A NEW SCHOOL HAS come to the fore recently in the study of African systems of thought in general and African philosophy in particular. Initiated by Franz Crahay's now famous paper "Le 'décollage' conceptuel: conditions d'une philosophie bantoue" (1965), this school examines the nature and forms of African intellectual practice in its historical emergence and conditioning. Philosophy is regarded by this school as only one type or form of the wider sense of discourse. According to Crahay, for Africans to produce a system of philosophy they need to reconstruct African discourse at the speculative (décollage) level by first identifying and then employing conceptual schemes or basic principles of reasoning indigenous to Africa. Ardent followers of Crahay in this orientation include Fabien Eboussi-Boulaga, Marcien Towa, Meinrad Hebga, and V. Y. Mudimbe among others.
Although it is difficult to represent such a school under a common nomenclature, its members are at least thinly connected by their common critique of ethnophilosophy, which they all regard as a product of Western power/knowledge. In their different ways, they concur that the production of ethnophilosophy expresses the epistemological roots of: the deep social, political, and cultural crisis of muntu, the African person (Eboussi-Boulaga); Africans' continued servitude to Western domination (Towa); Africa's dependence on Western tutelage (Hebga); the invention of Africa at the margins of Western knowledge (Mudimbe). Common to these characterizations of ethnophilosophy is also the concern, first, to expose the politics that produces ethnophilosophy as its inferior margin, its negative reflection awaiting assimilation, and, second, to describe for African gnosis the course for a deliverance from the politics of marginalization and assimilation, which produce the passive image represented not only in ethnophilosophy but, according to Mudimbe, in the entire present philosophical discourse in Africa.
Departing from the premise that contemporary African intellectual practice takes place within the format and formulas dictated by Western epistemological categories and principles, this school of thought ostensibly argues that African intellectual practice must break away from its Western conditionings to be able to make any sense to Africans themselves. As a step toward the realization of this separation, they have concentrated on the deconstruction of the links tying
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Publication information: Book title: African Philosophy in Search of Identity. Contributors: D. A. Masolo - Author. Publisher: Indiana University Press. Place of publication: Bloomington, IN. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 147.
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