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81. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Ojah Uti Egbai Questioning the Group-Based Approach to Social Equality in the Post Apartheid South Africa
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In this paper, I investigate whether the pursuit of group-based social equality should constitute a political goal or not. I explain that social equality refers to the mechanism for horizontal presentation of opportunities to individuals in a given society to express their abilities. It could also mean the right to vie, contest, compete or take advantage of certain opportunities or even to the freedom to pursue or obtain certain opportunities among free citizens in any society. I argue that the position of the mainstream European South African population seems to be that this should be an individual-based exercise since the sectional policy of apartheid has been disestablished. However, the majority of native South Africans appear to hold that since the post-apartheid South African society is heavily lopsided that the pursuit of social equality, especially by the natives who experience great economic disadvantage as a political goal, should be group-based in order to address comprehensively the social and economic ills of apartheid. This groupbased approach is challenged by European South Africans who arguethat it introduces another form of inequality that places them at a disadvantage. I will analyze the arguments on both sides and attempt to justify the group-based approach in the light of the post-apartheid peculiar circumstances of native South Africans.
82. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Grivas Muchineripi Kayange African Philosophical Foundation of a Pneumatological Controversy inside the Church of Central African Presbyterian in Malawi
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I investigate the African philosophical foundations of a pneumatological controversy inside the Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP) in Malawi. While apparently the conflict consists in difficulties in embracing both the New Pentecostal Theology (NPT) and the Reformed Calvinist (protestant) Theology (RCT) within CCAP, it is rooted in the philosophical conflict between communitarianism and individualism. CCAP fully embraced the African communitarian philosophy mixed with Christian communism as its essence, while adherents of NPT followed individualism. Consequently, this affected the interpretation of the fundamental doctrines such as sola scriptura, sola grazia, and other practices. I suggest a philosophical solution constituting in rebuilding African identity and a theological solution in promoting a new pneumatology based on the concept of enculturation.
83. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Pius M. Mosima Francophone African Philosophy: History, Trends and Influences
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In this paper, I engage in a critical discussion of Francophone African philosophy focusing on its history, the influences, and emerging trends. Beginning the historical account from the 1920s, I examine the colonial discourses on racialism, and the various reactions generated leading to the Négritude movement in Francophone African intellectual history. I explore the wider implications of the debate on Négritude as an integral component of ethnophilosophy in postcolonial Francophone African philosophy. Finally, I argue that in spite of the apparent linguistic divides/boundaries between Francophone African philosophy and thephilosophical traditions in Anglophone and Lusophone Africa, there are robust interactions and critical exchanges of ideas converging and reconnecting with other philosophical orientations outside Africa.
84. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Ndubuisi Osuagwu, Jonathan O. Chimakonam African Studies through Language-based Techniques
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In this article, we argue that language-based techniques have the capacity to generate original ideas and thus account for progress in any discipline. We claim that language-based techniques used by some African scholars such as hermeneutics (critical interpretation of cultural corpus) and related ones such as transliteration (adaptation of alien intellectual legacy) are creatively inadequate to inspire progress because they do not lead to the creation of new concepts and original ideas in African thought. We claim also that the technique of intellectual decolonisation with its foremost expression in Kwasi Wiredu’s ‘conceptual decolonisation’ and Kwesi Tsri’s ‘conceptual liberation’, are two recent language-based strategies aimed at overcoming the creative problem inherent in the techniques of hermeneutics and transliteration. We argue that these two techniques are equally inadequate because they are tantamount to what can be called‘conceptual manipulation’, which is not a creative strategy for progress in African thought. The goal of this paper therefore is to expose the creative weaknesses in these techniques in order to show that there is a dearth of creative language-based techniques in African studies and make a call for the formulation of one.
85. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Christian C. Emedolu Thought Predicament and Unwillingness to Act: Twin Minions of Underdevelopment in Africa
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Varied theories and models of development have been advanced by many scholars to explain the failure of developmental theories and policies in Africa. This paper critically reviews the existing literature on the bane of development in Africa, arriving at what it considers as the most fundamental twin minions of underdevelopment in the continent. The two implicated interrelated issues are thought predicament and unwillingness to act (which in itself is also a predicament). Whereas thought predicament affects the intellectual faculty, unwillingness to act is the defect of the volitional and affective faculties. This paper strongly claims that without first rectifying these three core faculties of the African person, the continent can at best be chasing shadows. This, however, does not suggest that all other reasons for underdevelopment are insignificant or implausible. Well-planned educational system and deliberate conscientiousness towards enhancing the intellectual, volitional and affective faculties of humans are key to sustainable development of any state in Africa.
86. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Ademola Kazeem Fayemi Personhood in a Transhumanist Context: An African Perspective
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Personhood is an extensively discussed theme in contemporary African philosophy, which has taken metaphysical, epistemological and normative dimensions. In Western philosophical traditions, discourse on personhood is transmuting to debates on transhumanism. Missing in the African philosophical literature is consideration of transhumanism and an explication of the relationship between personhood and transhumanism. In this article, I critically examine the relationship between personhood and transhumanism in an African context. Drawing on Barry Hallen’s African metaphysical account of personhood andThaddeus Metz’s Afro-communal normative conception of personhood, I argue that while some transhumanist elements are embedded in African normative and ontological conceptions of personhood, some others are not. In the final analysis, I defend an Afrofuturistic account of personhood that is compatible with some censored essentials of transhumanism in African thoughts.
87. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Ojah Uti Egbai Why African Philosophers should build Systems: An Exercise in Conversational Thinking
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At the height of the Great Debate about the existence or otherwise of African philosophy, Kwasi Wiredu bemoaned the dearth of originality in the practice of African philosophy. For him, African philosophers should now go beyond talking about African philosophy and get down to actually doing it. But what does it mean to do African philosophy? And what is the importance of actually doing African philosophy? In this paper, I will argue that doing African philosophy should involve,among other things, system-building. I will argue that the growth of the discipline and the advancement of Africa’s intellectual history constitute strong reasons for African philosophers to aim at building systems in this era. I will highlight existing attempts at system-building in African philosophy and show their weaknesses in order to project conversational thinking as a better framework. I will conclude by arguing that systembuilding is part of the overall goal of conversational philosophy, which has been demonstrated in some quarters as the future direction of African philosophy.
88. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Molefi Kete Asante The African Struggle to Abandon Westernity: African Philosophy at Eshuean Crossroads
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This essay deals with the ideas of Ifeanyi Menkiti and Kwame Gyekye on the individual-community relationship. I begin with a provocative statement: most African intellectuals struggle with abandoning Westernity and consequently remain at the Eshuean crossroads seeking to please both sides of the abyss. It is my argument that both Menkiti and Gyekye understood that teasing out our philosophical problems might lead us to an intellectual clarity about the concepts of community and individual in African cultures. I am making no attempt to solve this problem of Eshuean crossroads in this essay; I simply want to establishthe grounds upon which the combatants of philosophical ideas like Menkiti and Gyekye are fighting.
89. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Michael Onyebuchi Eze Menkiti, Gyekye and Beyond: Toward a Decolonization of African Political Philosophy
90. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Peter Amato The Menkiti-Gyekye Conversation: Framing Persons
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Ifeanyi Menkiti’s “Person and Community in African Traditional Thought” is criticized from the standpoint that the author assumes a dichotomous framework taken over in his decision to articulate the African view of the person in the idiom of modern philosophy. Kwame Gyekye’s critique of Menkiti in “Person and Community in African Thought” is also scrutinized to see if it manages to break free from this framework. I conclude by calling for a departure from quasi-scientificapproaches to human nature and experience that attempt to apprehend culture from a position without culture.
91. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Bernard Matolino The Politics of Limited Communitarianism
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The debate on the communitarian notion of personhood as initiated by Gyekye, in response to Menkiti, is both exhaustive and exhausted. Its exhaustiveness and exhaustion lies in the fact that, in all probability whatever can be said around it has been said, with truly nothing new likely ever being added. What is possibly left, is the potential for further additions to be more strident in their picking of sides or repeating that Gyekye and Menkiti are not sufficiently different or insisting on the authenticity of either approach to African thought. What is needed is to transcend the constraints of this debate by opening up new vistas of interpreting communitarian thought in personhood. Whatever merit there is in showing whether radical or moderate communitarianism is real, or in showing which of these two is better than the other, this discussion can be furthered by looking at implications of communitarianism to other facets of philosophy. The most plausibleavenue that could be implicated in communitarian considerations is the sphere of politics. Theorising about the communitarian notion of persons, I suggest, is partly to theorise about the political. If the commitments on which the doctrine of communitarianism is founded, are used to capture the sort of relations that exist between individuals, and between individuals and the community, then this relationship has an effect on how we conceive of the political theory we thinkappropriate. It is suggested here that contemplating on the communitarian polity will show the shortcomings of communitarianism as conceived by Gyekye and Menkiti.
92. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Ada Agada, Uti Ojahi Egba Language, Thought, and Interpersonal Communication: A Cross-Cultural Conversation on the Question of Individuality and Community
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The ongoing debate among African philosophers on the relation of the individual and the community has spawned radical, moderate, and limited communitarian views. In this paper we will insert the question of interpersonal communication into the individual-community conundrum and raise the discourse to the level of cross-cultural engagement. We will highlight the dominant perspectives in Afro-communitarianism with particular emphasis on the Ghanaian philosopher Kwame Gyekye and the Nigerian philosopher Ifeanyi Menkiti. Expanding the discourse into the domain of intercultural/comparative philosophy, this paper will engage Gyekye and Menkiti’s Afro-communitarianism and Jean-Paul Sartre’s radical individualism and the resulting conflictual presentation of interpersonal relation. The paper adopts the conversational method.
93. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Polycarp Ikuenobe Radical versus Moderate Communitarianism: Gyekye’s and Matolino’s Misinterpretations of Menkiti
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This essay provides an exposition and a plausible interpretation of Ifeanyi Menkiti’s conception of personhood vis-a-vis this community. I do this, partly, to rebut some specific criticisms by Kwame Gyekye and Bernard Matolino. They construe Menkiti’s account, primarily, as a metaphysical thesis about the community that provides the essential ontological basis for the nature of personhood. They argue that this view of communitarianism is radical or extreme because the community diminishes individuality and prioritizes community’s interests over individuals’ interests, freedom, and rights. I argue that Gyekye’s and Matolino’s interpretations of Menkiti’s view are mistaken, and that Menkiti’s account of the connection between the community and personhood is a social-moral thesis. This thesis argues that the community provides the norms and material conditions for individuals to live a meaningful life and achieve personhood, and achievingpersonhood involves being integrated into, and contributing positively to the harmony of, the community.
94. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Ifeanyi Menkiti Person and Community—A Retrospective Statement
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Over the past four decades, I have been asked many questions regarding the substance and methodology of my essay “Person and Community in African Thought”. I cannot in the space of these pages retrieve or reframe the content and implications of these several questions and it would be fool-hardy to attempt an answer to all of them here. But that is no reason not to try to say a few things, by way of additional commentary, on the occasion of this retrospective on the essay. It would be helpful to proceed by concentrating on a few issues which have been of some concern, or interest, to readers over the years, adding a response, however brief, as I go along.
95. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Jonathan O. Chimakonam Can Individual Autonomy and Rights be Defended in Afro-Communitarianism?
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I argue that individual autonomy and rights can be defended but only in African or qualified version of communitarianism. I posit that there are two possible versions of communitarianism: the qualified or the African and the unqualified or the version discussed mostly by Western scholars. I show that Ifeanyi Menkiti, Kwame Gyekye, Michael Eze and Bernard Matolino have formulated communitarian theories of right in African philosophy. I explain that while Menkiti and Gyekye erroneously employed the unqualified version in their proposals, Eze and Matolino who employed the qualified version failed to ground it in a non-Western or African logic. I argue that while the Western or Aristotelian logic grounds the unqualified version making it difficult to defend autonomy and rights within it, an African logic can be used to ground a qualified version of communitarianism in order to bring out an important African cultural value such as complementarity which affirms the identity of the individual first, so as to justify other communal values such as solidarity and common good, etc. I therefore contend that the qualified version is the correct specimen for analysing the individual-community relationship in African philosophy in which autonomy and rights can be defended.
96. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Edwin Etieyibo Moral Force and the “It-It” in Menkiti’s Normative Conception of Personhood
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What is the status and nature of the “it” and the ontological progression from an “it” to an “it” in Ifeanyi Menkiti’s normative conception of a person? In this article, I attempt to preliminarily give some nuance content to the “it” of childhood and the “it” of the nameless dead. My motivation is straightforwardly simple: to defend Menkiti’s claim that both “its” have some depersonalised moral standing or existence. However, in doing so, I argue that a better account of the ontological progression of personhood is from an “it” to an “it-it”5 rather than from an “it” to an “it.” On this modified version of the double hyphenated “its”, which isunderpinned by the idea of moral force, the prior moral worth of the nameless dead is taken into account as valuable members of our collective immortality, notwithstanding the fact that their names have been forgotten.
97. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Kai Horsthempke African Communalism, Persons, and the case of Non- Human Animals
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“I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am”, generally regarded as the guiding principle of African humanism, expresses the view that a person is a person through other persons and is closely associated but not identical with African communitarianism, or communalism. Against Ifeanyi Menkiti’s “unrestricted or radical or excessive communitarianism” Kwame Gyekye has proposed a “restricted or moderate communitarianism”. Whereas personhood, for Menkiti, is acquired over time, with increasing moral maturation, seniority and agency, Gyekye considers it to arise automatically with being born human. The problem with Menkiti’s account of personhood is that it is at once too wide and too narrow. On the other hand, it remains unclear to what extent Gyekye’s is a communitarian view – and to what extent it is distinctly ‘African’. I conclude with a critical reflection on the implications of African communalism and personhood for non-human animals.
98. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Jonathan O. Chimakonam Why we should Explore the Metaphysical and the Epistemological Dimensions of African Philosophy
99. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Paulin J. Hountondji How African is Philosophy in Africa?
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Let me straight from the beginning confess one thing: I am not happy with the phrase “African Philosophy” used to describe a subject-matter, a specific discipline in the university curriculum. Why? Because it seems to particularize a kind of intellectual production taking place in Africa and to deny its universal validity. It apparently means, to use the words by Jonathan Chimakonam himself, “a bordersensitive, culture-bound exclusive system that holds only in Africa and is not universally applicable” This particularization, however, has its own story. I wish first in this paper to recall briefly the earliest stage of this story and then discuss alternative ways to remain authentically African while doing philosophy in Africa today.
100. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Motsamai Molefe African Metaphysics and Religious Ethics
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Scholars of African moral thought reject the possibility of an African religious ethics by invoking at least three major reasons. The first objection to ‘ethicalsupernaturalism’1 argues that it is part of those aspects of African culture that are ‘anachronistic’ insofar as they are superstitious rather than rational; as such, they should be jettisoned. The second objection points out that ethical supernaturalism is incompatible with the utilitarian approach to religion that typically characterises some African peoples’ orientation to it.2 The last objection argues that religious ethics by their very nature require the feature (of revelation), which is generally lacking in African religious experiences. The facet of revelation is crucial for a religious ethics since it solves the epistemological problem of knowing the will of God or the content of morality. In this article, I construct a vitality-based African religious moral theory; and, I argue that it can successfully meet these objections.