Philosophy and Its Role in Africa
Written by: Amon Bekele
Table of content
Universal Role of Philosophy
Specific/Distinctively African Role of Philosophy
Social and Cultural Role
This paper tries to address the following points: philosophy plays several constructive roles in Africa. In some of its functions philosophy plays the same role in Africa as it does in other regions of the world. For instance, philosophy helps us to grasp the underlying principles of some fundamental questions the knowledge of which would contribute to our development as human beings. On the other hand, philosophy could also address our political and cultural problems by pointing us the way to an enlightened discussion methods such as polylogue and also by creating such critical-minded and strong-spirited individuals who check unjust actions of African leaders in such a manner that it can compel them to stand for the overall development of the African people.
Philosophy is literally defined as the love of wisdom and has been serving as an instrument in the attempt to satiate man’s natural curiosity of certain core universal problems. Although philosophy has not yet secured the reputation, and it doesn’t seem very likely that she will, of overcoming all the problems and questions that stand on her way of attaining truth and wisdom, she has certainly managed to amass as much encomiums as it’s possible for such abstract fields to get of expediting the progress and advancement of the powers of reasoning and understanding of human beings. In this very praise of philosophy is to be detected a certain tendency of undermining and understating the enormous value of philosophy which could transcend the limits, rather the curb put to it by its own adherents.
In this humble work, I profess to disclose, albeit to a certain extent, the usually discarded but equally significant utility of philosophy with a view to not only adding on its existing fame but also of bringing the misguided, who have been deluded into thinking that the role of philosophy is limited to mere cultivation of the mind which for them is clearly not a primary concern, to the throng of its ardent votaries.
Accordingly, I purport to show the role of philosophy and philosophers as well in ameliorating the deplorable conditions which we Africans have been compelled to find ourselves in. In pursuit of this objective I shall endeavor to look into the role that philosophy could play in the African context from two different but inextricably related perspectives. The first of these is that which we as members of the human species share with peoples of other regions which I would like to call the Universal Role of philosophy i.e. the benefit that every human being ipso facto could generate out of the enduring wisdom of philosophy. The second, probably the most important for this purpose, is that use of philosophy which is peculiar to Africans, more so because it attempts to address the peculiarities, rather the common predicaments of Africans as Africans. This I shall try to do by conspicuously stating the distinctive features, limited to the matter at hand, of the African people without greatly exaggerating them lest the first utility of philosophy may be undermined. This latter role of philosophy I would like to term the Specific/Distinctively African Role of Philosophy/these nomenclatures do not have any ties with any internationally acknowledged persons or institutions, they are given merely on the basis of the meanings that the terms signify/.
Moreover, in our inquiry of the role that could be played by philosophy, we shall pay heed to the pressing problems of present Africa and also to the post colonial Africa in so far as it continued to haunt the...
Bibliography: Aristotle (1968), The Metaphysics-Translated by Hugh Tredennicx, London, William Heinemann Ltd.
Enrique Dussel, (2008) A New Age In The History of Philosophy: The World Dialogue Between Philosophical Traditions
Kwasi Wiredu, (1980) Philosophy and An African Culture; London, Cambridge University Press
Plato (1974), The Republic-Translated by G.M.A. Grube; Indianapolice, Hackett publishing Co.
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