n HTS : Theological Studies - Implications of a technoscientific culture on personhood in Africa and in the West

Volume 61, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0259-9422
  • E-ISSN: 2072-8050



This paper endeavours to converge on present-day experiences of self. This is done against the backdrop of the interdependence between person (organism) and environment (physical and cultural). The rich history of development of personhood in the West is discussed with reference to the metaphor of mask for personhood. Cultural epochs are described as phonocentric (in front of the mask), logocentric (behind the mask) and virtuocentric (between non-present masks). The history of modernism led to the experience of the end of personhood in the West. The restoration of personhood (subjectivity) seems possible through the restoration of some form of communitarianism. This brings Africa in focus. In an enigmatic way Africa knows science and utilises technology, but simultaneously relativises it in favour of traditional customs which the Western mind may judge to be mythological and primitive. African personhood is discussed with reference to African science in the format of Indigenous knowledge systems, to African community life as ubuntu, and to the place of seriti in African metaphysics.

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