Phronimon - latest Issue
Volume 16, Issue 2, 2015
Author Louise Du ToitSource: Phronimon 16, pp 1 –20 (2015)More Less
A more explicit, comprehensive and sustained dialogue between the African philosophical and Western feminist traditions would yield insights at once rich and useful to both traditions, and beyond, e.g. to the African feminist tradition. Here, I place the work of Belgian philosopher Luce Irigaray in discussion with Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah's conception of "consciencism". What they most saliently share is an understanding of how the dichotomies central to traditional Western philosophy (mind-body and idealism-materialism) have been key in the structural exclusion and oppression of the "others" of this dominant tradition. Both are convinced that Western metaphysics serve ideological purposes and help to perpetuate relations of domination. Both struggle with the question of how to effectively resist this specific violence of the Western philosophical tradition without repeating its logic. Most importantly for the current analysis, in their search for sources for resistance and emancipation, Nkrumah and Irigaray do not remain with diagnoses; instead both assume or construct a fluid ontology outside of, or beyond, this dominant symbolic order.
Author Charles Coulter VerharenSource: Phronimon 16, pp 21 –41 (2015)More Less
If universities are supported by the communities in which they are embedded, then solving their communities' problems must be a critical university ethical goal. The essay's first part examines philosophy's roles in directing university research in such disciplines as the natural and social sciences, history, art and mathematics. Of particular interest are the roles that information and communication technology (ICT) might play in the dissemination of research results in universities' supporting communities. The Pan-African thinker W.E.B. Du Bois believed that virtually all humans are capable of profiting from a university education. ICT must be critical to African universities' discharge of their ethical responsibilities to their communities. The first part's conclusion suggests three ways whereby African universities may advance toward Du Bois's goal. The essay's second part proposes a curriculum for Fort Hare University in Alice and East London in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province. As both an urban and rural university, Fort Hare presents a unique opportunity for examining university-community relationships. The essay's conclusion argues that African universities must play a critical role in constructing African self-knowledge. Critical to university and alumni contributions to re-thinking African identity, will be the inclusion of curricular material specific to the cultures of communities selected for university outreach.
Author Tendayi MarovahSource: Phronimon 16, pp 42 –57 (2015)More Less
In a context where "African identity" is a category that is often homogenised across a vast and diverse continent and beyond, there is a need to interrogate and better understand the concept. The prevalence of migration and cultural exchange in our interconnected world makes it imperative to look beyond race and space as a way of understanding identity, speaking both to sameness and difference. Acknowledging the complexities and the contested nature of identities and in particular, African identity/identities, this paper argues against an essentialised approach to identities in a global context. It explores and builds on arguments for plural identities, mobilising concepts of heterogeneity and plurality, agency and public deliberation from the Capability Approach in order to advance a way of understanding and negotiating identities that allows for a reasoned, flexible and inclusive approach. The Capability Approach is proposed as a generative normative framework which provides an important way to explain and negotiate identities in Africa based on human development grounded in social justice. In doing so, the paper acknowledges an understanding of identity as multifaceted and fluid, and when informed by human development and capabilities, is able to strengthen values like tolerance and accommodation of the "other" on the basis of recognition, respect and equality. I focus on the freedoms, opportunities and choices available for individuals to deliberate on the type of identities or African identities that they value on the assumption that identity is an object of reasoned choice, even though subject to constraints, and that more than one identity choice is possible.
Author Abraham OlivierSource: Phronimon 16, pp 58 –77 (2015)More Less
What does it take for a person to persist through the various changes that he or she undergoes in the course of a lifetime? Consider the case of Anton Wilhelm Amo. Assumed to be born in Ghana in the first half of the eighteenth century, Amo was brought to Germany at the age of three or four, where he was reared by a German Duke. He obtained degrees in the natural sciences as well as philosophy, and became the first black philosophy professor in Germany. Wiredu argues that Amo was an African and a philosopher, therefore, he was an African philosopher. Amo returned to, what Wiredu calls, "home", "to his motherland", after more than forty years. Could he have felt "at home" in Ghana? Was this really to be his "motherland"? Was Amo actually German or rather deep down Ghanaian? Who was Amo really? Amo's is no rare case in our time of globalisation. This is reflected by a large number of discussions on migration, immigration, interculturalism and multiculturalism across the globe. Philosophically these questions are typically treated as questions of personal identity. The case of Amo seems to pose above all one particular and persistent traditional philosophical question: What fact about a person such as Amo makes that person the same person through the various changes that he or she undergoes in the course of a lifetime? This paper considers possible responses to this question by comparing concepts of narrative, experiential, communal, cultural and placial identity, and offers an alternative, contextual identity.
Author Anke GranessSource: Phronimon 16, pp 78 –96 (2015)More Less
The history of philosophy is not just an academic discipline, but considered to be a philosophical activity itself. It has been instrumental in shaping our understanding of philosophy, our philosophical canon and curricula. The history of philosophy in Africa is still a young discipline, although philosophical thinking (concepts, manuscripts, books and philosophers) can be traced back until ancient Egypt. Facing the problem of exclusion and inferiorisation of traditions of thought and philosophy in Africa, the discipline of the history of philosophy involves very specific problems and requires a project of "conceptual decolonisation". This explains both the importance and the difficulty of writing a history of philosophy in Africa.
Author Gabriel E. IdangSource: Phronimon 16, pp 97 –111 (2015)More Less
The main objective of this paper is to examine African culture and values. Since culture is often seen as the sum total of the peculiarities shared by a people, a people's values can be seen as part of their culture. In discussing African culture and values, we are not presupposing that all African societies have the same explanation(s) for events, the same language, and same mode of dressing and so on. Rather, there are underlying similarities shared by many African societies which, when contrasted with other cultures, reveal a wide gap of difference. In this paper, we try to show the relevance of African culture and values to the contemporary society but maintain that these values be critically assessed, and those found to be inimical to the well-being and holistic development of the society, be discarded. In this way, African culture and values can be revaluated, their relevance established and sustained in order to give credence to authentic African identity.
Author Sally MatthewsSource: Phronimon 16, pp 112 –129 (2015)More Less
The end of apartheid predictably caused something of an identity crisis for white South Africans. The sense of uncertainty about what it means to be white has led to much public debate about whiteness in South Africa, as well as a growing body of literature on whites in post-apartheid South Africa. One of the many responses to this need to rethink white identity has been the claim by some that white South Africans can be considered to be African or ought to begin to think of themselves as being African. This paper argues that whites' assertion of an African identity does not necessarily assist in the achievement of racial justice, but that some kind of shift in white identity is required in order for whites to be able to contribute to the achievement of a racially just South Africa. In making this argument, the paper brings contemporary discussions on race and whiteness, and in particular discussions about racial eliminativism, to bear on the question of whether or not white South Africans may rightly claim an African identity.
Author Rianna OelofsenSource: Phronimon 16, pp 130 –146 (2015)More Less
This paper deals with the question of what the goal of African philosophy ought to be. It will argue that African philosophy ought to be instrumental in the project of decolonising the African mind. In order to argue for this conclusion, there will be an investigation with regards to what it might mean to decolonise one's mind, and, more precisely, what the relationship is between the decolonisation of the mind and the decolonisation of the intellectual landscape. The intellectual landscape refers to universities and other institutions of knowledge production. The claim is that the decolonisation of the intellectual landscape will result in the decolonisation of the mind. It will be argued that African philosophy has the ability to develop concepts with their roots in Africa, and that this is African philosophy's main project if taken from a perspective of understanding of African philosophy as "philosophy-in-place". The development of concepts rooted in Africa has the prospect of working towards the decolonisation of the African intellectual landscape and so eventually the African mind. As a philosophy which aims for health, African philosophy therefore has a responsibility to focus on such a development of concepts rooted in Africa.