Philosophy for Africa

Philosophy for Africa

Philosophy for Africa

Philosophy for Africa

Synopsis

"Has philosophy anything of value to offer contemporary Africa? Has Africa anything of value to offer contemporary philosophy? Philosophy for Africa answers yes to both these questions. It deals with the question of human freedom, and the problem of liberation (in its most comprehensive sense), in the context of contemporary Africa (especially South Africa) and its struggle to overcome the predicament in which European colonialism (and apartheid) has left it. Traditional African thought contains insights into the nature of persons and community that scientific and technological culture has lost, but which could be of the utmost importance in dealing with these issues. They embody a conception of humanity that avoids the materialism and individualism of the dominant forms of contemporary philosophy, but without embracing the opposite extremes of dualism or Marxist collectivism. At the same time, contemporary Africa, and South Africa in particular, needs to articulate these insights in a critical and systematic way, so as to be able to apply them in the struggle for a comprehensive human liberation. Philosophy for Africa draws from the philosophical tradition associated with the names of Aristotle and Aquinas, and such recent figures as Karl Rahner and Bernard Lonergan. It develops this tradition creatively, to integrate African insights and European philosophy into a philosophy of persons, which could serve as a criterion for liberation in the different spheres of human life." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

South Africa is world-famous for apartheid--that unique racist philosophy and system constructed over the last fifty years. Because of apartheid (which means "separateness") another feature of South African life has been hidden from the world for all that time. But now the apartheid era has ended and our recent treasure has been revealed to the world by our president, Nelson Mandela, by public figures like Bishop Tutu and by events like the recent elections, the inauguration of the president, and the World Cup of Rugby. It is called UBUNTU (which means "humanity"). We feel it is something of great value we can offer to the rest of the world. This is what this book is about.

Philosophy for Africa was published in South Africa in 1993 and had a second printing in 1994. It seems likely that there will be a third printing in 1995. This is an indication of an interest that is surprising for a book of this kind. But it can be explained by what is going on in South Africa at the moment, and the relevance that the ideas discussed in Philosophy for Africa have in this context. Now that it is being published in the United States I want to take the opportunity to add something which will both highlight this relevance, and give American readers a more concrete vision of the context in which the book was written and is being read.

Philosophy for Africa is the philosophical engagement with traditional African culture of a South African brought up and educated in a European philosophical tradition, using the concepts and methods of this tradition. I was moved to this engagement because I had made the personal discovery of some ideas central to traditional African thought that seemed to me to be both importantly true and also able to make good a lack in our dominant contemporary culture and philosophy. I feet sure that the positive reaction to the book by South Africans from both European and African backgrounds is not so much because of its philosophical merit but because of the novelty of the intercultural engagement it embodies: African ideas analysed and critically evaluated by European philosophy. And perhaps not just because of the novelty, but also because we now perceive the necessity of this engagement at the deepest level, the level of vision and values.

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