Socially Constructed “Blackness” and (Hegelian) Racialized Refrains “Out of the Mouths of Babes”

In Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon recounts his experience on a train of being “fixed” by a white other—an other which happened to be a child who had already been habituated to see blacks as defined by the white imagination.  As the child’s refrain, “Look! A Negro!”[1] crescendoed forth and came to a close with a fearful questioning of the “Negro’s” next move, Fanon not only experienced the gaze of the white other, he also began to see himself through the white gaze.[2]Tracks

I cast an objective gaze over myself, and I discovered my blackness, my ethnic characteristics—and they burst my eardrums with cannibalism, backwardness [l’arriération mentale], fetishism, racial defects, slaves and above all, and above all:  “Y a bon Banania.”  On that day I was disoriented, incapable of existing outside with the Other, the White man, who mercilessly imprisoned me.  I carried myself far away from my Dasein [de mon être-là]—very far away—and constituted myself as an object.  What was this for me, if not a separation [décollement], an uprooting [arrachement], a hemorrhage which congealed with black blood over my entire body.  Nevertheless, I did not want this reconsideration, this thematization of myself. I wanted quite simply to be a human among other humans.[3]

As Fanon takes up the white view of himself, he experiences its all-encompassing reach.  That is, his becoming a white-defined black other involved more than his present encounter with the child on the train; in essence, he entered into the white erasing and re-scripting of black history.  Not only is his present fixed by the white other, but his past is fixed as well.  The child’s unison refrain gives rise to polyphonic lines of “cannibalism, backwardness, fetishism” and the like.

Even if it is the case that the child, because of his lack of cognitive development, is an unwilling or non-culpable participant in furthering racism and racial discourse; nonetheless, the effect—un-reflective racism in children—is a reality that confronts the black other on a daily basis and forces him to experience his phenotypic differences as conceived by the white imagination.  As Fanon explains, “I am overdetermined from the outside.  […] The white gaze, the only valid one, is already dissecting me.  I am fixed.  Once their microtomes are sharpened, the Whites objectively cut sections of my reality.”[4] Fanon’s body, particularly his ever-present, always uncovered black skin, brimming with manifold white-determined meanings, takes on a life of its own.  This second-self is created through discourse—a socially constructed subjectivity—a kind of reverse shadow whose form creates a path upon which Fanon must walk. As the encounter with the child continues and the refrain sounds once again, “Look, a Negro!  Maman, a Negro!”, the boy’s mother, somewhat nervously, cries, “Ssh! You’ll make him angry.  Don’t pay attention to him, monsieur, he doesn’t realize you’re just as civilized as we are.”[5] As Kant, Hegel and other Western philosophers have asserted, the Western tradition, for which white European culture becomes the surrogate, is the standard for determining whether a nation has a culture or could possibly become cultured and civilized, and thus enter into world history.

Kant, paving the way for Hegel, claims that true history begins with the Greeks and that non-Greek peoples are validated only through contact with the Greeks.  On Kant’s estimation, the (non)histories of non-Greeks are simply “terra incognita,” an amorphous X, lacking (Western) form and thus unable to appear as intelligible.  He then turns to the Jews to illustrate how a nation may enter a state of historical and cultural recognition.

This happened with the Jewish nation (volk) at the time of the Ptolemies through the Greek translation of the Bible, without which one would ascribe little credibility to their isolated records.  From that point forward (if this beginning has been properly ascertained) one can pursue its narratives.  And thus with all the other nations (Völkern).[6]

In his lectures on the philosophy of history, Hegel takes up this same line of thinking; however, in order to justify his position, he provides an elaborate narrative in which Geist’s presence or absence indicates whether a nation has historical, cultural or socio-political significance.[7] One might go as far as to claim that the mother’s remark to Fanon has its own genealogical history which is consonant with the Western philosophical tradition; her awareness of this history matters little.  Approached in this manner, echoes of Hegel’s depiction of Africans as cannibalistic can still be heard in the child’s cry, “Maman, the Negro’s going to eat me”.[8]

All of these discourses—whether philosophical, pseudoscientific, or everyday chatter on a public train—comprise the many pieces of Fanon’s “black” self, woven together by the white other.


[1] The French reads, ‘tiens un nègre’, which can also be translated, ‘Look! A Nigger’.  Perhaps various English translations have presented a kinder, gentler version, thus concealing the ‘sting’ produced by the child’s repeated utterance.

[2] See also Bart van Leewan, ‘To What Extent is Racism a Magical Transformation?’ Journal of Social Philosophy 38 (2007), 296 ff.  Van Leewan discusses the ‘gaze’ from the perspective of the racist in order to give an account of the motivational structure of racism.  In addition, van Leeuwen’s essay offers several practical anti-racism strategies (see especially, 303–5).

[3] My translation.  Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancs, 90-1.

[4] Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 95.

[5] Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 93.

[6] Immanuel Kant.  ‘Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim (1784)’, trans. Allen W. Wood, 107–120, at 118. Anthropology, History and Education. Ed. and trans. Günter Zöller and Robert Louden.  (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2008), 118.

[7] Robert Bernasconi has devoted several manuscripts to the study of Hegel and his Eurocentrism.  See, for example, Bernasconi, ‘With What Must the Philosophy of World History Begin?  On the Racial Bias of Hegel’s Eurocentrism’, Nineteenth-Century Contexts 22 (2000):  171–201.  See also, Bernasconi, ‘Hegel at the Court of the Ashanti’.  In Hegel After Derrida, ed. by Stuart Barnett, 41–63.  London:  Routledge, 1998.

[8] Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 93.

Frederick Douglass and Slaves as Standing-Reserves

By the shedding of whose blood have we become one of the wealthiest nations in the world?  To begin an answer, why not turn to one whose back bore many a bloody lash for the sake of the so-called “American dream.”  In his 1852 oration, “The Internal Slave Trade,” Frederick Douglass offers his own analysis and stringent condemnation of America’s participation in the trafficking of human beings for economic gain.Slaves on the Auction Block

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave trade—the American slave trade sustained by American politics and American religion!  Here you will see men and women reared like swine for the market.  You know what is a swine-drover?  I will show you a man-drover.  They inhabit all our southern states.  They perambulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation with droves of human stock.  You will see one of these human-flesh-jobbers, armed with pistol, whip and bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans.  These wretched people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers.  They are food for the cotton-field and the deadly sugar-mill.  Mark the sad procession as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives them.  Hear his savage yells and his blood-chilling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives.  There, see the old man, with locks thinned and gray.  Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the brow of the babe in her arms.  See, too, that girl of thirteen, weeping, yes, weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she has been torn.  The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have nearly consumed their strength.  Suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream that seems to have torn its way to the center of your soul.  The crack you heard was the sound of the slave whip; the scream you heard was from the woman you saw with the babe.  Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains; that gash on her shoulder tells her to move on.  Follow this drove to New Orleans.  Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shocking gaze of American slave-buyers.  See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude.[1]

This is simply one among many scenes depicting the hardships African American slaves endured on a daily basis as a result of the institution of chattel slavery.  Enslaved by the love of money, the master’s vision becomes distorted.  Not only does he see human beings as things, but the sounds of suffering fall silent to his ears.  Deafened to the wailing of mothers’ torn from their children, he transposes the dissonance of clanking chains into gold-en keys, which like the dual cut of a double-edged sword open the door to his future and secure the bonds of his brother.

To add to their humiliation and degraded status as mere property of the white man, slaves were subjected to public auctions where they were ordered to stand, often naked or nearly so, and allow the potential buyers to examine their bodies to ensure their suitability for long-term servitude.  If a slave’s body showed signs of illness, disease, or possible weaknesses, they were passed over as bad investments, unprofitable for the master’s business.  Scar tissue on a slave’s back—the number of scars, whether the scar was old or relatively fresh—became the subject of a mythology employed to determine a slave’s character.   Too many scars indicated a rebellious spirit, whereas having few scars meant that the slave possessed a docile, obedient spirit.  “As they worked their way from inflicted scars to essential character, buyers fixed slaves in a typology of character according to the frequency, intensity, and chronology of the whipping apparent on their backs.”[2] While the slaves stood humiliated, exposed and wondering what kind of master might purchase them on that particular day, the slave buyers paraded themselves before the crowds as augurs who “could read slaves’ backs as encodings of their histories.”[3]


[1] Douglass, “The Internal Slave Trade,” 436–7.

[2] Johnson, Soul by Soul, 145.

[3] Ibid., 145.

Part II: Race and the Social Construction of Subjectivities

In my previous post, I gave a broad overview of three central views of race in contemporary race theory literature:  racial skepticism (K. Anthony Appiah), racial constructionism (Ron Mallon), and racial population naturalism (Robin Andreasen).  Racial skeptics hold that since biobehavioral racial essences do not exist, and there is nothing for the term “race” to signify, “races” do not exist.  The racial constructionist agrees that there are no racialized essences; however, she understands race as a social kind and sees value in racial discourse.  The racial population naturalist likewise rejects racial essentialism; yet, she claims that “races may exist as biologically salient populations, albeit ones that do not have the biologically determined social significance once imputed to them.”[1] Personally I situate myself within the racial constructionism camp and thus consider race an important social reality worthy of our discourse, study and continued reflection.Sculpting a Subject

In this post, I want to focus on the term “social constructionism” in order to then discuss how various thinkers have come to understand subjectivities, identities and concepts as socially constructed and whether or not or to what degree human agency is compatible with some variant of social constructionism.  More specifically, I am interested in understanding how identities or subjectivities and concepts such as “race,” “slave,” and “black” arise, how they are sustained and eventually become ossified historically, and what role various socio-political institutions, discourses and cultural practices play in their formation and maintenance.

As a provisionary starting point, it is helpful to think of social constructionism as analogous to the production of artifacts.[2] Broadly put, an artifact is an object designed and created by a human agent for a specific purpose or set of purposes.   Such objects include handcrafted bookshelves, Rublev’s icon of the Trinity, Cézanne’s painting, Le Cabanon de Jourdan, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor.  Here we have reasonably unobjectionable instances of objects designed and produced by identifiable agents.  However, when we consider Western tonal music, the modern state or human language, we encounter artifacts whose specific intentional and originary agents are difficult if not impossible to identify.  Nonetheless, in the second group of examples human agency is no doubt involved and the emergence and maintenance of each involves reference to historical and socio-political practices, customs, and traditions.  Similarly, as Sally Haslanger explains, certain categories of individuals “count as social constructions because the conditions for being a member of the kind or category include social (properties and) relations.”[3] For example, to be considered (legally and officially) adopted obtains only in a society that recognizes the status of legal adoption and has the social and political structures in place to facilitate such practices.  Just as agents produce artifacts for various purposes, so, too, identities, subjectivities and concepts are constructed intentionally as well as unintentionally through discourses, institutions, traditions and socio-political practices.[4]

With the above sketch in place, let us turn to a few examples from Frantz Fanon in order to illustrate more concretely how human subjectivities—like artifacts—are constructed.   As Fanon explains, in a mostly black community in the Antilles, he neither identified nor saw himself as a “black” subject; however, once he entered a predominantly white socio-political context where the category “black” is assigned in advance multiple negative meanings, a confrontation with racially scripted phenotypic differences was unavoidable. [5] Fanon likewise narrates how a particularly painful racial encounter on a train was a breaking point for him.  That is, although he resisted repeatedly the ascriptions imposed upon him by the dominant discourse, he eventually gave in and began to internalize the white-defined view of the black other—intellectually inferior, culturally incompetent, an object to be fixed.  With this example, we see how discourse can function—one may even argue—causally to construct a particular subjectivity or identity.  Here we have a subjectivity, “black,” which was constructed in a specific socio-historical context through discourse, institutional practices, legal structures and so forth.  There is nothing intrinsic to the subject that corresponds to the fictive identity created by the dominant discourse; yet, because the society itself is, in this case, structured racially, those who have been labeled “black” can and often do come to see themselves as possessing at least some of the characteristics that have been ascribed to them.   As Haslanger observes,

Our classificatory schemes, at least in social contexts, may do more than just map preexisting groups of individuals; rather our attributions have the power to both establish and reinforce groupings which may eventually come to “fit” the classifications.  In such cases, classificatory schemes function more like a script than a map.[6]

None of the above should be taken to mean that an individual is completely socially determined or unable to resist or re-construct his or her subjectivity.  In future posts, I plan to discuss specific examples of such resistance possibilities via textual analyses of Foucault, Fanon and Frederick Douglass.


[1] Mallon, “‘Race’:  Normative, Not Metaphysical or Semantic,” 526.  See, for example, Robin Andreasen, “Race:  Biological Reality or Social Construct?”  Philosophy of Science 67 (2000):  S653–S666; Philip Kitcher, “Race, Ethnicity, Biology, Culture,” in Racism, ed. Leonard Harris (New York:  Humanity Books, 1999):  87–120.

[2] This section on social constructionism is indebted to Sally Haslanger’s work.  See especially, Sally Haslanger, “Ontology and Social Construction,” Philosophical Topics 23 (1995):  95–125.

[3] Ibid., 98.

[4] Regarding unintended socially constructed identities, in Discipline and Punish, Foucault traces the history “delinquency,” showing how it emerges as an unintended subjectivity produced by the modern prison system.  This new subjectivity arises in spite of the fact that the stated intention of the institution is to rehabilitate offenders.

[5] Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 90.

[6] Haslanger, “Ontology and Social Construction,” 100.  Haslanger labels this type of construction, “discursive.”  Here “[s]omething is discursively constructed just in case it is the way it is, to some substantial extent, because of what is attributed (and/or self-attributed) to it” (Ibid., 100).

Part I: Race and the Social Construction of Subjectivities

Describing how “black” subjectivity in a colonized context is socially constructed and comes to function as an imposed hermeneutical lens for black experience, Frantz Fanon writes,

For no longer does the black man have to be just black, but he has to be black over against the white man. Some would want to remind us that this situation works both ways.  We answer back that it’s false.  The black man has no ontological resistance in the eyes of the white man.  From one day to the next, Negroes have two systems of reference from which they must take their bearings.  Their metaphysical, or less pretentiously, their customs and the authorities to which they referred, were abolished because they were in contradiction with a civilization that has ignored them and imposed itself on them.[1]Sculpting a Subject

As my own description of Fanon’s passage indicates, the terms “social construction,” “constructionism,” and similar phrases are commonplace in much of the current philosophical literature on race, gender and sexuality.  For example, most contemporary philosophers of race argue that race is not a natural, biological kind—a widely-held belief that came to full fruition in the nineteenth century. [2] In contemporary race theory literature, this former view of race goes by a variety of names:  racialism (K. Anthony Appiah), biobehavioral essentialism (Ron Mallon), racial essentialism and so forth.   Given the widespread rejection of this position among race theorists, it is important to have a clear idea of precisely what the position entails.  Ron Mallon presents a concise explanation of the three aspects of racialism or what he calls biobehavioral essentialism.

Races were believed to share biobehavioral essences:  underlying natural (and perhaps genetic) properties that (1) are heritable, biological features, (2) are shared by all and only the members of a race, and (3) explain behavioral, characterological, and cultural predispositions of individual persons and racial groups.[3]

Although there are significant points of disagreement among scholars engaged in race related studies, there is, as Mallon highlights, a general consensus among philosophers of race, sociologists and biologists that “races do not share such biobehavioral essences.”[4] Perhaps the strongest piece of evidence against racialism is the conclusion reached in recent scientific studies of intra- and intergroup genetic variation.  As the study of genetics gained prestige in scientific circles, those adhering to racial essentialism turned to this new field, believing that the differences among races must be the result of an underlying genetic discrepancy.  However, “studies of human genetic diversity suggest that genetic variation within racially identified populations is as great as or greater than diversity between populations.”[5] In light of these findings, the possibility of confirming a distinct racial essence “shared by all and only members of a race” is highly improbable.[6]

Even with a general consensus concerning the untenability of racialism among philosophers of race, debates abound as to whether racial discourse should be retained given the negative purposes for which it has been utilized. In light of the abundant evidence against a biobehavioral essentialized notion of race, many race theorists argue for what Mallon has labeled, “racial skepticism, the view that races do not exist at all.”[7] Others, however, believe that although an essentialized, hierarchical view of race must be rejected, racial language, nonetheless, should be salvaged, albeit purged of its negative history.  This second group defends what Mallon calls racial constructionism.  On this view, race is a social construction and thus exists as a social, rather than a natural kind.[8] Racial constructionists hold that the notion of race as a social kind plays a crucial role in establishing, maintaining and developing a group’s identity; consequently, it as well as racial discourse must be preserved.  Mallon lists a third group, racial population naturalism, which claims that “races may exist as biologically salient populations, albeit ones that do not have the biologically determined social significance once imputed to them.”[9]


[1] Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, rev. ed., trans. Richard Philcox (New York:   Grove Press, 2008) 90.  I have modified the translation in several places. Originally published as Peau noire, masques blancs (Paris:  Seuil, 1971).  “Car le Noir n’a pas plus à être noir, mais à l’être en face du Blanc.  Certains se mettront en tête de nous rappeler que la situation est à double sens.  Nous répondons que c’est faux.  Le Noir n’a pas de résistance ontologique aux yeux du Blanc.  Les nègres, du jour au lendemain, ont eu deux systèmes de référence par rapport auxquels il leur a fallu se situer.  Leur métaphysique, ou moins prétentieusement leurs coutumes et les instances auxquelles elles renvoyaient, étaient abolies parce qu’elles se trouvaient en contradiction avec une civilization qu’ils ignoraient et qui leur en imposait” (Peau noire, masques blancs, 88-89).

[2] For a helpful historical and philosophical discussion of the significant figures and events that paved the way for nineteenth century (pseudoscientific) racial essentialism, see Robert Bernasconi, “Who Invented the Concept of Race?  Kant’s Role in the Enlightenment Construction of Race,” in Race, ed. Robert Bernasconi (Oxford:  Blackwell, 2001), 11–36. Bernasconi argues that although Kant was not the first to use the term “race,” he was the first to give the term definitional precision  As Bernasconi explains, for Kant, what distinguishes race from variety is the fact that “races are marked by hereditary characteristics that are unavoidable in the offspring” (Ibid., 17).  Regarding the problems of a biological concept of race, see Daniel Blackburn, “Why Race is not a Biological Concept,” in Race and Racism in Theory and Practice, ed. Berel Lang, 3–26. Oxford:  Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.  See also, Ron Mallon, “‘Race’:  Normative, Not Metaphysical or Semantic,” Ethics 116 (2006):  525-551, especially 528–29.

[3] Mallon, “‘Race’:  Normative, Not Metaphysical or Semantic,” 528-529.

[4] Ibid., 529.

[5] Ibid., 529.

[6] Ibid., 529.

[7] Ibid., 525, italics retained.  See, for example, K. Anthony Appiah, “The Uncompleted Argument: Du Bois and the Illusion of Race,” in Overcoming Racism and Sexism, eds. Linda A. Bell and David Blumenfeld, 59–78.  Oxford:  Rowman & Littlefield, 1995; Naomi Zack, Philosophy of Science and Race (New York:  Routledge, 2002).

[8] Mallon, “‘Race’:  Normative, Not Metaphysical or Semantic,” 525-526, fn. 4.  See, for example, Charles Mills, Blackness Visible:  Essays on Philosophy and Race (Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 1998); Lucius Outlaw, On Race and Philosophy (New York:  Routledge, 1996); Michael Root, “How We Divide the World,” Philosophy of Science 67 (2000):  S628–S639; Ronald Sundstrom, “Racial Nominalism,” Journal of Social Philosophy 33 (2002):  193–210.

[9] Mallon, “‘Race’:  Normative, Not Metaphysical or Semantic,” 526.  See, for example, Robin Andreasen, “Race:  Biological Reality or Social Construct?”  Philosophy of Science 67 (2000):  S653–S666; Philip Kitcher, “Race, Ethnicity, Biology, Culture,” in Racism, ed. Leonard Harris (New York:  Humanity Books, 1999):  87–120.

Frederick Douglass and Panopticism on the Plantation

In Discipline and Punish, Foucault develops what one might call his “panoptic theory of institutions.”  Drawing upon Bentham’s Panotpicon, a tower-like structure designed to facilitate simultaneous surveillance of prisoners from a stable centralized location, Foucault describes how prisons and other institutions continue the panoptic tradition albeit with ever-increasing technological sophistication.   As Foucault explains, the architectural construction of the Panopticon creates a situation in which the gaze of warden upon the prisoners is perpetual and inescapable.  Through various means—from psychological manipulation to the application of physical violence—the prisoners are made aware of this ever-present gaze and over time the external surveillance is internalized.  Although Frederick Douglass wrote his first autobiography more than a century before Foucault penned Discipline and Punish, Douglass’s vivid descriptions of life in a racialized society parallel and corroborate Foucault’s analyses.  In the passage below, Douglass gives an account of the ways in which, Mr. Covey, a well-known slave-breaker, exerted his own pantoptic gaze upon the slaves.Panopticon Image

His [Covey’s] work went on in his absence almost as well as in his presence; and he had the faculty of making us feel that he was ever present with us.  This he did by surprising us.  He seldom approached the spot where we were at work openly, if he could do it secretly.  He always aimed at taking us by surprise.  Such was his cunning, that we used to call him, among ourselves, “the snake.”  When we were at work in the cornfield, he would sometimes crawl on his hands and knees to avoid detection, and all at once he would rise nearly in our midst, and scream out, “Ha, ha!  Come, come! Dash on, dash on!”  This being his mode of attack, it was never safe to stop a single minute.  His comings were like a thief in the night.  He appeared to us as being ever at hand.  He was under every tree, behind every stump, in every bush, and at every window, on the plantation. […] Mr. Covey’s forte consisted in his power to deceive.  His life was devoted to planning and perpetuating the grossest deceptions.[1]

Covey’s maneuverings, though lacking the sophistication of twentieth century surveillance technologies, nonetheless produced the same effect on the slaves.  That is, Covey was able to make his gaze always present even when he was in fact absent.  Covey, like the Panopticon, is seemingly omnipresent even when unseen.  Though limited by his physical existence, his regular surprise attacks coupled with the penalties that were exercised upon those caught idle or not working efficiently, allowed Covey to transcend his spatial limitations.  Having created an atmosphere of fear in which the slaves lived and moved and had their being, Covey’s actual physical presence was no longer needed.  That is, the sign of a broken slave was the internal inscription of the master’s gaze, or in more Foucaudian terms, the interiorization of the panoptic gaze and the subsequent creation of a new subjectivity, the slave.


[1] Douglass, Narrative of the Life, 56-57.

Balthasar on the Christian God’s Freedom to Die for Love and to Love unto Death

“The renunciation of the ‘form of God’ and the taking on of the ‘form of a slave’ with all their consequences do not Resurrection Icon_Russianentail any alienation within the Trinitarian life of God.  God is so divine that by way of the Incarnation, death and Resurrection, he can truly and not just in seeming become that which as God he already and always is.  Without under-estimating the depth to which God stooped down in Christ, but perceiving that this ‘supreme’ abasement (John 13, 1) formed, with the exaltation, one single reality, for the two movements express the self-same divine love, John was able to apply to both the categories of ‘exaltation’ and ‘glorification’:  yet in a way which is, (to use the language of the Chalcedonian Definition) asynchtōs, achōristōs; ‘without confusion’, ‘without separation’ (DS 302).  In this integrated vision, it is no longer contradictory for John to ascribe to the Son who died and was raised by the Father the power not just to give his life but also to take it up again (10, 18; 2, 19), as well as, thought this power, to raise up (11, 25) the dead both in time (12, 1, 9 and 17) and at the end of time (5, 21; 6, 39 etc., auto-anastasis ‘the Resurrection itself’ one might call him, imitating Origen’s celebrated neologisim).  In fact, the Son’s absolute obedience ‘even unto death, the death of the Cross’ is intrinsically oriented to the Father (otherwise, it would be meaningless, and not in any case an absolute, divine obedience).  Resting on the Father’s power, which is itself identical with the Father’s sending of his Son, the Son allows himself to be reduced to the uttermost weakness.  But this obedience is so thoroughly love for the Father and by that very fact is so altogether one (John 10, 30) with the Father’s own love that he who sends and he who obeys act by virtue of the same divine liberty in love—the Son inasmuch as he allows the Father the freedom to command to the point of his own death, the Father inasmuch as he allows the Son the freedom to obey right down to the same point.  When, accordingly, the Father grants to the Son, now raised into eternal life, the absolute freedom to show himself to his disciples in his identity with the dead Jesus of Nazareth, bearing the marks of his wounds, he gives him no new different or alien freedom but that freedom which is most deeply the Son’s very own.  It is precisely in this freedom of his that the Son reveals, ultimately, the freedom of the Father” (Mysterium Paschale, 209).