The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has become, following several classes with Dr. D’Amato, my academic Wikipedia. Their articles are always accurate (thanks to peer review), they are always balanced, and they are always absolutely thorough. This is why I followed the idea of double consciousness to this publication to see what I could glean. The article here discusses W.E.B. Dubois’ idea through a philosophical lens and examines various ways that the term could be interpreted, it’s possible roots in Hegelianism, how Rousseauian elf-estrangement could play in and other uses and extensions of the concept. It also draws upon some of Dubois’ later works where he examines and assesses the “Souls of White Folk”, something to which he considers himself (and by extension his race) as particularly qualified to do.
This article will be the basis for my understanding of double consciousness from a purely normative standpoint. It will also allow me to fully interrogate the idea and ask why Dubois distanced himself from the phrase after it had gained popularity. I am particularly interested in the assessment of White Folks Souls in Darkwater (1920) and the quotes:
“I see these souls undressed and from the back and sides. I see the working of their entrails. I know their thoughts and they know that I know”, and…
“We whose shame, humiliation and deep insult [the white man’s] aggrandizement so often involved were never deceived. We looked at him clearly, with world-old eyes, and saw simply a human being, weak and pitiable and cruel, even as we are and were”.
An examination of the effect that racism has on the white population, even if it is a secondary consideration in my project, would be edifying and might act as counterpoise to the focus on the effect that it has had on the black population. The contrast in the amount of scholarship conducted in regard to the effect racism has on the black population, and the lesser amount on the white population versus the apparent prevalence of Greco-Roman mythology in African American literature and the dearth of scholarship on this subject compared to the use of the same by whites might offer an interesting statement on the narratives regarding both groups and what they are ‘supposed’ to write about/engage with?