African Philosophy and Thought Systems
260 Pages
English
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African Philosophy and Thought Systems

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Gain access to the library to view online
Learn more
260 Pages
English

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The once acrimonious debate on the existence of African philosophy has come of age, yet the need to cultivate a culture of belonging is more demanding now than ever before in many African societies. The gargantuan indelible energised chicanery waves of neo-colonialism and globalisation and their sweeping effect on Africa demand more concerted action and solutions than cul-de-sac discourses and magical realism. It is in view of this realisation that this book was born. This is a vital text for understanding contextual historical trends in the development of African philosophic ideas on the continent and how Africans could possibly navigate the turbulent catadromous waters, tangled webs and chasms of destruction, and chagrin of struggles that have engrossed Africa since the dawn of slavery and colonial projects on the continent. The book aims to generate more insights and influence national, continental, and global debates in the field of philosophy. It is accessible and handy to a wider range of readers, ranging from educators and students of African philosophy, anthropology, African studies, cultural studies, and all those concerned with the further development of African philosophy and thought systems on the African continent.

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Published 21 January 2016
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EAN13 9789956763153
Language English
Document size 2 MB

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AFRICAN PHILOSOPHY and THOUGHT SYSTEMS A Search for a Culture and Philosophy of Belonging
Munyaradzi Mawere& Tapuwa R. Mubaya
African Philosophy and Thought Systems: A Search for a Culture and Philosophy of Belonging Munyaradzi Mawere & Tapuwa R. Mubaya Langaa Research & Publishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher: LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Langaagrp@gmail.comwww.langaa-rpcig.net Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective orders@africanbookscollective.com www.africanbookcollective.com
ISBN: 9956-763-01-2 ©Munyaradzi Mawere & Tapuwa R. Mubaya 2016All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying and recording, or be stored in any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher
Table of Contents Preface…………………………………………………v Chapter 1 What Philosophy Is and Is Not……………………….1 Chapter 2 Africa and its Philosophical Thought: Nature, Scope and Pragmatics………………………..27 Chapter 3 African Philosophy, Debates, and Henry Odera Oruka’s Six Trends……………………………..55 Chapter 4 Philosophical Genres and Movements in Africa………………………………………………...73 Chapter 5 Ubuntu/Unhu/Vumunhu: A Principal Moral Compass for the Southern African World…………………………………………………....91 Chapter 6 Pan-Africanism and the Search for Africa’s Framework for Sustainable Development…………………………………………...111 Chapter 7 Nyerereism: A Blend of African Communalism and Socialism…………………………141
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Chapter 8 Nkrumahism: A Search for the Logic of African Unity and Consciencism…………………..161 Chapter 9 African Philosophy, Cultural Identity and Globalisation: Confronting Fear, Terror, and Uncertainty……………………………….187 Chapter 10 Democracy and Human Rights Talk: Africa’s Post-colonial Challenge……………………....213 References……………………………………………...227
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PrefaceAs George Orwell tells us: “Writing a book is painful. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” African Philosophy and Thought Systems… is a book that came out of hardwork and the realisation by the authors of the need to express their unequivocal but fretful minds. This is owing to their past and present experiences and those of fellow Africans in and outside the continent that are both excruciating and resplendent in some way. It is a critical philosophical text that examines, with some profound dexterity, a gamut of topical themes in African philosophy and philosophy in general. While a number of African philosophy texts have been produced around the African continent since the beginning of the decolonisation projects from the 40s to the present, there has been little contribution from the Southern African region especially Zimbabwe, in terms of African philosophy texts. Hitherto, there has been an intellectual gap and dearth of literature by philosophers in Zimbabwean institutions of higher learning with coherently systematic themes that hinge on the making and unmaking of African cultures and thought systems. In light of this, to the best of my knowledge, this book is the very first by philosophers in Zimbabwean institutions to attempt to synthesise African philosophy into a single thematic volume. The production gap in African philosophy texts has always had far reaching consequences to the expansion and vibrancy of philosophy as a discipline in Zimbabwean universities. The gap has seen philosophy wholly as a discipline offered in only two universities out of the fifteen universities in the country. This means that philosophy, though one of the most critical disciplines that in fact should be compulsory in academia, has assumed a backseat position in the curricula of many
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universities in the country. It is from this realisation that Great Zimbabwe University, as a university that was accorded the special mandate by the Zimbabwe government to promote African arts, culture and heritage, took a bold step by introducing African philosophy and thought course as a university-wide module – a module taught to all first year university students regardless of their areas of specialisation. On this note, the publication of this impeccable text is not only timely but a positive gesture towards the fostering of Great Zimbabwe University’s prime niche and African heritage on the global stage. This book is unique, groundbreaking and original. It is the first book, at least in the region, in which indigenous African philosophical ideas and values are examined in detail alongside contemporary trends in philosophy. Furthermore, the book is, to the best of my knowledge – also the very first volume where the emergence, development and implications of ideals, ideas and values in African political systems of governance and logical reflective thought are studied in relation to indigenous African contexts. Be that as it may, this text has the potential to generate more insights and debate while influencing national, continental, and global trends not only in the field of African philosophy but African studies altogether. That said, as the Vice-Chancellor of Great Zimbabwe University, I would like to express my profound gratitude and unhidden exhilaration to the two scholars – Munyaradzi Mawere and Tapuwa R. Mubaya – for coming up with a genial project that has resulted in this cherished and well researched foundational text for the African Philosophy and Thought module offered by across our university by the Faculty of Culture and Heritage. Professor R. J. Zvobgo (Ph. D) Vice-Chancellor, Great Zimbabwe University
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Chapter 1 What Philosophy Is and Is Not Philosophy is the birthbed of all knowledge. It is the mother of all sciences. It is the beginning of all searching and theorisation. This is premised on the idea that philosophy pursues questions in every dimension of human life and its techniques apply to problems in any field of study or endeavour. Basing on this understanding, it is generally accepted that no single definition expresses in fullness the richness and diversity of philosophy. This implies that philosophy may be described in many ways (APA 1981). That being the case, there are as many answers to the question “what is philosophy?” as there are philosophers. This is largely because the question asks more than one could answer. As that may, each philosopher seeks to define this disarmingly daunting question in his or her own unique conceptualisation and interpretation, hence the multiplicity of definitions. In view of this, different scholars from diverse ideological backgrounds and different historical epochs have attempted to proffer their own respective definitions of philosophy which, however, have all never been adequate and exhaustive enough to address the various nuances that fall within the confines of philosophy. Consequently, defining philosophy has proven to be an extremely an elusive task (even to the philosophers themselves) and challenging endeavour tantamount to chasing the wind. The term “philosophy” has somehow become complicated to pin down or define with precision especially under one rubric. On this note, we concur with Schneider (2011) who in light of the challenges and controversies regarding the definition of philosophy argues that the word “philosophy” covers a wide continent, with unclear borders and regions. As alluded to above, it is evident that there is no one single sense
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of the word philosophy. Precisely, there is no universally accepted definition of the word, thus, philosophy can be understood in a myriad of ways and can also be defined from a number of perspectives. In sync with this obtaining realty, Martin Heidegger (1956: 2) in his reflections on the nature of philosophy remarked that “we seem to live in such a time where contemporary philosophers share no unified conception of what philosophy has been or should become. In conformity with Heidger, Peter van Inwagen (2004: 332) noted that disagreement in philosophy is pervasive and irresoluble. For this reason, Inwagen made the conclusion that there is almost no thesis in philosophy about which philosophers agree. Taking into account the complexities surrounding the definition of the term philosophy, many writers and scholars abandon the attempt to define philosophy and instead, turn to the kinds of things philosophers do and don’t do (see also Bryson 2009). The present chapter, thus, is a response to the dual question ‘what philosophy is and is not?’ Definition(s) of philosophy: An unfinished business The word philosophy is derived from two Greek words: phileinwhich means love andsophiawhich means wisdom (Deluze and Guattari 1994; Barnett 2008). These two words when joined together create the word philosophy which can be loosely translated to mean “the love for wisdom.” It is fundamental to set the record straight right from the onset that the definition of philosophy can be offered from a number of perspectives some wider and some narrower. As Sodipo (1973: 3) tells us philosophy is reflective and critical thinking about the concepts and principles people use to organise their experiences in religion, moral, social and political life, law, psychology, history and the natural sciences. As an academic discipline, philosophy exercises the principles of reason and logic in an attempt to understand reality and answer fundamental questions underpinning human lives in all realms 2
of existence. This conceptualisation of philosophy is corroborated by Deluze and Guattari (1994) who define philosophy as an activity that people undertake when they seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves and the world in which they live. Taking it from Deluze and Guattari, all disciplines generally qualify as philosophy as long as they seek to understand fundamental truths about some people and the world around. For Maziarz (1987), philosophy implies both the process of questioning and the results of this interrogation as embodied in a personal or public enterprise of value to mankind. A similar understanding is offered by Gyekye (1987) who understands philosophy as a conceptual response to basic issues and human problems. For scholars such as Honderichn (1995: 666) and Quinton (1995), philosophy is a body of knowledge concerned with the general nature of the world (metaphysics or theory of existence), the justification of belief (epistemology or theory of knowledge), and the conduct of life (ethics or theory of value). Honderichn and Quinton drew their definitions from the basic branches of philosophy such as metaphysics, logic, epistemology, ethics (moral philosophy). According to Warburton (1999), the main concern of philosophy is to question and understand very common ideas that people take for granted and use every day without thinking about them. He gives examples of experts in different areas of study in terms of how they differ from a philosophy expert in view of their object of study, type of questions they ask, and their questioning style. He, thus, argues a historian may ask what happened at some time in the past, but a philosopher will ask, “What is time?” A mathematician may investigate the relations among numbers, but a philosopher will ask, “What is a number?” A physicist will ask what atoms are made up of or what explains gravity, but a philosopher will ask how we can know there is anything outside of our own minds. A psychologist may investigate how children learn a language, but a philosopher will ask, “What makes a word mean anything?” Anyone can ask whether it’s wrong to sneak into a movie 3