
ls fi ghting a losing battle, for to separate Chris t ian Ideology from ' 1ppml'tl lo awe, rrspl'<'I, and harmony. Put simply, nature is not to
l-'.t1111pP-iln cult11n d lmpcrh\l b m wnu ld bL· lo l o ri;ic· ;111 .,nt l11 •ly 111•w 11 •)1 l u• l 111•:t1'd , Tlw 11111111111 nuly trnsls lwr/hls rnlinrrnl faci lities that are
v,11111~ l1ll1·111<·11t Tltl !-1, 111 r11111 :w, 111 · <·;11111nt d o ~•11111 · lw h l11tc·t1t rn1 1111111111111.11, 11111 "11iltw11I "0111• c•11ds 11p 111 r 1111flkl with 011 e's nalllrc,
d1 111011 ..11 ,1t I1111 th~ • w.i y l11 wlill'l 1 111•1 pl 1llrn:ophl1 11111 11' ' ' IIt 11 1·• .111 • wl1lr It tt•J>lt"H'llh 1111 d1•v.1l11t•d <'!JTl1 • 11f n•p1•t ll lo1111•; nppost·d to th •
86 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 87

valued line of historical progress. To which category does "god" objectivity, and you will surely gain power. Then nothing-no sense
belong? of fellowship or personal intimacy or strong belonging-will bar
The concepts of nature, of reality, of "the human," and of truth your access to the delicate mysteries of man and nature. Nothing
are intricately bound one to the other and inextricably entwined in will inhibit your ability to manipulate and exploit. This is the same
the "specialness" or seen another way, the "otherness" of the power we gain over people when we refuse to honor their claim to
European world-view. It is a particular view of nature that allows for respect, to compassion, to love. They become for us mere things on
European science , a "science" which is predicated on an epistemol- which we exercise power. Between ourselves and them there is no
ogy that involves the separation of the human from itself in order to commerce of the feelings, no exchange of sentiment or empathy. 129
isolate and valorize the seemingly peculiar human ability to ratio-
Roszak has stated almost poetically what became the cutting
nalize.Thus as the concept of the human becomes limited, so does the
edge of the thesis of this study: that European epistemology is sym-
concept of reality. Theodore Roszak places emphasis on Francis
biotically related to European imperialism. The objectification of the
Bacon and Rene Descartes for this European tendency, while I have
human and the natural allow one to treat both as "things." Peoples
begun with an emphasis on Plato.
and cultures that refuse to regard themselves and nature as spiritless
... domination remains the object; Bacon never deviates from his are considered "stupid."
conviction that "the command over things natural-over bodies, Roszak's concept of "reductionism" explains why life must be
medicine, mechanical powers and infinite others of this kind-is the taken out of nature in order to facilitate the method:
one proper and ultimate end of true natural philosophy."127
Reductionism flows from many diverse sources: from an over-
Roszak's work critiques "objectification," "reductionism," "alien- whelming desire to dominate, from the hasty effort to find simple,
ation ," and power in European thought in unparalleled fashion : comprehensive explanations, from a commendable desire to deflate
the pretentious obscurantism of religious authority; but above all
. .. what Baconian-Cartesian epistemology did was to bestow high from a sense of human estrangement from nature which could only
philosophical status upon that act of alienation by insisting that it increase inordinately as Western society's commitment to single
provided our only reliable access to reality. Far more directly than vision grew ever more exclusive. In effect, reductionism is what we
it encourage callous behavior, this ennobling of the alienated psy- experience whenever sacremental consciousness is crowded out by
che has progressively degraded every other form of awareness idolatry, by the effort to turn what is alive to a mere thing. l30
human beings possess .
In discussing European cosmology, Arthur Lovejoy isolates cer-
once we elevate such a psychic mode to the highest cultural dignity, tain ideas or principles that in his view have been seminal to
identifying it as the only intellectually productive way of address- European philosophy. These ideas find their origins in Plato and can
ing the universe ... There will be knowledge, power, dominion with- be traced through their various expressions in the subsequent his-
out limit. We are licensed to unravel all mysteries and to remake the tory of European thought. He concludes that there have been basi-
world- including human nature itself. 128 •ally three ideas so closely associated in European intellectual
history that they together have produced "one of the major concep-
Roszak's view of the "psychic mode" that makes European sci- tions in Occidental thought"; expressed in a single term they are rep-
ence possible is radically different from Eric Havelock's , who praises resented by (1) the "Great Chain of Being." 131 Two of the generative
Plato for ushering in a new modality. Indeed, it was Plato, and o thers nspects of this idea taken in isol ation have been the "Principle of
who followed, who laid the groundwork on which Bacon and Plenitude":
Descartes could erect their theories. Roszak speaks of Uacon and his
disciples : ... llCll Ollly ror lf1C' <'XislctH.;e or this world, but for every one Of its
cl 1t.H iKI t•rlst ks, lor vvl'ry ki11d 11f lwi11J.1 whkh it ('l)lltaius-in strict-
· 'l'l11 •v h.11l l111111d llw HH'lll 1111llr 1!1'1 111 1< f,11111w1tl11111 • 'llVl1<1111111 •11t, 111•ss, iJ11l1•(•<i, for (·;wll p11rlf1·1d111 lwl11j.( ·ll11•n• 11111~:1 lw an ulllmalr
1·111.11111 .Ji l>tttwc1n11 v111111H•ll ,11 1d II Ila" •1tl1 111.1tlv1 die lt11to111v 1.1llt •cl '"''" '111, iwtf c1 xpJ:111.1l111v ;111d ''•,1lllwl1'11I ,"
Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 89

.. . and (2) the "Principle of Continuity": Lovejoy says that Aristotle, in De Anima, suggests a hierarchi-
cal arrangement of all organisms, an idea that had a great influence
. . . there are no sudden "leaps" in nature; infinitely various as things on subsequent philosophy as well as natural history. The hierarchy
are, they form an absolutely smooth sequence,,in which no break was based on the "powers of the soul" possessed by an organism:
appears, to baffle the craving of our reason for continuity every- those of plants were nutritive, those of "man" were rational. Each
where.132 organism possessed the powers of those below it on the scale as well
as its own additional and definitive "power." 135 Ultimately this results
These culminated in "two great rationalistic ontologies of the in a universe that constitutes a hierarchy with the most "natural" of
seventeenth century" and in the argument for optimism. According beings occupying the lower positions of rank and the most "spiri-
to Lovejoy, the idea of an "ontological scale" in combination with tual"-God and the angels-as the highest and "upper" beings. The
Aristotle's zoological and psychological hierarchies produced a third human is unique in that he is both nature, flesh, and spirit and there-
principle of "unilinear gradation" that was grafted to the two princi- fore among (animate) beings he is the most "rational" and therefor~
ples of "plenitude" and "continuity."133 the "highest." The use of the term "spirit" is somewhat problemat1-
Lovejoy is concerned with tracing the "historic sources" of these cal. Niebuhr, Hegel, and Aristotle use it very differently from my use
cosmological and ontological ideas. He says that the principles under- of the term. Their use connotes intellect and the rational, as opposed
lying the Chain of Being conception and its related groups of ideas- to nature. In my view s pirit is nature and human as well as "superna-
"plenitude," "continuity," and "gradation"-owed its genesis to Plato ture." It is the metaphysical. It accounts for human moral sense, com-
and Aristotle and its systematization to the Neoplatonists." 134 mitment, value , and emotion: for human creativity and culture. It
constitutes the substratum out of which the intellect is born and by
The scale of being, as implied by the principle of expansiveness which it is properly grounded.
and self-transcendence of "The Good" becomes the essential con- Platonism, Christian theology, and the Chain of Being cosmology
ception of the Neoplatonic cosmology.134 all contain a conception of the human as not being at home in the nat-
ural world. They are not "at peace" with themselves because of the
Difference of kind automatically implied difference of value,
"dualistic" nature-the coexistence in the person of two conflicting
which generated "diversity of rank in a hierarchy." 134
essences; "the flesh and the spirit." Lovejoy says, of the concept of
As we move toward a theoretical model for the explanation of
the human being's place in nature generated by the "Chain" idea;
European cultural imperialism, Lovejoy has given us food for thought.
Clearly one of the outstanding characteristics of the European world- .. . torn by conflicting desires and propensities; as a member of two
view is its treatment of "difference," and perhaps what developed orders of being at once, he wavers between both, and is not quite
was an utamaroho that related to perceived "difference" intensely, at home in either. He thus has, afterall, a kind of uniqueness in
xenophobically, and aggressively defensive. This relationship could nature· but it is an unhappy uniqueness. He is, in a sense in which
have been both caused and effected by a world-view that scaled dif- no oth~r link in the chain is, a strange hybrid monster; and if this
ference in terms of relative value: an as iii that demands power. gives him a certain pathetic sublimity, it also result~ !n incongruiti~s
Accompanied by the mode of objectification, this encourages an ide- of feeling, inconsistencies of behavior, and dispant1es between his
ology and political behavior that allows Europeans to feel justified in aspirations and his powers which render him ridiculous .136
treating "different" peoples as devalued objects . Since the wo rld-view
has ideological strength, other world-views were (arc) political And when the "spiritual" entities are removed from the picture-
threats , and s o cultural aggrcssio11 Is necessary wh "r chy t lw ,, , they us ually are once the cosmology is constructed-what is left
European wo rld-view is imposed on "cliffr n •nt " 1wopl1•s. This t hco- 1. ,, l11<•rnrchy with human beings at the top looking down over nature
n ·t k al model will lw rC'stntt.!d throu).llwul this s tud y. lt r. 111al11th111s t (ll ll' lr ow11 s pecial kingdo m). Love joy quotes from a textbook of
ts I IH• l11s l'il1 •1w1• 0 11 llH• l11tltrn1h- <llld rnus.1l H•l11tlc111 hip 111 ,lwc ,1·11 (11/r1" , hol,1•.t tr phi losophy 11f tlli' Mlcldlc .t\i:(es: "As man is made for the
, 11 1 111c:ml, 11;l 11lt'ly, ll1i1l l1t• 11i.1y sc.·rvt· him, so is the world made for
11im11/lo ). n11t 11l111' v, 1•ldo'l, 1• pls l1•111nlogv (11tr11111111 111 11) 1111d {111ll ti
c 11/ c 1111 111 .il lwli.i vlrn ·111 1111 • l-'111 C11'1c'.i11 1·'C p1 •1 l1 •111 1 tl ll'. ,1kc· of 111,111. tll,11 II 111,1v •w1v1· lllnt '" 17 c >t1t· 1• "1-(nd" i~ pos tulated

90 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 91

to give the impression of spiritual priority and the feeling of intellec- is within him that the natural and the pathological are best controlled.
tual satisfaction that comes to the European mind from an absolute Other people are closer to beasts in the Chain. The European, there-
first principle, "he" is eliminated and, for all practical purposes, the fore, serves the rational plan of his god by guiding and controlling
human being becomes this god. Page duBois says, other people. American presidents always talk in terms of the
American mission abroad being that of bringing "freedom" to all peo-
it must be remembered that not only barbaroi, foreigners were seen ple. Anti-American revolutionaries are always equated with "bar-
by Plato to be deprived of reasoning ability. Women and slaves as barism," while America is seen as defending "civilization." These
well as animals formed part of a "chain " which descended from the terms and arguments are all based on the same mythoform.
Idea of the good , from god. The hierarchy which Plato fixed among We have seen that t he European conception is that of human
kinds endured for many centuries and still operates in Western dis- beings at war with themselves and with their natural surro undings.
course about difference ...
This feeling is both reflective and productive of the "will-to-power"
The clarification of ideas of superiority and inferiority in terms of and the desire to control nature and other people and what is natural
sexual, racial, and species difference is an important step in the (emotional) in themselves. They have no place in a harmonious rela-
history of Western philosophy and of social relations of dominance tionship to their environment since their conceptions do not allow
and submission for those who follow in the tradition. 138 lhem to experience the peace that such a relationship offers. Niebuhr
says that the "essential homelessness of the human spirit is the
The European conception of nature, the cosmological conse- ground of all religion." 139 What happens when that religion is inade-
quences of this conception, and the place that the human being has quate? Unable to achieve peace and security from spirituality, the
in this cosmology are all significant ingredients of the European l·:uropean seeks fulfillment in the will-to-power, in "mastery over"
mythoform. Herein are raised several critical ontological issues that rather than "harmony with." Their effect on the world is one of dis-
relate to European thought, behavior, and value (ideology). n>rdance. Imperial ambitions and the structures they dictate are the
Europeans assume a very special place for "themselves" in the uni- syrnptomatic expression of a lack of spiritual peace. A being who is
verse and at the same time feel "uneasy" in that universe. If there is not at peace with itself, not at home in the universe, is compelled to
anything "natural" in them it is opposed to and in conflict with what disrupt that which surrounds it-to refashion and control that uni-
is considered to be the most valuable part of them. This line of ve rse. The European seeks peace in human-made, imposed order,
thought (and it must be kept in mind that it is among the deepest, .111d, of course, does not find it. And so the imperial pursuit contin-
most conscious-Le., reflective-as well as unconscious assumptions t ll'S infinitely, as well as the pursuit of "progress." This as a malaise
of European belief, has several cultural implications. First, the ll11ds its origins even before its crystallization in Platonic culture,
European ascribes to the abstract ion "man" priority in the universe, wl1ic h was perhaps a result of a latent "ice-age" utamaroho. While
and throughout the history of European civilization there has been l'l,1to11 ic conceptions facilitated the institutionalization of the
the t endency to translate this idea concretely into that of the prior- l.111 opcan utamaroho and European supremacy in the world , there are
ity of European "man" in the universe of "men" (humans). As other 111 ht·t "pre" and "non" platonic expressions of this same utamaroho
"nonrational" creatures exist to serve "man," so other, "less rational" h 1 t llP warrio r mythology and behavior of Northern Europe in its "pre"
people exist to serve European "man" (and women, of course, must < hrlstlan experience. While the devaluation of nature may have been
serve them, since they are the least rational of the Europeans). This 11111'11t·ctualized by Plato, we find its "religious" expression in early
theme in its more blatant forms is pejoratively referred to in con- I f1•ln l'W thought. (See Chap. 2.)
temporary parlance as "racist" thought, and characterized as an aber- ' l'lw objectification of naturf' is what allows for its exploitation
ration of "illogical" minds, in an effort to separate it from the best of 111cl r •'I 11· In ollier cultures nature is experienced subjectively, as are
the European I radii ion. But, to 1lw ro11trary, s11ch 11w11ght is "nor- 111111 t ll11111a11 beings. T he Eltropean seeks tbe perfectly rational
111al ," eve 11 U1JdNs ta11dablt• ;incl quilt· "logknl," If PlH' ;u·n· pt s tlw 111d1 1 ,111 order that l1o1s 110 place for the natural (as irrational) and
Hlw•11s ul 1lw t·:11wp1 «111 ulw11<1Wc1.. r1 'l'li1• nr~:1 1 111n11 t wo11ld go -:01111'• 1li.11 h 1lw1·111h11tlh1w11t ot tl11 • l111111.11111l~htman'. l11111ajority cultures
thlliµ llk1• thh 'l'ht• l.' 11111111 ..UI 11 1111111" h th1· 11111•111 11111111.il11l 111 '.11 pl<- It 1111 11• 1pp1•,u•. l11 ht .111 l11l1 1lt lv1· .11111 sopllts tkntt•tl ).lrnsp of tlH' lmpll
92 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 93

cations of the exploitation of nature and of the creation of an antag- rational humanism is a rational one. It was a lready involved in
onistic relationship between human and nature. The contemporary Aristotle's account of man as a rational animal and the democratic
ecological discussion is pitifully na'ive when expressed in terms of political theory which he based on this idea. The idea is that we can-
"detergents with low phosphates" and the recycling of paper. The real not think it accidental that we possess reason . . . to humans, this is
implications for ecological sanity touch the deepest beliefs of the a defining characteristic. This is what should be meant by calling
European and the philosophical basis of their culture, as Theodore reason a capacity, or a faculty, or a disposition, ra ther than a
sequence of episodic acts.
Roszak points out in Where the Wasteland Ends. The question is
whether it is possible for them to alter their concept of nature and of
The cult of rationalism is so deeply imbedded in European onto-
their relationship to it. Such a change would, of course, imply corre-
logical and epistemological conceptions that it leads even to a "ratio-
spo nding c hanges in the total conceptual apparatus offe red by the nalistic ethics":
European world-view and would therefore involve many other
aspects of European culture and ideology with which the concept of Since the sensibilities were held to be subject to the reason .. .
nature interrelates. (See Chap. 2.) The asili of the culture would ethics and aesthetics were both accepted as being rationalistic.
change. The culture would cease to exist as it is now known. It would The culmination of this was in Kant's rationalistic ethics , which
be a different "set" with different members. founded the validity of moral and aesthetic judgments on com-
Willie Abraham, in The Mind of Africa, suggests that there are mands of reason."142
two main views of human nature: They are the "essentialist" view
and the "scientific" view. These two views help to provide the philo- This, of course, is the working out of the Platonic imperative. It
sophical and ideological bases of two correspondingly different types is the development of a theme. Abraham observes that in European
of culture. The "essentialist" view is that "there is a constant element culture, "art is identified with reality, supernature with nature itself,
in man which is irreducible, and is the essence of being a man." (and) ideals with mere truths." The artist may not have been ban-
African civilization, Abraham believes, is "essentialist in inspira- ished from the State, but in serving the State he/ she came to accept
tion."140 In the "scientific" view, human nature can be altered; the the Platonic conception of the "true." His creation began to reflect the
human can be resolved into elements; and it is possible to predict and rational order. On the other hand, in the Akan theory of the human,"
control human reaction. "The scientific view depends on analysis, spiritual factors are primary," which contrasts sharply with European
disintegration and the n control of selected variables." 141 In this view conceptions. For the Akan, says Abraham, the human being is "an
it is possible to analyze huma n "ma terial" into elements and then t•ncaps ulated spirit, and not an animated body as the Genesis story
rearrange them according to a desire d dominant principle. What are I1as· L.'t" 143 Th'ls conception
· o fh uman nature extends beyond the three-
the implications of these distinctions for the "construction" of cul- di me ns ional finite existence of the human be ing as conce ived in
tural models? Abra ham characte rizes European culture as "rational- Europe, which is one of the reasons European anthropologists have
istic" (scientific), a nd Akan culture (which he says is paradigmatic for 1>11 mis understood the Africa n concept of Ancestor Communion. The
African civilization), as "meta physical" (essentialist). African a ncestors are not gods, but spiritual extensions of human
"Humanism" in European discourse is usually assumed to rep- I wings on earth, representing another stage of human development.
resent the highest and most politically disinterested or "unive rsalis- I .1I<' I lave lock discusses the Platonic model:
tic" approach to the human. In reality "humanism" h as ge ne rally
implied the typically European deification of the rat ion a l and the 'l'l 1c parables of the Sun, the Line and the Cave have been offered
ascent of the human be ing to s upremacy in the universe by virtue o f .1s paradigms whic h shall illumiuate the relationship between ideal
lmn wfcd ge o n the o ne hand aud e mpirical experience on the other,
he r/ his rational faculties. It is the intc rc ulturnl implicatio ns of this line
.11111 shall s uggest l o us the ascent of man through education from
o f reasoning that become po litically significant. Ahrahnrn says: 1111• Iii<' of I he sensrs towa1els the reasoned intelligence.1 4 4
. till' l"•S(' IH"l' ()f hllllll llll S lll ('lll l'l lSI!'> !11lllt• 11•pl1H 1' 1111'111 of C1od
Tiil s ont ological 111t'tt1pl1u r Is so pow..rftll th at II lrns $lru ngly
tlw 1 11..11111 wlt ll-111,11 1 11 11• 1 11 •11 1111 ,·1111 111 1• \11 th1 •l!-!1• 11 f 1• 111 1~!111
t d ll tt• t•:11111p1•,111 's IH'1t t•pl l1111 of his OWll p lrl<'f• ill tlw 1111 !
1·111111•t1I 1111•.111t 1·11lll v.11i111 1 11t l l w 11·i1•11 1n l'IH • ld1•11 1111d1• il vl 111-1 l11l l1t t'l ll
94 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 95

verse. It has enabled him to speak of "high" and "low" cultures. In the self. Man is God represented by God. God is man representing God
former, people are closer to the "light" of civilization, while those in in self-consciousness. Man is God wholly manifested.
the latter wallow in the "darkness" of ignorance, aware only of what
they "feel. " Havelock describes the view of humanness offered in the Europeans assume that their god created the universe accord-
Republic (compare it with Abraham's earlier description of the Akan ing to the logic of scientific rationalism, their own invention. "The
conception of th e human being): history we are to review is thus among o ther things, a part of the his-
tory of Western man's long effort to make the world he lives in appear
Here the conception of that autonomy is now elevated to a plane to his intellect a rational one." 147 The Christian formulation of the
where the soul attains its full self-realisation in the power to think European tradition is also, as we have pointed out, consistent with
and to know. This is its supreme faculty; in the last resort its only I his conception of the human being. Lovejoy says,
one. Man is a "thinking reed. "144
The recognition of the fact that man is a creature not in harmony
According to Havelock, this new definition of the human psyche with himself was not, of course, due primarily to the influence of the
that Plato sought to encourage signified not "man's ghost or wraith, notion of the Chain of Being. Other elements of Platonism, and in
or a man's breath or his life blood, a thing of sense and self con- Christianity the radical Pauline opposition of "flesh" and "Spirit,"
sciousness," but "the ghost that thinks," that is capable of "moral had made this dualistic theory of human nature one of the ruling
decision" and of "scientific cognition" ... something unique in the ronceptions in western thought. 148
whole realm of nature. 145 It is not, after all , that the European con-
siders human beings to be unique and special that is surprising, for Again what we see is a consistent conception of human nature
each category of beings in the universe is unique and special; it is the r 11lnforced in the various modalities of the culture, making possible
importance that he attaches to this uniqueness that is so character- 11 11· most successful technico/scientific collasus in our experience.
istically different. The epistemological mode that Havelock has I 1 h·clrich Juenger says, "An advanced state of technology is accom-
described, that which became characteristic of European culture, 11.11 1ied by mechanical theories of the nature of man." 149 It would seem
presupposes a rationalistic concept of the human, whose proper I In subordinating existential humanity to the machine , the
function is not to feel, but to overcome feeling with "thought." I 111 opean would end up with a low estimation of human worth. And
Thought is only properly so called when isolated from feeling and 111 n>urse, paradoxically, there is in a real and tragic sense, a corre-
when based on "objectification"; that is, separation of the "self" from 1uu 1di11g devalorization of the human. But the European with politi-
the contemplated "object." Human nature is above all and most prop- il ilst11teness and ideological consistency deals with this problem by
erly rational. This rational faculty gives humans power and indepen- l11w1•rlng his estimation of other people, thereby rationalizing his
dence. In the Laws, Plato says of "man": Oj'l{r<'ssive and demeaning behavior towards them. At the same time
111" pmt of him that might have been sensitive, and emotional , was
Human nature will be always drawing him into avarice and selfish- id n dc•mcaned. Ontologically, the European sees himself as perfect
ness, avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure without any reason, and 11111111 ~(1! the perfection of the machine; he becomes the perfect
will bring these to the front, obscuring the juster and the better; and 111" hhw . Tile effici ently operating machine becomes an extension of
so working darkness in his soul will at last fill with evils both him Iii• 1•110 Its power to "make" and "produce" is his power. Since all
and the whole city. 146
I 1111wl1•dgc was linked to the object, eventually this would effect onto-
Ii •HI• .al <ll•finitions as well: only tlie object existed. Plato's epistemol-
And Plato's definition of human "freedom" would be reali zed when
"HY f • .tlso an ont ology. The "True" is that wh ich exists-"Being."
man is totally "rational"; that is, when "reason" ru les "passion."
I ""' yl I ilrJg t>ls<' Is "becoming" or later "uou-being." Ironically this led
The height of arroga nce is approac h<'d in tile rationalist it con
'' 11 111 u1 "l<IL•allst" philosophy lo a materialist view of reality, s ince the
ceplion of hl'ing <1nd or the l1111nall. The Europt'<lll c·onc·dvl•s of lils gncl
1111ly t ltll1g I h.1t t'Xl :Hl'rl w;1 s t Ital whirl\ rnuld be objectified. Spirit
111Ills11w11 l111.1gt• ;md 1101 llu• rt·vt·nw. l.OVl'!UY •:,1y••
1111ild 1101 1>1· 111.11 11• 111111 nltj1•1 I , 1 ottld uni ht• 1·011trnllPd so as to ht·
M,111 1•1 tli 1•1' 11•,1111111111wl11cIi1:111l l11lly 111 •1111111 1 , .u1 oltj11I 111111111 I 1111w11 II w11-, 11111 v1il 1wd l'lic•11• l1111· 11 did 1u11 !'\I 'll <>h;1·<'tlfwallo11
96 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 97

led to materialization where matter, studied "scientifically" was all is a world which can neither be deduced from nor reconciled with
that was left. Even human psychology and relationships would be the postulate that existence is the expression and consequence of
governed by mechanical and physiological causation (Freud). a system of "eternal" and "necessary" truths inherent in the very
Objectification leads to inorganic relationships. logic of being. Since such a system could manifest itself only in a sta-
The rationalistic conception of the human leads inevitably to the tic and constant world, and since empirical reality is not static and
machine and to the technological order. A materialistic conception constant, the "image" [as Plato called it] does not correspond with
of the human is what rationalism becomes in the existential "acting- the supposed "model" and cannot be explained by it. 15 1
out" of culture, for rationalism denies human spirituality. It is only
matter in isolation that ultimately has significance for the European Lovejoy sees that rationalism admits of "rational" contradic-
1io ns, and that in the at tempt to exclude all "arbitrariness ," it
mind; it is o nly matter that can be made to appear perfectly rational.
So everything must be materialized. The European view of the human becomes "irrational. " He says that the world of "concrete existence"
is rationalistic/ materia listic, and the European concept of being Is a "continge nt" world and as such is the negation of "pure logic."
involves the perfectly ordered universe-with meaning and value "Wi ll, " he says, "is prior to intellect." 152 But if such is the case, why
being derived only from this rationalistic material base. Scientific would Plato, Aristotle, and so many of their descendants spend so
rationalism leads to technological rationalism; organization for effi- 111uch time trying to prove the opposite, indeed, living as though the
opposite were true?
Lovejoy's concluding comments present one of the most theo- Clearly, European forms of thought have worked, and they have
retically devastating critiques of the main currents of European philo- worked well. The theorists had ideological commitments to a social
111 cJcr that would facilitate the rule of certain kinds of people. The uta-
sophical thought. Of the "rationalist ontology" of Europe, he says:
11111waz o described in this chapter became a tool. The tool was so sue-
In so far as the world was conceived in this fashion, it seemed a ' 1•ssful in o ne kind of enterprise that its shortcomings in other areas
coherent, luminous, intellectually secure and dependable world, in '11111<1 easily be overlooked. Just as its definition of the human was one
which the mind of man could go about its business of seeking an t li.11 e 11couraged the manipulation of human beings, but ignored "the
understanding of things in full confidence, and empirical science, l11 1111an" at the same time. "The utility of a belief and its validity are
since it was acquainted in advance with the fundamental princi- l11dt• pe ndent variables" 15ci The ethnological study of European
ples with which the facts must, in the end, accord, and was pro- 1 l11111gl it demonstrates the power of its conceptio ns in the service 'of
vided with a sort of diagram of the general pattern of the universe, I It " 1•xpansionistic, confrontational, domineering utamaroho, not their
could know in outline what to expect, and even anticipate particu- 1111111 or universal validity.
lar disclosures of actual observation.150
Alt crnative Models
His estimation of the Chain of Being idea and its implications:
But this is, after all, merely a description of the European uta-
the history of the idea of the Chain of Being-in so far as that idea 1 11 1 1111<1~<>.and Europe represents a fraction of the world's ideological
presupposed s uch a complete rational intelligibility of the world- 11111 L 'ttltural c reations . There are other possibilities. Vernon Dixon
is the history of a failure . .. . The experiment, taken as a whole, con- • 111111 .1s ts the European-American and African "axiological world-
stitutes one of the most grandiose enterprises of the human 11r•w·:" 111 the manner in Figure I (overlea0:1s4
intellect. .. as the consequences of this most persistent and most com- Tiu · African un iverse is personalized, not objectified. Time is
prehensive of hypotheses became more and more explicit, the more 1 p 1•1 l1•11c·Pcl. There is no infinitP abstract and oppressive future; it
apparent became its difficulties; and when tf1ey are fu lly drawn out,
11 uw•, 111 g.1nir al ly fro m the past and pres e nt. Value is placed on
they show the hypothesis of the absolute rationality of the cosmos to
be unbelievo/Jle . .. . l it ali cs acldr cl j It rnnflicls, 111 the first place,
111 l11 v," rt1l l1cr than "doln g. " 15S The unive rse is unde rstood through
wit 11 ww lnttn l'll ~c fnet , lwsidcs intmy p<1rt kt 11 ;11 f,w1ii, 1t1 I Ill' 11 .11 lit <t I 11 111 111 11111•11;\I 111l t•rnrtlw1 , wh ic h produces powerful symbo ls and
0t d1 •1 1111• f;wt thal 1•xl.., lt•11c1· us w1• 1•iq w rl1•1H1 ' Ith l1•111po1 al. /\ l11 1i1w •, w lild1l11111111 1·c 1t111111111kt1 lc· lrutlts. " 11iunllnl loi-iic" Indicates
wr nlrl nl 111111• .111tl 1'1 1,111 w· 11t h, 11l l1 ·11l, l , 11111l1l• t111 y 11,1•1 ·1h11 w 11 111111 h1 Altlc 111111111111-(lll 1t 111111!-( f' iJ11 lw lmtl1 A.inti1101 A at fil l' ~,111w
111111•, I l111111(1l I ll rn1 d111 11111 t1 1y 1.0 1•x pll1 ttl y, w lw, .1th '' d l1111 l

98 YURUGU l!tamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 99

Figure I : Euro-American World-view o bjectification as valued epistemological modes. Obviously, they do

have rationalistic and pragmatic aspects but these do not dominate.
Human Non-Human These views generate an authentic cosmology, the interrelatedness
Phenomenal World of all being. They reject Aristotelian logic as the primary path to ulti-
111ate truth, while recognizing the symbolic and not the literal mode
.1s appropriate for the expression of meaning. Most clearly these peo-
Self Other men 11les share a vision of a harmonious order achieved through balance,
Affect \ I Nature .1s they seek to understand and maintain that order. We who have
Subject Invisible beings
l><'cn educated in European societies have grown up assuming that it
Ego \ "Gap" I Concepts Object Is only with the triumph over such world-views that "true knowledge"
/ \ "It"
begins. Yet, what should strike us as students of culture is the fact
I hat of all the world's civilizations the European utamawazo world-
vl(•w is the strangest (the minority view) ; it is most conspicuous in
Its materialism and rationalism. Max Weber called this "universal-
Africanized World-view 1•.in ." By what logic does anomaly become the norm? Obviously with
1111• introduction of ideology and value-judgement. Weber mistook
Human Person ("Thou")
11vt·rwhelmingly successful cultural aggression for "universalism."
l'l w European world-view is far superior to the others mentioned in
II 1 .d>ility to generate material accumulation, technological efficiency,
11 1d imperial might. That does not make it universal.
Human beings Concepts
Fo rtunately, these are not the goals of all of humankind, nor the
Invisible beings 1l1 1111111 0 11 of all cultural asilis and other views of reality have led many
Self 111 1 u nst ruct different models, to envision the possibility of new and
Subject Affect 111111•1 Pll t functi onal definitions. We have already seen that African-
' 1•11t1 ·rcd theory is moving towards new definitions of sciences. 156
In The Sacred Science, De Lubicz offers an interpretation of
Phenomenal world 1111 11·111 African philosophy. He calls it "Pharoanic Theology." It is a

Self-consciousness ,11 rPd sd e nce" because it is concerned with "revealed" knowledg~

11 11 1 wi t 11 the "beginnings of things." It is founded on an irrational
Other men
1111 1 ~ 1111<1 therefore not a rational science. It rests on the assumption
111 •I " 1 ommon energetic origin to all bodies," an ultimate spiritual
111 11 c , , "which alone is able to animat e matter," "an undefined cosmic
ta! lo gic" can be understood as the recognition and affirmation of the 11• '"!V " D<' l.ubirz reco gnizes two irreconcilable mentalities based

ambiguity and multidimensionality of phenomenal reality. What is 1•111111• ' ''ll<lratio n of two concepts; one that "points to a kinetic energy
contradictory in Euro-American Aristotelian logic is not contradictory IJ111 11 .1111 •11t In matter," and the other that "calls upon an undefined
in African thought. The European utamawazo cannot deal with para- I 1trJ 11Jll t' llNgy."
dox. ·
This is not the place to discuss in depth the wo rld views of \\'II l 1.1l 1'l11t d J'Ptlson ing, our science secs in the universe nothing but
majority civilizations. Tt is a ppropriat e, howr vcr, to makP some ohvi 1 • 111•11·d drl'ltit , a n alo(~ l c>mcra tc and a d ecomposition of the self

11111 111.11 t f' l Snt· h a V ll'W ls <:Nl <1 il1 ly less reasouable than admis-
ous o bse rvation s about wha t African, A 111t'rl ncll;u1 , :uicl <k l'ani<'
1111 1 111 11 1 111 Hll'fll1 \'tl •.oi tn·1· o f 1•11N).(Y wliil"h b1•ro 111c~ s m att er ,
11i.l)11rll y lliuttl-(lll ~ys l l'lll S 11av t• In <'0111111011 111 1111' 1·xc lw.11111 of
11 11 1111w I1 1111 • ll•t •.uh 1111111 pn"l''l ,, p111 !'ly 111p laph ysin1l probh•m.
l ·~11111pc •, 111 lll11111{hl" All ol tl h' vlc :w!-t 11111lllc11 11 •d 1111• 11pll tl 11.ll l1111.1l11H '. I \ llll'V l1.1v1• •1 plilt1i,il li.1• t''1 11111tl11 •1p fl y 11•!1 •1 I 1.1l l n11.ll h 111 .11111
100 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 101 I

From there it is but a very small step to seeing a divine principle in

the harmony of the worlct.156 philosophical construction impossible." 157 It is almost as though peo- I
ple outside of the European tradition (the majority) make up a col-
The interpretations of both De Lubicz and Jaynes are antitheti- lectivity who recognize and are comfortable with the tiny bit of
cal: One understands the ancient Kemites to have had a heightened "mystery" at the beginning and at the end. This view originates with I
consciousness; the other says that they had no consciousness. That human beginnings in Africa. Ayi Kwei Armah writes in Two Thousand
is because of the difference in perspectives. In De Lubicz's view, the .'-:easons: "We have not found that lying trick to our taste, the trick of
materialist mentality splits from the spiritualist beginning with 1naking up sure knowledge of things possible to think of, things pos- I
Xenophanes in the Eleatic school of philosophy, ca. 530 before the s ible to wonder about but impossible to know in any such ultimate
Common Era. With the split comes the beginning of the separation way."158
between science and religious thought and ritual. These are There are several theorists whose work touches on the striking I
dichotomized in European thought so that "rationalistic religion " in diffe rence between the European world-view and that of the major-
Aquinas, Leibniz, et al. approaches the absurd, as great minds wres- ity; several who do not presume this to be an indication of the supe-
tled with the search for "scientific" and materialist proofs of the exis- ilqrity of "Western civilization," that is , who do not approach the I
tence of the most spiritual of beings. Even now Christian thought 1 0111parison eurocentrically. Often such theorists will contrast

suffers from a doctrine that overlooks the contradiction inherent in l•'. .1stern philosophies with those of Europe. Fritjof Capra, in The Tao
a "faith" based on secular historicity. European science ascended on ul Physics, attempts to reconcile Western science and Eastern mysti- I
the demise of spiritual religion. 1 h m . In the process he characterizes these two views of reality, just

In the early schools of what was to be considered "Greek ,,., l>i xon has done with the African and Euro-American views . In
Philosophy," the teachings of "Pharoanic Science" are evident, and (',1pra's discussion, the Eastern view comes out on top: the Eastern I
what continued to be developed as "science" was heavily influenced I.u1<I early Greek) view is organic. All things are perceived as being
by what had preceded in Kemet (ancient Egypt). What began to l11t t•rrelated and different manifestations of the same ultimate reality.
change, however, was the approach and attitude of objectification. 1IH• basic unity of the universe is the key to understanding phenom-
The new forms had a different utamaroho (spirit life). The definition •'11. t, and one's aim becomes that of "transcending the notion of the
of the utamawazo became critical. The Greeks, unable to grasp the I• 11l,1l(·d self, and to identify oneself with the ultimate reality." Spirit
spiritual principle at the base of the "sacred science," simplistically •ll tfl n1rttter are joined. Causal forces are intrinsic properties of mat-
"anthropomorphized" the cosmic truths. Their religious response 11•1 l!•' 1One is s truck again and again with the familiar sound of this
resulted in the reduction of African philosophy, as expressed through • l! .11 acte ri zation. It is almost identical to our description of the
the symbols of the Neters, through the attribution of "physical char- \11 li-11 11 world-view. How many of us have been compelled to ask, why
acter(s) to metaphysical principles." 157 According to De Lubicz, those 111 1 E11 ro pean world-view is the only one that differs so drastically
who rejected this adulterated version of ancient mysteries sought Ir 11111 I hose of majority cultures. The European solves this problem by
truth through an extreme rationalism. Two tendencies developed in l11 v1·11l Ing the concept of "modernity," based on progress.
archaic Europe: One group claimed a body of religious ritual whose 'l'ltc fo llowing is Capra's characterization of "Western philoso-
base they could not understand; the other group took the pragmatic 1•l 1v " 111 co ntrast to the "unifying" philosophy of the Milesians the
scientific aspects and developed them into a science without mean- 1111 l1·11t lncllan and Chinese civilizations:
ing. This is the chronic European split between faith and reason,
which was to intensify througho ut the centuries of Europ ean devel- 1111· '•Piii or this unity uega11 with the Eleatic school, which assumed
' I >tvh11• I 'rlm:iplc standing above all gods and men. This pri nciple
o pment. Rational doctrine led to th e denial of the divill c, the sacred.
w i1 .111 .. 1 ld t•111iliNI willl tltl~ unity of the universe, but was later seen
Yet rationality alone could never r eflect cosmie truth a11d ironic all y
l'l 1111 l11tl'lllgC'nt n n ~ t p1.:rsonal God who sta11ds above the world and
co11l<l 11o t givt> s pl r ltunl nor ~iltlmr) l l' l11tPllt·<·t11 al sHtlMil<' ll o n Tll ls i1111 •1 h It Tlt11s l w~.11 1 n t1 e1HI o f thought whk h led, 1lltimatcly, t o
had 111•1 ·11111ul1•1st11nd lit K1 •111t'I :11111 ls~ tlll111ult · 1 •; tood rn1t !-.ldl• of tl w fl II' '••·1i. 11 .t111111 of •.pit It .111<1 111allt•1 1111cl tu " d11.1lls111 whh.: h l>ecame
l ·. 1110111 .111t1 w lll l 1111- A•, 1 ~1 · J.t.bl1 t ,11 ~ 111 ,,
th1 ·11· 11111.t . 1l w.1y~ 111' 111y. 1 h 11 111 l 1•1l•,f11• 111 W1•r.t1•111 pldlrnmpl 1y 11111
'"' Yh1 v11 lvPtl , ",111 lt ro1tl1111.1lll y11 11111• 111 IH,l11 whl f•li 111 ,1k1' •
102 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 103

Capra, like De Lubicz, places the origins of this tendency in the <leliberate desire of the Creator." 164 Both these and a host of other
Eleatic school. The tendency becomes a dominant theme and much writers have talked about the European's "alienation from nature" as
later hardens in the philosophy of Rene Descartes, who further opposed to the idea of the "identity and Unity of life" in which sym-
divides reality into "mind" and "matter." The results were the greater bolism expresses reality. 165
fragmentation of the universe in which we perceive "a multitude of This cursory glance at different thought-systems is necessary,
separate objects and events." The mind having been separated from 1wt only to demonstrate the possibility and existence of alternative
the body is given the task of controlling it. The human being is split world-views, but also to bring attention to the chauvinism in
into a "conscious will" that opposes our "involuntary instincts." The European interpretations of these world-views. We have seen repeat-
European experiences a mechanized universe constructed to deal 1•dly that European epistemological and ontological definitions are
with a world made up of mutually hostile parts. 161 This results as we placed, by European theorists, in the context of "advanced" intellec-
have seen, in their being alienated from nature, while "physics" prior l t1HI and cognitive development, as compared with what they call
to the eleatic school did not include a word for "matter" "since they '',111cient,'' "primitive," or "prescientific" thought. What this interpre-
saw all forms of existence as manifestations of the 'physics,' endowed 1,\t Ion does is to preclude the viability of alternative definitions of real-
with life and spirituality." Capra says that the "roots of physics, as of 11.y, in so far as these same theorists represent a successfully
all Western science, are to be found in the first period of Greek phi- "iu~rvssive culture that has the means to impose its interpretations
losophy in the sixth century B.C., in a culture where science, philos- 1111 nthers. Let me bring home the point emphatically that this impo-
ophy and religion were not separated." 162 He is almost right. But his rt 11111 was made by equating "European" with "modern" or "scientific"
error becomes glaring when viewed from an African-centered per- .11111 .111 other cultures with "pre-European" or "primitive." According
spective. Capra must know that Thales et al. did not grow from "noth- I 11 I lt·nri and H.A. Frankfort:
ing." As George James, and others have pointed out these "early"
Greeks learned their "science" philosophy and religion from the civ- l'IH• ancients, like the modern savages, saw man always as part of
ilization of the "sacred science." In those times everyone travelled to .. ,IC"iPty, and society as imbedded in nature and dependent upon
Egypt (Kemet) and studied there. Capra's omission of Africa in his 1 manic forces. For them nature and man did not stand in opposi-
comparison of philosophies is blatant. f Ion and did not, therefore, have to be apprehended by different
Vine Deloria, in God is Red, contrasts the Native American world- 11111tks of cognition . . . natural phenomenon were regularly con-
11•tv<•d in terms of human experience and [that] human experience
view, which is "religious," with Western philosophy as expressed in
wns cont:eived in terms of cosmic events ... the fundamental dif-
Christianity. In the world-view of the Native Americans, all living 11 11•1 1t"l' between the attitudes of modern and ancient man as
things share a creator and creative process and, therefore, relate to 11 j!llt els the surrounding world is this: for modern, scientific man
one another. 163 Their spiritual quest is to determine the proper rela- 1111' 11l 1e•nomenal world is primarily an "It"; for ancient-and also for
tionship that people have with other living things. The universe man- pt 111111 lv<'-man it is a "Thou." 166
ifests life energies, "the whole life-flow of creation." The person is
dependent on everything in the universe for his/her existence. Rather 111<• Frnnkforts have camouflaged their cultural nationalism in
than the determination to subdue nature (European world-view), "the 1fl1lv1 1·11llst k terms. (No wonder there is no "modern god" for the
awareness of the meaning of life comes from observing how the var- I 11111p1 •,111.) Ill t l1ls study, we have made European culture the focus,
ious living things appear to mesh and to provide a whole tapestry."H;:i 11ul 1111 1t•lu11• interpretations such as these become ethnographic
We have seen that Europeans have problems with difference (Page du I 11 ' !11 lw 1•xpl<linc<l in t<:>rms of the European asili. They enable us
Bois). The Western "fragmented view is further extendcci to sociely, 111 t111tl1 1.. ta11d the nature of the European utamawozo and utamaroho.
which is split into different nations, races, religions , a11d political 1111 q111 .. 111111 l>t•c<Hll<'S that of why there is a need for Europeans to
groups ." This results in conflicts lhat are an <>Ss<'ntlal cau s< · of pre- Ii 1111•111•,c·lws 11111 supl·rlor l'Vol11tio11ary positio1111is-li-vis other cul-
Sl·rtl "snrin l, l't'olo~iC"al and cult11rnl nl:ws" 1i11 (('.tp1.1) . Thi s ns 1111 .1 , lv1•-. W1· will ('011tl111w Ill ;\ddws!{ this q11t•stion and nt111'rs in
oppos1·d to tltc • N.11lv" A111<•1k.i11.1pp11111t11 tlwt ~·IY'• "111 d1t11·1 · 11!1 t l111ptc•1. tli.11 l11llow
11111"tl1<•11•1·, tlw ~ t11·11 j! th ol tht• (' 11•,111011 .1111! lh.11 tlil· •hc•111J.l ll l• I
104 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 105

The Character of the European Utamawazo cultural existence, as the European cognitive style (utamawazo)
We should not leave this discussion with the impression that became an extension of Platonism. Not only all European intellectu-
Platonic thought ushered in vast and immediate changes in the nature als but all intellectuals would be trained in the academy (Plato's
?f E~ro~ean cult~re. To begin with there was, in a sense, no "Europe" legacy), a testament to the success of European cultural imperialism.
m his time. But m another sense, what we have identified as the The Academy has preserved a cultural tradition, a race of people, and
European asili, the seed of the culture, had already been planted. a dominant society. No matter the internecine controversies and so-
The planting of this seed had to have taken place in the early days of called political revolutions that might occur, the Academy ensures
lnd?-~uropean tribal development, where there was already a very that the ideological infrastructure will remain intact.
?ehm~e utamaroh?, or even earlier with the first homosapiens to The emergent theme is power. What begins to develop from this
mhab1t the Eurasian Steppes and the Caucasus region for a Jong initial discussion is a portrait of the European utamawazo as respond-
enough period to have become "non-African." ing to an asili that is power-seeking. A particular definition of power
This means that Plato's work was all the more important in the presents itself in the search for European predilection, temperament,
?efinitional process of the utamawazo, because it had been prefigured and need. Power is here defined, not as the "power to do," which
m the germ of the culture, necessary if the asili was to be realized. It results from the giving and receiving of energy from forces in the uni-
means as well, that as the culture, through its members , fought to verse and through interaction with these forces as they manifest
assume a particular definition, it was developing according to a code themselves in the various modalities of natural being; it is instead
already in existence, somewhat in the sense that we think of a par- defined as "power over" and is predicated on or rather originates in
ticular combination of genes as determining a particular human form. separation. This is the fanatical European objective. "Power to do"
The s~ed struggles to develop. The germ insists on fulfilling its for- seeks balance and harmony. "Power over" functions only through
mulat1ve role. European history is a history of bloody internecine I lie modality of control. It precludes cosmic, communal, or sympa-
wars and battles fought to maintain a particular character and to 1hetic relationship. It is essentially political and materialistic.
eliminate opposing influences: "heretics," "infidels," "barbarians." It The asili-seed of the culture prefigures, then dictates, the devel-
is a history of aggressive behavior towards other cultures. All differ- opment of structures, institutions, "arrangements," 168 that facilitate
ence threatens the realization of the as iii. It is like a child's struggle I Ile achievement of power-over-other. The forms that are created
to be born. The battle is fought because the asili exists, and Platonic within the European cultural experience can then be understood as
thought is so significant (determinative) because it suited the asili. 111echanisms of control in the pursuit of power. That is what they all
His epistemological theory helped in the formulation of an utamawazo l1;we in common. That is the key to their cultural explanation. The ide-
that complemented the asili. ological base of the culture is the will-to-power.
With Plato, epistemology became ideological. What is more, con- The utamawazo or culturally structured thought reorders the
trary to what some have claimed, Platonic conceptions did not make 1111ivcrse into relationships that "prepare" it for the illusion of control.
knowledge accessible t o the masses through its desacralization.167 S1•paration must come first. The asili forces its own self-realization
What he did was to ensure that, at least until the "Gutenberg Galaxy," tl1rough the cognitive structure of the utarnawazo in the following
the few would have no threat from the many, because the many did 11i.11111er:
not have access to the intellectual life of the State. This was due to Dichotomization. All realities are split into two parts. This begins
the ascendancy of the literate mode coupled with the lack of printing wi t II the separation of self from "other," and is followed by the sepa-
an~ .mass-production technology, as well as the fact that only th f' 1.111011 uf the self into various dichotomies (reason/ emotion,
pnv1leged few were trained to be "literate" in this sense. Plalo's pl an 111il1d/ hody, intellect/nature). Tne process continues until the uni-
was foolproof; because even when the F.uropean n1asscs gai n<'d v1·1 !H' Is rnmposed of disparate entities.
access centuries later, the mech.111isms of cont rol Wt'rc• so t !gilt ly Ot>t><>sitiorwl, Confrontational, Antagonistic Relationships. The self
structured that the ass umptions ll ll'Y had Io ;1ssl11Jllnl 1•Ii1 rn <11•1 10 lw " )mows lt s1•1f" l1PC'<1 1ts1• it Is plan•<I in opposition to "other," which

co11s ldc1cd "<•th11.·,1tl'~I" ~ 11;11r1 11t t:t•cl I hill tlwy wo11ltl tl il111t 11 11' w11y IH • h11 l11d1•:; 1111• 1111111.1;\l ;u11I ,\flN·tlve part o f tlw ~w it. This "s<'lf awan~ pl.1111wd It w.i .. ,1·' ll1ui11:l 1Iii •. lt.111d 11•,u ltt•cl tln11111•l1' 1•11t 1111t..1 111 111 • ,"I•. tltt • 111lHl1111! 1':11111p1•i111 c1111~<·tothlJC",~ . "0111«'1" tlwt wlii< h
106 YURUGU Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought 107

is perceived to be different from the self-is threatening, therefore Absolutist-Abstractilication. This also mandates the universaliza-
establishing an antagonistic relationship between all entities that are tion as well as the reification of truths. This universalization is not to
''different." This presents a principle of confrontational relationships be confused with the inductive search for authentic principles of a
in all realities. Indeed, cognition itself is made possible through con- cosmic reality; that is discouraged by the limited analytical and seg-
frontation. menting mentality. It is instead, a universalism dictated by the need
Hierarchical Segmentation. The original splitting and separating to use epistemology as a power tool and as a mechanism of control.
mental process assigns qualitatively different (unequal) value to the Rationalism and Scientism. Extreme rationalism is not reason-
opposing realities of the dichotomies and a s tratification of value to ableness; quite the opposite. It is the attempt to explain all of reality
all realities within a given set or category. This process of valuation as though it had been created by the European mind for t he purposes
and devaluation is accompanied by that of segmentation and com- of control. It is the belief that everything can be known through objec-
partmentalization of independently derived entities. The effect is to tification and that the resulting presentation of reality is an accurate
eliminate the possibility of organic or sympathetic relationship, picture of the world. If all of reality can be explained in this way, then
thereby establishing grounds for the dominance of the "superior" we as thinking beings have control over everything. Intense ratio-
form or phenomenon over that which is perceived to be inferior: the nalism is the ultimate experience of control for the European mind.
power-relationship. Abstracted from the larger whole, these oppos- Ideologically, it justifies the control of the European self over others.
ing realities can never be perceived as either complementary or inter- Scientism is the merger of religion and rationality. Here the
dependent. European god becomes the great scientist and the rationalist pursuit
Analytical, Nonsynthetic Thought. The tendency to split and seg- Is the criterion of moral behavior . The need to experience control cre-
ment makes the European comfortable with the analytical modality at <'S a scientistic utamawazo in which predictability and rationality
in which realities are torn apart in order to be "known." This is an ltc•lp to defend the knowing self against any possible threat from the
essential process within all cognitive systems on one level of under- 1111known. Intuitive knowledge is devalued and mistrusted since it is
standing. But since organic interrelationship discourages the hierar- only possible through cosmic self-awareness; it does not guarantee
chical thought patterns necessary for confrontation, control, and t•ontrol, it does not help t o create the illusion of power-over-other.
power, it becomes impossible, within the parameters of the European 'l'lw intuitve modality is not uncomfortable with mystery.
utamawazo, to comprehend the whole, especially a-s a cosmic reality. Authoritative Literate Mode. The written symbol becomes author-
Culturally this tendency inhibits the movement to a higher, more syn- 11.11 Ive utterance, enabling the European mind to further obje.ctify
thesizing level of understanding. It is on the level of synthesis that 11·,dity as it universalizes European control. Reductionist symbols set
opposition would be resolved , and given the fundamental premises 111 ,, 11onsymbolic lineal modality help to further alienate the knowing
of this cognitive system, there would no longer be any basis for knowl- H If from its authentically affective environment. More control, more
edge: power-over-other. p11wcr. Conceptual lineality further secularizes the axiological
Objectification. With these characteristics of the utamawazo an 1•1pl·cts of the culture thereby linking it as well to the process of
autonomous self has been created. This autonomous self is gradually •1l 1Jc-<.· tHicat ion.
identified with "pure thought." The conceptualization of "pure thought" I>esacralization. This is a necessary by-product of all of the char-
is made possible by a cognitive emphasis on absolutism and abstracti- H1 ' lt•1 lst ics of the European utamawazo, as nature is alienated and
lication. The self as emotionless mind creates the proper "objects" of nhj1·cllfiecl an<l approached with a quantifying mentality, that views
knowledge through the act of controlling that which is inferior to it in 1111' 111livc'rse as material reality only, to be acted upon by superior
a phenomenal sense. In this sense, everything that is "other" than the 11
111111<1 ..
thinking self is objectified and is therefore capahle of being controllrcl !'lie <'lrnrnctcristics outli ned all issue from and result in the illu-
by that self; as long as the knowing self is careful to rcmai11 nffcctlvcly !) 1111 1 ol ,, dt•splrit uali zrcl universe. European power is the negation of
detached. Therefore, through I hf' 111ode of ohjN'tilwntl1111, k11owlt ·df!t' pll 11, lw;t no.; 1:.11 ro1wa11 control is threatened by the recognition of
lwcrnnes a 111t·<·lrnnls111 tl wl hH'i lil,1 IL·s pnwt•r ov1•1111111•1 pl1lt 1\11of1l1c"H' C'lrnnll'lt·risli<"s wlwn 1111dcrstoo<l Ideologically ,
11111h,1111<•1111~.11 1ti ll'11at11n ol tlw E11rnpc·n1111.-;tf/, yield tlw poss!

bility of power and create the illusion of control. The pursuit of power
is the nature of the European asili. The utamawazo is one manifesta-
tion of the asili. It is created to assist in the realization of the asili.
What remains to be demonstrated is the way in which these charac-
teristics encourage the development of a technical order and impe- I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one comes
rialistic behavior towards other cultures. We must explain how the to my Father but th rough me.
utamawazo couples with the utamaroho (energy force) to support -John 14:6
the ideological thrust (asih) of the culture: the quest for dominance.
The asili makes each aspect of the utamawazo political in its use There was a third white destroyer: a missionary who wanted
(application), every action motivated by the utamaroho, both defen- to replace all knowledge of our way with fables even our chil-
sive and aggressive: the assumption of a confrontational reality. dren laughed at then. We told the white missionary we had
We have identified the asili-logos and source of the culture; it is such fables too, but kept them for the entertainment of those
a seed that once planted dictates the logic of cultural development. yet growing up - fables of gods and devils and a supreme being
In the chapters to come we will use this concept to explicate the rela- above everything. We told him we knew soft minds needed
tionship between the dominant modes of the culture, following the such illusions, but that when any mind grew among us to adult-
path along which the logos of the asili leads. hood it grew beyond these fables and came to understand that
there is indeed a great force in the world, a force spiritual and
able to shape the physical universe, but that that force is not
something cut off, not something separate from ourselves. It is
an energy in us, strongest in our working, breathing, thinking
together as one people; weakest when we are scattered, con-
fused, broken into individual, unconnected fragments.
- Ayi Kwei Armah

Chapter 2

Religion and Ideology

A Point of Departure
Religion is integrally related to the development of ideology in
tl1 e West. For that reason and because of the unique nature of
Euro pean culture, it is critical to make clear what I mean by "reli-
~lon ." This is important because what is identified formally in the
h1ropcan experience as religion often has very little to do with what
1'. 1111 clerstood generally as "the religious" in a phenomenological
,1• 11 :w. 1 This discuss ion focuses o n the European experience of reli-
~111 11 as a forrnnl ized inst it ..ition exis ting in relation to the other insti-
l 11t lt111 s of l\11 ro 1wn11 culture, ns opposed to "re ligio n" as the
1 p11".;:,1011 of hc lld~ al>out tilt• s t1p(•1·11.1t11rnl world and ns the basis
1111 f' f lllc ·11l lwl1n v lo1 , 111 ,\s .1dc·l l'I111111,1111 o l v.tl1w
ll h 1 11th ,d "" w1•ll to d h tl11 ~ 11hh h1 t wP1•11 "1,.llulou " ,111<1 "•. pltl
110 YURUGU Religion and Ideology JI I

tuality." Spirituality rests on the conception of a sacred cosmos that reverse. That is what it means for a culture to have a "nonreligious"
transcends physical reality in terms of significance and meaning. At base. It means that the formal religious statement merely reflects fun-
the same time spirituality enables us to apprehend the sacred in our damental metaphysical concepts and ideology. It is not their source.
natural, ordinary surroundings: They become elements of a symbolic It is not identical with them as is the case in traditional and classical
language. Religion refers to the formalization of ritual, dogma, and African and Islamic cultures. This secularization of European culture
belief, leading to a systematic statement of syntactically suprara- begins with the institutionalization of European religion. It begins
tional tenets that may or may not issue from a spiritual conception with the Church.
of the universe. Most often it functions to sacralize a nationalistic This discussion begins, therefore, with the Platonic influences
ideology. on the development of European institutionalized religion, its Judaic
If one looks for a sense of the supernatural, the sacred, or extra- origins, and its solidification in the ideology and organization of the
ordinary in European culture, undoubtedly the only area of experi- early Christian Church. Later we will discuss the ideological signifi-
ence that approaches the "religious" in this sense is that of "science." cance of European paganism. Throughout this treatment, however,
It is only what is considered to be science and scientific method that our focus is on European institutionalized religion as a manifestation
is regarded with the awe and humility that in other cultures repre- of the European utamaroho, utamawazo and ideological commitment.
sents the "religious attitude." Scientism, as such, is not the focus of The concept of asili particularizes this "religious" statement, and
this immediate discussion, but rather the institutionalized set of ideas exposes its legitimization of European behavior.
and practices that Europeans refer to as "religion." Scientism will
enter the discussion only as it functions normatively to provide the The Platonic Influence
models or paradigms of European theology. For the most part, whatever dramatic imagery and spiritual pro-
The other sense of "religion," i.e., beliefs concerning the nature fundity are traditionally associated with what is called "Christianity,"
of the human and the universe, have been discussed in Chap. 1 as originate in chronologically "older" cultures,2 cultures that existed as
metaphysical conceptions. The authentically normative European <'Stablished traditions centuries before the crystallization of archaic
ethic is treated in a later section of this work. Such beliefs are not eas- t·:uro pe or the establishment of Christianity. We are discussing here
ily recognizable if one makes the mistake of looking for them only in what Europeans isolated as valued characteristics of a proper reli-
what is labeled "religion" in an avowedly secular society. The two 1-(lous statement. I will take the liberty of using the term Christianity
uses of the term will overlap occasionally, as has already become t n refer specifically to its European manifestations; that is, to the
apparent in the previous chapter, and will do so more in the follow- "European" uses and responses to the religious ideas presented by
ing discussion as we observe the way in which the themes of 1·nrlier cultural-ideological traditions. For, having changed the
European epistemological and ontological premises find expression P111phases and offering different interpretations, Europeans can
in the formalized religious statement of European culture. t11dced be credited with the creation of a formulation that uniquely
To say that a culture is "secularly" based in European social the- 1 t•sponcled to the needs of their cultural selves. In this sense, which
ory is primarily to associate it with what in the terms of European ide- 1•111phasizes the ideological uses of religion (the asili approach),
ology is the phenomenon of modernity. But an ethnological l·:m opean Christianity was a "new" phenomenon.
understanding of European culture using the concept of asili leads to T he dialogues the Euthyphro, the Apology, and the Republic are
a conclusion that is more far reaching than that understanding of ,II I In some extent concerned with the problem of the moral justifi-
"secular" would imply. We are not simply discussing the separation c·.11 ln11 of an individual's cho ice of action (Euthyphro, Apology) and of
of Church and State. The relationship of European religi-0n to other t l w St 1111' (Republi<'). In th e F:uthyphro, Socrates succeeds in convinc-
aspects of the culture is symptomatic of a persisteul despiritualiza- l111t Eutl 1yphr<> of the logical inconsistency of his appeal to "that which
tion and desacralization of experience and can bl• shown to bC' a cliar- tlw gncls lovt•" as th e c11tcrlo11 or definition of "the pio us act."
art eristic of "Wf>stPrnPss" s ince it s archaic: s tages. Tilt• 1':t 1ni1w;i11 •\1 corctlng to Sorrnt<'s, l\11thypllro':; prohlcm is thnt his gods are
11tr1111C110o:.1J, 11tamomlt11, 111HI E11rop1'a11 ldPolo1ty clt•l<'t'lllltH' ti ll' 11.it111 t'
1111111y, 1111pn•tllt t.d>lt•, nrnl. llkt• 1m•11, l:dlll>lt'. So11wth11t•s lltc•y do no t
o t flit' ft11111.tll11•d rl'llHllllJ " •. 111tc·1 11J:11t 111 tlw Wt•i..t 1.1tlw1 tllil11 tl w t I{ 11 1 • w 11 Ii 11111 • • 11 1ct I Iw 1 •". t o wI 1.1 t "p It' II" c•:-. t I ti' 111 ,'' A11 cl :; In< <• t I 11 •y .tr t •
ll2 YURUGU Religion and Ideology ll3

"many," what pleases one may not please another. Socrates demon- Rather it is a logical necessity of human reason, that is, reason as
strates to Euthyphro that in looking for a proper "first principle" it is Plato defines it. Socrates is talking about an absolute, unchanging ref-
necessary to go beyond the gods to something prior to them as a ref- erence point: the grounding of reason.
erence point. "The gods love what they love because it is holy," and Both Euthyphro and Socrates appeal to the gods for the justifi-
not the reverse. This priority is, of course, a logical one. cation of their actions that are being challenged. But Socrates makes
In the Apology, Socrates accounts for his actions by saying that it clear that the logic of Euthyphro's argument is defective. Euthyphro
they were divinely inspired: He was made to act as he does; he was does not make effective polemical use of the authority of the gods,
compelled to "ask questions ," an activity that apparently is threat- while Socrates, in his own defense, uses the divine to construct a log-
ening to the authority of the State. Socrates becomes the nemesis of ically rigorous argument for the moral validity of his actions. This
the State as he demonstrates to the young Athenians that the politi- brings us directly t o a critical component of European religion. It is
cians are the least wise of its participants. The point that we are con- the "syntax of the mathematical proposition," in Havelock's words,
cerned with is the way in which Socrates defends his actions. By that becomes the model for the moral precept and idea. In this way
identifying his behavior as having been made "necessary" by the the European "monotheistic ideal" comes into being, and its religious
order of the gods, he is, in fact, saying that he cannot help being statement becomes rationalistic. The arguments of the Euthyphro and
Socrates, that he cannot help being as he is. Socrates is being charged the Apology make the assumption that there is but one system of
with "impiety," and it is therefore necessary that he brings the gods logic, one mode, and this comes to appear "logical" within the epis-
to his defense; but more than that, he does so because of the nature temological confines of European culture. Plato identifies the "good"
of that which he is defending. 3 Socrates is, after all, defending an entire with the "true," and for him this means that the morally true has as
"way of life"; not merely one specific or concrete action which, in its methodological model the mathematically true. That is why it is
Platonic terms, is Euthyphro's mistake. To do this he must appeal to important that the Guardians be trained first in "the art of number":
something that is outside of, greater than, independent of, that life;
something to which it can be referred. The moral principle of justifi- The knowledge at which geometry aims is knowledge of the eternal,
cation for "all actions" cannot be in terms of anything "human," for and not of aught perishing and transient ... then geometry will
that would be inconsistent, ambiguous, and imperfect, as Euthyphro draw the soul towards truth, and create the spirit of philosophy,
was made to see. Socrates' appeal can only be made to the divine; that and raise up that which is now unhappily allowed to fall down.
which is beyond space and time, that which "created" him.
And all arithmetic and calculation have to do with number?
Now the duty of cross-examining other men has been imposed upon
me by god; and has been signified to me by oracles, visions, and in Yes.
every way in which the will of the divine power was never intimated
And they appear to lead the mind towards truth?
to anyone. [Plato, Apology, 33]
Yes, in a very remarkable manner.
God orders me to fulfill the philosopher's mission of searching into
myself and other men. [Plato, Apology, 28]
T hen this is knowledge of the kind for which we are seeking, hav-
It is not that Socrates has suddenly become a priest. It sounds as l 11 g a double use, military and philosophical; for the man of war
though he is describing "the religious" in experience; the creation o f must lea rn the art of number or he will not know how to array his
meaning through transcendence beyond the ordinary, beyo nd the troo ps, and the philosopher also, because he has to rise out of the
profane. But, if this were the case, cl early il wo uld not re present a iwn o f <' ll •inge anfl lay hold of true be in ~. and therefore he must be
"new" human activity, nor a new conceptio11 of r<'liglo u . Euth ypll ro 1111 a rlll11nc~li dan .' 1
hns hL·1 ·11 In I h1· hnbit of d o ing p recis1·ly I hat Int lw Pl11tn 11 k vi ·w, I hr·
11; 1t1111 • 11f tlil !i '\!1Hl" nr "prhwlnl1 •'' tll n l S t1<'rt1 l1 ·:. :11·1· k~. I. 1111 1•l(lt •11sl1111 'l'IH • /<1•1111/illr· I ~ :111 "lcl1 -.1l " '> l rt lt· h t·1· 11 11 st· II ls lH.·st a11d 1lwrl'fnn ·
1111111 111 1111.111 It I•. 11111 "1t1";1l1•1 th.111 " 11111 ''1111t '>l d1" th•• 11111 111.u y w '1 .i l ,, 1tl.1lt • 'lltt111 ld l w , 11111 II h 11ho "lllt•.il " 111 ll w s1·11~ 1 · I lint II d rn•s
.114 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 115

not and cannot concretely exist. The ideal state is itself a "Form" to become one of the shibboleths of European culture. But this is a slip-
be participated in, approximated, imitated, but never consonant with pery point, if one is unfamiliar with the mode of ancient philosophy.
the becoming, that is, the experienced. The Republic is not in any way For the Kemites (ancient "Egyptians"), other Africans, and many con-
limited by the particular circumstances of human experience. Just as temporary "non-European" peoples, there is an authentic integration
in the European conception, the philosophic and ethical "progres- of science, philosophy, and religion. The difference between these
siveness" of the Christ image lies in its presentation of a model of two kinds of "integration" is that one reduces spiritual reality to mat-
moral perfection, to be imitated but never reached. So the Republic ter, while the other understands spiritual reality as the fundamental
represents the perfect order towards which the European state must integrative principle of all being. The European view results in the
continually "advance." As "idea," as "normative model," it is not sim- desacralization of the universe and, by extension, the despiritualiza-
ply modeled after the "good," it is the embodiment of the "good." The tion of morality.
problems in the Euthyphro, the Apology, and the Crito are created by Monotheism for the European becomes a characteristic of supe-
the discrepancy in the world of becoming between the "moral" and rior philosophical belief. It is not important here that other cultures
the "natural." This problem is eliminated in the Republic; the State exhibit religious concepts that philosophically imply the spiritual pri-
becomes totally moral because it is totally rational. Virtue is identi- ority of a single creative principle and that the idea of monotheism,
fied with "objectification"; spirit is reduced to matter and the ability of course, came to the West from other experiments with it. Even in
to manipulate it. European culture, where it is discussed so much, the "high god" con-
This mode of thought that has worked so well to produce the cept is not experienced as an "unknown featureless quantity" that
kind of technical and social order that Europeans desire has also cre- never changes: Several gods are called by one name, and they are per-
ated a moral and spiritual disaster. The formal religious statement sonalized. But what is significant in this discussion is that absolute
has taken on the form of the rational state and has left Europeans no and "pure" monotheism is expressed as an ideal or value in Western
access to the necessarily spiritual reservoirs of human morality. This European cultural chauvinistic expression, and that it serves as a
tendency has intensified over the centuries; until now, when the West basis for the devaluation of other cultures. In addition the expression
is faced with tremendous self-doubt. of this ideal is, in part, a legacy of the Platonic abstraction.
But the point to be made here is that the epistemological model Havelock's observation on the developmental relationship
in which the Platonic abstraction was born (the normative between the written media or "literate" mode and "objectification" as
"absolute") underlies theAexpression of the "monotheistic ideal," the ;\ dominant or preferred epistemological mode can be used to under-
"rational religion" syndrome, and written codification as values in stand the uniqueness of the European, Judea-Christian religious tra-
the formalized Judea-Christian religious statement. dition. Religion, to be superior and worthy of the "civilized," had to
Stanley Diamond succinctly states the reason for the "monothe- he "knowledge" and have the nature of the eternal truth of logic. Its
istic ideal" as well as the reason for its failure as a religious vehicle written codification helped to give it this character and so became to
in one sentence. "Absolutely pure monotheism exists in the realm of l·:11ropean's evidence of "true religion." (A student in my African civ-
mathematics, not religion!" Precisely! And that is why it became the lllzation course vehemently protested that Christian belief was supe-
European ideal, since ("logically") pure monotheism can be under- rlm because it was "documented.") Where else but in the European
stood as an attempt to express the Platonic abstraction as the nec- 111incl would it seem so compelling that the "self" be separated from
essary justification of all moral propositions. When European t11e "religious object" in order to achieve a proper religious state-
theologians took up from where Plato left off, they should have real- 111<•11t. It could instead be argued from a different perspective that it
ized that they would be forever plagued with the dilemma of recon- 1~. the very point at which the "individual" self and the experience of
ciling what should have remained two distinct philosophical- llw "other" defy di:stinction that a sense of the religious is born. But
e plslemological modes; Plato had mistakenly idt.•11tih<.'cl tlwrn as 011e. lot l·:11ropvans, t'V(.>11 this t·xp('ri<3ncc has to be understood rationally,
Dla111n11d snys ll1n: lllis t<·1Hl0ncy lnwa1d 1111• inlc·"1<1tlo11 of lllPll wlilpl1 1lll1111;i1t·ly rn'l>s tlll'lll of tlw al>ility to recognize it. George
llll 1111d 1·11111l1rn1t1l lllt · .u1cl tl1t· d1•v1•l11p11w11I ol 1111' "c%1lt1 •d .111cl 1111s1 !1t1•ltH'I so1y•.,
11\'I 1•tl1lt tJ lfl1•.1" 1111jillt 'l ''pt HHll''•'~' IH 1111 • l•'. tlllljll' 11ll lllllld illlcl ltol'I
116 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 11 7

The classic and the Christian sense of the word strive to order real- The Judaic Heritage
ity within the governance of language. Literature, philosophy, law, In Judaism we find the first conscious formalized and institu-
the arts of history, are endeavors to enclose within the bounds of tionalized statement of certain critical characteristics of European
rational discourse the sum of human experience, its recorded past,
culture, tendencies, and values that intensified as the culture became
its present condition and future expectations. The code of Justinian,
the Summa [theologicaj of Aquinas, the world chronicles and com- an ever increas ingly identifiable ethno-historical entity. This does not
pendia of medieval literature, the Divina Commedia, are attempts include the Qabbala, which is non-European in both a spiritual and a
at total containment. They bear solemn witness to the belief that all racial-cultural sense. In fact, a caveat to this discussion would be to
truth and realness-with the exception of a small, queer margin at raise the question of to what extent our knowledge of Juda ism is
the very top-can be housed inside the walls of language. 5 determined by the tradition of the Khazars, who were converted Jews,
and their descendants the Askenazim and contemporary European
The European formalized religious statement was made to fit Jews . (See Arthur Koestler, The Thirteenth Tribe, 1976.)
the conceptual mode that had become aesthetically pleasing to the Judaism is much more than a "religion" as that term came to be
European mind because of the Platon ic influence, the diligence of used in the European experience. It is a political and cultural ideol-
Aristotle, and the nature of the Utamawazo. Arthur Lovejoy has this ogy. It has within it the germ of a model for social organization
to say regarding Plato's relationship to the subsequent religious for- designed for the energetic development of technological efficiency.
mulations: It is the prelude t o a cultural configuration that emphasizes that
aspect of the human experience. The characteristics that can be iden-
The interpreters of Plato in both ancient and modern times have tified within this tradition combine to give the culture of the early
endlessly disputed over the question whether this conception of Hebrews the particular socio-technological direction that later
the absolute Good was for him identical with the conception of became a definitive component of the Western European tradition.
God. Stated thus simply, the question is meaningless, since the The Judaic tradition is associated with a cultural tool that is
word "God" is in the last degree ambiguous. But if it be taken as
generally termed "codification" in relation to the social norms, sanc-
standing for what the Schoolmen called ens perfectissimum, the
summit of the hierarchy of being, the ultimate and only completely 1ioned behavior, and religion of the Hebrew people. The t erm "codi-
satisfying object of contemplation and adoration, there can be lit- fi cation," however, properly refers to the systematic arrangement
tle doubt that the Idea of the Good was the God of Plato; and there .ind preservation of certain aspects of culture. All cultures possess
can be none that it became the God of Aristotle, and one of the ele- 111cthods and media (songs, mythology, art, poetry, ritual) that act to
ments or "aspects" of the God of most philosophic theologies of the .. tandardize in this way; therefore, all peoples "codify" what they con-
Middle Ages, and of nearly all the modern Platonizing poets and sid er to be the valuable and necessary facts of their tradition. 7
philosophers.6 It is specifically the use of the medium of the written word in this
tt •spect that, in European parlance, is connoted by the term "codifi-
Plato's influence w<!'s most heavily felt in the early formulative c·a tion" and that, in the minds of Europeans, is so reverently associ-
work of Augustine, and Aristotle's influence was directly manifested ,, I l'd with their cultural heritage. Through the use of the written word
in Aquinas and the Scholast ics in their conceptions of the "self-mov- ' 1ilturc becomes recorded, and this recording becomes an impres-
ing Mover" and of "Final Cause," but most importantly in their labo- lvcly cumulative activity, giving the impression that the culture itself
rious attempts to "prove" the existence of their god. These efforts I 111orc cumulative and therefore within the logic of this same value
become pathetic when it is und~rstood that the need for "proof" itself , y'\Lem, evolutionarily s uperior to cultures that codify their tradi-
is symptomatic of the human failing of the culture. Aristotle, in this t l111 1s I hrough other media.
way, becomes himself the "prime mover" of the "religio n and rnt lo~ Writing, of coursP, first developed neither in the context of
nality syndrome" that continues to plague f:urop<.>an theology . l111l.d s1n 11 nr a11y otlwr parl of tlw European cultural tradition. So that
It I mil nH·1r ly tlw ' prt '$1:'1 1n ., knnwl<'d gc, or "possibility" of this
1111•1ll11111 ll1;1t ls c·rlllt 11l l11ltl t>11tlfyh1g till' pccultarlty of the European
1n11h ~ 111 , t11011 Mo11 • ~.11htly , fl Ii. 1111• w.1y h1 W ill e 111111~ tn11l li ~1rrt'S in
118 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 119

the culture in question that is important here. In the European tradi- is t he difference between the uses of written codification and its
tion writing takes on the features of a dominant value within the belief value-place in Kemetic and Hebraic culture, respectively. What was
system of the group. It is not merely a tool among tools. The medium written in the Book of the Coming Forth by Day ("The Book of the
of the written word is so valued that it can itself impart value, much Dead") was to be buried with the dead and was intended for their ben-
as religion does to the entire fabric of traditional cultures. Without the efit and use. But the philosophical essence of spiritual knowledge
written media, how could the European "God" and all the pronouns (which included science as well as theology) was represented by the
referring to "Him" be capitalized?-a primary European expression of Priest "schools" or Mystery Systems, and could only be transmitted
reverence. The same is true of Plato's "Forms." The act of writing and orally-reserved for a small circle of initiates.
its importance become ideological in function. They become a frame Written expression of these teachings was prohibited for two
of reference that acts to determine and, in many respects, limit the reasons: They were "secret," and they were "sacred." Writing, on the
mode of perception of those caught up in this structure of values. We other hand, imparts two things to its content: (1) it publicizes,
have already pointed to some of the implications of "lineality" in the reveals, and spreads its content in a way that other (pre-electronic)
European utamawazo as it relates to the written media. (See Chap. 1 media cannot (one never commits to writing that which one truly
of this work.) wishes to remain private); it "makes public" its content in this way.
The point to be made here is the way in which this valued activ- (2) The written media "profanes." Initiates into this system of spiri-
ity related to ot her Western tendencies of the European asili, already tual wisdom pledged themselves to secrecy. This was interpreted to
prefaced in early Judaic culture. When written expression becomes mean the prohibition of writing down what they had learned. It was
a dominant value, words become binding through writing, and values only when individual Greek, Persian, and Ionian students (Socrates
are perceived laws. Laws preserved through written codification are and Plato no doubt among them) gained access to Egyptian schools,
more impressive to the European mind than mere "values." This cir- and political control of Egyptian civilization, that acts of sacrilege
cular process heij:>s to maintain order in lieu of those mechanisms were performed, acts that in the nascent European ideological frame-
that would be binding in other cultures. Written laws became the work of ancient Greece were compelling. As early as this in the
mark of European religion. The literate mode helped to impart the European experience, the culturally exploitative use of the written
illusion of historicity and therefore of "universal truth." media seems to have been recognized and utilized. And the European
Written codification is necessary for the development and interpretation o f these priestly Kemetic teachings became much of
growth of a certain kind of ideology and a qualitatively distinct style "Greek Philosophy" through the many strokes of many, many pens,
of organization; not necessarily more complex, but in many ways as George James explains (1954). In this view we could almost say that
more oppressive to the human spirit as it forces human activity to be classical European culture began with an act of profanation and pla-
increasingly technologically oriented. The Kemites (Egyptians) pos- giarism.
sessed a system that allowed them to keep written records thou- How profoundly different was the Hebrew conception of mean-
sands of years before the Hebrews. They also had a larger and more ing from the Kemetic and other "non-European" conceptions. It was
technologically accomplished culture. And for these reasons, Kemet a conception that promoted the arduous activity of recording in writ-
might at first appear to be the ethnological precursor to the crystal- ing the religious laws of its people and thereby gave birth to the idea
lization of European culture. of the "scriptures." Within the European context "culture" and "law"
But Kemetic civilization is sacredly based, and its religion more arc rcified and, therefore through writing, are deified; religion has
cosmic, mythic, and symbolic in intent. The mathematical, astrolog- ~rca t cr force, is "truer,'' becausi:> it is codified in writing. Starting with
ical, astronomical, and philosophical knowled ge of the Kemites, even other presuppos itions, however, it would seem that it is only as laws
the material colossus tha t was Kemet, were products of a total <.:on- lwc<t111 c allcnatccl rrom the human spirit that conformity to them
ception of the universe as spirit. for this rraso1111tal Kt•nwt stlll 1l'q11in's that they he pul on paper.
rc'mai11s a puz7lc' to Ihe E11ropt•;111 111i11cl The· Afrlt'illt .1ppn•ltt·11sl111111f
llll' 11111vt•1 s1• .1s 1·os1lli<' l1tu 111rn1y •; l111ply 1c·prc",1°111" ,, pl1tlo ·,o pllh
•q1p1111H Ii dc·fi<''> tltct F11111p1 .111 wc.11ld v11•y. Wl11l 1: 11 l1 ·v1 111t lu•tt
120 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 121

Th e Monotheistic Ideal; "monotheistic" ideal and that of Plato's ontology as expressed in sev-
Incipient European Cultu ral Chauvinism eral of his dialogues. The humanness and inconsistency o f the gods
is illogical (Euthyphro) and , therefore, immoral. Value must b e
Our concern here is with "monotheism" as a culturally abstract, universal , uncha nging. The Re public is perfect because it is
expressed value. In these terms the counterpart of the "good/bad" modeled after such an abstraction . It is really not the content of the
dichotomy of European value becomes that of "monotheism/poly- "ideal" so much as its "form" that is significant. The "logical" a nd
theism." For Europeans the one-god idea, like written codification, ontological "authority" that issues from the "good" or from "God"
represents a socio-technological "advance" along the evolutionary must be monolithic. It is a more suitable structure, the ideally orga-
spectrum. Judaism proclaims this ideal. It is recognized as a Jewish nized state for the growth and nurture o f technology and for a par-
concept-in spite of Akhnaten-for in Judaism, it becomes hardened tic ular kind of ideology. The concept of monotheism provides an
ideology. The statement of this ideal expresses the European uta- ontological justification for the State as an efficient mechanism of
maroho dramatically. What follows is Hugh Schonfield's characteri- assured control. While wars have always been (and will always be,
zation of this "ideal": a lthough the rhetoric may become more subtle) for all people "reli-
gious" wars, and while religious statements have always been state-
Messianism was a product of the Jewish spirit. It was inspired by
ments of cultural nationalistic ideology, the religious statement of
the Hebrew reading of the riddle of the creation and the destiny of
mankind. Though some of its features did not originate with the the Hebrews corresponded to a qualitatively different nation alistic
Hebrews, they absorbed them and brought them into relationship conception. Their religion put forth the proposition that all religions
with a great vision of the ultimate Brotherhood of Man under the t hat did not espouse the one-god ideal were evolutionarily inferior.
rule of the One God and Father of all men. The vision was not sim- The adherents of this religious statement, in effect, declared war on
ply a cherished ideal; it was associated with a plan for its realisa- (that is, opposed themselves to) all peoples who did not profess this
tion. According to this plan God had chosen and set apart one idea. It is important here to reiterate a distinction that must be kept
nation among the nations of the world, neither numerous nor pow- In min d between Jewish religion and others at this historical juncture.
erful, to be the recipient of his laws, and by observing them to offer All religions are by necessity culturally nationalistic in that they
a universal example. The Theocracy of Israel would be the persua- profess in some way the specialness if not the moral superiority of
sive illustration of a World Theocracy; it would be "a kingdom of those who are "born into" them and, in fact (most import antly) ,
priests and a holy nation" witnessing to all nations . Manifestly,
Involv e an explanation of the sacred origins of the group. But there
according to this view, the redemption of humanity waited upon the
attainment by Israel of a state of perfect obedience to the will of Is a c rucial difference between the way in which the European image
God. By so much as Israel failed to meet the Divine requirements, 111 its c ulture represents its members as ad vanced on an evolution-
by so much was the peace and well-being of mankind retarded.s 11r y spectrum. This ideological thesis demands a vision of themselves
In Invidio us comparison with others and therefore in relation to a
This characterization of Hebrew theology is an accurate state- l.1rµc:r o rder. One idea-the sacralization of the group-does not rule
ment of the European self-image: one type of person-one culture- 111 11 the validity of a plurality of other groups . The other-ev olution-
whose task it is to "save" all people. This vision of a larger world in ·" y s uperiority- is a supremacist concept and allows only for a mono-
relation to a specia l culture (one's own) contains the germ of "uni- 111Ii ic reality.
versalism," the critical ingredient of European cultural imperialism. For the .Jews, tho se who did not p rofess the one-god ideal-
Early in Judaism the indication of this theme appears, a theme that t l111i;t• who "worshipped images"-were in fact irreligious. It was impi-
we shall follow in this study as it develops bo th historically and s yn- 1111s .i11d l 111rnoral to worship many gods. Moreover, it was stupid; it
chronically through the va rious aspec ts of Euro pean c ulture. The w11s 1>11ckwarcl . And, the refo re, the violent h ostility toward s a ll othe r
Juda ic state ment also laid the gro undwo rk for the secula rl zat1011 of 1• ll~l o11 s was not only just lfi cd; it was morally compelling. And here
history. By interpreting h istory as the unfold in!-{ o f dlvlnf' lnw, profa 11 P we · ll11cJ ·the fi r!i1 C1J1Wrt'lc st atemen t of what can be callec;t the
lineal lime (hls toridty) ra tl 1<•1 tll:ui lla 11111 (s.ictt•tl tl11w 111 1<1 sp11c~) clh l111tw11y of 1•:u1·op\'illl <' li;u1vlnli-;111, the <•vol uti on of which we can
hL•1'. l11 w ll w :-ii11 11·lln 111i1K forc·c-' l1111•1• l!t•. tnr t1·.tlly .\lid l d 1'11l n~1<'.tlly ,
'1'111'11• h 11 11 111111111 t 11 11 n 11 1111•111111 1 l>1•twc'l•11t Ill'1• ptc•tjp,fCJ11 of ll lf'
122 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 123

According to the logic of European ideology as manifested in its from without was, at that point, very real.
early stage of Judaic culture, the cultural statement ofgood/ bad, of
we/they, becomes Jew/ Gentile. To be Jewish was to be not only spe- If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter,
cial and "chosen" but also "religious" and therefore culturally supe- or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul,
entice thee secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods, which
rior in an evolutionary sense. A Gentile is non-Jewish: a heathen and
thou hast known, thou, nor thy fathers;
pagan, is idolatrous and actually irreligious (has no religion), is igno-
rant, is culturally inferior in an evolutionary sense. With certain crit- Namely, of the gods of the people which are round and about you
ical amplification, this was later to become the logic that supported nigh unto thee or far off from thee .. .
European cultural imperialism; and it has been alarmingly consis-
tent, left intact for over two thousand years, an unchanging tradition Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor harke n unto him; neither
in a culture that propagandizes itself as the embodiment of "change" shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou
and self-criticism. conceal him:
The Jewish/Gentile dichotomy is the early form of expression on
the continuum of the civilized/primitive dichotomy of European cul- But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to
tural chauvinism. Within the framework of this chauvinistic expres- put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
sion the concept of authoritative "scriptures" and the written
/\nd thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath
codification of tradition, the monotheistic ideal and the Jewish/
sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought
Gentile dichotomy all combine in unique configuration to reinforce t lice out of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
each other in the logic of a belief system that can be identified as the
earliest institutionalized manifestation of the European utamaroho- - Deuteronomy: 13:6-13:10 (See also 13:12, 13, 15, 16.)
seeking to fulfill the asi/i of the culture.
Written codification and its promulgation encourages the linear Wl1cn the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou
mode of conception that in turn establishes a "logical" system that guest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the
produces the thesis of evolution and advance. This thesis, in turn, I l1ltites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites,
introduces the deifi cation of the written word; and so the circle con- .111<1 the Persites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations
tinues. Monotheism, which had philosophical (not spiritual) appeal 11.n·ater and mightier than thou;
to the European mind and which served best the purposes of social
And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou
control in a European context, was placed at the valued end of the<1lt smite them and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make not
"evolutionary" spectrum. It is again significant that Europeans have 1 11vcnant with them, nor show mercy unto them:
never left that aspect of social organization open-ended as a superfi-
cial understanding of progress ideology would imply but retain the N1•1ther shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter shalt
monolithic image of their'very first model. 11 111 f.{ ive unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto they
The monotheistic ideal (and the thesis of its "evolutionary" •Oil
superiority) then leads to and at the same time is recreated by the
dichotomy of European nationalistic ideology. "We" become(s) the '1•s ha ll destroy their altars , and break down their images, and cut
group that is "advanced," practices monotheism, deifies writiug; d11w 11 their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
"they" become the rest of the world, the group that is bac)cward , idol-
atrous, irreligious , possesses no impressive body of writt e n religio us I 111 1liou w l an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God
laws, and of course believes in "many gods." No punish1n e11l is too 11.11 h l'hoscn thee to be a special people unto himself, above all peo-
ple• ll iu l c111 • llpl'l1 th e fan · o f th<> earth.
severe for this group, a:1d "we" must go to great lc.:ngllls lo t:ns111·1• tl1HI
"we" ar{' not n111 lnal cd l>y "ti wlr" bnckw;1nll ll "•S Tl It • .l11d.1h- sl ,1tt· • lk lll l' l'Onomy 7: I , 7:G
llll'lll of 1lils po-.11 11111 w.1s11 v! ·1lc>11lly d.-l1•11 • lv1• 11111 •, 111111 1• tht• llu t .11
Religion and Ideology 125

In the Christian context this statement becomes stronger and

more powerfully aggressive (yet at the same time more subtle, less For thou an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God
hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all p eo-
explicit) as opposed to the adamently defensive nature of the Jewish
ple that are upon the face of the earth.
statement, which seeks to protect itself against contamination. All of
the necessary ingredients were already present, including the Deuteronomy: 7:6
European self-image as "world-savior." Put into the context of
European ideology this can be seen as an ideal vehicle for the cultural- Hut they were to fulfill this prophecy by presenting a normative exam-
imperialistic projection of the European objective, which, in fact, it 1>le to other peoples, not through conquest.
became later. That is an African-centered interpretation of what in The cultural-political implications of Paul's strategy or int er-
Eurocentric rhetoric is stated as "a vision of the ultimate Brotherhood 11retation of Jesus' teachings were quite different. In Paul's view, con-
of Man under the rule o f One God and Father of all men."8 The impli- vn ted Gentiles would be assured the same privileges as those
cation of this "vision" is, indeed, a European theocracy. 1·njoyed by the Jewish believers, and they would also inherit the
t t·ward and promises made to Israel. 9 The Christian organization also
The Judeo-Christian Schism .Hided an increased stratification to the Jewish model through a hier-
The "Christian" formulation becomes the next ide ntifiable stage .11 c hy created out of the need for "correct interpretation." This was
in the development of the European utamaroho as expressed by insti- t1u t a primarily religious function for the Jews s ince their doctrine
tutionalized religion. Christianity owed much to the early Judaic tra- 1•111phasized the "letter" of the written law.
dition; so much, in fact, that the questions become: What exactly was The critical difference is to be found in Paul's attention to the
the difference in this "new" religion? In what way was it new? Why did ';l'11tiles , a move that was both the cause and the effect of rejection by
the followers of Jesus consider themselves distinct from, even antag- llw Jewish nationalists. The many Jews who became t he fi rst
onistic toward, other Jews and vice-versa? "<l1ris lia ns" were not, of course, Jewish nationalists. It is in this con-
According to European tradition the critical theological differ- 1• xi and at this point that a distinction began to exist between pri-
ences between the Jews and Jesus are fixed on his claim to be the 111.1 tily self-deterministic Jewish nationalism and the more imperialistic
"Son of God" and, correlatively, the refusal of the Jews to recognize I,11111pcan cultural chauvinism. This is a distinction that has remained
him as the "Son" of their "God." But the ideological issue is lodged in 1 1111s ls te nt to contemporary times, for while the Jewish interest may
the implications of Jesus' teachings for Jewish nationalism, and the wi•k powe r, it is not expansionistic rn the sense of seeking conve rts .
cultura l imperialistic implications of Paul's elaboration and inter- T lie Judaic formulation was the ideal vehicle for the expressly
pretation of them. From this perspective the schism and resulting lt 111 lt<'d o bjective of Jewish cultural solidarity, the solidarity necessary
antagonism makes political sense. I do not impose consciously polit- I• 11 t I1c e ffic ient socio-political organization and consolidation of the
ical motives on any of these teachings. I mean rather to point to the 1 11111 l s of its members. It was the perfect statement of nationalistic
political implications of the ideas when put into the context of embry- 1 1n vssion to the Jewish people as it encouraged their identification
onic European nationalist and cultural behavior patterns. In othe r wi t Ii the group through an assumed historical (transcending the ter-
words, the point is that some religious s tatements can be u sed to 1It 01I.ii) experience and de stiny, and functioned as a defensive mech-
support certain political objectives while others cannot. 111h 111 ne cessary for the ir self-determination-a need that was
For the Jews, while their god was projected as the one "true " god l11 l1 11s lhc d by the ir extre me "minority" circumstance.
for humankind, the emphasis and essential feature of Judaism was not As the European utamaroho began to e merge in the wider con-
the possibility of world-wide application, but rather the specialness 11 l 1 11'itl t•cl by an eve r-expanding self-image, itself defined in terms

of the Jewish people. According to them it is only the Jews who had t 11 •'V• 1 t11C"r<.'as ing powe r , t he needs of European nationalistic/ chau-
been "chosen" to fulfill God's prophecy: • l11 h 1l1 t·xpn .• sslo11 rc q11in: cl muc h more than .Judaism provide d.
h1 d,1l•.111<ltd luclr c·d promnl e a11cl l'ncourng<.> S"VNal of the rathe r c ri t-
lt 11 v. d1 w" vll•w1•d as Hl'l'Pss;Hy fo r tl1 e p lttnl t d European asili h11 t

t 11 h d y ll s 111tll11 11.1ll :-< tll1 :ll1d 1·1111·11I wns Hlll'•"lY lriittl<•qual <• for th<'
p 111 11ll 11 ~ 1·:11111111• 11 1:.1•11 t111 ,1J.!1• Wl1llc• II w.1 .... 1 l.1H•1111•11 t 111pnl lt11'.11
126 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 127

self-determination and defensive social cohesion, it was not a stat e- became the ideal formulation for the unlimited expansion of a culture
ment of world imperialistic objectives. The Judaic vision was elitist- with a supremacist ideology, and at the same time it provided the ide-
isolationist; the expanded European vision sought the control and ological tool for the control of the resultant empire through its rhetor-
cultural exploitation of other groups. Terrence Penelhum says, "When ical "universalistic" component.
Christianity appeared on the scene, it came not merely as one more Why did the Jews refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah they had
religion but rather as an implacable rival to all others. It claimed total lo ng awaited? Possibly because they refused to enlarge the cultural-
allegiance from all men .... 10 Oswald Spengler makes this difference national group with which they identified, and, in part, because they
in political implication clear: refused to become absorbed in (though always intimately ethno-his-
torically related to) the larger ideological entity that was forming and
Even in the first days the question arose which decided the whole 1hat was to culminate in Western European culture. One refusal was
Destiny of the new revelation. Jesus and his friends were Jews by dictated by the other, and the separation and antagonism between
birth, but they did not belong to the land of Judea. Here in the two groups (Christians and Jews) can be seen as one of polit ical
Jerusalem men looked for the Messiah of their old sacred books, a Identification and strategy worked out in religious termino logy. The
Messiah who was to appear for the "Jewish people," in the old tribal
q uestion then, as now, is one of allegiance. In so far as the Jewish peo-
sense, and only for them. But all the rest of the Aramaean world
waited upon the Saviour of the World, the Redeemer and Son of ple refuse to identify with the nationalistic expression and destiny of
Man, the figure of all apocalyptic literature, whether written out in I I1c> larger and dominant group whose territory they share, they con-
Jewish, Persian, Chaldean, or Mandean terms. In the one view the .tit Ute a "thorn in the side" of that group and have been, therefore,
death and resurrection of Jesus were merely local events; in the 111ls trusted and, what is worse, terrorized. In spite of this victimiza-
other they betokened a world-change .... In the Judaic view there 1Ion, and because of the similarity of value orientation and compati-
was essentially no need for recruiting-quite the reverse, as it was hlllly of utamaroho and utamawazo between the Jewish people and
a contradiction to the Messiah-idea. The words "tribe" and "mis- l lw larger Western European group, Jews are not referred to as
sion" are reciprocally exclusive. The members of the Chosen "p.1gan" or "primitive" and are not considered to be "evolutionarily
People, and in particular the priesthood, had merely to convince I1dl•rior" as other victims of Western European oppression have been.
themselves that their longing was now fulfilled. But to the Magian l'l wy are indeed totally "Western" in this sense. Even Rheinhold
nation, based on consensus or community of feeling, what the
Nl1•1>11hr recognizes the fact that Christianity was incons istent with
Resurrection conveyed was a full and definitive truth, and consen-
sus in the matter of this truth gave the principle of the true nation, 1..wlsh nationalism, but he fails to observe the new nationalistic state-
which must necessarily expand till it had taken in all older and con- 11 u·11 1 o f Christian ideology, or rather he mistakes its cultural imperi-
ceptually incomplete principles.[Spengler's itallics.]1 1 dl11tl<· expression for a morally superior "universalism."

It is the European utamawazo (cultural thought structure) that makes 1'111' freedom of God over the instruments of his will ... is asserted
the Christian statement.appear to be conceptually more complete. 111·1·ording to insights of prophetic universalism, as against the
lowt: r level of nationalistic Messianism. It is significant, however,
The significance of Spengler's observation is that while the over- I h rlt Christianity does not finally purge itself of the nationalistic
whelming body of the Christian formulation, as taught by Jesus and 1111rticularism until St. Paul asserts the right to preach the gospel to
interpretively elaborated by Paul, was consistent with and no t con- ll w Gentiles, rejects the validity of Jewish law for Christians, and
tradictory to Jewish belief, two critical and related features werl' •11 ilh l it utcs the church for the nation as the "Israel of God. "12
added. These additional features molded the Jewish idea into an idc'-
ological statement that supported and justified not o nly a nasce111 A11 Int eresting treatment of the difference between the Jewish
European definition of value, but also a new brand of imperialis m, a 11 1111 1 <'lirist l.111 s tate ments is found in Scho nfield's The Passover Plot.
imperialism that suited the European utw11aru/l o . Ont' of t hos · ft'H "' h1111tt1·lcl Is rxpress ly co11ternecl with documenting the evidence
tures wa s tlw rhetorically nniw•r sa li stk a11Cl t10ll(•){r1l1:; lvl1 cl<' ll11 ll11111 11 n ltl• . ••1111\1·11I in1 1 I hri t .fp~ 11s, 1w rl wps convinced that he was in fact
of tlw gro11p (or "ohjt•c t") tl1.1t "rould lw •.;;1vpd ", tl w otlH •r Wil~ 11 11' 111• M1 H'il.1h , d1·vc1l 1•d his 111101 t llft> l o 11 m111 g l11 s~ 111:-. "r rurifixlon" ancl

l l' l ,1 l l'd ft', 111 111 • 111 ll u 111.1 111 1.111. l o p11 1•.1•lyl l1:1•, (' l11 h ll111ill y, tl lt'll, t ill' I qllt' lll " tt"t llllt'( 111111,
,11 /l!> 10 H\loll ,\l l( t'l' l l tt• hilfi l] lfl('fl l Of 1111'
128 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 129

Jewish prophecy (which itself is from earlier non-Western traditions). Yet Jesus and his nation, differently taught, could love and wor-
Schonfield's avowed stance is one of "objective scholarship." He ship God without recourse to incarnation.14
wants to "shed light" on a subject too long clouded by "religious
bias." In his introductory s tatements he says that his objective is "to Ironically, it is precisely the "mystical" ingredient of the Jesus
be of helpful service" and that of the "patient seeking after truth. "13 legend that gives Christianity its religious appeal, as well as other
But, in fact, Schonfield's perspective is one of both Jewish national- aspects that are taken from prior cultural traditions . There is no sense
ism (though he probably does not identify himself religiously as a i11 which Schonfield's statements above can be called "objective,"
Jew) and Western cultural chauvinism. His argument is that the t·ven if it is agreed for the moment that "objectivity" is a valid concept.
Christian conception of Jesus as the Son of "God" de-Westernized the 1 lis use of the term "pagan" corresponds to that of not only Christian
Hebrew formulation and was therefore a retrogression from the intel- .md Jewish theologians but to "nonreligious" and so-called objective
lectual "advance" that Judaism had made from the "superstitions" of E11ropean social scientists.
the "pagans." There are few terms common in both ordinary and scientific
usage that so blatantly reveal the utamaroho (collective personality)
Christianity was still much too close to the paganism over which it o111c1 self-image of Europeans as does "pagan." It is perhaps the epit-
had scored a technical victory to be happy with a faith in God as 111ne of European arrogance and self-delusion that Europeans can
pure spirit. There had never been in the Church a complete con-
with seriousness describe First World peoples as being "irreligious."
version from heathenism. We might be living in the second half of
~w honfield points out, disparagingly, that the Church has absorbed
the twentieth century, but the Gentile need remained for a human
embodiment of deity. God had still to be grasped through a physi- 111;my so-called pagan customs and beliefs. 15 He does not, however,
cal kinship with man and his earthly concerns, and there yet lin- 1.1Lc the political significance of this fact: that much of Christian
gered the sense of the efficacy of the substitutionary and 111ythology comes from older cultural and religious traditions, which
propitiatory sacrifice of a victim. 13 I 1.1!l aided the Christians in their "conversion" of Africans and other
11011 European peoples. This factor served the objectives of Western
We hear an echo of Spengler's analysis but interestingly enough I 111 opcan cultural imperialism well, for while people of other cultures
with the reverse position. For Spengler, the Christian idea is "con- •v1• 1c in part being "converted" to their own conceptions, they were at
ceptually" more complete, while for Schonfield it is less "pure." Both t h1 • snme time being absorbed into an organization that controlled
are using Platonic rules consistent w ith the European utamawazo. 1111 •111 for the benefit of Europeans.
They are ideologically committed to the same values. The civilized is
represented by the technologically more efficient, the conceptually 1ltc Roman Cooptation: Two Imperialistic Ideologies
more abstract, the perceptively Jess subjective. In this critique of the Al I he close of the Principate the pagan world presented a great
Christian conception by Schonfield, an "apology" for the Jewish rejec- 1·011fusion of religious beliefs and doctrines. But the various pagan
tion of Jesus as the Messiah is a perfect and concise statement of the 1 11lts were tolerant of one another, for the followers of one god
European religious ideal, and the correlative of the mode of European w 1•1 f' ready to acknowledge the divinity of the gods worshipped by
religion. Of the Christian image of Jesus he says, tllclr neighbors. On the contrary, the adherents of Judaism and
!'hrlst ia nity refused to recognize the pagan gods and hence stood
Such a man could have his god-like moments, but could never be 111 Ir rPconciliable opposition to the whole pagan world.16
consistently a reflection of the Divine except for those whose notion
of deity would permit the gods to share our human frailties ... Politica lly, the Roman ideology was the perfect counterpart to
!Ith "11·llgious" fo rmulation, as Arthur Boak's History of Rome char-
Far too many Christians do not know God in a11y other way I I 1;111 11 lr•1 l11•-; It. .lu st as the Christian proj ec tion was that of a benevo-
through .Jesus ancl I heir faith in Goel is ltnpcrl11•cl w rl1•st rnyt·cl. T ill• 11 1111 ll1al s n1 1g hi lu !'hare cn lightc n111<'nt in the fo rm of the word
N1·w Tt:~ la11w11t Is nol 1·111in·ly 10 lw hl.1111t·d 1111 till '< 'l'llr nrnjor fmill Wiiii thrnH' 1111lort1111ntr <'n<rngh to IHIV<' so for Psraped it, so th<'
111·-. wll l1 tl111s1• who lt,1v1· p.111cl1•11·d 1111111• IH11orn111T .11111 s111wr ..11 ll11111.111 u,lll<11i.d b ll( ll11.1~t· w. 1 ~. tlt,11 of .1peoph•111 possession of "civ-
tl1111uf1111• 1w11pli• lr1 ~lvli 1 ~ tl11•m 111:rn11 1P,1lc •d 1111111' l111111-(1• 11l 111i111
11"111 111 11 " p11 •11.111 •d 111 111 ..:tow It:-. 1t1i ,1'fi1 H•• 1111 "h.i1h,11li111 s"
130 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 131

Christianity offers salvation to all, providing they "come into the fold," Empire. The religious formulations that had existed previously in the
accepting Jesus as the "Son of God," therefore gaining eternal life; the state were not compatible with the socio-political o bjectives that
Romans offered citizenship to all, providing, as Aristides says, they guided the Roman leadership- they were not compatible with the
possessed "talent," "courage," and "leadership" potential. "Cultural" Western ideal. These prior religious formulations did not share the
boundaries did not matter. Both were offers of "civilization" and a imperialist vision.
supposedly evolutionary superior way of life. These formulations According to Constantine's own account (if we are to use
posited a perpetual opposition between those who did not share the Eusebius as an authority), his conversion was intimately bound up
ideologies expressed and those who did. Both statements, impor- with his immediate military objectives. In A.D. 312 Constantine was
tantly, contained justifications and directives for the "conversion" one of four competitors left in a bloody struggle for the rule of the
and "recruitment" of those outside the cultural group with which l~o man Empire. In that year he invaded Italy from Gaul and "gained
they were identified. Perhaps the single most important ingredient control over the whole West by his victory over Maxentius at the
shared by these "brother" ideologies (actually two arms of the same ).(<ttes of Rome." 18
ideological weapon) is their vision of the world as the "turf" of a sin- Eusebius says that Constantine had searched in vain for a god
gle culture. Any and everyone presently under the ideological and 1 .tpable of assuring the success of his military endeavors. He decided
political control of the Christians and Romans was fair game. Never 1o try his father's god: the Christian god. He prayed to this god, ask-
before had ideologies so explicitly stated this worldwide objective. ing for a sign, and one appeared to him,
This indeed was the "technical victory" to which Schonfield and
Spengler allude. And this unique self-image that projects itself as the he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the
proper model for all, we can identify as European. This self-image heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription,
and its projection are part of a centuries-old process through which "Conquer by This ... "
Europeans miraculously become the universal paradigm for all
In his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign
humanity. which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a
While it is clear that both the Christian and the Roman formu- likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use
lations could serve as ideological statements of a world imperialistic It as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies .. .. The
endeavor, it is also clear that the two could not coexist as competing \•111peror constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safe-
ideologies. But this did not constitute an irreconcilable opposition. 1<11arcl against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded
Their synthesis made much political sense. It was represented in the t I 1at others similar to it should be carried at the head of all his
cooptation of the Church by and for the purposes of the State, or one 19
111 mies.
can just as easily reverse this statement. The solution was, indeed ,
culturally, as well as historically, compelling. The two ideologies, put This, then, in a very real sense was the first "crusade." In 313
to the service of one cultural group and espousing compatible values 1 1111stantine and Licinius agreed, in the Edict of Milan, to the official
and objectives, worked hand in hand, to command the same alle- 11 1 11gnition of the Christian religion by the state. The agreement with

giances, to conquer the same world. 1 11 111\us was for "joint rule," but,
Constantine's conversion is often characterized by European
historians as a "turning point" in European history. Norman Baynes Wl1ll<• Constantine granted ever greater privileges and advantages
I 11 II1t.• Christians, Lidni11s gradually reversed his policy of toleration
says that Constantine's conversion is hard to explain based on what
,111d Initiated repressive measures. It became obvious that
came before him and that he "diverted the stream of human Ills 20
1 1111sta11tine aimed to be sole cmperor.
tory." 17 Ethnologically, it 'was not a "turning poiut," hut th e c rn1
cretization of a tendency-a push iu a dire('tion alrrncly iclcntifiahh • 'l'l1t1i1t I 1y l3arne'i; vit·w of thc:-H' sam<' iss11<.'S in l1is b ook,
in tlw ('Onti11uum of Western Europt·an dc•vt·lopmt·11t. Co11s 1a11tl11 ··~4
' ll//\/t111litll' 1111tl 1~·11.-;1•!1t1t.\, Is 111.11
"crniverslnn" was df•111n11dt'll hy llw 1·:u1np1•:111 osr/1, tl w t•1llt11rnl '•t•t•ll
II W•IS t\ l\jl( l''•'illV • tc·p lur 1111' wpwtlt .1111l •1olldlf11 .1111111nf1111 1 H11111.111 It 1•1•111•1 11i1l 111. ll l o 1·n 111 l111 lc· lll11I Ill' w .1•1•1111v1•1lc•d t11l ' h rl 1tl.1111tv
Religion and Ideology 133

Christianity the religion which could and should provide a spiritual

before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. But the moment of psycho- bond among his subjects as well as a moral basis for political loy-
logical conviction may have followed, rather than preceded, his
alty to himself as the elect of God. 23
own avowal: It perhaps occurred during the battle, at the moment
victory became certain. In the ultimate reckoning, however, the
It is compelling to add, "and a 'moral' basis for world imperialism."
precise details of Constantine's conversion matter little. After 28
October 312 the emperor consistently thought of himself as God's Boak continues.
servant, entrusted with a divine mission to convert the Roman
Empire to Christianity.2 1 Having decided to make Christianity the one state religion, he also
felt obligated to take the initiative in ensuring the unity of the
This same servant of "god" probably later had Licinius, who was Christian community itself.... Constantine made full use of his auto-
cratic power to develop a totalitarian regime for which the foun-
his brother-in-law, killed along with Licinius' nine-year-old son.
dations had been laid by earlier emperors.24
Evidently this did not conflict with Constantine's "Christianity."
Barnes says that by 324, Constantine was taking every oppor- These accounts and descriptions of Constantine's "conversion"
tunity to "stress the truth of Christianity" because of his "religious inadvertently (in spite of the intentions of their authors) point to the
sympathies," and he concludes that "an emperor with these convic- 11olitical expediency and suitability of the marriage of the Roman and
tions could not be expected to tolerate pagan practices which all mt hodox Christian ideologies for the imperialistic ambitions of the
Christians found morally offensive." 22 Barnes continues, "He estab- Wt'stern nation of the fourth century. Constantine's association with
lished Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire.... the new god-the "European god"-gave him additional support
Christians received preference in official appointment. ...Constantine ,1tforded by religious sanction of his political and military power, and
forbade the erection of cult statues, the consultation of pagan oracles, 1Ii<' religion he chose had the advantage of itself incorporating a
divination of any sort, and sacrifice to the gods under any circum- vis ion of complete worldwide power and control. Eusebius says,
stances. "22 Not only was Constantine concerned with the spread of "l hus then the God of all, the Supreme Governor of the whole uni-
Christianity throughout the Empire, but he was equally concerned vt ·r se, by his own will appointed Constantine, the descendent of so
with ideological unity among the Christians. If institutionalized 11•1wwned a parent, to be prince and sovereign: so that, while others
Christianity was to be of political benefit, its leaders must speak with I 1.i w been raised to this distinction by the election of their fellowmen ,
one voice. Theological disputes were of little import in Constantine's l1l s Is the only one to whose elevation no mortal may boast of having
view when the unity of the Church was at stake. His role was there- , 1111tributed."2s This process, having been put in motion by
fore one of mediation, and he mandated that the bishops settle their < rn1stantine, was further solidified by Theodosius, in the Theodosian
differences, calling the first ecumenical council of the Christian t ode>.
Church, the Council of Nicaea, in 325.
Arthur E. R. Boak gives his interpretation of Constantine's 111 I he fifth century, the Senate was thoroughly Christian. As early
actions and convictions: .1s 180 AD. Theodosius had ordered all his subjects to accept the
C'llristian creed formulated at the Council of Nicaea in 325. In 391
It is clear that on the eve of the final encounter with Maxentius, he lit• ordered the destruction of the image and temple of Sarapis in
placed both himself and his army under the protection of the i\h·xandria, a step which sounded the death knell of paganism in the
Christian's God, and that he was convinced that his victory then •·.1slNn part o f the Empire. The followi ng year he unconditionally
and his later success in winning the whole Empire were due to the lmhaclf> pagan worship under penalties for treason and sacrilege.
power and favor of this divinity. From 312 A.O., he looked upo11 1'111•oclosius II continued the vigorous persecution of the pagans.
himself as designated by God to rule the Romnn World. And 111 i\dl11•n·11cc to pagan bcfi ('fs was declared criminal, and in the
return for this divine recognition, he felt the obligation to pro111olc 'l'l 11•11tlosi:1n Cori c laws ;\g11i 11st pagan s arc lnclud<'d flmong the laws
the cause of Christianity in 11 11 possil>I(' wnys. This n1<.•;Jllt Lhnt IPl(Uli1tl11g civic llfP ."~ 0
Chris linllily 111usl rcc,•iw c)fficlnl n~ru~ 1 illlw1 us sl,1l l' rl'll~in11 : 11111
rnily 11t111, II 11111 s l l>c·co1111• tlw only 111111• 11 ll ~lrn1, 1111 ( l11 l1i lla111. · l'11n s t.111ll11c • had l,1lcl tlw 1(1rn111clw111k lt11 tlw p111d.1111.ll lun 111
t 111 ild IC'! ll~til11• llU 111111'1 g. 11ltf l1ttl 0 111• 1'h1t•t l llll 't l , 11111111 'i dW Ill
134 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 135

Christianity as the religion of an orthodox Roman State. It was his bril- I knew that, if in accordance with my prayers I could establish a
liance to recognize the compatibility, rather than antagonism, common agreement amongst all servants of God, then the need of
between the political objectives of the Roman State and the Christian the state would as the fruit of that agreement undergo a change in
ideology. Many European historians, in fact, begin the Medieval a consonance with the pious desires of all. 29
period of European culture with Constantine's innovation.
Lest the identity of these ideologies remain too abstract or Norman Bayne's interpretation of Constantine's objectives is
ambiguously stated let us offer here some very concrete ethno- stated as two separate aims: to overthrow Licinius and thereby "heal
graphic data, i.e., Constantine's own statements of his objectives and t ile body of the Roman world," and to "unite his subjects in one com-
interpretation of his "new Christian" mission. Constantine says of 1no n religious belief." 30 He even remarks on the "close connection
those who did not worship his supreme god with fitting veneration, between the fortunes of the state and the unity of the Church," in the
111ind of Constantine. 31 Yet, this historian of early European develop-
I will destroy and disperse [them] .. .. What can be done by me rncnt never explicitly interprets Constantine's motives as having been
more consonant with my fixed resolve and with the duty of an Imperialistic. That is because this interpretation of European devel-
emperor than, having dissipated errors and cut off all unfounded op ment does not serve the interests of European nationalism. It is
opinions , to cause all men to present the omnipotent God, true reli- quite clear, even from his own words, that the Christian cause gave
gion, unfeigned concord, and the worship which is his due.27 I 'onstantine a powerful tool with which to unify Rome under his con-
t rt 11 and to conquer those not yet within this Empire. For this reason
This is taken from a letter written by Constantine to a group of c'onstantine is adamantly opposed to disunity among the avowed
bishops at the Council of Aries regarding the official policy to be c liri stians: "Open to me by your unity the road to the East." 29 The
adopted toward "pagans" and Donatists. The Donatists were a 11•1 11rring theme in his directives to his bishops is unity; for unity
Christian sect who opposed the alignment of the Church with the w as the political necessity of the day. The world could not be made
Imperial Government. This position is analogous to the attempt to set ,, European hegemony until European culture was itself solidified.
a sailboat on an "upwind" course. For the die had been cast: l 1111stantine says,
"Europeanness" was already set in motion-gaining momentum
rapidly, its successful development (the fulfillment of the asilt) For truly it would be a terrible thing-a very terrible thing-that
· demanded the monolithic model and ideological justification that 11ow when wars are ended and none dares to offer further resistance
this alignment offered. Constantine says, w1• should begin to attack each other and thus give excuse for plea-
•;11rc and for laughter to the pagan world. 32
God sought my service and judged that service fitted to achieve His
purpose. Starting from Britain God had scattered the evil powers One of the internecine disputes within the Church during
that mankind might be recalled to true religion instructed through 1 1111sl antine's reign had to do with who, in fact, was a Christian; par-
my agency, and that the blessed faith might spread under his guid- ' h 11larly with regard to those who wished to convert. When Arius
ing hand. And from the West, believing that this gift had been 1111111unced that he had "surrendered" to the Christian god ,
entrusted to myself, I have come to the East which was in sorer \ll 1.111nsius did not want to accept him. Constantine wrote to
need of my aid. 28 /\.t l11111nsius: "Now you know my will: to all those who desire to enter
t Iii• C'liurch do you provide free entry." This had to be official policy
Licinius, in the East, who did not claim the Christian god, stood
11 11 w l'loak of Christianity was to do its job for Western European
temporarily in the way of Constantine's unified control. Li cinius' per
1t11pc 1lalis111. Its counterpart was the offer of Roman citizenship , to
secution of the Christians becomes understandable as <1 po ll! Icul
VJ1li•lt 1>v1•ryone was to as pire, to the "elite" of other cultures. Both
necessity in his efforts to prevent Co nstantine's take over. Ry tlw
~ • 1 c• 111d11sivt' 111 that no one wa!i to be excl uded from European
same token, the realization of Constantine's ambll1011 s wc-r•· faclll
i11111llt1lnn. Of l<onu111 c·lt iz<'nship, Aris Iides, writing approximately two
l ated hy his nlissirn1 In s prencll n ~ th e r.11tl1
1• 111111!1•'> ht•l1111• tllt' tl1111· 11f Crn1stm1l11w (r,1, A.D. 1'1'1 or 156) says:

136 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 137

Dividing into two groups all those in your empire-with th is sword h istorical continuity. His reluctance, in this instance, to do what he has
I have indicated the entire civilized world-you have everywhere supposedly been well trained to do as an historian, forces him to fix on
appointed to your citizenship, or even to kinship with you, the bet- the absolutely irrelevant and moot issue of whether or not Constantine
ter part of the world 's talent, courage, and leadership, while the rest was a "true convert!" It then becomes hard for him to explain
you recognize as a league under your hegemony.... Neither seas Constantine, and so he resorts to the "great personality" theory:
nor intervening continent are bars to citizenship, nor are Asia and
Europe divided in their treatment here. In your empire all paths are If the reconstruction of the past "difficulties" are, at times, caused
open to all. No one worthy of rule or trust remains an alien, but a by the interposition in the stream of history of outstanding per-
civil community of the World has been established as a Free sonalities which resist rationalization and remain unexpected and
Republic under one, as into a common civic center, in order to embarrassing . .. [Constantine was] an erratic block which has
receive each man his due. 33 diverted the stream of human history.36

The previous quot ations, taken from Constantine's own corre- Again, it is understandable, in ethnological terms, that inter-
spondence and statements, are included for t he purpose of provid- pretations of Constantine's religious policies as being politically moti-
ing concrete examples of the potentially isomorphic relationship of vated are unpopular within the tradition of European social theory.
the Christian and Roman world-imperialistic ideologies and the actua l The interpretat ion of which Schwartz's view is representative
realization of their oneness of purpose th rough Constantine's policy. (though v irtually unrecognized) is consistent with the reality of
The source for these quotations is a lecture given by Baynes in 1930. human self-interest within the paroch ial context of a given culture and
His objective is to show that Constantine's primary concern was in ideological setting. By the same token, such an interpretation is dia-
bringing Christianity to the pagan world. This Baynes argues in oppo- metrically opposed to the "disinterested," "beneficient," and "altru-
sition to the divergent interpretation that Edward Schwartz presents istic" stance of European "universalism" that has been projected as
in The Emperor Constantine and the Christian Church. The following is a part of the propaganda of European cultural imperialism since .the
Bayne's interpretation of Schwartz's analysis: ;u-chaic states of that culture. Baynes' interpretation of Constantine,
t lie refore, provides us with an ethnographic example of European
He [Schwartz] has found the Open Sesame to the Understanding of nationalism.
the reign in Constantine's resolution to exploit in his own interest
the organization which gave to the Christian Church its corporate
strength: through alliance with the Church Constantine sought to
The Threat of Non-Orthodox Christianity
attain victory and the sole mastery of the Roman World.34 One of the concerns of t his chapter is the relationship between
1 l'ligion and national consciousness, i.e., behavior. Nowhere is this
The interpretation of Theodor Brieger (1800) is also a forcefu l re la tionship better exemplified then in European cultural history. In
statement of what Baynes terms the "view of purely political motiva- 1111 culture is the supportive relationship of formalized religion more
tion." Schwartz is the "modern representative of this standpoint." ... ucccssfully developed and elaborated. One of the correlates of this
But Baynes is adamant: view of the relationship between religion and nationalism is that in
111 clc r to understand the dynamics of a particular religious statement,
I believe that his conception of the character and aims alike of 111w 1nus t first be aware of the ideological commitment of the people
Constantine and Athanasius is essentially inhuman. This prodigious wllo id entify with it, the ir utamaroho and their relationship to other
simplification does scant justice to the complexity of human per- 1·111lu res. This is , o f course, a radical departure from the usual
sonality. The view that Constantine adopted in religious clipl omncy 1pp roach to th<' study of re ligion and in direct conflict with Christian
as his principle of action the Roman maxim "divide e l impc rn" I find
impossible to believe.35 1t11•o ln!-{lan!i . Tliosc who wo ul d a rgue t h e "revolutionary" political
l11q1lka t.lons of<lnlt y (sec Liberatio n TIJcolor.,ry literature) also
f rom an Afri can-c·c.•11l<' tl:d 1w rs pt·l' llv1 \ 1H1llu• 11tl11 11 11.uid , I l111d l11 q1ly, 1.1\hl' r Ltlll'U1 1vllwh1gly, tllal t·hc :woo yc·t11 lrnpe ria li stir quest
111 W1•s tt•111l·:111 11pc• ,1l w11 l·'. 11111 /\ 111Prll' n, Wil!; 'il tn·c·!isrully 111a\11 ta hlt'<I
Sd1 w;u tz's vk•w 11f to bt• til t• 11111!.I "111011.111 " 1tl l1i1 t·1p11'1 .1l l111 1" It I.
, l ~11y 11 1 · · ,.,. pl1111.1l lt111 , l11 l11•. 11w11 .1(lt 11I" ,11 111, wlih 11t.111 . 111 11111'11 1111111 .11 111\{J/(1 •111 ,111 ·11•!11111 tl1.ll • p 11l11• l111 11\0 H' l11111 1.11 il•.1h ~11.11'> T li.11 ls sl111
138 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 139

ply implausible and it does not make sense. It is not contradiction but the grave so every believer should anticipate the resurrection of the
consistency that has made for Western European imperial success. flesh." 39 Interestingly enough, this is p recisely the criticism that
Elaine Pagels, in her interpretation of the significance of the Schonfield has of Christianity, when comparing it with Judaism.40 But
developments of early Christianity, supports my view in that she in this case the "materialization" of the god-concept serves not to
points to the social and political implications of apostolic bring it closer to the human, but facilitates its use as the justification
Christianism, as o pposed to those of the Gnostic tradition that the for authority. Tertuillian insists that the resurrection of Christ is unde-
orthodox church condemned, and over which it triumphed (although niably physical, material in a very real earthly sense. "Tertuillian
we must not confuse political triumph with spiritual triumph). declares that anyone who denies the resurrection of the the flesh is
Perhaps it would be more fitting to begin with a discussion of the a heretic, not a Christian."38 The Gnostic emphasis on perso nal, spir-
African or Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) origins of Christian mythology itual growth and development, along with its deemphasis of prose-
and symbolism, though Pagels does not refer to these at all. But since lytization made it ill-suited for the imperial quest.
we cannot take the time here for such a discussion, the reader is Pagels raises the compelling question: "Why did orthodox tra-
referred to the works of Gerald Massey (1973), John G. Jackson d ition adopt the literal view of resurrection?" 38 And I would add: Why
(1985), Yosef Ben Jochaman (1973), and others. Suffice it to say that were they so threatened by the Gnostic teachings and those of the
the mythology and symbolism surround ing Usir, also known as Asar, ancient Kemites? Pagels opens the way to the answers. She tells us
and Osiris by the Greeks, introduced the concept of a resurrected sav- that upon his resurrection in the New Testament, Jesus "proves" t o
ior 3000 years before the advent of Christianity. A study of this tra- his disciples that he is "not a ghost," and "Thomas declares that he
dition also explains why the date of December 25 is used for the will not believe that Jesus had actually risen from the grave unless he
birthdate of Jesus, the symbolism of the stable as a place for his birth, personally can see and touch him."38 But, she continues, other
the three "wisemen," and so forth.3 7 accounts in the New Testament could lead one to the conclusion that
Clearly, however, there had to have been something "special," so me people had experienced visions of Jesus' return. "Paul
something "different" about the formulation of what is now accepted describes the resurrection as 'a mystery,' the transformation from
as biblical Christianity, or it would not have been so well suited to the physical to spiritual existence."41 The related questions restated: Why
archaic European utamaroho as expressed in the Roman State. In did orthodox Christianity insist on the literal, physical interpretation
Pagel's book, The Gnostic Gospels, one of the things that we already as opposed to a more metaphysical transcendental one, and why did
know is reaffirmed: Gnosticism was unacceptable to, and considered I hey label other interpretations as heretical?41 The answer, accord-
heresy by, those who were in the process of establishing the ortho- il 1~ to Pagels, is that
dox Christian Church. These gospels were "written out" of the reli-
gion. Pagels offers us a plausible explanation, one that fits with my the doctrine of bodily resurrection also serves an essentially polit-
ical function ... . [Pagel's italics]
understanding of the Western European cultural reality. Gnosticism
was not different enough from the Kemetic and other ancient origins. It legitimizes the authority of certain men who claim to exercise
Its utamaroho was too close to these. It was neither politically ori- leadership over the churches as the successors of the apostle Peter.
ented nor materialistic enough. Resurrection was understood sym- . From the second century, the doctrine [of bodily resurrection] has
bolically and spiritually-much deeper than unending "physical" Sl'rved to validate the apostolic succession of bishops, the basis of
existence. Pagels tells us that the Gnostics believed that resurrec- papal authority to this day.41
tion was to be experienced spiritually, that one experienced Chris t on
a spiritual level. "This may occur in dreams, in ecstatic trance, i11 What Pagels argues is that the idea o r claim of the resurrection
visions, o r in moments of spiritual ill umination.":l8 Rebirth fo r th > of J<•sus provided a source of authority for his earthly successor:
ancients was after all a result of illumination and inteusc self-know! l 11•l er. It .was t nl" ial that ~ om e such claim be poss ibl e given the fact
edge-a heightened spiritual level of ck·ve lo pme11t. But contrnry to 1l rnt 1llt• l<·;ulc-r or 1tlisnl11t e mithority within the' moveme nt was gon e ,
til ls, nrt l totloxy that opposPd tl ll ' G11osl l<' Vl«'W, w.1•; l11d1·t•tl ll1 n •1lt 111111111111rl rc·rls nl p<•n ph• wvrt• 1 l11ln1 I11g lo lnt1•rprt.!l Ills t<'<H:h!ngs lt1
c•11c•d by It, •ll f/,111 11~ HS '1'1 I111 11111111 c!ld, tlt11t .1 <; t' l1tl"lt 1(1<,c • lindlly f1111 1'1
11 li1 1w.1 ·, ,,. 11t.11 1y d1 fl t'1t•11t w.1ys Ill o rd 1•1 lnr 1•,·11•1 to lw Iii «' (".;l <•h
140 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 141

lished "rock" or foundation of a structured, institutionalized organi- as well as the ideological needs of the new order. The spurious
zation, all other groups had to be discredited. What better way than dichotomy between history and mythology would become the hand-
through his actual contact with a physically resurrected Jesus, who maiden of the civilized/primitive dichotomy, so essential to Western
had explicitly given him authority to begin the institutionalization of European cultural nationalism and imperialism. Accord ing to
his (Jesus') teachings. 42 (See Matthew 16: 13-19.) Given this political European nationalism, other traditions and earlier ones were expres-
necessity for a doctrine of physical resurrection, the Gnostic teach- sions of mythological beliefs only: Christianity was an expression of
ings of a more metaphysical and symbolic concept of resurrection historical fact. To this day the most threatening appositional phrase
were most threatening to the establishment of the church. Not only that an avowed Christian can be presented with is "Christian
did the apostles get authority in this way, but they were the only Mytho logy." To accept its validity is to shake the ground of her/his
ones who could confer it on those who succeeded them. Christians belief.
in the second century used Luke's account to set the groundwork for The Gnostics, like the Africans and many contemporary non-
establishing specific, restricted chains of command for all future gen- Christians were concerned with the attainment of spiritual intuition,
erations of Christians, concludes Pagels. 43 So that present popes must which would reveal the nature of cosmic reality. According to Pagels,
rely on their connec tion to Peter, who had originally witnessed the they talked about, "the possibility of encountering the risen Christ in
physical resurrection of Jesus, for their authority. the p resent." 44 But imagine what that would do to the establishment
But the Gnostics were indeed heretical, because they did not of the apostolic Church as an institution if people could continue to
seem to be concerned with establishing an institution that would "witness the resurrection!" The Gnostics claimed to have kept the
exercise total control. They insisted that the resurrection "was not a 0soteric aspect of Jesus' teachings, which were necessarily secret
unique event in the past: instead, it symbolized how Christ's presence and could be revealed only to initiates. 45 This is, of course, how all
could be experienced in the present. What mattered was not literal the ancient African spiritual systems were organized, which still rep-
seeing, but spiritual vision."43 And in this way they continued the tra- resents the basic structure of spiritual learning and development
dition of the mystery religions that predated orthodox Christianity, .1rnong Africans who adhere to their own "non-European" concep-
which Constantine, Justinian, Theodosius, and others were so bent t ions. It would seem reasonable to assume that Jesus himself was an
on destroying. The emphasis in the Kemetk (ancient Egyptian) and Initiate of a derived, albeit adulterated "mystery system" as his teach-
derivative religious forms was on initiation into a process of spiritual ings can be interpreted as being consistent with these earlier tradi-
development and enlightment. The emphasis within orthodox 1Ions, and it was out of these traditions that Christianity evolved.
Christianity was (and is) on the acceptance of a dogma that could be Both Pagels and I put emphasis on the institutionalization of
the basis of socio-political structure and control. l 'llristianity. She says that, "the controversy over resurrection, then,
These insights of Pagels coincide with my analysis of the func- 111 oved c ritical in shaping the Christian movement into an institu-
tion of institutionalized religion in European development. The sec- tional religion. 46 I share this emphasis because of the critical role of
ular, historical emphasis within Christian doctrine, and this includes 1lil s institution within the matrix of European imperialism, especially
the various "non-orthodox" forms that evolved as a result of the h1 certain stages of European development. Gnosticism could not
"Reformation," is a direct result of the need to claim superiority to l<·ad lo the subsequent developments- the Roman cooptation,
other religions , which, in turn imparts cultural and therefore politi- <'onstantine's "conversion"-that were necessary for the expansion
cal superiority or control. No Christian will accept a n a uthentically 111 Imperial techno-political control. For, according to Pagels, the
"spiritual" or metaphysical interpre ta tion of Christian teachings. I .110slirs argued that "only one's own e>..perience offers the ultimate
Herein lies the telling contradiction of Christia n theology. To b " a 1 1 ltc·1lo11 of truth .. .. " She tells 11s that "they celebrated every form
"Christian" is to insist o n a "historical Christ" (tn a rlgiclly ~wc ul ar 111 l I t>al ivc invention as evide nce that a person has become spiritu-
sense); y('t this adjective shou lcl \:O ntraclic t lhe nmm it pmport ~ to 1d ly .lllvt:. On this theory, th<.· s truct ure of auth ority can never be fixed
cl t~scri he. The reason for this s1rnngc• C'l1aracl l'rist k nf l'll rlst lrrnlt y, ns 111111111 1 l11s titutlonal f.r.mwwor k: ii must n•m ul11 spontaneous, charis-
II w,1•; lltl t•t pn•tt•d 111 tlw dt•vt•lopn11 •11t of i11'cl 1a l · l·:111opc•.111 cl11lll·1.1llc111 111,1111, .1111 1 opt•11." 1n lll1 t tlinl I~ uot how 1•111p ln·s an• bui lt. It docs not
h.1 1, f11 do wlll1I li c•11!0111ft1 111!11 tl1nt w. 1!-. 11l s11 lw1 e11 11li1J.! •.t. 111d.11<l l1.1•d , 1111 1111 ' l•:11111p1 .. 111 1t\ll1 .111d 11111 l·'.11ropP.111 l111 1wrli1 I q1ws l has IH·vn
142 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 143

more successful than any other, because it has always been based on god the "demiurge" and said that this "creator" made false claims to
the claim of superior culture. In the budding stages of the quest, as power. In Pagel's explanation of Gnostic thought, achieving gnosis
the European utamaroho took shape, a tightly structured, institu- involved "coming to recognize the true source of divine power-
tionalized and secularly codified religion was the key to this claim. namely, 'the depth' of all being." But the god of Clement, lrenaeus,
and Tertullian claimed, "I am God, and there is no other . . . . I am a jeal-
... in terms of the social order... the orthodox teaching on resur- ous God." And to them the concept of a transcendent force reachable
rection had a different effect: it legitimized a hierarchy of persons through initiation was "heresy" that "encourage(d) insubordination to
through whose authority all others must approach God. Gnostic clerical authority." To Irenaeus the meetings of the Gnost ics were
teaching ... was politically subversive of this order: it claimed to "unauthorized." The concept of authority is key. If spiritual growth had
offer to every initiate direct access to God of which the priests and
bishops themselves might be ignorant. 47 been the focus for Irenaeus and others , the Gnostics would not have
been threatening. The Church represented a structure of authority,
Certainly there is no universal o r absolute moral imperative that and that structure had to be monolithic . Therefore, in Pagel's words:
dictates that it is culturally superior to recognize the existence of "If God is One, then there can only be one true church, and only one
only one god. Therefore, in the ethnological analysis of European cul- representative of the God in the community-the Bishop." 51 This "One
ture, we must look for tendencies within it that would make avowed God" became the basis for the power of "One Emperor" of t he "One
monotheism desirable. We look to European ideology- more specif- Civilization" as well. Belief in him gave the emperor authority to con-
ically to Rome at the time of its Christianization. A political/ ideolog- quer all nonbelievers in his name. In a sense Gnosticism was anachre>-
ical interpretation of the significance of the monotheistic ideal, again, n is tic, while orthodox Christianity was "right on time." Religious
makes sense. Pagel's analysis fits: "As the doctrine of Christ's bodily formulations that were more spiritual and transcendent, less political
res urrection establishes the initial framework for clerical authority, nnd secular in intent, were simply not expedient.
so the doctrine of the 'one God' confirms, for Orthodox Christians, the
emerging institution of the 'one bishop' as monarch ('sole ruler') of Augustine and Political Conservatism
the Church."48 She argues that another aspect of the threat to ortho- The strength of the Christian ideological formulation in its func-
doxy posed by Gnosticism was their lack of recognition of the Church 1Ion as a tool of European cultural imperialism is twofold: (1) It sub-
hierarchy. Yalentinus says that the Gnostics "join together as equals, 1ly justifies two kinds of political activity; that is, it appeals to two
enj oying mutual love, spontaneously helping one another" as different layers of the world's population. (2) It unifies the conquerors
opposed to the ordinary Christians, who "wanted to command one wl lile simultaneously pacifying the conquered. This , in part, is
another, o utrivalling one another in their empty ambition," inflated 1 t·fl ected in the strikingly different tones or "moods" of the Old and
with "lust for power," "each one imagining that he is superio r to the Nt•w Testaments in terms of their political possibilities for the Roman
others." While the "lust for power" is the nature of the European asili, Empire. The Old Testament is extremely militaristic and aggressive.
Pagels tells us that the Gnostics refused to rank themselves "into II Is often an unveiled directive: the blatant command that a homo-
superior and inferior orders within a hierarchy, and that they fol- •Wnt>ous and limited cultural group resist all alien influences through
lowed the principle of strict equality." 49 On the other hand, she says, 11tl' prohibition of intermarriage and other social intercourse with
Tertuillian, advocate of the orthodoxy, considered certain distin<.:- ' 1111 ural groups adhering to different ideologies. The task of the New
tions essential to Church order: namely, those between "newcom ers I 1·stnmcnt, o n the other hand, is much more complicated. What was
and experienced Christians; between women and men: between a l.1 t1•r in terpreted as the directive for aggression is there stated as the
professional clergy and people occupied with secular employmeut : d1 •i:ll c to spread enlightenment. What developed into the mandate to
between readers, deacons, priests, and bis hops-and above, hc twve11 l11l11 i,1 those "who a re 110 / lil~e us under our do main" is there molded
the clergy and the laity "50 ha l o lllt> ·r lwl oric o f "soul-savin g," and at the same time, it sells pas-
Tlw (iJ1o:;;tics cinplrnslzrd !o! pi rit 11:11 :11 tr1lr111wnt 1111d !-! rild 1li«y Rlv1 He'<' ~ pt H n t'< ' t o fhn sl' "so11 ls." Tii e C'l1r istiat1 s t at em ent , as an
rc · c'l l lo ,1 c~ nnrc· pt nl gcitl tlwl WM lwyon cl lh,1l 11f llw 1111 •ri • h11.1i-ic· o f 11 :1.1hlls lJC•cf ,1s1w1•I of l·:11111pt·11 11, 11lltm•, ls, nltr•r nil , a nntion nlls tk kll
)J,i td In w hn 111 tll1 • rn dl rloll v < '111 h tJ.11 1'1 rc ·l,11\•d 'l'l11 •y 1 1ll1•tl t l1i:t h"•!Wl 111111-(V (In I It h I hr• t•l( p l 1'!\S lllll nl 1111• lcl 1•cil11uy 111 .1 pill lit II lilt (' Il l
144 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 145

ture just as any religious statement is), and its function in this regard poses to Jesus is blasphemy. His occasional utterances of a social
is to serve the interests of that culture. The docility and lack of aggres- kind, so far as they are authentic and not merely attributed sayings,
sion of the conquered peoples serves this interest, and so the tend merely to edification .... Religion is, first and last, metaphysic,
Christian directive is dual in nature; while it provides a justification otherworldliness, awareness in a world of which the evidence of the
senses merely lights the foreground. It is life in and with the super-
for a world-order in the service of a European god, its teachings
encourage others to be nonpolitical and discourages their cultural
nationalism (identification with their national gods and belief sys- Spengler is arguing that the ostensible teachings of Jesus are
tems). irrelevant to European life; i.e., that they were not meant to be used
There is a curious characterization of Jesus as a "revolutionary" in a way that would act against the self-interest of the ruling Western
in the literature of Liberation Theology and Black Theology. European elite. He gives examples of passages that in his opinion
Unfortunately, persecution and unpopularity do not necessarily make point to the apolitical (asocial) intent of the Christian teachings. It is
ideas revolutionary. The Jewish ideology in its stubborn nationalism the misinterpretaion of these teachings, so as to give them political
could in this sense be considered more revolutionary in the face of relevance to the plight of the poor, the oppressed, and the racially
Roman policy than that of Jesus and his followers. It would be very des pised, that Spengler objects to so vehemently:
difficult to imagine, if we did not consistently put our data into the
context of the European asili, how any historian or social theorist "My kingdom is not of this world," and only he who can look into
could identify the so-called "Christian virtues"; i.e., the "Christian the depths that this flash illumines can comprehend the voices that
ethic" or mode of behavior as being in any way new or innovative at come out of them. It is the Late, city periods that, no longer capa-
the time of Jesus. The mandate to regard and treat one another as ble of seeing into the depths, have turned, the remnants of reli-
brothers and sisters (i.e., as members of a "family" kin group) had i.liousness upon the external world and replaced religion by
existed probably since the beginnings of human civilization in Africa. humanities, and metaphysics by moralization and social ethics.
The African ideological statement, of this mode of behavior as an eth-
ical imperative is much more philosophically profound than the In Jesus we have the direct opposite. "Give unto Caesar the things
that are Caesar's" means: "Fit yourselves to the powers of the fact-
Christian-European statement of it and, of course, so much more con-
world, be patient, suffer, and ask it not whether they are 'just."'
sistent and authentic. It originates in a spiritualistic world-view. 52 What alone matters is the salvation of the soul, "consider the lilies"
What was "new" about the teachings that purported to have means: "Give no heed to riches and poverty, for both fetter the soul
resulted from the activities of Jesus was that they proclaimed that to cares of this world. " "Man cannot serve both God and
one was to t reat members of other cultural groups in this way, and, M<\mmon"-by Mammon is meant the whole of actuality. It is shal-
more importantly, one was to tr~at one's enemies in this (the same) low, and it is cowardly, to argue away the grand significance of this
way-" enemies" being those who were hostile to one's cultural group dc·mand. Between working for the increase of one's own riches, and
or one's "family." This directive is, of course, debilitating and cas- working for the social ease of everyone, he would have felt no dif-
trating to political cultural nationalism and counter to the demands lt'rcnce whatever. 53
of self-determination. This feature, along with that of the direction uf
attention towards "another world" in which justice is sought, may cer- ll is indeed Spengler's interpretation that is consistent with that
tainly combine to form a new statement, but it can hardly be callccl , if 1lw Roman State , from Constantine onward, and it is this same
a politically revolutionary one. ' p u t t• nl ial" within the Christian ideology that has allowed it to be a
Otto Spengler concerns himself with this political duality uf '1111.,lstPnt part of European culture, from that time to the present. But
Christian doctrine in the Decline of the West. He accuses those in I l 1t• •,1 11 ·11~l l'r Is needl essly critical. The Christian doctrine has only aided
West who would seek to a pply the "brotherhood" a 11d "lovt•'' llw ln11wrlalls tl c lcleal. 11t,t hi11clcrecl its realization. Anyone who has
espoused by Jesus to tile "u11fortu11i\I c"' ~\IHI "opprt·ssvd " In the sod 1•v1 •1, wllh ltluslo11 s 111 all111 isn1 , a pproached the batllcficld armed
c•ty of Ill $ d.1y of havi ll l:( 111 r:w t 111is i11ll'rjHl f1 'C I !l's11s' IPH<' llltl~~"
1 1111•11 •lv wltl1 (' llil!-ill.111 tlll'l <>rli did s o totall y 11npr1·pi\n•cl to <lo :rny-
tl1ll1g l111t l111t111 •1ll1e 111111·<llv«'i; 111 F.11111p• ·.111 1·xp;111•.lrn1.
Mt It 111 1 111~( l·. 1
Ii,, .111
Nh 11'1 t •1•111 Ii 1 1•11t111 v·1·1ii11.. 1 I (I .1· I 1II11• 1,111 IHI Piil 11 11' 1·1111q1.111lit111 v n f ' 11 11 ( ' (111 • t l,111 WHY" w1tl1llll' 111>11•1 llv1 ·•, of
146 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 147

the Roman State is argued for by St. Augustine in The City of God. This The same is true in respect o f men as well as nations . He who gave
was one of the many "apologies" written in defense of Christianity power to Marius gave it also to Caius Caesar; He who gave it to
against its non-Christian critics, as well as the Donatists. Through Augustus gave it also to Nero; He also who gave it to the most benig-
Augustine the political compatibility of Roman and Christian ideology nant emperors, the Vespasians, father and son, gave it also to the
and, therefore, the "counter-revolutionary" role o f the fo llowers of cruel Domitian; and, finally, to avoid the necessity of going over
Jesus and Paul are clearly demonstrated. Augustine says that all them all, He who gave it to the Christian Constantine gave it also to
the apostate Julian, whose gifted mind was deceived by a sacrile-
earthly authority is "approved" by and "issues" from God. He quotes
gious and detestable curiosity, stimulated by the love of power.56
from the scriptures:
Augustine writes this to Marcellinus:
Hear therefore, 0 ye Kings, and understand, for power is given you
of the Lord and "Sovereignty from the Highest."
Let those who say that the doctrine of Christ is incompatible with
Wisdom of Solomon vi, 3
the State's wellbeing give us an army such as the doctrine of Christ
requires soldiers to be, let them give us subjects, such as husbands
For there is no power, but God; the powers that be ordained of
and wives, such parents and children, such masters and servants,
God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordi-
such Kings, such judges, in fine even such tax-payers and tax-gath-
nance of God: a nd they that withstand shall receive to themselves
erers, as the Christian religion has taught that men should be and
then let them dare to say that it is adverse to the State's well-being!
Romans xiii, 1-2
Nay rather let them no longer hesitate to confess that this doctrine,
if it were obeyed, would be the salvation of the State. 57
Norman Baynes paraphrases the method of Augustine's argu-
ment, It would be difficult to state the compatibility of these two ide-
' 1logies more clearly than Augustine has. Niebuhr attempts to absolve
Because rulers are chosen by divine Providence, the servants of
Christ are bidden to tolerate even the worst and most vicious of J\11gustine of the implications of these writings. But even he cannot
states, and that they can do by realising that on earth they are but Pl'<'le nd to ignore the imperialistic nature of the Church-State alliance
pilgrims, and that their home is not here but in heaven.54 111 the Middle Ages which Augustine justified, inspired and helped
I1rlug to realization.
We must remember that Augustine's purpose is to convince the
Church that the Roman State is its proper earthly vehicle, and, by the IAugustine identified] the City of God with the historic church, an
same token, to assure the politicians that Christianity was not meant fclcntification which was later to be stripped of all its Augustinian
n•servations to become the instrument of the spiritual pride of a
to interfere with the State but, in fact, to complement it. In Baynes'
u11iversal church in its conflict with the political pride of an empire.
words, "St. Paul had urged obedience to the state upon the ground This identification had the merit of introducing a religio-political
tha t the state rewards the good a nd punishes the evil."ss In l11stilution into the world which actually placed a check upon the
Augustine's view, "God" had helped the Romans, for even tho ugh .iutonomy of nations; but at the price of developing in that institu-
they were vain seekers of earthly glory, according to the relative stan- t 101 1 dangerous similarities to the old Roman Empire, and of estab-
dard o f the earthly state, they were good people. And in rewarding lblrl11g the pope as a kind of spiritualized Caesar."58
them, "God" had in view a further purpose-that the Romans might
on their own level be an example and an inspiration to the Christians . 111 Augustine's view it is paganism and the "immoralities of the
P·•l-!·111 ~m is'; that society must battle. On these grounds as well he jus-
These things being so, we do not att ribute tlte pOwC'r of giving ki11g t lltc"1 t lit• suppression by the slate of non-Christian religious prac-
dom and empires to any save tl1e true God, who ~ivc:s t lit' lwpplrn·ss 11' I Pi , W1tl1 ll W ('h11rdt rt!SidCS tliC ClUthOrity tO cll"Cide What the "true
int lw kingdom of h<'Hvcn lot he pln11s 1110111', h11t f.(IV<':-> kingly powc>r I.11th" t<i , wl1kl1 ls t lw d11ty of tlw Stat<' t o protect and clcfc11d. At lite
tlll 1'11tl l1 l111!11 hi !Ill plow; r\IJ<I tlw l111plo 11•:, .1s It 111/IV plP11•.1• lli111,
t 11111· flr111· It hc·l11H1V1": l '111 hti,111'i lu olwy laws aw l pay tax<.•.-; as l1111g
wl1111\1 1111111\ pl1•11• 1111 I•· alw.1y" j1['.t
I 111111 1.111111 .. 11111 vlnl.tlf"d ("Hc• 11df't 111110 ( ....... 11 ") J\1111.11 .. 1l111''s
148 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 149

Platonic influence is evidenced in his conception of the Church, rem- religion" begins to be closely associated with the idea of monotheism
iniscent of Plato's conception of the Republic. The Church represents and its "progressive" nature. The illusion of the "objective truth" of
those who are on their way to the celestial city. According to Baynes, Christian teachings is heightened. The Jews had no problem; they had
"it is the organ and representative in the world of the eternal city of been born the "chosen people." Christians had to create a criterion
God." 59 And rigid class hierarchy, human exploitation, even slavery for admittance into the brotherhood, with its rhetorical inclusive-
become for Augustine embodiments of "justice" in the "world of ness and its pragmatic exclusivity.
becoming" through the concept of sin.60
The similarity between the developmental roles of Augustine Proselytization and Imperialism: "Saving" and "Ruling"
and Constantine are striking but not ethnologically surprising. To
Augustine was left the task of "selling" the idea of the Christian-Roman This concept of revelation is of interest both culturally (politi-
merger, which Constantine had initiated. Constantine had convinced cally) and philosophically (metaphysically). Traditionally, anthro-
the non-Christian Romans. Augustine had now to convince the "non- pologists have regarded revealed religion as a characteristic of the
political" Christians. He concerned himself with the unification and state of "civilization." For Tylor, the related characteristic of belief in
solidificat ion of the Christian organization and, therefore, devoted retribution was a mark that helped to separate the "civilized" from the
much of his attention to the "clarification" of Church doctrine-espe- "primitive." One should have to deserve the good ("after") life. This
cially in terms of its political implications and its suppression of dis- concept has strange ethnological implications. It cannot be inter-
sidents. preted simply as the Christian view of the "religious" or "extraordi-
Augustine's battle was with the Donatists and other "heretics" nary" experience (Eliade's hierogamy) . The t raditions of other
within, and with the Manicheanists (who were basically non- cultures are filled with, often centered around, the transcendent as a
European culturally), for these voices represented the political threat category of human experience. Trad itionally, one is born into a reli-
~ion just as one is born into a culture. One's religion is considered a
of disunity. His task was that of forging a more dogmatic formulation
of Christian teachings; it would be taken up again later by Aquinas. birthright. Culture is indeed the natural context for religious belief.
His philosophical influence was that of Plato via the neo-Platonists. Christian ideology radically altered this concept and by so doing
His inherited ontological "monism" dictated a theory of being that fashioned a religious statement that was potentially elitist, "intellec-
would admit of o nly one principle- as opposed to the Manicheanites, tual" as opposed to "spiritual-emotional," 61and at the same t ime uni-
v~~rsal-imperialistic. One is not born a Christian , one must be baptized
who said that there were two ultimate principles: good and evil.
Augustine's contribution to the orthodoxy and unity of the Church ''Y the proper authorities. In some sects Jesus must be first accepted
i 1s ''The Christ" in the hope that the Christian god will reveal himself
was consonant with his mission t o assure its triumph as a political-
ideological force, and he is probably most responsible for its early to the properly pious. This idea is related to the imperialistic nature
monolithic nature. Of African birth, he contributed to the develop- of Christianity. It is justifiable (and, in fact, an act of piety) for mis-
ment of the European empire, the Church, and European imperialism •,lonaries to proselytize the Christian religion, because, in their view,
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." [John: t l1ose whom they seek to convert have no religion, properly so-called.
3-1 6 ) lt is only because of the political implications and related con-
The gentile (pagan) of Jewish nationalism became the heathen ·t·quences that it seems so "immoral" to Tylor that there is no pun-
(pagan) in its broader archaic Western European form unde r Isl 1mcnt-reward system associated with the after-life cosmology of
Christian doctrine. Many of the same criteria for this distinction are 111.iny no n-F.uropean religions. Unless Christianity is able to offer the
found in the new expression. The hypothesis of tlwological cvo lu hlPssings of "heaven ," rather than the tortures of "hell"; unless
tion is pres ent in the Jewish formulation, based o n the impllecl goal CI1rls t !ans arc able to convince people from other cultures that these
111• iii ,. a lte rnative fates 0!1en to them, and that they (the Christians)
(i.e., superiori ty) of be lief in and commitment to a god as a11 abs tr.tct
prh1ciple or "p11re spirit ," and the ar cuniu lation of n •llf{ious p r< ·n: pt s 1i.1w tile' kc•y, then r.uro peans lose one of the most persuasive tools
d rn·u1111•1 1t1•d In writ ten f11rn 1. h1 t l1l' C'ltrbtl.rn 1•xpH·:.s lo11 w1· lwgl11 to lltc•y l1 EtV • wlll1 wl1!c ·l1 111 c·cuit111I o ther peoples. In the words of
•.1·1 • .111 .tddlt lo11 .ll ~ ·11 1 pl1.1 s t1-1 : tl w 1'~ 11 11'<' 1 11 uf "1t•v1 •la tlmL" "H1•vt•1ll1 •d ' l' lu •liil1olcl Nlc·lll illt ,
150 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 151

... only in a religion of revelation, whose God reveals Himself to between religion and nationalism is most certainly a universal cul-
man from beyond himself and from beyond the contrast of vitality tural fact. No cultural group goes off to war without invoking the
and form, can man discover the root of sin to be within himse!f.62 names of its national gods, and the reasons for declaring war are usu-
ally reformulated on a conscious level in religious terms or most cer-
And Mbiti, in his discussion of African religions, says that, tainly in terms that are consistent with the religiously stated ideology.
The nature of this relationship in the European context is o nly "spe-
Traditional religions have no missionaries to propagate them, and cial" because European imperialism and European nationalism are so
one individual does not preach his religion to another .... Traditional
unique and intense. The uniqueness and intensity issue from the asili
religions are not universal; they are tribal or national. . . the propa-
gation of a religion would involve propagating the entire life of the of the culture and the utamaroho through which it is expressed. But
people. 63 let us briefly trace the nature of the relationship between Christianity
and the European imperialist venture.
And Jomo Kenyatta says, We have looked at examples taken from the Old Testament
which serve as evidence of the way that the religious laws and pre-
In Gikuyu religion there is no provision for official priesthood, nor cepts of the Jews supported and encouraged their militantly natio n-
is there any religious preaching. Converting campaigns are, of alistic ideology. This ideology was stated in terms that were to
course, a thing unknown. This is due to the fact that the religion is become pivotal in the rhetoric of European cultural imperialism; e.g.,
interwoven with traditions and social customs of the people. Thus the quest for the "universal good of mankind"-a good that, having
all members of the community are automatically considered to been realized or at least recognized by Europeans (Jewish, Christian,
have acquired, during their childhood teachings, all that it is nec- "civilized," "religious" people), made it incumbent upon them to
essary to know about religion and custom. The duty of imparting spread it among and thus "enlighten" (conquer, enslave, co ntrol)
this knowledge to the children is entrusted to the parents, who are
looked upon as the official ministers of both religious ethics and t hose less fortunate and "slower" than they ("gentiles," "primitives,"
social customs.64 "pagans ," "heathens"). We have seen how the Christian formulation
l'laborated and altered the Jewish conception, enlarging it to suit the
All religions promote cultural nationalistic expression, and t>xpanded European utamaroho and imperial world ambitions of the
Christianity is only universal in that European cultural nationalism is 1:.uropean. The Roman State had already conceived of the world-impe-
characterized by universal or international imperialistic ambition. ria lis tic objective politically, but Roman religion lagged behind-not
This theme will recur again and again throughout our study. And its yc>t s ophisticated enough to support a world order. We have also
recognition is crucial to an understanding of the uniqueness of the s<•<·n in what manner the Christian formulation was coopted and used
European mind and political effectiveness of European cultural impe- In the Roman pursuit.
rialistic ideology in the quest for world power. It is a theme that is My objective is not to argue that the Christian doctrine was con-
masked and subtly expressed in the presentation of European cul- ~ dous ly formulated for the purposes of European imperialism nor
ture. The international character of the European political ambition or t l1at Constantine was not in fact "a true convert" and came to believe

objective has been continually and tragically (for its "objects") con- In the Christian god. Speculation on that level is pointless and irrele-
fused with the spurious universalism of European cultural and ideo- v:111t fo r the purposes of this discussion. The obvious and significant
logical identification. In many respects, of course, this is precisely the: c 1t1tural fact is that the Ch ristian and Roman ideologies expressed the
desired effect of such formulations that become part of the a rrn(l- •..1111t• values and po litical o bjertives, supported the same activities ,

ments of European imperialism. The proselytization of Ch ris tianity .111<1 L·nco11t ag~cl the same behavior of Europeans toward people of
has perhaps the greatest culturally immobilizing and clcmorali zii1g 111li l• t c ult urcs. Tlte J11daic, Christian, and Roman conceptions co nsti-
effect on its "ohjects." 11111· !-it'p<1rn1 c hut r ullu1 aily relat ed dcvclo prnc nt al s tages in European
Sin re its inception, the <' ht11 c h has partinpnlt•d 111 a11d :; up 11,111111 tallst I<' l'x prC'sslott. '1'1 wy toah$c ' cl ht t llP E11ropen u n ilt1 1ral as iii.
p o JI Pd tilt· J-:111 0 11<•,111 l1111wrlall!>t t•111t-rp1ls P l-:i1111p1 •r111 c-1tll11rr • I•; ltCl l'lll'y llll't•I H' cl 111 t(lv1• 1·,11ly d1 •l111ltlo11 to tl 11 l :111 n p1•t111 l!l'lf in1,1).(t' <111d

dlll c• 11 •11I Ir 11111 1111 wt 1·11lt 11 1 '" ll• t hi , t 1"1 f1t 1 t, •1lll11• t 111' 11 •11 111011 '1 1ti p 11l1111111r11h 11, .11 1 11/1111111111//11t t1 .. 111.111cl1 cl 111 11wll.tlfo.. tlt lu•l1,1vlnr
152 Religion and Ideology 153

The role the Church has played has sometimes been that of the ism. The religious, military-political, and commercial institutions of
aggressor in a military and political imperialist pursuit. Most often the West meshed easily into a united imperialistic endeavor.
and most successfully, though, it has been the protagonist in the
The most spectacular early step in the expansion of Europe was the
drama of European cultural imperialism. The Church has taken a lead-
conquest of the eastern Mediterranean coast as a result of the First
ing role in cultural aggression, because, of all the facets of European
Crusade (1096-1099). The Crusade was proclaimed by Pope Urban
expansion, it has easiest access to non-European peoples and great-
II.. .
est potential for their ideological destruction. Only rarely, and never
very e ffectively nor aggressively, has the Christian Church attempted
to act against what it considered t o be the excesses of European The motives which impe lled the Crusaders to embark on their ven-
nationalism and even in these instances, by virtue of its conversion- ture were mixed. Religious enthusiasm, stirred up by the pope and
ism, the Church still occupies a central position in the European offen- by numerous preachers, played a decisive part. The aim of the
sive, for as has already been pointed out, European imperialist Crusade was to free the Holy Land from Moslem rule, and Crusaders
tendencies may be easily grafted onto Christian ideology. were promised absolution from their sins as a consequence of their
It remains here to cite only a very few of the instances of the service to a religious cause. Other motives, of course, were added
Church's support of the European imperialist venture. During the to religious ones: the spirit of adventure, the hope of carving out
new estates and principalities, the diplomacy of the Byzantine
greater part of the Medieval period, Church and State were barely dis-
emperors who needed military help against the Turks, and, to some
tinguishable, or more properly speaking, the Church was more pow- (small) extent, the commercial ambitions of a few Italian towns all
erful than the State, and the term "Christendom" reflected the contributed to the First Crusade. Yet, when due allowance is made
intimacy of this relationship. The following statement is a character- for these subsidiary motives, it still seems safe to regard the First
ization of the "Christian holy wars" from a Eurocentric perspective, Crusade as a striking example of the power of the Church and of
one of the more obvious varieties of European nationalism. Christian ideals to inspire military and political action. 66

During the tenth century, when the Kings of Wessex were winning During this period the Church was the spearhead of European
back the midlands and Northumbria from the heathen Danes, other 1·xpansion, and historically we can view the Crusades as one .of the
heroic Kings were saving Christendom from its heathen enemies in 111ost important military vent ures in the expansion of Europe. The
the German lands. The Saxon King, Henry the Fowler, drove back lnlc·rnal politics of the Church was itself to become quite "worldly,"
the Danes in the north and the fierce Hungarian arc hers in the east.
1 t <'aling the ironic and embarrassing situation of the "profanation" of
His grandson, Otto the Great, destroyed a great Hungarian army in
955. These men shared with the men of Wessex the honor of sav- l'.11rope an institutionalized religion. It is only reasonable to conclude
ing Christian Europe. And the defeated heathen were converted to t ti.11 the e ffects of these cultural tendencies were far-reaching and
the Christian faith .65 1l111 t they have made themselves felt long afterward in the moral
111 ·r ay of the contemporary West. The period of intrapolitical maneu-
Generally, the First Crusade is set in the eleventh century, but v1rl11gs and power plays-extreme and sometimes violent competi-
the above is obviously a description of an earlier successful 111111 fur lhc papacy-was perhaps the height of "religious profanity"
"Christian" imperialist campaign. The Crusades were, of course , the wltllln European culture, but its legacy remains.
primary instrument of Western European expansion during the
European Medieval period and at the same time re main a n example hrl'itlanity, colonialism and cultural imperialism:
of the most militaristic and aggressive expressions of the European "1teathen," '~Native," and ''Primitive."
conquering utamaroho. The Church no t only c ondo ned these ac tions '1'111.· 1wxl perio d of the involve me nt of o rgan ize d religion in
in te rms s ut:h as those in the s tat e mf' nt above httt was ils C'lf the Int I 111 opl'a·u t'xpansln11 I:> t IHll of r olonlzation. The justification for the
lhtlor nt' lht•sc ca111paig11s. Tlw followin g <l l•snlptlo11 horn Willl;im l li1111'11 '1; t11v11lv1·1n1•11l w11 s ntw.1ys <011c hcd In tr rrns uf conversion.

M1 Ndll 111 .1lws 1 lt•,tr I ht• s t .It le t'l 1.11ll y ol I 11l' Int 1111 .111 • .111d I1ll'X11 k11l>l1· M.111 y 1 ~11111p1 •.111 Ii isl n1 l.1m. ld1 ut llv c1111v1 · r~ lo11l •; t ~ 1 · 1111111 1.• 111 with
1_11.1111111 .. 11111l11•tw11 •11 <'1111 .. 11.111 ld1 · 11l11 ~! V .11111 l·'. 11111p1·1 111 t' P•ll h lon 1 11111'111111 1~ tl11 v 1'.ill " t111111.1111t .11 l.111ls 111 ," w ltlt It, 111111111 , h ld1 •11lll 11 d .1 !-i
154 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 155

the universally altruistic motivation of behavior. Although this may Christianity and that it has acted against "racism," which he sees as
sou.n d c?ntrad ictory, if understood as a manifestation of European distinct from and somehow bad as compared with the good inten-
nat10nahsm, such interpretations of "conversionism" become, at tions of "conversionism."
least, ethnologically understandable in terms of the cultural asili.
They represent the hypocritical semantics demanded by the com- Slavery, it has sometimes been argued, was first considered in the
mitment to a view of the culture as superior. colonies as an interim institution designed to convert both Negroes
In The Image of Africa, Phillip Curtin quotes from proceedings in and Indians to Christianity. . . It is interesting, however, that among
the Britis h Parliament concerning the question of "aborigines" in the colonies of the seventeenth centuries it is the heathenism of the
1935-7. The responsibility of the committee dealing with this question Negroes and Indians, rather than their race, which is emphasized
was to investigate government policy: as a basis for their enslavement.70

Native inhabitants or Countries where British Settlements are The fine distinction between the connotatio ns of "heathen" and "nig-
made, and to the neighboring Tribes, in order to secure to them the ger" may well be interesting to Gossett, but from an African-centered
due observation of Justice, and the protection of Rights; to pro- perspective they become one and the same-both denote "object s"
mote the spread of Civilization among them; and to lead them to the of European imperialism. Of the two, the concept of "heathen" is per-
peaceful and voluntary reception of the Christian religion.67 haps potentially more debilitating as it is more rapidly adopted by the
o ppressed herself and incorporated into her own self-image.
This is an example of what Curtin characterizes as the "humanitarian" There are some few accounts, exceptional and difficult to find,
concerns of the missionaries for the British Niger Expedition of the which do not get trapped between Christian ideology and European
1840s. He identifies "conversionist sentime nt" with "Christian human- Imperialism. Let us take t ime to quote from a few of these, which
itarianism": together give a much more accurate picture of the historical rela-
1io nship between the Christian Church and some of the more base
[Between 1830 and 1870] The dominant British attitude toward manifestations of European nationalism.
~frica became more conversionist than ever. The Niger Expedition
Katherine George entertains a discussion of what she calls "eth-
itself was a large-scale public effort to convert barbarians to
~estern ways. The middle decades of the century represent,
11ocentricism" as manifested in descriptions by Europeans of Africans
indeed, the height of conversionist sentiment.68 written between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. To be more
1irPcise she is offering evidence of "Eurocentrism"; more accurately
. T~e ~issionary interest group argued that "only a previous we might call it "Western European nationalism," which translates
mdoctrmat1on with Christianity and the ways of 'Western Civilization' 111! 0 a "culturalism" and, of course, "white racism." Her research
could prepare them [the Africans ] for the impact of European affords us an excellent example of the supportive relationship of
Settlement. Furthermore, in their view, Christianity and civilizatiou ( 'hristian ideology to the invidious comparisons fundamental to
were inseparable."69 "After 1870," says Curtin, "the idea of conversion Em o pean cultural nationalism. The image of European peoples that
declined. Humanitarian motives found new manifestations ."68 These <' liristianity present s has provided ideological support for the
exa~ples fro~ Curtin are helpful because they afford us the oppor- 1':1Jropean's view of himself in relation to those who are not within his
1 11 11 t1ral group. This image is also essential to the Christian argument;
tunity of makmg clear the relationship between what Europeans have
termed "humanitarianism" (supposedly characterized by "altruism " II was upo n this supposition of the moral and therefore "evolution-
~nd i~e~ti~cation with a "universal good") and what I recognize a.s 111 y'' Infe rio rity of all other people that the proselytizing mission was
1mpenahst1c behavior, the epitome, and most visible expressio n, or l•H111clcd , a 111issio n that provided moral justification for the expan-
European self-interest . .10111·.st miss ion of WPstern European imperialism. The author of the
The tende ncy to iunore the politica l Implicati on of th is kl11d qi f11ll11wi11 g· statement was enc!Pavo ring l o justify the Portugese slave
l111rnanlt «rlanls111 (so-called) Is cl ls playNI <'Oll.Sl!ilt'nlly In Wt·s lt•n 1 Ir111 I<'
<;Of I.ii 1IH·nry, 111 A'm ,• .. Tiii' 1/1-:11111' 11/ ,,,, ltlt •fl 111 •\ 1111•111 ct 1'11111 1111:
~ '''""' ' " .11 1<111 •s 111,11 l lt1• ld"•l 1111111· " 11t 1lt y 11 11111111 kl 11d " I : 111 111 •11111 111
156 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 157

And so their lot was now quite contrary of what it had been; since The fact is that almost from its inception the continuous venture
before they had lived in perdition of soul and body; of their souls, of European expansion ensued not only with the blessings of the
in that they were pagans, without the clearness and the light of Church but, where necessary, by its decree. In the early fifteenth cen-
holy faith; and of their bodies , in that they lived like beasts, with- tury Pope Edward IV is sued a papal bull "granting to the Crown of
out any custom of reasonable beings-for they had no knowledge Portugal all the countries which the Portuguese should discover from
of bread or wine, and they were without the covering of clothes, or Cape Non to India," to accommodate the "discoveries" of Prince
the lodgement of houses; and worse than all, through the great Henry the Navigator, on the African Coast. After Columbus' "discov-
ignorance that was in them, in that they had no understanding of ery," according to William Howitt, "His sponsoring Monarchs,
good, but only knew how to live in a bestial sloth. 71 Ferdinand and Isabella, lost no time in applying for a similar grant.
Alexander VI, a Spaniard, was equally generous with his predecessor,
Of the above statement, Katherine George says:
and accordingly divided t he world between the Spaniards and
... Christianity did not eliminate older hierarchies based on race, Portuguese." 74 The Pope as earthly representation of Jesus Christ
nationality, class or occupational status, but it rather collaborated was supposed to have a right of dominion over the entire earth.
with such hierarchies and more frequently than not strengthened Alexander VI, an infamous pontiff, was determined to stay in
instead of weakening them-though it did introduce the compli- l·'crdinand's good graces in order to ensure his own protection and
cating idea of a possible restatement of human relations in the soci- .1<:cumulation of wealth. Anxious, therefore, to gratify Ferdinand and
ety of another world. The availability of salvation to all properly Isabella, he granted "full rights" to them to all the countries inhabited
indoctrinated souls alike, despite bodily inequalities-we find this hy "infidels" that they had discovered or would discover.
gift of Christianity in the previously cited passage. But does it lessen As the Pope's dominion was held to be worldwide, he had
the writer's prejudice? To the contrary. It enables him instead to .111thority over vast regions he had never even heard of. To prevent
commend actions (the kidnapping of helpless people) as morally I his grant to Spain from interfering with lands already "given" to
virtuous, actions which to classical observers would have seemed
Portugal by a previous bull (issued by Pope Edward IV), he pro-
merely expedient. 71
daimed that an invisible line existed from pole to pole, one hundred
To Serve The Devil is a two-volume work that documents lt·agues west of the Azores, separating the two territories. Everything
American behavior and attitude-toward primary peoples. Here, an Io the east of the line of demarcation he bestowed upon the
advocate of Hawaiian colonization writes on the mutually beneficial I111rtuguese; all to the west of it went to the Spaniards. His motivation
relationship between the American commercial interests and those was s upposedly his enthusiasm for the propagation of the Christian
of the missionaries in Hawaii: I.Ill h. In this way the Church divided up the world between two
I .'1ropean powers.
Christianity civilizes in the broadest sense. Commerce, industry, The apologists for the Church cite the public emancipation of
science and literature all accompany her majestic march to uni- 11110 slaves by Pope Gregory "the Great" as evidence of the Church's
versal dominion. Thus, while it denies the suffiency of commerce 11lhclal position against slavery. This interpretation is very much out
alone to transform the savage, it encourages a legitimate com merce ,,( l11ne with the historical/political reality. Chapman Cohen, in a work
and even courts its alliance as one of the most important instru- p1ililished in 1931, says:
mentalities. 72
Nol only were there thousands of unfreed slaves in the possession
In contradiction to Gossett's analysis, the authors of To Sero1· of ccdesiastics even a thousand years after Gregory had published
The Devil, Paul Jacobs et al., comment, 1111 ~ "death warrant" to servitude, but Gregory in person possessed
11 lc11s t hunclrcc1s, and pcrl1 aps thousands of slaves whom he did not
... the destruction of th e Indians was written into th e first chapt1:1 111•1·. Awiln, as Po1w. lw was I rustec· for ti 1e possession of thousands
of the successful whit<-' colonizat ion i11Auu·rir:\, 1'lw pun• lclc•ab nl 1111111· , drnltpli; o f tile• Homn11 t'h11rch ; yt• t ht• i11lt iatC'll 110 general
Chri!ltlnnlt y wen· easily rnoldc·rl i111 0 ,, r.1t'l st ldc•ology L11.1t 111.1tc'l ll'd p11p;tl 11111Vl'll H'lll fort lw lllw1 .1li1111 of ('h111d1 st•tfs 011 llH• cu11lrary,
tlw 1·cn1111111l1 .111d ..,,~d:1I rn•1•1h ol 1·xp11111ll11H •wttll't'i 11 ,., 111'!11,i .th .1l l,1w•111111't l 1111tl v 11pp11•,1 •d " '"II .1 polll v 1'·
158 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 159

The English slave trade, like that of other European nations, was The contemporary European imperialist ic endeavor, contrary to
launc hed with the blessings of the Church. It is ironic but not con- ils projected image, is understood by its perpetrators p recisely in the
tradictory that the first English slaver was named "Jesus" and that the same terms as the Crusades and the s ubseq uent period o f colonizing
first two rules Captain John Hawkins imposed on his crew were, to ventures. The following is the text of a prayer for the American Spec ial
serve God daily, and to love one another. "The piety of the expedi- 1:orces in South East Asia:
tion," says Cohen bitingly, "was beyond reproach."76
There is no doubt that the Christian community gave its bless-
ings to the slaving venture, participated in it and contributed to its
Almighty God, who art the Author of liberty and the Champion of
suc cess b y embracing it within Western "morality." W. E. B. DuBois
the oppressed, hear our prayer-
brings home this point when he says, in reference to West Africa, We, the men of Special Forces, acknowledge our dependence
"Protestants of England, the Huguenots of France, and the Calvinists upon Thee in the preservation of human freedom-
of Holland started mortal struggle for Guinea." 77 Go with us as we seek to defend the defenseless
Another valuable work, exceptional in European scholarship, is and to free the enslaved-
E. D. Morel's The Black Man's Burden, written in 1920. Here he com- May we ever remember that our nation, whose motto is
ments on and offers a first-hand account of a slave raid by Europeans. "In God We Trust,"
('Xpects that we shall acquit ourselves with honor,
The African was a heathen, and as such fair game for the prowess that we may never
of the noble Christian Knights who opposed their steel breast- bring shame upon our faith, our families , or our
plates, tempered swords and cross-bows, to his bare chest and f<> llow men-
primitive spear. Here is a typical account of one of these predatory ( irant us wisdom from Thy mind, courage from
forays: Thine heart, strength from Thine arm, and protection by thine hand
Then might you see mothers forsaking their children and husbands
their wives, each striving to escape as best he could. Some drowned It is for Thee that we do battle, and to Thee
themselves in the water, others thought to escape by hiding under lwlongs the victor's crown.
their huts; others stowed their children among the sea-weed, where For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and
our men found them afterwards , hoping they would escape notice . l11c glory, forever, Amen. 79
. . . And at last our Lord God, who giveth a reward for every good
deed, willed that for the toil they had undergone in His service they From its inception Christian ideology has traditionally condoned
should that day obtain victory over their enemies, as well as a guer- •llH I often m andated violent aggression and brutality on the part of the
d on and a payment for all their Jabour and expense; for they took 1' 111 11pc a n . The membe rs of the Special Forces are simply taking direc-
captive of those Moors, what with men, women and children, 165, 111111 from the Bible.
besides those that perished and were killed. And when the battle
was over, all praised God for the great mercy He had shown them, Now go a nd smite Amale k, and utterly destroy all that they have,
in that He had willed to give them such victory, and with so little 1111< 1spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suc k-
damage to themselves. They were all very joyful, praising loudly the ll ug, ox a nd s heep, camel and ass . . .
Lord God for that He deigned to give such help to such a handful of
His Christian people. [According to More l, this comes from /\11d when the Lord thy God hath delivered it [the City] into thine
Portuguese chronicles. ] l1111HI:., I hou s hal) s1nitc every male thereof with the edge of the
w.01 cl. But the women and l'he little ones, and the cattle, and all tha t
Thu s d id Europe fi rst bring lhe "glad Lidings " to lhc Africa n. ll did l • 111 t II(• d i y, cvC'n nil the i.poll the reo f, thou s halt take unto thyself;
not ta ke long to asce rtain t lial the s piritual co11s nlat Ion df' rlvt•d 1111<1 I lto11 :l !Hlll l'IH tlw spoil of t ltinc <'nC'mics which the Lord thy
£ro1t1 conv<'rliug Ill<.' J\fr ic;1111 n C'h rl1> lln 111t y h :1d its 1111111 .11 11111 1·111111 I incl ltnlll gtv1·1111 11•1'. •• u f I lie •·it It's nf 1lirse p<•oplC' whic h I he Lo rd
l1•t j1•H l. 7K , 1l 1y (iqd clot ll ~lvt• tl w1· 1111 h it ht llt'rlt.1111·1·, 1111111 s lutll snv1' allvt•
11nll ll 11Mt l 111 •11th1•1h.1m
160 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 161

The European's invocation of his god to aid him in his imperial- Because white miss ionaries of Christ working in Buganda clamored
istic pursuits is consistent with his self-image and his image of those that the ir losing e fforts to recruit black souls for the heaven of their
who are not like him. His "religion" itself is an expression of these white god needed to be protected by white troops, and because the
dialectical images. British masters of Egypt were demanding that all of the Nile valley
Of the historical relationship between Christianity and the should be placed under British rule, the Imperial British East Africa
enslavement of people of color by Europeans, Cohen says: Company (!BEA) was in 1890 granted authority by England to trade
in and administer the territory of the headwaters of the Nile. The
(But) we have another slave system to deal with. This took its rise invading captains of the !BEA, in their quest for trading monopolies,
in Christian times. It was created by Christians, it was continued by attacked the sovereignties of the African Kingdoms of the upper
Christians, it was in some respects more barbarous than anything Nile. 84
the world had yet seen, and its worst features were to be witnessed
in countries that were most ostentatious in their parade of As we have noted earlier, and Chinweizu agrees, the wide-scale
Christianity. It is this that provides the final and unanswerable d c~structionof African sovereignty necessitated the simultaneous
indictment of the Christian Church.8 1 destruction of an African consciousness. Here European Christianity
had a unique advantage.
Cohen, in contrast to Curtin, Gossett, Kovel (White Racism: A
Psychohistory), and oth ers, has correct ly assessed the meaning of the To buttress and crown their creation, the founders of the colonial
Christian ideal of "the brotherhood of man": order embarked on a cultural reorganization of Africa. lf the African
auxiliaries of empire were to be docile and loyal servants, their a lle-
Its brotherhood of man never meant, even in theory, more than a giance to Africa had to be undermined. Total admiration for Europe
brotherhood of believers, and in practice it did not always mean had to be instilled into them. Besides the technical skills they would
that. It recognized duties and obligations between members of the need to carry out their practical duties to the employers, they were
same church or sect, but outside these boundaries it applied a dif- lo be taught Christian values of a servile-making sort. Unquestioning
ferent code of ethics. What kind of brotherhood did Christia ns obed ience to white men was presented as a cardinal virtue. The
bestow on Jews and heretics for hundreds of years? Christians in re tooling of their minds and values was entrusted to the schools.
their heyday of power would have looked with amazement on any- Whether run by missionaries hunting for black converts for their
one who claimed cons ideration for either. What kind of brotherly white heavens, or run by colonial bureaucrats , these imperialist
attention did the inhabitants of ancient Mexico and Peru receive S<"hoo ls not only taught reading, writing and arithmetic to their
from the Christian conquerors? How fared the Redskins of North Inma tes, they also stuffed the heads of their victims with church
America, the Maoris of New Zealand, or inhabitants of Africa at the dc·votional hymns, filled their psyches with submissive Christian
hands of their Christian brothers? In practice nearly always, and in illlitudes, and undermined their attachment to the culture of their
theory often, Christians have shown that their doctrine of broth- .\llccstors. These schools inculcated in their wards a Christian the-
erhood meant little more than the mere brotherhood of a gang. nlo!{y and cosmology, and a western individualist ethos that weak-
Within the gang rules must be observed. Outside the gang they 1•11C•d their African identity, destroyed their commitment to an
might be broken with impunity.82 Alric<111 communalist ethos, and erased their sense of pat riotic
11•sponsibility to Africa.85
The costly political error of non-Europen converts has been to think
that they would ever be included in the European "Christian broth- Tile Christians h ad no compunctions about destroying indige-
erhood" in the same way they were part of their own cultures . 11111 1s r<'ll gious move me nts not to their liking. They had done it before
Chinweizu admonishes us to "recall tha t European rul e w11 ~ 111 E 111 opt'. Their creed was, after all, one o f vio lent proselytization
entrenched in Africa by means of a Wes te rn Christian c ult urc, a wr st wlwn 1·c1ll c•d for. Chi11wci.z11 cites examples in Africa such as the burn-
e rn political powe r struc ture, and a co lonial cccmomy." ltl 'f'hr "holy 111~ n ll\will chapels in Gaho11, wh ere this sy11c rc tis lic religious move-
allia11cc" ldt a cl t> fr at ccl Afri ca 111 lt s wakl', 11w11t w .1:. slTll ns n pt 1:-.slhh· n11rt11riMfo{ ground for African natio nalism.
< Ill 11 w l'l z 11 1 111111rn 11 h I h.11 "vs1wrli1 lly ,1t 11 tl' l>q.!l 1111 I 11 ~ of t lw col o11 lal

1 •1,1, 1111• 111111 1·11 w.1 •.. 111 .1t 111 11I to l1111 J. d d1... t1111 t lo11 11f /\frlr.111111g.111l
162 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 163

zations and movements."86 tradition cannot be overlooked. I have focused on the institutional-
These passages reflect the direct and very political relationship ization of religion in the form of the Christian Church because of the
between the European Church and European imperialism. It is a rela- way in which it expresses the underlying ideology or mythoform of
tionship between "brothers." Ironically it is the subtle aspects of this the culture. But for a moment let us take a brief look at non-Christian
relationship that have proven to be much more devastating in the Europe.
long run to indigenous forms wherever the expansionist West has "Violence and battle were always at hand in the lives of men of
sought to exercise its control. 1he heathen period in northwestern Europe."88 This statement by
The phenomenon of cultural imperialism, if it is to be distin- 11.R. Ellis Davidson allows us to glance at the warrior gods of Northern
guished from its strictly militaristic, political, and economic compo- Europe: Wodan (Odin), Tiwas (Mars), Mercury, Tyr, and Indra of
nents, is that which strikes the "death blow" at a people's ability to Aryan India. There are others, but the pattern is clear. War, the war-
1ior, and violence were worshipped among these Inda-European
resist aggression. There has never been, in the history of the human
race, more expert dealers of that blow than Europeans. They alone .1ntecedents of the present day Europeans. Odin-a warrior himself-
have realized the full strategic potential of destroying the ideological I 1cld to be the divine ancestor of the Swedes and most of the Anglo-
life of a cultural entity. Christian ideology is an ideally fashioned "iaxon kings, rewarded those who served him and who d ied in battle
weapon for the destruction of the self-image and value-system of wilh weapons, immunity against wounds, and a place in glorious
African and other non-European peoples. With its delusionary Valhalla, the famous "warrior heaven." The beliefs of these "ancient
rhetoric of "love" and "peace," its debilitating image of the non-white Northmen" and women were a testimony to the glorification of war.
(non-European, "backward," "heathen"), and its false "universality," I ),1vidson quotes from Saxo Grammaticus, who in turn quotes a
it has succeeded where guns never could in tearing people from the 1wech of the warrior Biarki,
cultural base necessary for the formulation of an effective self-deter-
War springs from the nobly born; famous pedigrees are the makers
ministic ideology. A Christian with a gun in the armed forces is one 11f war. For the perilous deeds which chiefs attempt are not to be
thing-he might end up with a spear in his back; but a missionary 1 lone by the ventures of common men . . .. No dim and lowly race,
with a Bible and a well-meaning smile who speaks of "eternal love" is 1w low-born dead, no base souls are Pluto's prey, but he weaves the
wholly d ifferent. It takes a great deal of political sophistication to rec- dooms of the mighty, and fills Phlegthon with noble shapes."89
ognize him as a potential menace.
The style of battle was very individualistic, emphasizing single
Disease played a major role in killing off the Hawaiians, especially • oinl>at. Confidence in one's war god gave psychological advantage
venereal diseases. Measles and cholera swept through the popula- 11ld11 to "possession."90 In Davidson's words,
tion and alcoholism weakened the islanders so badly that they often
succumbed to th~ common cold. But more important was the psy- 1
1'11roughout the heathen period in northern Europe there was clear
chological sickness that struck the islanders as their culture and 11uPcl of a god of war. The story of the Germanic peoples and the
religion disappeared. "Nkanaka okuu wale aku no I kau uhane." Vikings is one in which local battles, feuds, invasions, and wars of
("The people dismissed freely their souls and died.")87 scale are the order of the day. The heroic literature is
1 11i1tloni.\I
I 1.1•wd on an unsettled society, accustomed to violence and short-
1111r.;s of life.... Clearly men reared in such a world were bound to
111111 Io 1he god whom they served to protect them in the hour of
11.1 1\h'. ... !>I
Christianity and European Paganism:
So as not to ignore a relevant stage of r.uropC'an dt·v0lop1 ll<'ltl , 'l'l1t·violcnce in 1his early European religion did not only express
we ask: What is the relationship between F.urnp<•;111 ('hrisllaulty ;111d 11 ,.11111 ll r111s of war am! the killi11gs of P11ernies but also through the

European "paganis111" (a tern1 thHI i111pll!•s 1111' F.11rrn ·1·111rk n11ll 1•11.11 I 11 w11 I of I1l11rn ly 1it11.11 'iHnilin• Io I lie warrior god as well.
Cl1ristii\11 1wrsp1•c·1tvl·)? In Ilic• c1t l1•111 pl 111 11111lt-1 '> l 1111d 1111· milt 111
E11111pc•,·11i11 11111 . '1 clc•Vf'lt1p1111•11t , ll1h nt.:111•c I ot I 11111p11111 11 llHl1111~
164 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 165

In the earlier days of Germanic heathe nism the terrible wholesale But how then can we account for the supposed hiatus between
slaughter of captured forces and criminals implies a belief in a god Christian Europe and its pagan origins? Only to Christians does the
of battles who demanded that blood should flow in his honour. appearance of "god" in human form explain this evolution. In what
Blood had to be constantly provided for the mighty deity, or else terms do Europeans usually express th e difference/relat ionship?
he would be compelled by his nature to seize on the lives of wor- They do so always in terms of the dichotomy of European national-
shippers.91 ism/ chauvinism. Yes, even with regard to their own predecessors/
ancestors. Davidson says: "Northern heathenism, that is, th e pre-
Among the Heruli, worshippers of Odin (Wodin) practiced a rit-
Christian beliefs of the Germanic peoples and the Scandinavians,
ual in which human b e ings were first stabbed and the n burned. 92
came to an end in the eleventh century." In the nineth and tenth cen-
Such practices were common among the warlike lndo-European
turies we know tha t the Vikings were a great power, but, in Davidson's
words, they were "a menace to Christian civilization." 95
In spite of variations of detail in the many myths of these tribes,
Christianity is associated with "civilization"; non-Christian reli-
Georges Dumezil finds a consistency in what he calls the underlying
gion is called "heathen" or "pagan," but very rarely, even in scholar ly
"ideological datum" that explains the various myths. This is a crucial
writing, are these latter terms defined. "Pagan" is, in some cases, sim-
point, for it affirms and justifies the me thodology and theoretical
ply used to mean "non-Christian," but looking to the dictionary, the
premise of this study. Dumezil's recognition of a common ideological
ideological uses o f these terms become explicit. The term "heathen"
base shared by Inda-European peoples also argues for a vit al rela-
has the following uses:
tionship of continuity between the consciousness of contemporary
Europeans and their forbears of the classical and prehistoric periods. 1. an irreligious or unenlightened person; 2. an unconverted indi-
The "ideological datum" of which Dumezil speaks, in his book The vidual of a people that do not acknowledge the God of the Bible; one
Destiny of The Warrior, is related to Armstrong's concept o f "mytho- who is neither a Jew, Christian, nor Muslim; pagan; 3. (Formerly)
form." Is there a relationship between the mythoform of "pagan" and any person neither Christian nor Jewish, esp. a member of the
Christian Europe? Islamic faith or a polytheistic religion. 96
Dumezil points to the parallels in Roman and Aryan-Indian reli-
gions: between Indra and Tullus; Varuna and Mitra; Romulus and For the word "pagan" we fin d:
Numa. Of the beliefs , h e says ,
1. one of a people or community professing a polytheistic religion
What the Indian and Roman thinkers have maintained in clearest as the ancient Romans, Greeks, etc.; 2. a person who is not a
form are: (1) the idea of a necessary victory, a victory in a single Christian, Jew or Muslim; 3. an irreligious or hedonistic person. 97
combat in which, inspired by the grand master of the warrior func-
tion (either king or god) and for his sake, "a third hero triumphs 'rtw Latin pagus means v illage or rural district, and so "pagan" h as the
over a triple adversary"-with stain implicit in the exploit, and with 1 lcrogatory sense of "peasant" or a person of the countryside. As we,
a purification of the "third" and of the society which he represents, In contemporary parlance, might say "bumpkin" or "hick," indicating
so that he finds himself to be the specialist, the agent, and the n1w who lacks the "sophistication" of the cities.
instrument of this purification, a sort of scapegoat after having been "Christian,'' "heathen," and "pagan," therefore, do not mere ly
a champion; (2) the idea of a victory brought off not by combat but 11·p rcs0nt religious differentiation. They indicate ideological differ-
by a s urprise which follows upon a betrayal, betrayal and surprise 1•1wc•s, diffe rences in world-view. They are culturalist terms defined
succeeding one another under the pretext and within the context
I 10111 a Eurocentric or Arab na tionalist perspective. European
of a solemn agreement of friendsh ip, with the res ult that I he sur-
< '111 l ~ tians consider Jews to be religious, even though t hey may dis-
prise act of revenge inc ludes a clisqu ieting note.'13
Supµ ose we u~e thi s sch eme\ to interpret Lile rrn<'lf 1xlon of .Jesw. ·'!-!" 1· hil te rly with them as to th<' nature of his torical trut h. (fhere is
r. u 11 1l' :1111IJiv<llt•11Cl' cn1ic·N11 1t1 n Mus lims, who are not considered "hea-
tt nd .l1 1<1;:is' hc' lray<1 l of l1il11 'l nun1L':1l l s p(•t1ks 11111 11 • "t•u ll (•t·llvc• 1i wn1
1111'11 '•, '' 11111 wl1 0 Oii! '(' w1·11· 'J'lic•v pose a c ultu ra l embarrassme nt
111 y" ul tlw l11d11 E11rnpt·. 111 .11111 of tlw 11111• d 1111tl po lllh ,ii drn lrllH' lli ,11
1' Clll ollfUf 1·tl 1111 It lll Cl l otl ( flll !>1" (1• tlf ' I' " 'I I
0 "ill!•' (• It w .1 •: M11i.; ll111 SI 1111111 •. lilp tl til l " 1 1·s~ ll<'d" 1·:11rn1wan civilizat ion
166 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 167

from the "dark ages.") Why are the Europeans so hard on their so- principle of European development. Europeans have always been
called "pagans" and "polytheistic" forbears? involved in an unrelenting quest for power, political hegemony,
What, in the European context, represents the proper form of a expansion, and technical control. As this drive to conquer developed
religious statement is intimately involved with their concept of "civ- more intensely, the parameters of the conquering self and of the ter-
ilization" or, as Europeans see it, the "civilizing" process. These ideas r itory (world) to be conquered expanded. Constantine had inge-
cannot be understood without reference to the two basic concepts niously perceived the effectiveness of institutionalized Christianity as
of European ideology: evolution and progress. a supportive mechanism for the cohesion of the Empire. Later,
One of the reasons that the terms "heathen" and "pagan" hold Christianity would be fashioned as the appropriate vehicle for a much
such reproach and are so derogatory from a Eurocentric perspective more expanded concept of imperialism, one which required a more
is that initially it was the European "past" to which they referred. refined concept of progress, and more importantly, a more cohesive,
Nothing requires defeat so much as the past in the logic of the ond at the same time, expanded identification of the conquering culture:
European mythoform. It is the non-European in the contemporary Hurope.
world who becomes associated with the past in the European mind. Davidson says, "Since they themselves [the 'heathens'] had no
Cfhe anthropologists studied the "past," which meant non-Euro- desire to make converts, they were at a serious disadvantage, and it
Caucasians.) But we must remember that Europeans still practiced was only a matter of time before the new religion replaced the old." 98
what in Christian parlance were "pagan" religions until the eleventh Whether knowingly or not, she is pointing to a political and ideologi-
century. This means that these "backward" peoples were actually ml disadvantage. Conversely she hits on the political and ideological
both within and outside the culture simultaneously. "Heretics" were advantage enjoyed by Christians. "Pagans" do not seek converts.
culturally acceptable (though dangerous). "Pagans" were not. In this These "pagan" Europeans may have been "barbarian heathens ," con-
critical period of transition there could be no equivocation concern- qu ering others and even expanding their territories, but they had not
ing the correct path toward progress; the shape of the new national 11s<!d their religions to do so. The posture of their religions had not
culture. heeu imperialistic. It was not outer-directed. They had not under-
This "paganism" did not die easily. Christians have always been -.tood the political uses of religion. (Africans and most other non-
willing to fight bloody battles and wars to "convert" others to their lo'.11ropeans still do not. Arabs are the only non-Europeans to have
way of thinking, even their own people. Perhaps the threat of those lls<'d religion in this way.) Proselytization is inherently imperialistic;
who dared to persist in the religions into which they had been born pC't'fcctly suited to supporting an expansionistic utamaroho. Now we
issued from the fear that Christianity might not triumph as the ideo- 1 .1n begin to understand in what sense "paganism" was "backward"
logical champion of the "new" European. Imagine the anxiety that from a Eurocentric perspective.
this caused for those who were convinced of the necessity of There are other dynamics to this phenomenon; other pieces to
"progress!" I Ill' puzzle of why Christianity and not paganism. Pagan Inda-European
An African-centered perspective forces us to look more closely 1 11lt11rc was violent, aggressive, xenophobic, and individualistic. Its

at this history, this cultural development. We must make sense of it. 1 "11).(ion called for the sacrifice of human blood, as did many religions.

Using the concept of asili, seemingly complex "paranoid" behavior on "'tlll' answer then that Christianity was more suited to the European
the part of the European becomes crystal clear and makes "sense," 11t11111aroho because the Europeans became more peaceful, loving, and
unfolding from the logic of European development. Why should a • 11111munalistic? That answer is illogical, for Europe has never bee n
people who were non-Christians and who were slaughterin~ • l1.11.1eterized by those values. To the contrary, European Christian
Christians become Christians themselves and begin to s la ughte r tl1<·h I 11 I 1.ivlnr is eq ually.xe nophobic-in spite of its rhetorical xenophilia-
brothers and sisters in order to make the m so? What is lhE' ronrn•< 1111 I 1·111hrac t•s war a ncl viole nce in the name of the Christian god. In
tion between this new religion and lhe rt hos of tht' n·liglons pr aclln•d l.1tc·1 pt11 iocls ii c.•11wlnp!; llt<· lndividualistir e thic o r capitalist-materi-
by early and "backward" E11ropcn11s'! dl•.111 A11d, wlt.11 Is 1111irl!, It dt•111.i11d c·d hunwn sacrifice!
Tlw ronc-t•pt of mtli ll'lls 11 ~ to l<>uk f111 1·rn1 .. 1:t t1·111 y, t Ill' t·1Jt1 •1 l·1· llltl 1111·11· f•, 11·1 t11h1ly ,, tllll1 •11•1111· l11·tw1 •1•11 E111op1•m1 ( 'hrlstl11111t y
tP111·v 1111 wlitd1 w1· •w.11111111•-; wlll1111 th1 1·,q1l.111.\t111y.1111l 1!• '11"1,1tl11~ 111d I 11r11111•.111 l 1.1j'. ll1t-.111 '1'111 11ff/1111110//11 nt l'.1g.111 l11d11 J•:11111pt'.1tt nil
168 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 169

ture is the same. The formal structures through which it is expressed turn, what was necessary. A more expanded vision required a more
are different in much the same way as European peasant culture and sophisticated technique. This had been the immutable law of European
archaic European culture are different from the cosmopolitan cul- development.
ture of the European "multinational." It is a question of "sophistica- The European institutionalization of Christianity was something
tion," but not to indicate valued behavior in any universally valid akin to a technological advance. It added the element of proselytiza-
sense. "Sophistication" refers to the hypocrisy that began to develop tion that more suited the object ive of imperialist ic expansionism
within the bowels of European culture. It was a matter of pragmatism within which those obj ectives could be hidden or camouflaged.
and efficiency. Christianity was a more refined tool for the selling of Xenophobic, aggressive, and violent tendencies were molded into a
European imperialism. more subtle statement that packaged them in a universalist ic, peace-
There are certain traits that have made for the success of ful, and moralistic rhetoric. In other words, "barbarian" Inda-European
European civilization in its quest for supreme dominance and control pagan religion became more "modern" in Christian formulation, more
of others. It is a culture based on an ideology of superficial change. suited to the new demands of European "progress," progress clearly
This allows its hegemony to expand while being maintained. If what referring to ever greater efficiency of the mechanism for total control.
can be called "modal changes" do not occur at strategic historical European civilization can be understood as nothing more than the
points, the objective of total domination will fail. The Platonic epis- most efficient mechanism for that end.
temological mode (utamawazo) put archaic European culture on the As always, the utamaroho remains the same. That is the consis-
right track, as it were, towards successful imperialistic expansion by tent , unchanging factor. The ideology is informed by the utamaroho,
establishing the intellectual confines of that ideology. The aggressive but must develop as the vision grows. For the utamaroho, is expan-
utamaroho was already in place. It had to be harnessed for efficient s ionistic; always seeking a larger space in which to be housed, a large
performance. Herein lies the genius of Europe! "turf" to control. This brings us to a second aspect of the European
What classical Greece had achieved on the intellectual level, political genius. As the vision grows, so must the national conscious-
classical Rome must achieve politically. "Paganism" didn't fit. It was 11ess. This is critical, for the nature of the utamaroho requires an
as simple as that. As the imperialistic goals of these fledgeling 1·xpanded definition of the self. We are talking about the growth of
Europeans expanded, the various modalities of the cultural structure political consciousness. This is why cultural and political behavior
grew out of sync with one another. If they had not been reshaped , r a11 on ly superficially be separated. They are united in ideology.
readjusted so as to form a cohesive unit, Europe would have failed- Polit ical behavior on a national level requires the definition of the
just another culture living peacefully in a culturally pluralistic uni- l11tcrest of the nation vis-a-vis other nations. The defin ition of the
verse. Unfortunately for the rest of us, it didn't. At least not at this hit crest requires a national consciousness. Culture creates that con-
juncture. (Medieval Europe represents a long period of dormancy; a 'ciousness through its ideological function.
loss of momentum, perhaps even intellectual ambivalence as far as In early European or Inda-European history we witness violent
the ideology of progress and change are concerned. But subsequently t 1 lhes or hordes whose lives were ordered by war. True, they tended
the culture regrouped itself and catapulted once again on to the roacl I u move at various points, on the more peacefully oriented, less
t owards world domination through technological advance.) Th C' 1IJU(rcssive peoples, generally of the south. After this southern inva-
Protestant revolution and the rise of capitalism represent the neces- ~.1011, when their utamaroho was implanted into the Mediterranean,
sary creative responses at other such junctures in European his tory. w h a t then? They continued to move against each other.I Rome was
The cooptation of Christianity was s uch a res ponse in A.D. 312. r•w nt ually overtaken by these Germanic peoples. The culture went
Constantine was the shrewd strategist in question. Anti it worked. 1I11 n11gh periods of uncertain devdopment, instability, and insecurity.
Violence, aggression , and xenoph obia could no longer lw < lc •llfly, If t lw Eu ropNm hegemony was to be achieved this penchant
expressed in the fo nn of Europcnn paganism if th 'S<' 1tasn.:11t 1111 vlnll•nl h<.'havior mus t he t urnerl towards "others ." Ch ristianity
E11 rn p t'n 11s Wl'rt' to furtlwr dPv1• lnp tlwir {'lllpl rc'. '1'111' 11f11111o m /111 WM• 111 I pt •d to dt•fi ne who t he "otlwrs" w c~ rr 111 a way that fittecl t he
l'<1l1 '>b 1!•11L It :,1111 <11•1111\IH IPd <'Olltllll , :\1{~:1 «s~ l rn1 1 11 11d 1111111.111 s.ll' rlfll' I ' , F.11111pc·11 11 p 111g1t•:rn ld t •cil o ~y M 1ikt11~1 ;1 Ho11111n, a Hrl l011, a Frank, ancl
l\111 t 111• / 1/ \ (11// was C'l 1n11l{l11K 11 11 vl<.; 11 11 1 o f wf1 ,1l Wll'• p11 •,•1llllt• 11 nrt 111 1, 11 1111 th111 111 .1 "l·'. u111p1•;111 " w111d tl 11111111 • 1•11-.y , !1111 tt w.1s llw orde t ol
170 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 171

the day in terms of the logic of European development. First, ortho- Patriarchy in the Development of European Religion
dox Christianity provided the perfect structure within which the (sub- Inda-European pagan culture did however contribute charac-
limated) statement of aggression, even human sacrifice, and teristics to European Judeo-Christian ideology. Although it is possi-
imperialistic ideology could be meshed; and lastly, it provided the ble to identify practices of male dominance in most societies of the
perfect structure for the forging of a European consciousness that world, patriarchy, as an institutionalized value, as an intrinsic char-
could carry out this vis ion of a European-dominated world. acteristic of utamaroho can be associated with Inda-European origins
Ch ristianity achieved the unification of the new European self. of Western civilization. One of the aspects of cultural development
It acted as a unifying element as it housed and solidified t he nascent that demonstrates this most clearly is religion.
European utamaroho, one inherited from a northern, "heathen" past. In the ancient religious traditions of Africa and other parts of the
It helped to redefine European nationalism as universal imperialism. world, we find again and again the predominance of the mother god-
(This is why the Jewish statement was insufficient.) European civi- dess; the valorization of the female principle, the earth symbol. These
lization has been so successful in part because of its ability to o uter- traditions were well-developed before it was possible to speak of a
direct hostility, another example of political genius. When this ability "West ern" or "Western European" peoples. The older, more
is hindered, the survival of the culture is threatened. The destructive ''Southern" civilizations can be generalized into one cultural or ideo-
tendencies within are so intense and so endemic to the culture that logical model in contrast to the younger and more aggressive
they must continually be redirected. The cooptation of Christianity Northern groups comprising what has been called the "Tumuli" civ-
represented such a redirection of aggressive energy. ilization, associated culturally with the Inda-European and racially as
Now the difference and relationship between European pagan- the Aryans. It is this latter group with which we are concerned as they
ism and European Christianism can be placed in its proper context. rc•present the cultural/racial forbears-the ancestors-of what we
Pagan religions were aggressive but not expansionist. They did not now call "Europe." These people came from "the regions North of the
have this vis ion, and they were too separatist to be successfully impe- Black Sea, between the Carpathians, and the Caucasians," according
rialistic. Christianism took the concept of human blood sacrifice and to Mircea Eliade. 99
raised it to the pinnacle of religiousity by sacralizing it in the symbol A brief statement of Cheikh Anta Diop's "Two Cradle" theory of
of Jesus; this acted as a sanction against the killing of other I he origins of Civilization, will help to initiate our consideration of the
Christians. They then legitimized its actual practice by superficially ll1erne of patriarchy in European religion. Diop's concern in his book
(ideologically) dehumanizing non-Christian non-Europeans and then l'lw Cultural Un ity of Black Africa is with "the Domains of Patriarchy
sacrificing them to their god. 111d Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity." For him these types of social
But this change would not take place overnight and, as we have order correspond to two contrasting "cradles" of civilization. These
seen, well into the eleventh century, the more "sophisticated" two cradles are areas of origin for two different kinds of civilization
Europeans, who had incorporated the vision of European hegemony I reflect two different world-views and corresponding lifestyles.
and now identified as Europeans , would fight and kill their more l'l IC' clHrerences between these two places of origin seem to originate
"backward" brothers. First, Celts, Goths, Druids, Teutons, Angles, 111 1·cology, according to Diop's explanation.
Saxons, et c., then finally and fiercely, the Vikings, who would wage The environment of the Northern Cradle was harsh, cold, and
constant battle to protect their national identities, as they defined 11•l,1t lvely infertile, lacking in opportunities for agriculture. Adaptation
them, unwilling to accept this new "European" consciousness, a con· 111 t11!s c>nvironment produced a series of cultural/social characteris-
sciousness that Saint-Simon would still be seeking to solidify in !ht• t 11 ••• a111ong them aggressiveness, individualism, the predominance of
early part of the nineteenth century. The identity of this long p eriod 111t<11t 111 t !w diet, and monogamy. There were other characteristics,
of internecin e WMS can be understood then , not ns tlw hnt tl C' of the 11111 lltt•y will be disc ussed more thoroughly, along with a deeper
l'tllightc•11t•d an d the "civlli zPd" <1!-(alnst tlw 1111c•111l~ltt r11('(I hnrlmrl1u1s, , 1111101;1t11111 of Diop's theory in subsequent chapters. It is interesting
h11t .1~••1 ~ l.1 !!1· l11 I lw :-I r11 1~g lc · to lnstlluk ·ltHI c•o11i;nlldt1ll' n 11Pw l11q 1t1 111 1101« •, l111wc'v<'r, 111111 111op Is aq.~ ui11 ).C against Euroce ntric interpre-
1l.11 111 d1•1 t 111t111·1 1.11 H.1< liof Pll , M111 ~;u1 :111cl l·:niwls c·rnwPm! ng t hl' origins of
"11111lltc•1 1 1 ~ 111 " .1111l p11l v..:v11y,
172 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 173

Our focus here is on religion, and, according to Diop, the If we accept Eliade's statement as accurate, it would seem that as
nomadic and transcient nature of the lifestyle of the ancient Indo- social scientists and historians, we should be curious as to the rea-
European had some interesting effects: son for the peculiar intensity of this phenomenon. What accounts for
this atypical behavior and for its "success?"
In this existence which was reduced to a series of perpetual migra- According to Eliade, the Tumuli (Kurgan) culture develo ped
tions, the economic role of the woman was reduced to a strict min-
between the fifth and third millenia and expanded westward about
imum; she was only a burden that the man dragged behind him.
Outside her function of child-bearing, her role in nomadic society 4000 B.C.E. They then proceeded to "make their way into Central
is nil. It is from these considerations that a new explanation may be Europe, the Balkan Peninsula, Transcaucasia, Anatolia, and Northern
sought to account for the lot of the woman in Inda-European soci- Iran (ca. 3500-3000 B.C.); in the third millenlum they reached north-
ety.100 ern Europe, the Aegean Zone (Greece and the Coasts of Anatolia), and
the Mediterranean." These, he says were the Proto Inda-Europeans.
This devaluation of the female role was incorporated into their This developing Inda-European culture was influenced by the more
religious practices. Among the nomads, who had no permanent res- developed civilizations of Africa (the "Near East" is a misnomer) and
idence, cremation took presidence over burial, and fire, which gave the East. 102 They practiced agriculture, but "preferred to develop a
much needed warmth in a land with little direct or close sunlight, was pastoral economy." Eliade's explanation, contrary to Diop's, would
"worshipped." Fire rituals can still be witnessed in some European imply that there was something other than ecological necessity that
communities. (See James Frazier's, The Golden Bough, New York: determined this predilection for the nomadic lifestyle, but he doesn't
Mentor, 1964.) By contrast, according to Diop's theory, in the say what that factor might be. "Pastoral nomadism, the patriarchal
"Southern Cradle" the earth takes prominence as agricultural activ- structure of the family, a proclivity for raids, and a military organi-
ity and fertility abound. The population is more peaceful, secure, and zation designed for conquest are characteristic features of Indo-
sedentary. Women play a critical part in the economy and in subsis- European societies." 102
tence. The female principle is the foundation of the cosmological con- Eliade is interested in determining the relationship between a
ceptions. li £estyle of pastoral nomadism, war, and conquest, on the one hand ,
Mircea Eliade, in his work A History of Religious Ideas, Vol. I, ttnd the "emergence of specific religious values," on the other. He
identifies these warlike Aryans as the "Proto Indo-Europeans" and 111 akes an attempt to reconstruct themes of a common Inda-European
the "Indo-Europeans." These are the people of Diop's "Northern cra- 1 t'ligion. He suggests the idea of celestial sacredness, light and height

dle." Eliade identifies them as the initiators of a destructive period of c 11 \'levation; the idea of creativity in its immediate meaning, the idea

invasions into the Southern regions between 2300 and 1200 years or o;overeignty, the sky-god as supreme father, and that fire kindled
before the Christian Era. This is part of what he calls the process of I iy lightning is celestial in origin. "The cult of fire is a characteristic
"Inda-Europeanization," which had an effect on the religious ideas ' l1•111ent of the Inda-European religions." Whereas, "Mother Earth as
and practices of the areas into which these people expanded. Eliade 11 1cligious concept is recent among this group." "The Aryans had no
is concerned with delineating and understanding these effects. • JI IPS and knew nothing of writing.... Iron began to be used only
In terms of an African-centered analysis, the process Eliade iden- 1li1111L 1050 B.C."103
tified is part of the historically continuous process of European impe- Rosemary Ruether goes even further in her analysis and identi-
rialistic expansion. This "Inda-Europeanization" of which Eliacl~ l 11 •, IMlrlarchal tendencies in European religion with monotheism:
speaks is the earliest expression of the European utamaroho. Eli:idc
says, 11 h possible that the social origins of male monotheism lie in
111111111d k IK•rcling societies . These cultures lacked the female gar-
This ch.'.lracteristic process-mi gration, conquust of ll<'W l<·rrilo- d1•11l11j.{ role t111d l <'ndcd to image God as the Sky-Father. Nomadic
riC's, •niln11 is~ ion uf inhahilrtnts, fol lnw1' d by I ltt•ir .t'>1>ln1ll a ti011· did 11 lll(lc 111s wen• 1·1wr.wt c rit.l'<I by exdusivism and an aggressive, hos-
11nt 1•111 l 1111tll I h1 • nlrwf1•1 ·11tll 1'1•1tt111 ynf11111 !'1,1 S 111 h .111Px;1111ple111 1llc• t Pl;1t1onNltlp I o I IH• 11wk1l1111 r11 I p<'ople of the land and their reli-
1(11 ll l I11 I
111111111'.lll .111cl 1·1 dt111 11l 1·x111111•.1n11l'l11lllf'1 w l ~ 1· 1111lu111w11 1111
174 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 175

While her analysis echoes those of Diop and Eliade in many the great male-female power;" others said that the divine had no gen-
ways, in neither of the other two theories do we see this connection der; and a third group held that it was either, depending on which
between what for us are critical and characteristic aspects of attribute you wished to emphasize. 108 Some Gnostics, she says,
European Christianity: patriarchy and monotheism. Clearly, monothe- described their god as Mother, Father, and Son. This would resemble
ism is related to the monarch and monolith, to forms of power. Who the African conception of Wsir (Osiris), Ast Osis), and Heru (Horus).
is the monarch? Certainly the European answer would be that the Feminine powers, for the Gnostics, were associated with thought,
monarch must be male. intelligence, and foresight. 109 Pagels refers to material from the
In Ruether's view: "secret" gospels, revelations, and mystical teachings that, she says,
are replete with feminine and sexual metaphor, and the valorization
Male monotheism becomes the vehicle of a psychocultural revolu- of female aspects of creation and godliness.
tion of the male ruling class in its relationship to surrounding real- But the process of censorship by the self-acclaimed represen-
ity. Whereas ancient myth had seen the Gods and Goddesses as tatives of Jesus on earth then took place, and
within the matrix of one physical-spiritual reality, male monotheism
begins to split reality into a dualism of transcendent spirit (mind, Every one of the secret texts which gnostic groups revered was
ego) and inferior and dependent physical nature. 105 omitted from the canonical collection, and branded as heretical by
those who called themselves orthodox Christians. By the time the
Ruether points to one of the characteristics of the European uta- process of sorting the various writings ended-probably as late as
mawazo (which we discussed in Chap. 1): the tendency to "split" real- the year 200-virtually all the feminine imagery for God had disap-
ity into valued and devalued categories, which are dictated by an peared from the orthodox Christian tradition. 110
utamaroho that must relate to phenomena as either the superior self
or inferior other, so as to justify conquest and control. The acceptance and sacralization of the feminine went hand in
liand with greater involvement of women in the gnostic movement
The male is seen essentially as the image of the male transcendent when compared with the orthodox church and more prominent posi-
ego or God, woman is seen as the image of the lower, material t Ions of women in the organization. The orthodox leaders were out-
nature .. .. Gender becomes a primary symbol for the dualism of 1•1ged. Pagels quotes Tertullian: "These heretical women-how
transcendence and immanence, spirit, matter. 105 ,11Jdacious they are! They have no modesty; they are bold enough to
tc ·i1<.:h, to engage in argument, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures,
Elaine Pagels also picks up the theme of the patriarchal nature
.111<1. it may be, even to baptize!" Irenaeus chastises Marcus, a Gnostic,
of European Orthodox Christianity, but she correctly includes
wl 10 "invited women to act as priests in celebrating the eucharist
Judaism and Islam in her description. These three religious tradi-
with him." (Marcus) "hands cups to women to offer up the eucharist
tions are conspicious in their lack of positive female symbolism, prnye r, and to pronounce the words of consecration." Tertullian
whereas most of the world's religions "abound in female symbol-
p1·.1ks for the orthodox view, "It is not permitted for a woman to
ism."106 But what about the early Christian tradition? According to
.pt 'itk in the church, nor is it permitted for her to teach, nor to bap-
Pagels, the Gnostics combined the female and male principles in their
tl11·, nor to offer [the eucharist], nor to claim for herself a share in any
image of the divine. Valentinus "suggests that the divine can be imag-
1111n.c 11/inP function- not to mention any priestly office." 111
ined as a dyad ; consisting, in part, of the Ineffable, the De pth, the
Page ls says that "fro m the year 200 we have no evidence for
Primal Farther; and, in the other, of Grace, Silen ce, the womb and
, 111ut•11 t aklng prophetic priestly and episcopal roles among orthodox
Mother of All." 107 1 11111 t lws."
11 2 From Judais m and Jewis h values the Church inherited
In the African view, we would speak of the harmonious lntf'rac··
111111 It 11f it s pr11 riarclwl r hnractcr, and though Paul recognized women
lion of the co mple mentary Divin<' Fr mininc u11cl Masculi11c. 'J'lii s ldt•<J
11 d1 ·111·1111s illlcl fPll ow ww kt•rs, lw "argues from his own- tradition-
of compl011w11tarlty, so noti<'eHhly i\l>sc•nt 111 tlw l·'. uropem1 world
111\ J1·w is ll <'111w1•plln11. of 11 monls lk , mas«11li11 e (jC>Cl for a divinely
vh·w, w.1 ~ :-tllll pt PSl' lll lo sout<• dt'HH'c· 111 ll H• '1111> ~1 th (t\llkit11 l11U11
111d.1l111 ti lil1•1.ir1·l1 y of ·; 111 l,1l •.11h0tdl11,1tlo11· <l s (;ml l1ns autllnrityovPY
1•1111•tl , 1•,11 ly t' lu h tl.111, p re• pulllll'1tl ) c t11H 1•pt11111111 dt tt y Pu ~c· h 11 •11:
I 111 hi ht• d1 t J,111"1, ( llltt ~' I :1•1w ... 1t. '> \ , •,11 1111111 11 .1•, .111l11111 ll y tlVC'I
1-1 , I ho1t 1111111 • < ,11 1•,t It· • 1\ltl 111111 1ltt I >lvltu• w.i ... ' 11111111 11111 f1·1 1il11l111•
176 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 177

women." 112 In I Corinthians 11 :7-9, "a man ... is the image and glory continually creating and refining modes through which t o express
of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from themselves. We are not surprised to see the connections betwee n
woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman early lndo-European religion, social organization, and conquest,
but woman for man." ' namely, seminal classical Greek thought, as expressed in Plato's writ-
Pagels contrasts the position of women in Egypt, Greece, and ings, and the Orthodox church of the second century. They are all
Rome, where women enjoyed many rights with men or were in the pa rt of one ideological tradition; eac h influe ncing and helping to
process of being given more rights , with "women of the Jewish com- d etermine the next historical cultural form; a link in the chain that
munities [who] were excluded from actively participating in public would become "Western civilization." More specifically, the dev alu-
worship, education, in social and political life outside of the fam- a tio n of women is adumbrated in classical Greek thought, where it is
ily."113 (Actually, the position of women in Keme t was far superior explicitly elaborated in philosophic discourse by Plato and Aristotle.
to that of women in either Greece or Rome. So much so that travellers They paved the way, along with Jewish socia l values, for a patriarchal
from these areas were appalled. See B. Lesko, The Remarkable Women church. What may have happened in Greek society especially is that
of Ancient Egypt, 1987.) But the scriptures were to say: me n attempted to incorporate the female principle within them-
selves, thereby relegating the woman to a merely physically different
Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no being who had little of value to contribute to the construction and
woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. maintenance of the State. In this way, men, who were the valued form
of being, were not forced to look outside of themselves for wholeness,
I Timothy 2:11-12 o r so they led themselves to believe . In her book Centaurs and
A mazons, Page duBois discusses this process of devaluation through
The Apostolic Church decided that no woman was to become a an examination of the Timaeus:
priest , and the orthodox view of women was as having come into
being for man's fulfillment . This puts Christians in a bind. Clearly this The philosopher maintains his closeness to the divine, moving
concept of fulfillment is not spiritual, therefore women are created upward in the scale of beings, while men who fail in the effort of phi-
solely for the purpose of their sexuality; the same sexuality that is losophy are punished by becoming women in their second lives. No
damne d . It is women who are inherently evil and a ll of humanity who woman can be a philosopher. She must wait until after death, when
a re caught in a hopeless contradiction. Why were women "created" her soul might be reincarnated in the body of a man. I16
in the first place? Pagels says,
And again, of the Timaeus,
By the late Second Century, the orthodox community came to
accept the domination of men over women as the divinely ordained The male sex is assimilated to the divine part of the soul; men, like
order, not only for social and family life, but also for the Christian that divine soul, must be protected from the miasma, the pollution
Churches.114 rep resented by women. That worse part of the soul, likened to
women, is superior to the worse of the body, which is like an ani-
mal. She says, "women were associated with the body, which was
This pe riod of formulation was of treme ndous histo rical significance,
infe rior to the mind; thus they, like the body, served the soul , the
and was impressively successful from the perspective of consistency lit' ad, the philosopher, the ma le."117
a nd adherence to dogma. The history o f the Churc h is proof that
monolith ma kes for id eological control. In 1977, Pope Paul VI , Bis ho p A11cl from the Republic, s he q uotes:" ... all those creatures generated
o f Ro me, d e c lared that a woman crn 1ld not be a priest "bccausr om .1•; 111e 11 wh o proved themse lves cowardly (deilo l) and spent their
Lord was a 11v u1." 11s llVl's 111 wrong clo lng were tra11sfor111ed , at th e ir second incarnation,
Wl1 nt W(' art' n bs t•rvl11 g tl1 rougho 11l this s t11dy ls till' p rort · ~s o f 111111 wt 111 wn." 11 8 Till' r;1\lw1s o f th e Chmd1 we re me rely continuing
" E lll OJH' f\ tll i'HllOll ," il ('Ollt t1111;111rc• o f wll 11 t 1·:11.11lc· h 1l'I C'i lll t•d "111 <1 0
,11td f11 rtl H't eol11hn111l lt1}! :1·1r.id1l lrn1 tl1 11l rellC'cl rd n partic ula r vl ew ()f
Jo:11111 p1•.111'111 tlo11 "'i'lH'111!1 1C l•w t, ll u• /lff /f/ I " ' '" 11, tl11 11ltlflllf/ 1il111 , th1• 11 .dt tv, . 1 vli •w 111.ll l1nd 1ll tt•111 ly •,111l.1t•1•d lt t l11do l•:111 npc r111 n1 ltu rt'
lwli11\l111,1l •1 ·111 l1•111•l1 ·'1 l li .11 ll1h t.11' •11111 11 1111ft'il'v11 ·d w.1•1 11111 11Ill'11lt ,11 Ci11 ·1·l1 l h•Hl ~· ll t.
178 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 179

The Religion and Rationality Syndrome seemed properly to b e contained in their own "philosophical inves-
One o f the consequences of the specious universalization of the tigations." They had already establishe d the criterion of "true" reli-
Christian stateme nt was that it-together with its adoption of the gion to fit into this framework whe n they declared that monothe ism
Platonic mode-la unch ed the European into a fruitlessly unreason- a nd revelation were more consistent, universal, and therefore "ratio-
able and senseless e nte rp rise. In the words of E. L. Allen , "Socrates' nal" religious conceptions than were polytheistic ones. But the reli-
greatest achievement to many is his insistence on the use of reason gio us statements that they themselves made became increasingly
to decide moral questions." 119 Yet, while this may very well be one the unsatisfying; for obvious reasons, these conceptions did n othing to
most significant legacies of Platonic thought, it may also be the most fulfill them spiritually. Some examples from the ongoing European
misguiding, given the Platonic understanding o f the nature of "rea- theological discussion will help to clarify the point.
son." It is here that we can clearly recognize the definitive func- Terence Penelhum has devoted an entire work to the subject of
tion/role of the European utamawazo. It shapes the consciousness Religion and Rationality. The pursuit to "rationalize" religion in this
and limits the possibilities of conceptual expe rience. The Eu ropean way is a proper one in his opinion. His book is something of an his-
ide ntification of religion with rationality is a de monstration of this ten- torical s urvey of the many attempts of Europeans to "prove" that
dency, ultimately originating in the need to control. The European their god exists . The work offers excellent e thnographic materia l as
interpre tation of this "use of reason" was bound to the attempt to it demonstrates in broad historical spectrum the peculiar flavor of
remove the religious experience from its natural cultural base, and European thought and the uniqueness o f European theology.
thereby was confronted with the task of "finding" (which in this case Natural Theology represented the e laboration and refinement of
means "creating") the proper religious statement. Given the pre- a fusion o f principles that had t aken place when Plato identified the
domin ant perceptual mode of European thought, Europeans were "true" with the "good." (In Kemetic [ancient Egyptian] thought, for
destined t o search within the confines of the abstract and the ratio- instance, philosophy, theology and science were never separate.
nalistic . Their integration becomes only problematical because of the reifica-
Even Rheinhold Niehbuhr recognizes the dilemma posed by the lion of the "Platonic Abstraction," which tends to reduce thought to
attempt to approach and justify the religious by way of the rational- a limited rationalism.) What does the attempted "fusion" do when
istic. And he is forced to attest to the Church's perennial suscepti- rationalistically defined? The following passage is taken from the
bility to this mistake: work of Aquinas:

... obviously a view which depends upon an ultra-rational presup- Now. since we have proved that God is the source of being to some
position is immediately endangered when rationally explicated; for lhings, we must further show that everything besides Himself is
reason which seeks to bring all things into terms of rational coher- from Him.
ence is tempted to make one known thing the principle of explana-
tion and to derive a ll other things from it. Its most natural For whatever belongs to a th ing otherwise than as such, belongs to
inclination is to make itself that ultimate principle, and thus in effect it through some cause, as white to a man: because that which has
110 cause is something first and immediate, wherefore it must needs
to declare itself God. Ch ristian psychology and philosophy have
never completely freed themselves from this fault, which explains belong to the thing essentially and as such. Now it is impossible for
why naturalists plausibly though erroneously regard Christian faith ;111y one thing to belong to two and to both of them as such. For that
as the very fountain source of idealism. 120 whic h is said of a thing as such, does not go beyond that thing: for
l11stancc to have three angles equal to two right angles does not go
· hc-yond a triangle. Accordingly if something belongs to two things,
Wha t Niebuhr does not want to admit is tha t Christian philosophy ls
it wi ll not be long to bo th as such: whe refore it is impossible for any
plagued by this partic ular co nceptio n, !Je<.:ause that <.:0ll<' <.' plin11 Ii-: 1111c> LI ling lo be prf'dir.nt ,•cl o f two so as to be said of neither by rea-
itst'lf c h a ractc>ris ti c of t h e whol<• of Europca11 phil(lsophy, '. 1111 of ,, r .111sC', !mt it ls m·rc·ssary that e ither the one be the cause
'I'll (' 1':11rop('i) t1S ll :HI t r.1pped tll t.'tll M IVl'S liy il '•!-i llllllll ~! tll ill t't•ll
111 t I i t• ut I u •r , f11r ii1:.t a1H't' hr l' i!l t ht' cause of ll cat in a mixed body,
~ 1 ln11 •.
t111th 1 <111•i ls ll'd 11{ 1 11 > 111111 ~ 11l0t f' th ,111 llH' pl11l11•,npl1l1•:d ;y•; .11111 yl'I 1•,11 ii t:.; c, illt•d ltnt. 111 c·ls1• sn11w th ird thing 111usl be th e
Ii 111 . 111tl1111 11w11 1•11.11lrn1 .1111l tlw1 1•lt11 1 1t•llijl1111 • •11 ll vl ly for 1111•111 t olll 'U' 111 hollt !111 !11 111111 t • lilt [•, ll1t l',\ll 'it ' Of t'l llHllf•s l{iVil1 $t ll r~hl
180 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 181

Now being is said of everything that is. Wherefore it is impossible Again, the lack of sophis tication or depth of spiritual insight is
that there be two things neither of which has a cause of its being striking here-areas so impressively developed in African , and other
through a cause, or else the one must be the cause of being to the First World-descendant philosophical systems. There is much in
other. Hence everything that, in any ways whatever, is, must needs Leibniz that bears the stamp of Plato, while Aquinas is obviously
be from that to which nothing is a cause of being. Now we have much more in the debt of Aristotle and his "self-moving mover." But
proved above [He refers to Bk I, Ch. xiii where he says "there must like Aquinas and Leibniz, Plato and Aristotle represent only slightly
needs be a first mover separate and altogether, immovable, and different manifestations of the same ethnological traditions and ten-
this is God," p. 31] that God is this being to which nothing is a cause
of being. Therefore from Him is everything that, in any way what- dencies: All fit the asili and s o were embraced.
ever, is. If however it be said that being is not a unequivocal predi- In the introduction to his work Primitive Religion, Robert Lowie
cate, the above conclusion follows none the less. For it is not said says that Leibniz' conceptions "belong to a different compartment"
of many equivocally, but analogically; and thus it is necessary to be from that of "religion" and that, "In Leibniz religious flavor is singu-
brought back to one thing.121 larly absent because his abstract propositions leave the religious con-
sciousness cold." 123 His te rm "compartment" is well chosen for it
Only within the context of the European utamawazo and uta- implies at least a conceptual differentiation between the nature of
maroho would s uch a statement be recognizable as having anything spiritual and scientific activities. This is a differentiation necessitated
remotely resembling religion or spirituality as its subject matter. The by the European definition of science and the accompanying materi-
need to "prove" the existence of the spiritually true is a European alization of the universe. The problem is how one develops spiritual
need. The inability to d istinguish between the "logic" of the mathe- conceptions that can be applicable to a world that one has already
matical syllogism (proposition) and "reasonableness" or "truth"; and l'ffectively (or affectively) materialized. The solution is unavo idable:
the inability to recognize the limitation of pure logical analysis points Reduce spirit to matter; the essence to its manifestation.
to a European conceptual weakness. One is tempted to view Aquinas' Most European theological and philosophical discussions make
statement as the product of a strange dementia, but if it is, it is a llw same "compartment" or, to use Gilbert Ryle's term, "catego ry
dementia determined by the European asili, the ideological, cultural nlistake." For the European mind, operating outside of the ratio nal-
seed. It is characteristic of the European utamawazo, as discussed in 1sl ic s phere means a loss of control. It necessitates the recognition
Chap. 1, and becomes intelligible, if not totally "understandable," as 11f a power greater than itself, and such a possib ility is contradictory
one comes to know the European utamaroho. For when rationalism t o the European utamaroho. And so Eu ropeans are faced with a
becomes sanctified , then, of course, formal theology must become dllPmma, for religion has by definition to do with the awareness of the
rational, to be deemed suitable for superior minds. And, after all, that .11 pernatural; i.e., a power that transcends the mortal self. Yet it is
is what European culture is all about. l111rna nent within the immortal being/s pirit. It is a dilemma never
Here is another curious specimen of similar genre taken from • •,caped in European theology, and Europeans end up with an image
Leibniz' writing in the Principles of Nature and of Grace, Founded on nl 1I1c all-powerful or supreme being as "the most rational mind"-
Reason: wllk h is of course their image of themselves . Having inherited reli-
w1111t; Ins ights from older traditions, they were bound to misinterpret
It follows from the supreme perfection of God that producing the uui- t 111 ' Ill.
verse He chose the best possible plan, containing the greatest order; ll ls the a ppearance of rationality that was added-a character-
the best arranged situation, place, and time; the greatest effect pro- ! .11<· t lw l o nly they needed. This characteristic exhibited in the state-
duced by the simplest means; the most power, the most knowle<lg<", 111i•1 il s fw m Leibni z were long before adumbrated in Platonic
the most happiness and goodness in created things of which the uni-
t li11 1 1g llt -~y mpt<"> ffiS tha t became more and more acute as the
verse adm itted. For as all possible things have a claim lo <'Xiste11ct'
in tlw und C'rs ta11di11g of (;or1 In pr oportio n to their rwrf(·ctio11s, tlw
l'111111wn11 t radii ion grew oi dcr and more hardened. The "coldness" of
11's11't of all i IH'se r lnlms mu st lw t ht' 111 os t p<'rli·1·t .1r l wd wor ld Aq11l1111•1 mi d L<'ih11lz rt•ll t·ct l l u· coldness o ( a culture unequipped to
wl1 k l1 l11 pns1'll1lt•. <ltl11•rwls1· lt would 11111 llt • p11!'.~: ll 1l 1· l11 l'Xpl.1111 why p111vltl1• II!> 11wrnlwrn wlt'l1 t.'ll lwr s pit lt11nl tH' l'C( ptlveness o r a related

tltl11 JJ,•1 l 1ilJllll 'll<'d ,,.. tl wy Ii IVI' l 1ttl1 1·1 111.11 111lll1•1w l"t' l'I' 111111 11 h.1•,1•, 'l'lw "•.111·11 1(111" 111 l·'. 111 11p1•,111 1·ult1 11P lies in its fanatical
182 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 183

commitment to the technical-scientific. Its weakness lies in the ill- ever, in the European context, because the Christian claim is pre-
fated attempt to derive meaningful value from a mythology of the cisely that of possessing "historical truth."
"eternal truths of a universal logic," the absoluteness of the rational James makes the distinction between what he calls "existential
mode. judgment" and "propositions of value" or "spiritual judgement." In his
Much of William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience association of value with the spiritual, James is atypical; and so is his
bears on the problem of "religion and rationality" in that he is con- recognition of the fact that these two areas of judgment "proceed
cerned with the way in which the religious experience is presented from the diverse intellectual preoccupations."126 He is rejecting the
to human beings. Instead of making the mistake of assuming that it European utamawazo-battling the logic of the European asili. And
must properly occur within the confines of rationalism, James per- so he himself is rejected by the cultural traditions (and not included
ceptively observes the relationship of the emotional to religious con- in the required reading of Philosophy 101, 102, or 103).
viction. In the passage below, he is discussing the convincingness of In terms of the European utamawazo religions became associ-
certain "feelings of reality": ated with belief (nonvalue), while philosophy was associated with
knowledge (value). Therefore the task of the theologian was to give
They are as convincing to those who have them as direct sensible European religion the shape of European philosophy, so as to
experiences can be, and they are, as a rule, much more convincing e nhance its value. First, the European utamawazo artificially sepa-
than results established by mere logic ever are ... you cannot help rated spirit from matter (known), then it devalued spirit (unknown)
regarding them as genuine perceptions of truth, as revelations of a and attempted to redefine it in terms of material reality. The ancient
kind of reality which no adverse argument, however unanswerable
Africans had done the reverse; for them all meaningful reality was
by you in words, can expel from your belief. The opinion opposed
to mysticism in philosophy is sometimes spoken of as rationalism. rooted in the spiritual.
Rationalism insists that all our beliefs ought ultimately to find for The rationalistic approach to religion is the counterpart of the
themselves articulate grounds. Such grounds, for rationalism, must European conviction that values are "discovered" intellectually
consist of ... (1) definitely statable abstract principles; (2) definite rather than created via cultural activity. This ideological tendency
inferences logically drawn. Vague impressions of something inde- has its historical and epistemological origins in Platonic thought and
finable have no place in the rationalistic system. finds its development and interpretation in Aristotle and the
Sc holastics. This "syndrome" perhaps points more dramatically to
And further: the spiritual failure of European religious formulations than any other
s ingle aspect.
If you have intuitions at all, they come from a deeper level of your
nature than the loquacious level which rationalism inhabits. Your The Techno-Social Order
whole subconscious life, your impulses, your faiths , your needs,
your divinations, have prepared the promises, of which your con- Though Judea-Christian thought is always heralded as being
sciousness now feels the weight of the result; and something in you I re mendously influential in the development of the European tradi-
absolutely knows that that result must be truer than any logic-chop- 1Ion, it is not as often made clear in what ways this influence made
ping rationalistic talk, however clever, that may contradict it. This 1\ sclf felt. It is certainly obvious that the avowed belief in "universal
inferiority of the rationalistic level in founding belief is just as man- brothe rhood" and "peace" were not incorporated into European ide-
ifest when rationalism argues for religion as when against it. 124 c1logy; that this espoused Christian morality has not had a formula-
! Ive Influe nce on the European ethic is quite clear. To an extent it is
For this reason all of Schonfield's labors o f documentation .1H:11n a question of the compatibility of ideological perspective and
"proving" what he calls the "Passover Plot," a nd his alte n1µted Jogl c 111tural tc11dencics. Christia nity was , in the early stages of European
cal rigor, should not be able to convince a Christiau that Christ was tll'Vt'l<>plllC'lll, condu ciw to tl1e growth of t echnology. A religious
no t t·h c "Son of God" (or "Son of Man") , sinrt' faith hdon1.t:; lo tilt· -. t .1t1·t11 l' ll f t h•\f wa!-l not .cor np:i t Ihl e wl1 h l-'.11 ropc:> an clE>ve lopment in
spl1!'1'1 ' o f 111ytb rntllt•r th;1n to til t• ('l\l t"l-(Oly of •w 1·11l;11 l1 lstmy, wlJJ, Ii lhl\i 11 •s1w1·1wn11ld11111 l1 .1vt· l11•t·n ~ IH t' t'"!; flll In llH' E11ropca11 <·onl('XI.
h 1111 •H•lv l1 ·111pcu a l l;"' 'l'lw 111.1lt 1•1l1t•1·rn1ws 11111111 1 1·rn11pl lc-11t1 •d , li11w I\'• wllll ltul11h111 1 ('lirt •,tl.1111ty f1111c ·ll11111•d 10 !-.11pp<>rt 1111d pni
184 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 185

mote the recording of tradition in written form as a valued activity. logical featu res as Judaism and Christianity. Islam provides a model
Doctrine was made authoritative by putting oral tradition into writ- for social organization that promotes some of the characteristics
ten form . Writing in this way acted as a sanction in the developing cul- associated with European culture: patriarchy, the monotheistic ideal,
ture, and at the same time facilitated state organization. an emphasis on the accumulation of literature and institutionalized
The growth of Christianity in the early history of European cul- learning as opposed to traditional education. While Europe was going
ture was also associated with the cities in the same way that the through the embarrassment of her "blind age," the Islamic culture
European chauvinistic expression associated European culture with was preserving and developing t he tradition of scholarship that
"city-life. "127 Europe had associated with her own history. Why, then, isn't Islam
The European ideological frame of reference seemed to house considered a "Western" religion? Or is it? It is never considered to be
comfortably both the institutionalization of the Christian formulation s uch in the textbooks in which Europeans define themselves.
and the growth of European technological society. It is a question of Europeans did not, of course, choose to follow Muhammad.
not only compatibility but, in the European context, one of neces- But, again, using the index of cultural chauvinism and ethnic
sity. There are most definitely religious formulations that are not con- identity, the case of Islam and its relationship to the Judeo-Christian
ducive to the growth of technology as it occurred in the West. experience becomes quite clear. The Is lamic religion politically sup-
The growth of cities, the use of writing as a preferred mode, and ported a st atement of Arab nationalism and conquest, while the
the general emphasis on technology as a social goal all go hand in Jewis h and Christian religions are statements of Jewish and Western
hand with an assumption of and belief in the "idea of progress" in European nationalism, respectively. Just as the Jewish religious state-
which the continued intensification of these social facts constitute 111ent was not meant for non-Jews, so the Christian religious statement
absolute value. The Judea-Christian formulation is based on precisely was never meant t o be and cannot tolerat e an interpretation that
the same concept. Within this tradition "religion" is seen almost as a 1•ncourages the self-determination or military solidification, defense,
technological advance, and, therefore, is aided by and aids the growth or aggression of any "non-Western," "non-European" peoples. The
of the technical order. Christ ianity, then, is in this sense, as well as critical distinction between Islam and Christianity is racial-cultural,
others, quite "worldly" or "secular." It is the advantage of the "world 11 ot theological-ideological. The vicious, prolonged, and bloody cru-
religions ," according t o traditional European social theory, that they sades constituted a series of racial-cultural ("ethnic") wars , "color
enable man to "discover" future time and, therefore, to achieve a Wi\rs." It is grossly inaccurate and misleading for them to be referred
higher stage of cultura l development. These analyses do not raise 111 as "religious wars" without reference to ethnicity, race, or cultural
the question of the conceptually limiting effects of a strictly one ldt•11tification, as is usually done.
dimensional concept of time in combination with a progress ideology; One of the most important connections between Christianity and
a combination that implies the creation of a hypothetical future. t1•chnology since the colonial period is that missionary Christianism
European religion must deal with what is a European problem, the p.1vc·s the way for capitalism and the European-centered market econ-
deeply ingrained assumption of an unknown and limitless future. 111 11y. This form of Christianization in areas such as Africa was an ide-
This conception of time and of an oppressive future functions 11 l 1 1~ka l preparation for acquiescence to the mechanisms of
culturally to direct the activities of a people toward the creation of 1 11loitalio n represented by colonialism. The colonies were needed for
an ever-increasing rationalized technical order. In so far as Christian tltc· i'ronomic growth and development of Europe, which meant that
ideology is predicated on lineal and not cyclical or repetitive con- tl11 Indigenous population had to be convinced that they had been
ceptions, it supported this kind of development and was, therefo re•, 111 11 11 lo serve their European masters and, further, would benefit from
an important aspect of early European developn1e11t. Po r while tile 111 It •,1•rvltu de. What better way to make this argument than by sell-
accele rated growth of the technical collossus may haVC' been many 1111-( ll1P111 on the s uperio rity of Christianity, which could save them
centuri es away, the ldcologicnl germs WC'rc nlrcady inC'Uballng, 1.1y 1111111 1111' f,1lt• o f bei11!{ irrc1igio us , sinful, backward, and black? Once
lnH t ile grnundwnrk (or a 1norc• 111at 11re Wl Slt>r11 l1.n1ln 11
' 1111vlt 11 1·<1 nf II tis, Lhl' c11lo11 izl'd begin to assimilate attitudes t hat help
It It> <'1111q 1t•lll11 ~ l1t•1t• to dl v1·1w · hrll'fl y, In 1111·111 11111 11 11' w 1·111 l11 p11 111 111 • tl1l'111 to fl t l11l o 1':11t n pt•n11 :-;tylc technological o rganization,
lm !lv 111111111.111111•; 1 ,,..,,. 111 h l11111 wl1ll l1 lt.1'> •,1•v .. 1. tl 111 llw •11111 w ldl'o l11 •1'. 111•w ll 11"11' .1 tllt11d"·· .u .. l111pll11t 111 l\11r11p1·.rn C'hris tlan ily.
186 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 187

One mark of the new mindset is the concept of time. For the polygyny, the tradit ional educational system, and especially, eco-
African ordinary time is punctuated by sacred time, and time is val- nomic communalism; i.e., the communal ownership and distributio n
ued according to what the community experiences. Therefore, we of resources . Individualism was an implicit value of missionary
can speak qualitatively of different "times," because they are experi- Christianism as it revealed itself among those colonized by t he
enced differently. Christianization repudiates this concept as it Europeans.
demeans African culture and substitutes a secularized concept of The "civilized African" behaved and dressed and spoke like a
uniform lineal time, suiting the more mechanized order, which the European. He had been educated in European schools that began
European colonizers and neocolonialists need to establish. with the mission school and was therefore trained to uphold
In his book Breast of the Earth, Kofi Awoonor has an excellent dis- European values and to perpetuate European control: The purpose
cussion of Christianity's role in this regard and tells us that "The of any ed ucational system is to perpetuate the society that it creates.
school was the most important instrument of missionary work in The "non-evolue" or "uncivilized" African was an "unsaved," "unedu-
Africa." 128 It was the key to the process that would strip Africans of cated" primitive and non-Christian and therefore "a usable chattel for
their culture so that they could become part of the technical order; mines and farms-" so thought the Europeans and their "civilized"
albeit at the lowest level. The school always took African children Africans.132 Missionary Christianism stripped colonized, "non-
away from their elders and caused them to be ashamed of the very Europeans" of everything. In this psychologically insecure state they
things that could have been a source of political strength and resis- could then be immersed in the ideology of the technical o rder. And
tance to colonial rule. so many Africans themselves will speak of the "blessings" of
The new technology of exploitation required that the African Christianity, because they are sold on the "ideology of progress" to
become an imitation of the European. 129 It required a total transfor- which its European adherents subscribe.
mation that embodied new standards of success and social status.130 It is not only in terms of the specific technological tendencies
Christianity, of course, meant "civilization." To be civilized was to manifested in the Christian lifestyle that the essence of this relat ion-
become as much like the European as possible. Awoonor tells us that, s hip lies (e.g., deification of writing, literacy, the growth of cities,
"The converts were also encouraged to acquire European material etc.). The compatibility of the Christian doctrine and the develop-
culture . .. . The superiority of the European way of life was rigorously ment of technology in the West is found at a deeper and more criti-
inc ulcated." 129 This included living in the townships that the mis- cal level. Christian id eology is teleological, providing a conceptual
sionaries established, in opposition to the very villages in which the model peculiar to the European utamawazo; both are based o n and
African extended kin lived. peculiar to a particular image of the human. The Christ ian-European
The missionary school discouraged the use of African languages. interpretation of the human is of a being who derives meaning from
"Christian conversion meant cultural change," a change essentia l to his ability to move toward a universal goal-both "progressive" and
the donning of the cultural clothing of European technology. "Christ "rational." It is this and not the "not-of-this-world," "do-unto-others"
was a white man; the saints were white; and the missionaries were Idea that operates as the motivating factor in Christian ideology;
white . . . . Continuously the African was told he was cursed in his "ulher-worldliness" goes against the grain of technological "advance."
adherence to the ways of his fathers, and because he was black- 'l'hc ideal, of course, is an abstraction; it implies unending movement
skinned, the implications were not lost to him.... The fundamental ll s<·lf. It is in some crucial way associated with the creation of power
erosion of the African's confidence in himself began with the firs t I I int is in turn associated with efficiency. Both power and efficiency
Christian convert. "131 .11 .. identified with the control of nature and people and the belief that
One of the most important ways that missionary education prt> It Is the natural and proper destiny of humans to negate nature and/or
pared Africans for capitalism and the Europea n techno-social nrckr t lw "pr imary" cond itio n.
was by destroying the integrity of li11 eu~e oq.{anlzalion that forrnt·d Rhc·inhold Ni eb11h r pro udly declares , "The idea of progress is
the basi:; of the I radi tionnl comn11111nl s1nwture. C'h rlst1 ..u 1il y st 1t •s:;<'cl po · .~. 1IJ ll' 011 ly upon I h l' gro1111cl of a Christian culture. " 133 Niebuhr
lndlvld 11,,1 salv.111011 aJJcl l111 • ".htdt·o ( 'llristl,n1 nwlt•rlul n dt111c •," ,,.., 1td1•1Hls ltc•n • to po l11t t·c1 n "posi llve," and cul turally desirable,
Aw m11u11 pl11 ;1.,c·s 11, .11 1cl 11 d1 •1111111w1 •d .11: c·r 111111t11111l l111111 ·1 i1 1wl1 n~ 11tt 1lh11tf' .11f 111111 l dc · olo~!Y I It· I•; 11011pwst irn 1il1i.t the universa l valid-
188 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 189

ity of the concept. Niebuhr never really repudiates the idea in terms with nature, then, as Rosemary Ruether points out, the tendency in
of its ideological thrust; he merely nibbles a bit at the edges. Judeo-Christian thought to desacralize nature would go hand in hand
As noted in Chap. 1, Lynn White has pointed to specific periods with the need to devalue the feminine and, therefore, to masculinize
in European development, and has presented an impressive case for the conception of a god.136 Ruether points out that in Genesis I, God
the supportive relationship between European technology and commands Adam to "Fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion
European religion. "Modern science," which White identifies with over it." 137
European culture, is predicated on certain assumptions about the This masculinization in the Hebrew conception of "god" is linked
nature of the human and our relationship to the environment. to the need to believe that being can be mechanically, technically
Christian ideology supports these assumptions. In White's view, "Our "created." And while this early Hebrew society may be distant in time
[European] technological and our scientific movements got their from the technical colossus that we now experience, the view of real-
start, acquired their character, and achieved world dominance in the ity on which this colossus was constructed was being put in place in
Middle Ages." 13 4 The unique style in which these activities have been I he early Judaic statement. Two divergent world-views emerged: (1)
carried out in the West required particular ontological conceptions, the more ancient, in which nature was associated with meaningful
conceptions that, White says are "religious'' in origin. In his view, the e xperience; and (2) the Platonic, Judeo-Christian world-view, in which
ideas about nature, our relationship to it, and our destiny, which meaningful being was a human-controlled, "denatured" reality.
crystallized in Medieval Christian theology, were the dominant con- In his book The Sacred and the Profane, Mircea Eliade gives us a
tributor to the ideological ascendancy of science and technology in phenomenological view of the sacred and of the religious that directly
the West, an ascendency that accounts for the present Western c·outradicts this Judeo-Christian desacralization of nature. "For reli-
European "ecological crisis," since the technical order is essentially gious man, nature is never only "natural"; it is always fraught with a
exploitative of the natural order. 11 ·1igious value." The gods "manifest(ed) the different modalities of
But we can look to an even earlier period for the origins of the I lit' sacred in the very structure of the world and cosmic phenom-
development. Judea-Christian thought in the company of Platonic 1 ·1w." 138 He says that to the religious person, the universe presents

epistemology initiated the desacralization of nature that would allow ll }:l'lf as a divine creation, as cosmos . "The cosmic rhythms manifest
for a dehumanized techno-social order and the materialist, mecha- mdc r, harmony, permanence, fecundity." Nature always expresses
nized conception of the universe on which European scienc.e •.111t1c thing that transcends it. It is "supernature," not nature. 139 We
depends. This desacralized cosmos was an early conception withiu " I ><..•come aware of the sacred because it shows itself as something
the Hebrew tradition. Mircea Eliade says, w ltolly different from the profane . .. the manifestation of a reality that
d111•s not belong to our world." But this reality can be felt within
Cosmic religiousity continued the most elementary dialectic of the 111iJt'cts that are part of the profane world.140 Eliade then says some-
sacred, especially the belief that the divine is incarnated, or mani- t ltl11g very revealing about culture:
fests itself, in cosmic objects and rhythms. Such a belief was
denounced by the adherents of Yahweh as the worst possible idol- 'l'llc modern Occidental experiences a certain uneasiness before
atry, and this ever since the Israelites' entrance into Palestine .. .. 111a11y manifestations of the sacred. He finds it difficult to accept the
The prophets finally succeeded in emptying nature of any d ivine l.u·t that, for many human beings, the sacred can be manifested in
presence. 135 •.1 011c::; or trees, for example.1 40

This amounted to an attack on nature as an integral part of 0 11r Till' sacred African tree, the sacred ancestral sculpture-(what
human existence; an attitude that went hand in hand wllh Lhe He brl'W 11 w 1, C' llristlans, and Muslims call "idols") are not merely Kintu
submergence of the power of women. The Divine fom inln<' is 11ss1wl (11li lc•cl s), tl1ey ar "llierophanies." 14 1 Is the Christian cross an idol?
ated with the fecundity of the earth ancl the centralit y or tlw cyc-llrnl w,,, .lt•:rns a11 lclol? Pe rhaps lhc true idols are the dollar bills in Euro-
or<IL-r ancl I he workings of natlln' in mtr lfv(·s. Tt11 · f( •t11lnln1\ In ollic 1 \ 1111•Jlrn11 •;odC'ly -lltl•rnlly "nmc:rcli:wd '' 111 011c-humlrcd-stury build-
I1i1dll l11n:;, WCIS symholl( of tlw for1 •c• of 111111111•, w hlrh Is g 1•11Pr .it lw ul ,,r
'"H' 'l'lt1 •: Is !nil' lclol.1t1 y , Wlll 'lltlp lltl' nl>)l'<.:I.
11111111• ll tlw 1llvh11 • ('. ldl'11tl l1t•d wltl t tlt l' k1 ·1111dlty (II tlw E111 tl1 111ul 1-:11.1111· S1IVR, " till' w l1nll y tlt"1tH' l 1tll11•d l ' Wi ll lllS h II H ' (' l'll1 .dlscnv
190 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 191

ery in the history of the human spirit... desacralization pervades the I have said earlier that religion is the sacralization of ideology.
entire experience of the nonreligious man of modern societies and ... The technical order is the rationalization of nature. It was a process
in consequence, he finds it increasingly difficult to rediscover the exis- hinted at long ago in European commitment. This commitment
tential dimensions of religious man in archaic societies."142 If we sub- required moral sanction, and what was formally recognized as reli-
stitute "European" for "modern" and "non-European" for "archaic,'' we gion in the West, in turn, had to be compatible with this commitment,
have a formulation that leads towards a meaningful critique of or it would have taken another form. In other words, the religious for-
European culture. mulation cannot change without commitment changing, and vice-
Lynn White traces the development of the ontological concep- vcrsa. As White says, "the present increasing disruption of the global
tions inherent in European religion, on which depends the European •nvironment is the product of a dynamic technology and science ...
commitment to create an artificial, technically controlled environ- their growth cannot be understood historically apart from distinctive
ment. The Judea-Christian world-view introduced an all-powerful 111titudes toward nature which are deeply grounded in Christian
"God" who created "man;" but, says White, it is "man" who "named clo gma." 145 European science and technology are, then, ideologically
all the animals , thus establishing his dominance over them." t lt·pendent on this Christian arrogance toward nature.

God planned all of this explicitly for man's benefit and rule: no item Our daily habits of action are dominated by an implicit faith in per-
in the physical creation had any purpose save to serve man's pur- petual progress ... rooted in and indefensible apart from Judeo-
poses. And, although man's body is made of clay, he is not simply Christian teleology... .We can continue today to live, as we have
part of nature: he is made in God's image . . .. Christianity is the lived for about 1700 years, very largely in a context of Christian
most anthropomorphic religion the world has seen . . . . Man shares ttxioms. 146
in great measure, God's transcendence of nature. Christianity ... not
only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that Christian ideology has played a supportive cultural role in the
it is God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends . ... 1111Jqueness of Western European techno-social development at cer-
By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to lhh1 (ormulative periods in this cultural/historical process.
exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural
objects . . .. The spirits in natural objects, which formerly had pro- I he Record Versus the "Apology"
tected nature from man, evaporated. Man's effective monopoly on
spirit in this world was confirmed , and the old inhibitions to the The cultural/historical record of the European experience clar-
exploitation of nature crumbled. 143 lh•"; I he interdependent relationship between the institutionalization
•ii European Christianity and the European imperialistic endeavor, as
By the thirteenth century natural theology in the Latin West was W• II as the compatibility of Christian ideology with European cultural
"becoming the effort to understand God's mind by discovering how 11 tllonalis m.
his creation operates." 143 In this way, "modern Western science wti~ The efforts of Reinhold Niebuhr to salvage Christianity and
cast in the matrix of Christian theology. The dynamism of religious 1 I• 111sc it of this historical record are perhaps the most impressive

devotion, shaped by the Judea-Christian dogma of creation, gave II t•I 1111y Christian apologist, but in our view his failure is nonetheless
impetus."1 44 Because European ecological conceptions are impl icit 111 • \ ld1•11t. I !is discussion is helpful to us, as it is in his attempts to extri-
the development of the technical order, "Christian" attitudes can h• · • 111· 1I1t• essence of Christianity from the history and character of the
seen to have been its prerequisites. White says, I 111111wan imperial order that he touches on some of the most signif-
11 1111 1~s 11 cs raised in our d iscussion.
We are superior to nature, contemptuous of it, willing lo use it for < >1w of these issues is that of the so-called universality of the
our slightest whim ... . To a Christian a tree can be 110 more than n 1 !1111 dt. For Nlt·b11hr, the historical evils of the West issue from "col-
physical fact. The who le con<.;ept o f the Sac reel Grov t' is a lie n Io "'' tlv1• 1 •~ntl s 111, " "c1tlturnl p 11 rtir 11larlsm ," or "nati onalism"; while the
C'h risti anll y and to tl1 t• ethos of lhc West. For m·nrly two 111llh•11l a
"1111lv1•11.11lh 1t1" of 1111' (' l11nt'11 Is <I l!•11dt•11cy towur<l the good that can
<'l1 inisslrnvuks ll:iv1· lwt•u 1· l10pp l 11 ~ d11w11 Suert·cl g 10Vt".,
1v1 11•1 lw111 ll 11·:w "c·vll:-; " l l1 1wt·VPI', lw Ii. Int< I'<! lo ndmll that "th<'
wl1 kll 11n· ld t1!.d11111t. l ll't'illl"t' ll ll'Y llSSl lllll' 'iplllt 11111. il l lll'. 11 1
1l1111<'h,1\', W• 11 ti'• t\H • .!.1I P, 11111l11 w111111 • ll w v1·1ik lc• of t·11l11•1;tl vt· 1•v,<1
192 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 193

tism." 147 Imperialists and slavers that they were, Popes Paul III, Paul point. Second, even if the ability to identify with o thers is accepted
IV, Pius V, Gregory, et al., in Niebuhr's view, were only embarrassing as a normative goal, it is neither Christian thought nor European ide-
exceptions to the pattern. Certainly from an African-centered per- ology that makes such identification possible. The European concept
spective, we cannot view them as such, for, as Cohen and others have of self is an isolating one, and the Christian concept of spiritual
pointed out, there were far too many of them, and if the "real" enlightenment is individualistic, as opposed to being group or com-
Christians had no part in the creation of the European empire and are munity oriented. Christianity is a European "nationalist ic" (i.e., cul-
not responsible for the inequities perpetuated by it, then one is forced tural imperialistic) statement in opposition to the "non-European"
to ask, where are they, and where have they been? If in fact they exist nationalists it wishes to conquer.
at all, surely they have not been part of the European "experience." In other words, from the African-centered perspective, it is not
And if the only "real" Christians are outside of Europe, then are they nationalism (cultural particularism) that is negative , but the content
Christians? In other words, the question is raised as to whether the that a particular nationalist ideology is given that makes it a threat
non-European values and ideas claimed by Christians like Niebuhr, to the survival of others. In this regard, it is clearly European nation-
who would exonerate Christianity from its militaristic and culturally alism, of which Christianity is an example, that has been most
aggressive aspects, can be identified with the European tradition at destructive of the peaceful coexistence of divergent cultural group-
all! ings. The projection of so-called "universalism" as an ass umed goal
"Christianity" is a configuration of values, attitudes and behav- of human behavior is not desirable or culturally meaningful, but it
iors that are inseparable from the history of Europe. 148 Unhappily for nllows Europeans to thereby project European particularism as some-
non-European people, "real" European Christians do exist and have l11ing other than it is . The claim to "universality," whether made by a
existed in large enough numbers to have successfully imposed their Christian apologist, a social theorist, or a military leader, is merely a
own brand of European cultural nationalism wherever they have ven- 11a.ckaging device. The "struggle of the Christian religion against the
tured, inevitably backed with the armed might of the West. pride and self-will of nations" 147 that Niebuhr wants to see does not
Niebuhr employs what is perhaps the most ideologically affec- c•xlst, but by giving voice to this supposed "struggle" the impression
tive tool and manifestation of European cultural imperialism in his use 111 conveyed of the moral s uperiority of Christianity based on the
of the concept of "universalism." The subtle, but critical, issue raised llnplied invidious comparison between a nonexistent, abstract "uni-
by his claims is a philosophical-ideological one. It lies partially in the wr sa.lism," "the embodiment of the good," and cultural nationalism,
implicit value dichotomy he makes between nationalism and univer- "th(• expression of evil." The real questio n becomes, Why has the
salism. Nationalism in his view is "bad" and represents negative par- l'.11ropean made so much of this claim of universalism? (See Chap. 10
ticularism in which the self (ego) is the source of motiva~ion , c1f l lliS work.)
sentiment, and behavior; while universalism is its positive opposite Niebuhr criticizes the universalism of the "classical" philoso-
and represents the ability to identify with the universal good of all pl 1t•rs of ancient Greece as being merely "the extension of their par-
people, i.e., takes an abstraction called "humanity" as its ins pirationa l t le 11lar viewpoint ," like that of "a modern communist" who "is a
source. 1111lwrsalist in his hope that communism may become the basis of a
First, I challenge this formulation on the grounds that it, itself, \\1 11 lcl dvilization." 149 But Christian "universalism" has precisely the
is not a "universal" statement, though its value for the European !it's 11 11111• t·oncrcte implications in its existential acting out, and is of the
in the fact it has all the earmarks of such . It is a moot q uestion as to 1111t· vintage. The difference that is so important to Niebuhr is only
whether any such "universalism" is desirable even if it were possibl1·. 111 JI '· ro;(•manlical/philosophical expression, and merely facilitates the
Nationalistic, i.e., (self) group identification, is positive because' ii Is •• 11 •11 ,ton of a parl'icular viewpoint-namely, that of Christianity.
humanly feasible and originates in the concrete circumstance of nil It Is filcllitate<l in that it can more thoroughly extend itself over
turnl definition . Hope for humankind lies 111 tltc posslbilitic•s for f:1sl1 1 wltl1 •1 and more dlvcrs1"' arena of cultures. Europeans simply dis-
lonlng natlonnlistic idPolnglc•s Ll111t nrc- not dcfinltiunally pn•dlc.1ll•d ' 11v t'l 11 d l ltt• pol It ical vnlue or not verbally identifying "god and
till l ilt' <11 ..,111wttoll of n tlwr tu lt11 ra l gio11 p:. E111npt•.111 11.111011 , \ll •~ tJJ 11 1111111 " : I I 111t Is 11 01 I 11s.1y111.11 I his lde11l lfknl Ion ce<1:wd lo exist. Most
.uu l .il111v1 • .tll il 'i ( 'hrh1l.111l!llll 1111· llll'11•l1111• ''1 11•w1tl v1•" f11111 1tl1h vlc•w 11th• 1 1• ull111t·~ l111Vt' 11.1d 110 polltkill ;1111liltlo11s tlHll r(•qultt>d s uch
194 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 195

rhetoric, and when they have, they were certainly not as successful one's view point, symbolic of the illusion of "progress," a constant
or as "well-equipped" to carry them out. They therefore speak of "a striving for that which cannot be achieved. Perhaps this image of a
god" in necessary relationship to "their nation" or culture. Niebuhr resurrected savior, born in African metaphor, but intensified and rei-
makes much of this terminological difference in Chap. 8, Vol. I, of The fied in European mythology, unconsciously represents, as well, the
Nature and Destiny of Man. But to delete the article "a" from its usual "humanity" that was indeed sacrificed for European success.
position before "god" and to write it always with a capital "G" merely But no other civilization has been as successfully imperialistic.
gives a quasireligious statement, like that of European Christianism, No other has used its institutionalized religion as pragmatically in the
greater imperialistic potential. In one case a religious statement is <;u pport of its imperialistic objectives. The spiritual deficit does not
openly identified with the cultural entity that is its source, and in the appear to count for much, if one is impressed by world dominance.
other, it is formulated to be put at the service of a cultural entity in The asili demands power and is itself powerful. The modality and
its world imperialistic pursuits. dogma of European religion have been mandated by the asili, which
Niebuhr cannot avoid the imperialistic uses of Christianity, but I hey, in turn, reinforce.
his perspective obliges him to explain European imperialism as ulti- In African religion and in many other primary religious formu-
mately inconsistent with Christian teachings: "prophetic religion," he 1.ttions, it is the spiritual-emotional needs of the people within the cul-
says, "had its very inception in a conflict with national self-deifica- l ure that are served. At the same time the values of the culture are
tion. " 150 However, it appears that the European Christian definition ·.. rnctioned, and the mechanisms for its continuance are sacralized.
("universalistic," absolutist, and monistic) is reinforced by the inter- ~piritual/philosophical conceptions such as ancestor communion,
national ambitions of the European nation, the cultural supremism of which help to explain the universe as a spiritual whole in which all
the European ideology, and the expansionism of the European uta- lift> and being are periodically regenerated, give the African an emo-
maroho. Far from "struggling" against "collective pride," I have argued ll1111al security and confidence that the European lacks. But such con-
that Christianity was ideally fashioned to express European "collec- ' 1•pt ions did not prepare the African, nor her Native American or
tive pride" (nationalism). This explanation, among other ethnologi- t le <><rnic counterparts to deal politically with the aggression of the
cally satisfying characteristics, has the advantage of being consistent I .llropean. These conceptions have not been used successfully in the
with the history of the Christian Church, while Niebuhr and other ddc>nse of culture. Non-European religions were not fashioned for
Christian apologists are hopelessly involved in the impossible task of w11rluwide acceptance nor for international propaganda. There is no
explaining away millions of "unreal" Christians and centuries of char- .1 q wrficia l, merely rhetorical, component of these religions.
acteristically "un-Chrisitianlike" behavior of the Christian world. I.I I 111ologically, both European and "non-European" religions serve
I 111 tclC'ological needs of the cultures in question as defined by their
Conclusion: Religion and Power 1111•111bcrs. The radical difference between them issues from the dif-
The strength of institutionalized religion in the European expe 1· 1 t'll ('CS in these two sets of ideology: One is based on the pursuit of
w111 Id dominance; the others seek to use the forces of the universe
rience is also its weakness. Morality in a secular society proports to
It• 1•11s ure a harmonious existence. The two types of ideology involve
be intellectual. In European culture its models are rational. It is despir·
itualized. Early in the developing European tradition, the advantagt· two dlffereut conceptions of power. Europeans are culturally nur-
of a religious statement that rhetorically sanctioned its political objcc 11111•11 with a keen political sense that is simultaneously defensive and
1~~111·ssivc. The utamaroho comes with an awareness of "others." It
tives was discovered. But the result, as well as the cause, was a spil
t ti 11 ·1·efore intensely political.
itual deficit in the culture. The Christian emphasis on a heavenly
afterlife does not alleviate European anxiety concerning death, µrl Wlt.\l begins to emerge in these first two chapters is a pattern
marily because it is a remote abstraction rnther than a lived belief <111d 111 wlt h' h, nt rrlllcal points in the development of European culture,
docs not address itself to the spiritual lsolat ion of ln<livlduals- wltld 1 wl11•11 lls 11sre11Clancy app,•ars to have been threatened because of
Is tliC' rea l h;1sis of tltl'ir a11xil:'ty. This :u1xldy Is the prlc ' l"'lcl for th1 111 il1l v. ill' t1C'l', t'<111h1slun 1 t>r a n1nlfunctioning of the ''machine," mas-
r11g111ttv1• sl 1urt1111• ol l·'. 11ropc>H11 l' ttllur1• (tl11· t1lt111111111<1 n). 1111d th •• lf1t lltl 1clJw1l 11 11•11 l:. l1t1cl lw1•1t 111,t<ll• llwl hrnul-{lil 1ww clarity of pur-
1111He, u ·11 •1111hollll. 1t l111 1 1111•1w1!{ll's, 11'l1l1•vl111-! fo1·11s sn lltii t tilt•
C'ltrl·,t l1111llJ.I' ht lltls 1 t> lllt'Xl I•; lll• 'tl'ly 111 t1 ll1111pl1.1111ly, d1 •pc •11clh1H 1111
196 YURUGU Religion and Ideology 197

machine would once again be efficient. These adjustments were taking a back seatto Science: the new religion.
sometimes in the form of what I have called "modal changes ," some- We have seen that religion, as associated with European cul-
times creations of political genius, fanatically devoted to the objec- ture, is shaped by utamawazo and asili, which shape the culture itself.
tive of total control. That, of course, is what we would expect. The concept of asili tells us
We have, to some degree, traced the intimate relationship that it is possible to identify the seed/germ of the culture, which is at
between religion and utamaroho in European development from its once its explanatory and generating principle. Once we understand
Inda-European pagan origins, through its initial nationalistic state- that germinating core, all aspects of the culture fall into place.
ment in Judaism, its Roman cooptation by Constantine, and the bat- Institutionalized religion in the European experience poses con-
tle against the apolitical interpretations of the Gnostics, the Donatists, rrontational dichotomies for the purposes of proselytization and dom-
and others. At another critical point Augustine sells the idea of the in ance. It is absolutist, offering an abstraction as the proper object of
merger of Church and State, and Europe is well on its way to the cre- religious devotion. It struggles to present a rationalistic proof of the
ation of a national consciousness with a religious statement sup- existence of its deity. The literal mode becomes religiously authori-
portive of its imperialistic ambitions. At each juncture a monolithic tative. Lineal conception, which valorizes secular, historical time,
doctrine was required, and it was created. The threat of dissension becomes a validating mechanism for religious superiority. In the
and disunity were dealt with. Threats would continue, but the mech- process of the unfolding of this religious tradition it desacralizes
anisms were in place with which to destroy them or keep them in nature, denies the vision of a cosmos to its adherents, thereby alien-
check: The three "great" inquisitions (initiated by Pope Gregory IX, .1ti ng nature and paving the way for the technical order.
1231; Pope Sixtus IV, 1478; Pope Paul III, 1542) merely represented The focus in this chapter has been on the institution of religion
some of the more infamous and blatantly sadistic methods of such .1s it related to early European cultural and political imperialism. The
control. 11ormative intracultural ethic is not to be found in this earlier
The objective of this study is to identify and understand the asili ! 'hristian statement. It is not until its reformulation in Protestantism
of European development. A history of Europe would disclose other li1 .11 European institutionalized religion becomes to some extent a
junctures, set backs, and personalities who were instrumental in the Vl'l'bal reflection of the European way of life. In Protestantism it
creation of the empire. The fall of Rome is a setback because the 1ll'comes a functioning directive of internal behavior; that is, within
focus is deflected as the "Europeans" become disunified, perceiving ll w culture. This issue will surface in Chap. 7.
themselves as Germanic and Asian "tribes." Clovis the Frank (481) In the chapters that follow we turn our attention to the mecha-
becomes a Christian and unifies the Franks. Charles Martel reunites 11ls111s of value-definition and look at the images provided by the cul-
the Merovingian Kingdom, establishing the Carolingian line. In the 11 11 .tl mythoform that act to support the pattern of behavior towards
600s, Charlemagne increases the size of the Frankish Kingdom, again 111111 -European peoples. I attempt to paint the portrait of an utamaroho
spreads Christianity, and together with the Pope in the year 800 111.11 has already begun to emerge from the previous discussion of reli-
declares himself the Emperor of the New Holy Roman Empire. i<lo11 and ideology in early European development and from the
The process continued through the Norman Conquest (1066) 1lwnws o f the European utamawazo.
and beyond. During this early period, throughout the Middle Ages,
Christianity was used to forge and solidify a European conscious-
ness. Later, in the Renaissance and into the modern period, both the
physical and social sciences would be used in the s ame way, th·
Church no longer occupying a central position in this process. Tl w
establishment of a scientific id eology ancl the various disciplin<'s of
the F.uropcan Academy I hrough which t o promo I <· it, I akc.js ovt.>1
ll1 nP . l11slit11lio nnlized rPll!o(ion , so l'S:Wlllilll l o tilt· co11 t- ll'l1< 11011of1111•
i11 11 w1 l.1l n rd1•r 1111d llH.' n c•nttn11 of ,, E11111p1 •; 11 1 1· 1111 "!'111 11 ~ 111 •ss In tit<'
P;11I v 11 1.u.:c-i. 111 F.11111p1't111 dc ·vd11p1111•1 11, w1ll lw11111w , 1h11o~ l 11l mol1 ·t1·,
... That our left eye should be set to see against its
twin, not with it-surely that is part of the white
destroyers' two thousand seasons of triumph
against us? That the sight of the eye should be
unconnected, cut off from the mind's embracing
consciousness; that the ear's hearing should be
blocked off from the larger knowledge of the mind,
that the nose's smelling and the tongue's tasting
should be pushed apart from the mind's whole con-
sciousness-what is that but death's whiteness in
delirious triumph?. .. the walls of whiteness built to
separate sense from sense. ..
- Ayi Kwei Armah

Chapter 3

The Power of Symbols
I he Meaning of "Aesthetic"
There are two uses of the term "aesthetic" that will have rele-
v. 111<'<.' In this discussion corresponding to its usages in European cul-
l 1111•. 1:irst, we want to identify the European conception of beauty, in
I It<• SL'nse of the forms, images, and experiences that evoke positive
1 111ol lc)11al responses from those who have been enculturated in the
11 .11II 1!011. T his sense of the European aesthetic is closely related to
voh11·; I h<H is, its themes are "expressions" of European value. This is
1lw ;1t•sthetk that reaches to every layer of the culture. The values
11111111 1,11.(<'S i11volvcd nrc 110t limited to the ordinary person, although
1l11·y 111 <' 111orP co11sdo11sly t'Xprrssecl in the media that addr esses
II 1•11 lo lh<' "1101!111h•lft'<'ltml" <111d to tlw popular art forn is. J1ut this
l1111dd 1101 ('(l11h1sc· t l w 1%111', IH·1·,111sc· (p1•rllnps 1111c·on:H'lously or nt
11 1,I 110t1v1•1l11tlly) 11th .w~ ll ll'lll 11fi1•c' l 'l l l w "l 11lc'itl·ct11nl" .is wt•ll
200 YURUGU Aesthetic: The Power of Symbols 201

Because of the peculiar nature of European culture, we have to "conscious," in a technical sense, even the emotional aspect of the
include another meaning of the term "aesthetic." In characteristic perception, apprehension-the experience of "beauty."
European fashion there is not only the experience of the beautiful, but Again, as with the attempt to merge rationalism and religion,
there is the "objectification" of that experience as well. In keeping the results are very strange. One consequence has been "aesthetics"
with the asili of the culture, it follows that there must be a "science" ur the "science" of the aesthetically valid: a rationalistic discussion
based on this objectification. So that our discussion must touch on of the rules by which the experience of the beautiful takes place, of
aesthetics or Western European philosophical thought about the what properly constitutes "beauty" in a "logical" sense. Of course, this
nature of the beautiful and its apprehension, insofar as it is relevant discussion purports to have universal significance. European philoso-
to our overall objective. phers never claim to describe their own aesthetic experiences (and
These two senses of "the European aesthetic" interest us at var- In truth one doubts that they could possibly be) , but they do claim
ious points. Consistent with the dynamics of European culture, this to prescribe the proper rules for determining "the beautiful" and to
"scientific" or "philosophical" aesthetic seeks to influence and con- describe the nature of "true" aesthetic experience. They are setting
trol the emotional experience of what Europeans consider beautiful; I he "standards" for judgement and criticism. But none of these dis-
while, on the other hand, the philosophic aesthetics takes its s hape, n1ssions is satisfying to anyone other than European philosophers.
its form, and its style from those habits of mental organization that One questions their motives and the reason the subject occupies the
are "emotionally" appealing to the European mind: the utamawazo. i.11 t rntion and energy that it does. The answer is that this specula-
The mode of "rationalism" itself forms an important part of the t Ive/philosophic activity functions in its own way to reinforce and val-
European aesthetic. It is not possible to understand this utamawazo, ltlnlc the cultural asili and to strengthen the national consciousness;
nor the construct of the culture, unless it is realized that its stan- I he• collective self-image as s uperior to others, a universal standard
dards of thought, behavior, and social institutions are all touched by fur humanity.
this predilection for rationalistic forms . Max Weber discusses "ratio- A reading of Kant's "analytic of the beautiful," in the Critique of
nality" in Western art forms: l11rlgement, gives one the impression that the things he is trying so des-
111 ·rately to define, to verbalize, to "enclose within the word," as Steiner
The rational use of the Gothic vault as a means of distributing pres- 1,1ys (cited in Chap. 1), do not lend themselves to the forms of thought
sure and of roofing spaces of all forms, and above all as the con- Ii• • c-111ploys, and moreover, that aesthetic experience itself is in no way
structive principle of great monumental buildings and the • 11111wcted to this discussion and certainly not aided by it.
foundation of a style extending to sculpture and painting, such as
that created by our Middle Ages, does not occur elsewhere. The l'lw beautiful is that which pleases universally without (requiring)
technical basis of our architecture came from the Orient. But the .1 n111cept. If we wish to explain what a purpose is according to its
Orient lacked that solution of the problem of the dome and that I 1,111sccndental determinations ... [We say that] the purpose is the
type of classic rationalization of all art-in painting by the rational '1l 1Jcct of a concept, in so far as the concept is regarded as the cause
utilization of lines and spatial p'e rspective-which the Renaissance 111 1I1<• object (the real ground of its possibility); and the causality
created for us." 1 •If 11 concept in respect of its object is its purposiveness (form
ll1111lls) • .. the tone of mind which is self-maintaining and of specu-
A discussion of the experience of the beautiful in the context of 1,11 Iv<· 11niversal validity is subordinated to the way of thinking
European culture illuminates this point well. On a conscious lcv ·I whl1'1 1<·;111 be maintained only by painful resolve, but is of objective
the attempt is made to separate this experience and raise it "abov<'" 1111lv1·1 s<ll validity. 2
its effectively emotional aspect. That presents special problems as
even the European philosopher is forced to recognize that the pcrso11 I ht.·s<' arc' only a few statements from a lengthy and incredibly
must react initially to what she cons iders to be beautiful with llL•t 111 I 111·.1· t rt·allsc,but tlwy art· cxemµl ary of the work. One wonders
s<·nsc's <ll lci with l1L'r fl'vllngs; i.e. , t·hnt Prw nppn·lwnd s b<•i111l y 111! II 11 i. w11t k 11 •;rll Is 11t·1·P~s11 1 y f01 K;111\ Io eonw to conclusions that
tlally .u• St'J1t;atlo11 'l'l1t• rt•fnr·t• phllrnmpl11•rn l11 llll l\111opt•1111 t1 11tllll1l11
11t111 •t_11 l11t 1111lvl'IV11livlo11s
111111111tlll'lll '•l'lVt"•1 11 tl1t• 1111•.ltllll l nf ll1t1•ll1 •t' lll1dl 1IJ11l , t ll.11 b, 111.lld11H
YURUGU Aesthetic: The Power of Symbols 203

There can be no objective rule of taste which shall determine, by not the intellectually mediated that gives pleasure, that evokes emo-
means of concepts, what is beautiful. For every judgement from tional response. The intensification of t his tendency leads to the
this source is aesthetical; i.e. the feeling of the subject, and not a actual replacement of the authentic emotional sensitivity with an arti-
concept of the object, is its determining ground. To seek for a prin- ficial intellectual aesthetic; and people lose the ability to respond
ciple of taste which shall furnish , by means of definite concepts, a emotionally and to create that to which others can, indeed, respond.
universal criterion of the beautiful, is fruitless trouble, because This is a consequence of the cultural value and utamawazo that splits
what is sought is impossible and self-contradictory. 3 human faculties into the "rational" and "emotional," and then dic-
tates that the emotional be controlled, "weeded" out, ignored if pos-
The n why th is effort? Why does what Europe considers to be s ible-its existence being recognized only because the European
one of its greatest minds concern himself with an "analytic of the begrudgingly acknowledges that the "human" is afterall part "ani-
beautiful?" There appears to be no ultimate purpose other than that mal."
this exercise itself gives to a segment of society a strange kind of But very different philosophical premises inform the art forms
pleasure. The analytical and the "rational" are so valued that they of o ther cultures and the ideas about the aesthetics they generate.
become a part of the emotional experience of pleasure among a select The awakening of the human spirit in emotional communion with t he
group of people. There is no doubt that the undergraduate who is sacred, however that may be defined, is its primary goal. There are
required to read the Critique of Judgement gets no pleasure from the sc>veral authors worth mentioning whose comparisons help to eluci-
experience and in fact may regard it as punishment; but the power of 1 late some of the characteristic features of the European aesthetic
the sanctions in the culture should not be underestimated, for if the t•x perience.
student pursues philosophy until the end of her college career and Willie Abraham says of the Akan art form:
into graduate school, she will no doubt begin to consider the Critique
a "work of art" and be convinced therefore of the pleasure it should . .. they expressed their philosophico-religious ideas through art,
convey, at least to "understand" it (if not to read it) . through the timeless, immemorial, silent, and elemental power so
r llaracteristic of African traditional art. Indeed this is the main rea-
The Tyranny of Rational ism $On why it was not lifelike in a representational sense. Forms had
to be distorted. In art there was a moral-philosophical preoccupa-
This attempt on the part of Europeans to reflect on the nature 1io n which led it to portray forces of the world, and to portray a
of beauty spills over into their experienced culture, and a further force> it was essential that it should not be treated like something
consequence is the intellectualization of the artistic experience. In ;issimilated, and consequently like something overcome, as the ren-
European culture "art" becomes the domain of the intellectual elite, d<.' ring of it in life-like figures would have been.4
because it is they (in the tradition of Plato's Symposium a nd
Aristotle's Poetics) who determine the criteria of its perfection; it is In the African view of the human, the emotional-spiritual and
they who say what its attributes should and should not be. The ordi- 11w r .J tional-material are inextricably bound together, and if anything,
nary participant in the culture does not have access to, nor is he con- ti t•i ,, human being's spirituality that defines her as human, provid-
sidered capable of enjoying, "true" art. What he does enjoy is not 111u tlw c.:ontext within which she is able to create art as well as tech-
considered to be "art" ; nor is it "beautiful." Again we return to 1111l11HY· Suc h a view leads to a very different emphasis in artistic
Platonic definitions and find the precedent for a rationalis tic aes- pt t'Ssio n. The emotional identification with, and participation in,
thetic. For "beauty," as well as the "good," is identified with the "true." t 111 .u 1 form by the person and the community are primary values that
All are apprehended by the same method. The position relegated lo li··lp to dt>l c t mine its shape. In this way the form itself becomes less
the emotional experience is a low one. It is "reason" that triumphs. 111 .111 "obj c•ct." In Europea11 culture the tendency and emphasis are
As the result Europeans arc taught to a pproach the aes tll C'llr 1111 1111 t lr l' nppnslt e. Wltll t• artist s may still attempt' to evoke certain
cx 1wri<•nn' th rough analysis . Thl'y ohjtcl Hy t lw t•xp1 ·rk11<'<.•: ll 1cy I1•a r t n l.11 1·d 1'111 1p::i pornws from 1lwl r auctlr nccs, these r esponses
It iip.11t ; liil'Y w 1ba llzt• It , lnccssn11tlv, 1111(1 t.-.11.·li .111d 1111 • t.111 111 11 tb.11 l) 11•1111•tl1 ally t1i1vt• v 1;1 y lllll!• ''c11lt11111 l" 01 "mora l" s i ~nlfkanc e, and
111 llil ~ w. 1y tl11 •y1·01111• l111111d1 •1s l. 1111l llll' t 'l< J1l ' th•111 · 1· 111011 · tu IH'll\'1 1111 1 11111• • 1 'l p 1•1l1 •111 1· lrc11111 11«' 111"11 111111 111tl w11/Jw r 1/'rur to It s p n ..
•l.Jll'll' ' l.111 11 Yet 1111 11111 '1 1 p1•11p!t· It I:. tlu •11 •11 •,1111 1l y 11111111dl.11t•111 1d
Aesthetic: The Power of Symbols 205

sentation is much more "individualized." The artist creates out of his ascendence of science over its spiritual grounding did not have the
own particular response to his environment, and his work is appre- cultural backing to resist the ideological momentum of the European
ciated by separate and distinct "individuals," who reach into their dis- asili.) European art, already heavily rationalistic, was to become sec-
tinct experiences for whatever identification they can find. ular, individualized, and elitist.
As Abraham says, this is the mark of a "secular art." What the The more intellectual, individualized, and individual art became
culture as a whole does for the individuals involved is to suggest that in the West, the more technical it became. The artist regarded his
they "objectify" their experience, isolate the "object," and approach work as an object to be made technically perfect. That is, his ideas of
it analytically. That is really the only preparation they are given by perfection were much more influenced by the concept of technical
their cultural experience. And so the circle of people who participate and mechanical perfection than in other cultures, and this is primar-
in this exchange for pleasure (who derive pleasure from it) is very ily the way in which the European artist is presently shaped by his
small. The aesthetic sense of the rest is aroused by that which is not culture; these are the models with which he is presented and he per-
"art," and they have no "taste," or so their culture says. Abraham's ceives them "rationalistically."
distinction between "secular" and sacred or "moral art" is very sig- Sorokin says that as European art searches for diversity and
nificant, and the European has always approached the art of other cul- ever-increasing variety, it loses "all harmony, unity and balance,"
tures as though it were meant to be as "amoral" as his own. Abraham which become "submerged in an ocean of incoherency and chaos."
says, These trends, he continues, lead to an emphasis on the technical
means of production rather than the art itself. These tools become
When critics like Gombrich say that the African artists were inca- increasingly complicated ends in themselves. 7
pable of realistic presentation, they quite miss the point of African In his view, European art becomes increasingly "a commodity
art. If they seek life-like representation, they should turn to secular manufactured for the market" tending t oward the vulgar. We should
art, the art which was produced for decorative purposes or the point out that the interesting contradiction in European culture is
purposes of records, rather than moral art, the art whose inspira- that its art may be commercially inspired ("the artist must live, after
tion is the intuition of a world force. 4 all"), geared to consumption, inspired by the desire for recognition,
and at the same time remain an elitist form; that is, essentially sepa-
Awoonor says that African art expresses the relationship rated from the people, because the art, like the culture, creates (con-
between humans and the Creator. It expresses o ur will and wishes to trols) the people, rather than the reverse. According to Sorokin, in the
the Creat0r; is "an assertation of (our) own temporality as a living artist's tendency to disregard religious and moral values, the art itself
being, and more importantly, an articulate statement of that spiritu-
ality through a cyclic order within (our) cosmos." 5 Art (carvings) at comes to be more and more divorced from truly cultural values
shrines are instruments that affirm the divine link between us and o ur and turns into an empty art known euphemistically as "art for art's
Creator. 6 sake," at once amoral, nonreligious, and nonsocial, and often anti-
In earlier European development artistic expression is also inti- moral, antireligious, and antisocial. 8
mately bound to religious understanding. This interrelations hip
reaches its height in the medieval period, though theorists debate as This "amorality" is directly connected to the "nonsocial" char-
to the degree of secular humanism and religiousity in Renaissance art. acter of European art. It is symptomatic of the character of the cul-
In earlier periods there is even a strong communal aspect to musical t 11re and can be traced from Platonic misconception, as evidenced in
creations. But with the advent of scientism, that is, the triumph of sci J lavelock's work in praise of Platonic epistemology. In Havelock's
e ntific-rationalism, initiated by Bacon and others, the assault on t li l• view it was a "discovery" and an "advance" when the Greeks were
remaining vestiges of the sacred and lhe C'c>rn11111nnl hegins. Whal Is "nblc" lo conceive of the l11divid ual psyche as the seat of rationally
t'mphaslzt•d In this discussion an· 11 w tl'n<lt •11r les 111 t lw l\11 rn1w.111 tll'lt'rmlncd mural jucll:(l'trH>n1 s. But there can be no such thing as a
;IC''>l lwlk PX pt>rli •111·t· th.ii bc~1111 to t'llll'lgt• wlllt Alwliud 1111d 11111rnllty lod~ccl prhnarlly hv 1111111\l<t locl In the "individual." "Reason,"

1·~pu 11d1 ·d llt111ll~l11111t lhP llt •11.1I~: .11 tt'f', 11 ndtl111{ do11il11.1111•1• li y 1111' 11 ll' l!i to hi' dl ~ tlt1 !-(t1\'il11 •d 11111111, 11111111111 and f1•t•llng, is sorely insuffi-
l~11ll11l1t1 •111111 •11I (IJ,1Vh11I'.1111 1Hl vl11~·· .111111 11 tlt1 · •11·p111 1tlun ll11111.111d 111 11 1111 dh·t.11.- "l111111i11 1" 111111 .il l>1•l11vl111 '1'111• 'i1lltr<'t• 11f l111n1t1n mornl-
206 YURUGU Aesthetic: The Power of Symbols 207

ity must necessarily be in the interaction of human beings. It must be pond (or the water or the frog) itself is reality....
communal, which, more than "social," implies a joining of persons.
This basic fact of human existence is of primary importance in other Buddhist symbolism would . . .declare that everything is symbolic,
cultures and informs their modes of organization. The lack of authen- it carries meaning with it, it has values of its own, it exists by its own
tic community, i.e., the substitution of the social for the communal, right pointing to no reality other than itself. 10
accounts for much of the atrophied development of the West. Art
that is noncommunal cannot be moral, and a rationally, individually But lineal, causal, purposive thought presupposes a relation
conceived "ethic" is humanly, even personally, inadequate. between "objects," and a reality that is "other than" and "outside of,"
Daiseti Suzuki makes some observations on the comparison of them. Since this is characteristic of European ontology, it effects
European and Buddhist symbolism that help to further delineate the European art. Wade Nobles characterizes the African "symbolic
nature of the European aesthetic. He presents a haiku by an e igh- method" as involving a "transformation-synchronistic-analogic
teenth century Japanese poet, Basho, and discusses its poetic and modality," while the contemporary European cultural understanding
philosophical significance. The haiku form contrasts dramatically of "symbol" is as a "representational-sequential-analytical" mode. 11
with European verbal art forms, because of its extreme simplicity Suzuki describes the feeling of exaltation that comes from iden-
and directness of intent. tification with the pond and simultaneously with the universe itself.
But in the European experience, exaltation is achieved from feelings
Oh! Old Pond! of "control over" a passive object-and separation from it. For this rea-
A frog leaps in, son, there is no precedent in the European tradition for identification
The water's sound! with other people; that is, the culture does not support such identi-
£1<.:ation. Suzuki points out that like haiku, which fixes on the imme-
Of this haiku Suzuki says the following, diate rather than the mediated experience,

Basho was no other than the frog when he heard the sound of the Zen Buddhism avoids generalization and abstraction . ... To
water caused by its leaping. The leaping, the sound, the frog, and Buddhists, being is meaning. Being and meaning are one and not
the pond and Basho were all in one and one in all. There was an separate; the separation or bifurcation comes from intellection,
absolute totality; that is, an absolute identity, or to use Buddhist ter- and intellection distorts the suchness of things.12
minology a perfect state of emptiness (i.e. Sunyata) or suchness
(i.e. Tathata). 9 The habit of analysis does not make room for this kind of appre-
li<'ttsion, and the predominance of the analytic mode in the European
This sense of identity is most difficult for those nurtured in 1·x.pc rience has all but eliminated the sensitivity to immediately per-
European culture to comprehend, because the culture dictates the • t•lvable beauty and its definition. It is the European conviction that
necessity for experience to be continually mediated through con- .111 experie nce of art must be difficult; that profundity is only com-
cepts, through "the word," and it must be analytically absorbed. And p1 cl1c n<led through intellectual struggle.
so, it is difficult to imagine how Kant's "Analytic" or Aristotle's Poetics Willie Abraham says,
could relate to the haiku, for just as the mode of haiku reflects the
principles of Buddhist philosophy, the understanding and approac h ll1P arnount of get up, preparation and education which the mod-
of these philosophers reflects the nature of the European utamaivazo • 111 European mind requires to resuscitate its sense of rapporlwith
lt follows, then, that the European idea of "symbol" is not ad equalt: 1111 lwautiful aud the sublime, the arid technicalities of his sophis-
to explain Buddh i ;t symbolism. Suzuki continues, 111·,11 Jpn is artifi<.:ial se11sitivily. It is only when sensitivity is natural
I h.11 It Is lm111C·dialt'. ('f(o r t less , picturesque, non-nostalgic, and intu-
. . cln w<• C"all "t lu• old pond" 01 tltc• wat ('r's sound or I lit· lt•npl11g froi.~ it I Vt'. Tlw sopllislk<llPcl !H'llsilivity must tear apart what it co11-
:1 w n1hol Im 11ltf111;1t1• 11 •11111y'1 h1 H1uldliiHt plillw11>pl1y 1111·11• H 1wll1 t1•111pl.1 t1•s II I" IHl.tlylk l11q11is iliv(J, 1·nrvi111{-k11ifr scn:;ilivity. 1:1
l11 1-( l11 •llli11I tlu• olcl p1111d , lw1 .111sc• It I•; 1u111pll'IC'111 11'wlt rn1d dtH"l
11111 p11h1I In .111vllll11H llC'ilt11d 01 lll'yo11d 111 1111hld1• ltwll 1111' 11111
208 YURUGU Aesthetic: The Power of Symbols 209

This analytical mental habit results in a culturally problematical affect the vast majority of Europeans. It does however: Subliminally,
aesthetic. The creation of a reflective, scientific aesthetic-superficial it effects the European national consciousness . There is a sense in
and nonauthentic from the point of view of the human/emotional- which "art" could cease to exist, and the average European would
establishes a quasiseparation between an elitist art form and a "pop- only become aware of its demise if it were chronicled in the newspa-
ular" one . But also a division is made-of which the members of the pers. There is another sense in which European art serves as the
culture themselves are not aware-between a consciously imitated scaffolding of the nationalistic psyche. Aziza Gibson Hunter calls it
or normative aesthetic, o perating most successfully among the intel- "the invisible clothing of the West." 15 This e lite art and popular art
lectualist minority, and a most often unconscious aesthetic common h ave different, but related, purposes.
to Europeans in general. The latter is , in my view, the more properly But art has a radically different significance in non-European
speaking "European aesth e tic" in the sense that it embodies the cultures , where it is most often intimately bound with the sacralized
European standards o f beauty and the feelings, styles, modes in pattern and existence of the total lifeways of the group. Because of
which the members of the culture participate p leasurably. this critical difference, the confrontation between the European and
The dichotomy between these two senses is c ulturally unpro- non-European art is a phenomenon of culture shock. The European
ductive and stultifying, and brings us to another effect of this symp- is either blinded by his c ultural chauvinism to the parochial nature
tomatic distinction; the factors that work to promote a lack of o f his own aesthetic sense, and so cannot a ppreciate the profundity
creativity and sterility in European art. These are cultural factors of non-European forms; or, the European artist, his creativity stran-
that the creative European artist must overcome. Art divorced from gled by a dying culture, is forced to draw inspiration outside o f that
spirituality is culturally debilitating. Secular a rt is not natural, but c ulture from these same non-European forms . Robert Goldwater says,
artificial, and the European artist is under immense pressure to per-
form a n all but impossible task: She must c reate an object of beauty As artists who fe lt their own native traditions weakened and
for a passive audience whose aesthetic sense must be aroused, yet increasingly meaningless who were convinced that the necessary
an audience with whom sh e has shared nothing but the unaesthetic renewal could not come about by continuing, but only beginning
again-by a rebirth; as artists who wished to cast off Western devo-
experience of European culture-a culture that has excelled in its
tion to appearances and to devote themselves to realities; as artists
ability to separate her from the very people to whom sh e must pre- who wanted to strip away the surface in order to reveal the essen-
sent her work. She shares nothing that would serve as an experien- tials, they turned to the primitive. The primitive could set them an
tial base through whic h she and her audience can communicate example, could show them how to start anew. Because it was itself
emotio n. Armstrong says, "The individual consciousness must define nn art of power and conviction it would aid them to create their own
itself in the only way it can, which is to say in opposition to all oth- meaningful art. 16
ers."14 This is the result of an epistemology (utamawazo) that isolates
the knowing self as a d efinition of "superior" evolved human con- Goldwate r, of course, is careful to say that he is not using the
sciousness. What the artist and the other members of the c ulture do t c• t m "primitive" in a pe jorative sense, and that in this use it connotes
share, however, is commitment to the affirmation of the superiority 0 n111c•thing that the European artists considered to be positive. The
of their culture vis-ii-vis other cultures. On an unconscious level the I 1•1111 i$ most often essentia lly valuative, however, because it usually
European artist validates these feelings, satisfies these need s. '011110tes a kind of temporal "incongruity," from a Eurocentric per-
On a conscious level European audiences must constantly spC'r •P''' live. Wha t Goldwater does not say is that the European artists,
ulate about the artists' source of inspiration and guess at he r int ·n- l 111p1 csscd with African and othe z non-European forms, used them as
tion ; h er "message." "What is she trying to say?" is the questi on Jw;u <I 1 111•w ~• mm·c of e nergy for the valid ation of the ir own cultural chau-
at a New York art galle.-y. The ar tist is concE>fv('d of as a person wltu, \ 1111 .111 1.ik(' tit ' Greeks, the y s tole, and then used what they stole to
nu t of his own 1111lque nncl i11dlvicl11al t•xpNl<•1H'c> ;111d a!-(ony , joy :111<1 • 111 1v l11t·e o llwrs of I lwlr superio rity.
s 11 ffNl 11 1~. •\f•1·ks Ht <·x prl •ss llillUil'lt t111nor·i1l 1111<1 c 11 lt11 rnl nt rn11g1 •p ;, lt
I•. 1111 w c1111l1 ·1 tl1 .11h11111· W1 •'.t , ,111 .1pp1 ·:11 •i l11lm v1· 110 pla1 1• ltt 1111•, 11
" ' •1•11 1• I u Iu • 1 •II 1 lt•cl 1111 .1 1 .111 .111 111 111 I Iv1 • :wt Iv tt v ''" t l 11111µ 11 11 cl 111 "• 1111 I
210 YURUGU Aesthetic: The Power of Symbols 211

An Aesthetic of Control phony should not have caused Europeans to forget the origins of
Perhaps there is no better form of artistic expression than that musical expression nor the plethora of differing styles more creative
of music to demonstrate the peculiar dynamics of the European aes- and spontaneous, which had demonstrated a greater elemental
thetic. The European mind responded to music in precisely the same genius than the symphonic form, with its emphasis on structure. With
way as it responded to every kind of phenomenon with which it was this in mind the existence of the African musi cian who plays "by ear"
presented. Music was analyzed, dissected, "studied" and translated is only a "wonder" in that it is perhaps one of the suprarational "facts"
into the language of mathematics. It was written down, and then it of human existence.
could be "read" as one would read a mathematical equation. And true Again, it is the technical aspect of the craft that is emphasized
to the pattern of European development, the intellectuals who cre- in the European tradition, and as the technical order intensifies, its
ated this new music were successful in introducing it into the culture musical instruments become more and more mechanical, electronic,
as a whole because the culture itself was predisposed to value such synthetic, and unnatural. Those who play them become better and
an approach. With writing comes control, and with control, for better technicians, but their compositions would be just as mechan-
Europeans, comes power. This is the nature of the utamaroho. This ical, synthetic, and uninspiring as the instruments on which they
obviously is far more aesthetically pleasing to them than the cre- were played if it were not for the utilization of the musical creativity
ativity and spontaneity that results from the interaction between and awareness of the African experience. In America innovation in
human emotion and the medium of music. In the West, an artist of music, dance, and language is influenced by African culture through
African descent who has somehow miraculously inherited the genius the contribution of the Africans who live there. This influence is in
of her culture, via her "ancestral memory," and plays without ever turn exported to the larger European community. European culture
having studied the tools of the European, is an embarrassment. It is can prepare an individual for the technical mastery of European musi-
like European science being confronted by the astronomical knowl- cal instruments and machines, and is able to train a small minority
edge of the Dagon people. It exists, but it shouldn't! to perform the music it has created-commonly referred to as "clas-
Centuries of tradition of the mathematization and rationalization s ical," "long-hair," or "good" music, commonly referred to among
of music have caused the European to forget its origin and how it is Africans in America as "dead" music. But European culture must rely
produced naturally- as opposed to synthetically (the mere imitation on the creativity inspired by the African musical and expressive
and description of music). Europeans created neither the first music g~nius for the music and dance that most of its members enjoy. This
nor the first musical instruments; they found them and made them circumstance is directly related to the nature and ideology of the cul-
objects of study. Because there was only one way in which they could ture and to the radical differences between the two utamarohos.
understand this music with which they were confronted, they ana- In Ortiz Walton's comparison of the African and Western aes-
lyzed it, looking for "laws" of harmony, and melodic relationships, yet ' hetics in music, he points to some of the trends in Western cultural
unable to hear I feel I comprehend the cosmic manifestation of sound. his tory that account for the predominant mode of European music.
(Even in the Middle Ages, music was the study of harmonics and pro- I le says that written music cannot be cons idered improvisation. We
portion and, as such, was related to mathematics; (in an academi<:· see that in the European's attempt to plan and predict, he has lost the
technical, not a cosmic-metaphysical sense); Augustine's De Musiro opportunity to develop the art of improvisation and spontaneity on
was the standard textbook.) The Europeans then created a facscl111 which a vibrant and creative musical expression depends. European
ile and style in which they excelled; i.e., a style that expressed all tlw 111usic, says Walton, "became highly rationalized with the Greeks." (It
power and control of the European aesthetic and value. They <:1t• will he remembered that Plato associates music with a despiritualized
atcd the symphony-a technical and organizational mastC'rpicc<', t I w 111 ,1l11e111 f'l tin.>; both should be an important aspect of the education
epitome o f speciali zation in performr1ncc. u r I li e Guard ia ns, because they help to encourage and develop the
TllC'ir lnvc11llve:·11c ss, Llw lr u11lq11 eness , !hl'11 11to 11u11 11lt11 "p1o pcr menial habit s.") Later the Church further "rat ionalized"
t' \lll'l";•wtl 11 1><.' lf prlmnrlly wlll1l11 ll11•11 '' cl ;1s.~.1< al" d l1111 •11s l1111 : lllC' otlw1 11111l-ik 111 ils nll t>tnpt In r rn1t rol its C'Ontcnt. llc says tha t a system of

c i.: pr P'i., 10 11'1 11111111 •. h h 1 l'.lllopt•. 11111illl re • .111 • 111ll11.111l y 1>1111ow 1•d 1111t.1t lcu1.IH'Ht1 11 111 ll lt' Wt•s l wl ll1 ll w Gn ·l!k idea of etlw i. "whkh has
111 1111·•, 11d ,q 1l1illn11", .1111l l111ll.1l l1111 11 '1'111' .1111 1111pll· l1111t•11I o f 1111 1.y111 h1•1·11 .111<11•d 011 10 In lil t• lo ll 11w111u < 1•11111rl1"., 1·;t:.1111i.: w1 ..;t1•111 1r111s1t·
212 YURUGU Aesthetic: The Power of Symbols 213

into a rigid, unalterable, fixed phenomenon." 17 Walton adds that the While in the West the tendency was for this "written," controlled
makers of European instruments reflected the European predilection music to become elitist and for a passive audience to be "confronted"
for rationalization in with a performance, in Africa the cultural priorities and values
demanded a communal musical form in which there was no real sep-
... a new technology of tempered ins