Immanuel Kant, "Of National Characteristics, so far as they Depend upon the Distinct Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime," Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime (1764)

If we cast a fleeting glance over the other parts of the world, we find the Arab the noblest man in the Orient, yet of a feeling that degenerates very much into the adventurous.  He is hospitable, generous, and truthful; yet his narrative and history and on the whole his feeling are always interwoven with some wonderful thing.  His inflamed imagination presents things to him in unnatural and distorted images, and even the propagation of his religion was a great adventure.  If the Arabs are, so to speak, the Spaniards of the orient, similarly the Persians are the French of Asia.  They are good poets, corteous and of fairly fine taste.  They are not such strict followers of Islam, and they permit to their pleasure-prone disposition a tolerably mild interpretation of the Koran.  The Japanese could in a way be regarded as the Englishmen of this part of the world, but hardly in any other quality than their resoluteness -- which degenerates into the utmost stubbornness -- their valor, and disdain of death.  For the rest, they display few signs of a finer feeling.  The Indians have a dominating taste of the grotesque, of the sort that falls into the adventurous.  Their religion consists of grotesqueries.  Idols of monstrous form, the priceless tooth of the mighty monkey Hanuman, the unnatural atonements of the fakirs (heathen mendicant friars) and so forth are in this taste.  The despotic sacrifice of wives in the very same funeral pyre that consumes the corpse of the husband is a hideous excess.  What trifling grotesqueries do the verbose and studied compliments of the Chinese contain!  Even their paintings are grotesque and portray strange and unnatural figures such as are encountered nowhere in the world.  They also have the venerable grotesqueries because they are of very ancient custom, and no nation in the world has more of these than this one.

The Negroes of Africa have by nature no feeling that rises about the trifling.  Mr. Hume challenges anyone to cite a single example in which a Negro has shown talents, and asserts that among the hundreds of thousands of black who are transported elsewhere from their countries, although many of them have even been set free, still not a single one was every found who presented anything great in art or science or any other praiseworthy quality, even though among the whites some continually rise aloft from the lowest rabble, and through superior gifts earn respect in the world.  So fundamental is the difference between these two races of man, and it appears to be as great in regard to mental capacities as in color.  The religion of fetishes so widespread among them is perhaps a sort of idolatry that sinks as deeply into the trifling as appears to be possible to human nature.  A bird's feather, a cow's horn, a conch shell, or any other common object, as soon as it becomes consecreated by a few words, is an objct of veneration and of invocation in swearing oaths.  The blacks are very vain but in the Negro's way, and so talkative that they must be driven apart from each other with thrashings.

Among all savages there is no nation that displays so sublime a mental character as those of North America.  They have a strong feeling for honor, and as in quest of it they seek wild adventures hundreds of miles abroad, they are still extremely careful to avert the least injury to it when their equally harsh enemy, upon capturing them, seeks by cruel pain to extort cowardly groans from them.  The Canadian savage, moreover, is truthful and honest.  The friendship he establishes is just as adventurous and enthusiastic as anything of that kind reported from the most ancient and fabled times.  He is extremely proud, feels the whole worth of freedom, and even in his education suffers no encounter that would let him feel a low subservience.  Lycurgus probably gave statutes to just such savages; and if a lawgiver arose among those Six Nations, one would see a Spartan republic rise in the New World; for the undertaking of the Argonauts is little different from the war parties of these Indians, and Jason excels Attakakullakulla in nothing but the honor of a Greek name.  All these savages have little feeling for the beautiful in moral understanding, and the generous forgiveness of an injury, which is at once noble and beautiful, is completely unknown as a virtue among the savages, but rather is disdained as a miserable cowardice.  Valor is the greatest merit of the savage and revenge his sweetest bliss.  The remaining natives of this part of the world show few traces of a mental character disposed to the finer feelings, and an extraordinary apathy constitutes the mark of this type of race.

If we examine the relation of the sexes in these parts of the world, we find that the European alone has found the secret of decorating with so many flowers the sensual charm of a mighty inclination and of interlacing it with so much morality that he has not only extremely elevated its agreeableness but also made it very decorous.  The inhabitant of the Orient is of a very false taste in this respect.  Since he has no concept of the morally beautiful which can be united with this impulse, he loses even the worth of the sensuous enjoyment, and his harem is a constant source of unrest.  He thrives on all sorts of amorous grotesqueries, among which the imaginary jewel is only the foremost, which he seeks to safeguard above all else, whose whole worth consists only in smashing it, and of which one in our part of the world generally entertains much malicious doubt -- and yet to whose preservation he makes use of very unjust and often loathsome means.  Hence there a woman is always in a prison, whether she may be a maid, or have a barbaric, good-for-nothing and always suspicious husband.  In the lands of the black, what better can one expect than what is found prevailing, namely the feminine sex in the deepest slavery?  A despairing man is always a strict master over anyone weaker, just as with us that man is always a tyrant in the kitchen who outside his own house hardly dares to look anyone in the face.  Of course, Father Labat reports that a Negro carpenter, whome he reproached for haughty treatment toward his wives, answered: "You whites are indeed fools, for first you make great concessions to your wives, and afterward you complain when they drive you mad."  And it might be that there were something in this which perhaps deserved to be considered; but in short, this fellow was quite black from head to foot, a clear proof that what he said was stupid.