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Afrikology, Philosophy and Wholeness. An Epistemology

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How do we understand and create kowledge? Does scientific knowledge cover all knowledge? Afrikology tries to answer these questions by tracing the issue of epistemology to the Cradle of Humanity in Africa and through such a reflection the Monograph establishes a basis for holistic and integrated ways of knowledge production that makes it possible to interface scientific knowledge with other forms of knowledge. In this way Afrikology responds to the crisis created by the fragmentation of knowledge through existing academic disciplines. Afrikology therefore advances transdisciplinarity and hermeneutics to a level where they attain a coherent basis for interacting with Afrikology as an epistemology which returns wholeness to understanding and knowledge production.

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Published 11 April 2011
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EAN13 9780798303217
Language English
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Afrikology,philosophyandwholeness:
Anepistemology
 Dani W Nabudere
Afrikology, philosophy and wholeness:An epistemology
First published in 2011 by the Africa Institute of South Africa PO Box 630 Pretoria 0001 South Africa
ISBN-13: 978-0-7983-0255-5
© Copyright Africa Institute of South Africa 2011. No part of this paper may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission from the copyright owner.
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Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at in all occasional papers are those of the authors and should not necessarily be attributed to the Africa Institute of South Africa.
Project Manager: Nonjabulo Mabuza Design and Layout by Future pre-press, Pretoria. Cover design by Future pre-press, Pretoria. Copy-editor: David Merrington Proofreader: Deleen Wilson
The Africa Institute of South Africa is a think tank and research organisation, focusing on political, socio-economic, international and development issues in contemporary Africa. The Institute conducts research, publishes books, monographs and a quarterly journal, and holds regular seminars on issues of topical interest. It is also home to one of the best library and documentation centres world-wide, with materials on every African country. For more information, contact the Africa Institute at PO Box 630, Pretoria 0001, South Africa; email ai@ ai.org.za; or visit our website athttp://www.ai.org.za
ProfessorDaniWNabudere
Executive Director/Principal, Marcus Garvey Pan-Afrikan Institute now being constituted into the Marcus Garvey Pan-Afrikan University, Mbale, Uganda.
Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Afrikology and the African Heritage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Greek and Western dualisation and abstraction of reality . . . . . . . .27
The implications of the quantum and relativity revolution for consciousness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31
Divination, shamanism and wholeness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
The African Chicane, witchcraft and divination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
Femininity, knowledge and Afrikology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61
Dialogue between the ancient African worldview and the modern Western view . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
The problem of reason and rationality. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
The problem of dialects and oppositionality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
The central role of language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Afrikology, hermeneutics and understanding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
Why Afrikology is different from other African approaches . . . . . .124
Afrikology as a universal emancipatory epistemology . . . . . . . . . .159
Introduction
Afrikology, as an epistemology of knowledge generation and application that has roots in African Cosmology, emerges at a time of extreme complexity in global economic and social relations, the phy sical environment and human history. Indeed, there is a great deal of uncertainty and acrimony in the way we understand the world, as well as the way human beings understand each other in different environments and cultural contexts. This is manifested in the manner in which mainstream knowledge is being produced, articulated, managed and applied to meet today’s challenges. While it is true that in prehistory, knowledge production and application was equally a ‘complicated’ affair, today it has become not only complicated, but also complex and increasingly unmanageable in many cases. Indeed, mainstream institutions, including academia, acknowledge that the production of knowledge and its application in the so-called ‘knowledge society’ is a complex and uncertain process due to its fragmentation and incompatibility, even within the same academic disciplines. In some cases, it has become too ‘dense’ and undecipherable; in others, it has become problematic to code and decode or manage in new ways that can bring greater good tohumanity as a whole in their environments and cultural contexts. The philosopher Charles Taylor [1985B] has observed that the on-going crisis of epistemology, which is based on the ‘civilisation of work’ (as understood in the Western world), has failed to recognise the historical specificity of the civilisation’s inter-subjective meanings and, as a result, it has led to the present malaise and predicaments in society. In his words:
The strains of contemporary society, the breakdown of civility, the rise of deep alienation, which is translated into even more destructive action, tend to shake the basic categories of our social sciences. … Mainstream science hasn’t the categories to explain this breakdown. [p. 48]
The situation in which humanity thus finds itself is one where its mainstream ‘scientific’ knowledge is unable to explain its crisis. This explains why humanity is alienated from itself and from nature, and this imposes an obligation on individuals and communities, as well as
Dani W Nabudere
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Afrikology, philosophy and wholeness:An epistemology
institutions of higher learning and research, to redefine a new path for humanity. Such a path needs to be based on new knowledge that can be applied to its contemporary needs and which can overcome the shortcomings of the old fragmented and dualistic epistemologies of knowledge inherited from the Enlightenment. In this new complexity, the task of African scholars is to explore, trace and investigate the role ancient African knowledge systems contributed in laying the ground for the institutions of knowledge creation and their application to human needs throughout history. In this way, we shall then be able to retrace how these systems were received in other societies and applied to their needs with modification in a system of interrelationships, and how this changed. By exploring both the ancient ‘classical’ systems that are not restricted to the Greco-Christian traditions and by extending this to include their origins in the Cradle of Humankind located in Africa, we shall come to some understanding of the problem and how it came about. This can help us to overcome the current malaise by creating a new ‘synthesis’ in which the original African contribution makes a further contribution based on new understandings, called ‘Afrikology’ in this monograph. The objective of this exercise is, therefore, to elaborate how Afrikology as an all-inclusive epistemology based on the cosmologies emanating from the Cradle of Humankind, can play a role in rejuvenating the Universal Knowledge, which our ancestors first put in place in their growing spread around the world. The role of African scholars is to retrace this humanistic tradition that has roots in the African continent in order to rid our world of those hierarchies and never-connecting dualities of phenomena that Greek philosophers, especially Plato and Aristotle, introduced. They had a one-sided understanding of knowledge, which they received by way of education from the Cradle of Humankind in Egypt, where they were students and researchers. It is this one-sided and inorganic dualisation and fragmentation of knowledge that has increasingly led to the creation of a fragmented consciousness that imperils our very existence as a global civilised human society. In calling for a new civilisation, Basil Davidson has, for this reason, pointed out how Britain today lives in ‘a jumble of ethical precepts bereft of their significance’. He observes that the people in Britain exist in this wasteland that is ‘littered with the debris of broken convictions [Davidson 1969: 65]’. In this confusion, the good of the individual is placed in opposition to the good of the society and the community, with the latter going ‘increasingly to the wall’. Davidson points out that, faced with this
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