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How Does Hountondji Define African Philosophy and Why Does He Think His Definition Is Free of Theoretical Presuppositions.

  • Date Submitted: 10/09/2012 05:43 AM
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How does Hountondji define African Philosophy and why does he think his definition is free of theoretical presuppositions?
Table of contents:
1 Introduction
2 Bantu Philosophy
3 Political Criticism
4 Ethnophilosophy
5 Conclusion
6 Bibliography
1 Introduction
Hountondji defines and limits African philosophy as a set of texts. By ‘African philosophy’ he means a set of texts, specifically the set of texts written by Africans and described as philosophical by their authors themselves. (Coetzee, Roux 2002:125).His definition is thus free of theoretical presuppositions because for him philosophers’ intentions in their work determine its philosophical status. If thinkers pronounce their work to be philosophical, it has to be accepted as such. (Ramose, Roux, Tsie 2007:62).In his essay an Alienated Literature Hountondji aims to show the reader that for him African philosophy consists in the ongoing discourse of Africans who try to define themselves and to account for their relationships to others and the world. Part of the philosophers’ task, according to him, is to liberate this discourse, because Africa’s history rendered it ideological. (Ramose et al. 2007:62).For Hountondji African philosophy does not lie where we have long been seeking it, in some mysterious corner of our supposedly immutable soul, a collective and unconscious world view. (Coetzee, Roux 2002:125). Hountondji discusses mainly two texts as an example of an approach to African philosophy Bantu philosophy and ethnophilosophy.
2 Bantu Philosophy
Hountondji begins with what he considers the seminal text of ‘African philosophy’, the 1945 Bantu Philosophy by the Belgian missionary Placid Temples. According to Hountondji: Bantu philosophy is an ethnological work with philosophical pretentions, or more simply, as he puts it a work of ‘ethnophilosophy’. (Coetzee, Roux 2002:125).The aim of Bantu philosophy was to reconstruct a particular Weltanschauung, a special world view commonly attributed to all Africans,...

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