The African Philosophy Reader: A Text with Readings

The African Philosophy Reader: A Text with Readings

The African Philosophy Reader: A Text with Readings

The African Philosophy Reader: A Text with Readings

Synopsis

Divided into eight sections, each with introductory essays, the selections offer rich and detailed insights into a diverse multinational philosophical landscape. Revealed in this pathbreaking work is the way in which traditional philosophical issues related to ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology, for instance, take on specific forms in Africa's postcolonial struggles. Much of its moral, political, and social philosophy is concerned with the turbulent processes of embracing modern identities while protecting ancient cultures.

Excerpt

For centuries, discourses on Africa have been dominated by non-Africans. Many reasons account for this state of affairs and, not least, the unjustified violence of colonization. Since colonization, Africans have had almost an infinity of spokespersons. These claimed unilaterally the right to speak on behalf of the Africans and to define the meaning of experience and truth for them. Thus Africans were reduced to silence even about themselves. On the face of it, decolonization removed this problem. However, on closer analysis it is clear that decolonization was an important catalyst in the breaking of the silence about the Africans. It is still necessary to assert and uphold the right of Africans to define the meaning of experience and truth in their own right. In order to achieve this, one of the requirements is that Africans should take the opportunity to speak for and about themselves and in that way construct an authentic and truly African discourse about Africa. In this introduction, focus is placed first upon some of the main reasons why Africa was reduced to silence. This is followed by the speech, the discourse, of Africans about the meaning of experience and truth for them. The essays contained in this section constitute this discourse. We now turn to consider some of the principal reasons why colonization considered itself justified in silencing and enslaving Africa.

'MAN IS A RATIONAL ANIMAL'

One of the bases of colonization was that the belief 'man is a rational animal' was not spoken of the African, the Amerindian, and the Australasian. Aristotle, the father of this definition of 'man', did not incur the wrath of women then as they were probably astounded by the fact that for him the existence of his mother appeared to be insignificant. It was only much later in history, namely at the rise of feminist thought and action, that the benign forgiveness of Aristotle by the women of his time came to be called into question. Little did Aristotle realize that his definition of 'man' laid down the foun-

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