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African Philosophy

  • Date Submitted: 03/12/2011 03:43 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 46.9 
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AFRICAN PHILOSOPHY

IS THERE AN AFRICAN PHILOSOPHY IN EXISTENCE TODAY? – ESSIAKA P. LALEYE

Essiaka P. Laleye investigates the question of whether there is an African philosophy existing today. He proceeds by confirming that Father Temples is correct; that in refusing to acknowledge the existence of ‘black thought’ (Coetzee P.H. & Roux A.P.J. Philosophy from Africa 2002: 86) is to ‘exclude blacks from the class of human beings’ and the severity of such an attitude from other opposing philosophical influences; namely Western philosophy, leads to an investigation into the question of African philosophy and if it deserves the ‘epithet philosophical or not’.

He then expounds further as to the pertinence of the question and that if there is an African philosophy, it only makes sense if there is a widely accepted meaning of the term ‘philosophy’ as it presumes that the person asking the question understands the term equally and accepts that all human beings are rational animals with shared understanding of philosophy and the nature of human existence. Whilst he notes that doing philosophy does not necessarily make one a philosopher and accordingly how it is understood by Western philosophers, as for them African thought and thus African philosophy, is a doubtful notion.

He examines what Louis Vincent Thomas wrote, where he suggested that African thought needed to be investigated against a comparison of the characteristics that contrast to other philosophical thought, for example, Western thought, and that the differences would need to be reconciled. He suggests that the ‘richness of the common enterprise’ is to be mutually understood and that each thinker should preserve their ‘own culture and mentality’ as a precondition for the ‘quest for truth’. He disagrees with what Thomas claimed; that in Western understanding there is no Diola, Senegalese philosophy because they are incapable of ‘thinking in abstract terms, observing at the same time the rules of logic’....

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