Advertisement

Exploring African Philosophy of Difference

  • Elvis ImafidonEmail author
Living reference work entry
  • 459 Downloads
Part of the Handbooks in Philosophy book series (HP)

Abstract

It is the tradition of philosophy as a rational and critical human activity across borders to isolate specific human ideas both as syntax and as real and lived human experiences, bring them to the foreground, and make them occupy a crucial and specialized place in philosophical discourse. This is apparent in the many delimited branches of philosophy such as metaphysics – an inquiry into the fundamental principles underlying reality; epistemology – an inquiry concerning the nature, scope, and theories of human knowledge; axiology – an inquiry into the theories of human values; and philosophy of science – a critical examination of the nature, methods, and assumptions of science. African philosophy has thrived and flourished in the last six decades beginning as a reactionary scholarship to prior denial of the possibility of its existence, to becoming an established academic discipline. However, African philosophy although succeeding in establishing its general nature, themes, and problems, is still at the elementary stage of discussing specifics and delimiting its areas of inquiry into specialized fragments. Thus, beyond the general commentaries on African philosophy in existing literature, it is only recently that we find a few scholars writing and laying the groundwork on specialized themes in African philosophy such as African ethics, African epistemology, and African ontology. My goal in this chapter is to bring one essential human experience to the foreground in African philosophy as a specialized area of inquiry. The human experience that interests me here is the ubiquitous concept of difference and the peculiarities of its experience by Africans in Africa and beyond. My intention is to attempt a preliminary sketch of the meaning, nature, scope, and primary tasks of African philosophy of difference. I show, for instance, how African philosophy of difference can shift the discourse of difference from empirical manifestations of difference to an exploration of the theories that stands under such manifestations. I conclude that African philosophy of difference is crucial in understanding and dealing with the complex issues of identity, difference, and the other experienced in Africa in areas such as albinism, xenophobia, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and politics. The possibility of such an inquiry also indicates the prospect of delimiting African philosophy to more specialized spheres of discourse.

Keywords

Difference African philosophy Othering Ontology Epistemology Ethics 

References

  1. Behrens, K. 2010. Exploring African holism with respect to the environment. Environmental Values 19 (4): 465–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Behrens, K. 2013. Toward an African relational environmentalism. In Ontgologized ethics: New essays in African meta-ethics, ed. Elvis Imafidon, 76–97. Lanham: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  3. Behrens, K. 2017. The imperative of developing African eco-philosophy. In Themes, issues and problems in African philosophy, ed. Isaac E. Ukpokolo, 191–204. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cisney, V.W. 2015. Differential ontology. In Internet encyclopedia of philosophy: A peer-reviewed academic resource. http://www.iep.utm.edu/diff-ont/. Accessed 3 Dec 2017.Google Scholar
  5. de Beistegui, M. 2005. Difference. In The Edinburg dictionary of continental philosophy, ed. John Protevi. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Deleuze, G. 1994. Difference and repetition. Trans. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Derrida, J. 1974. Of grammtology. Trans. G.C. Spivak. London: The John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Derrida, J. 1978. Writing and difference. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Gallie, W.B. 1955. Essentially contested concepts. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 56: 167–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Graness, A. 2017. Concepts of justice in Africa: Past and present. In Themes, issues and problems in African philosophy, ed. Isaac E. Ukpokolo. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Hamminga, B. 2005. Knowledge cultures: Comparative Western and African epistemology. Amsterdam: Rodopi.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hegel, G.W.F. 1956. The philosophy of history. Trans. J.H. Clarke. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  13. Ikuenobe, P. 2006. Philosophical perspectives on communalism and morality in African traditions. London: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  14. Imafidon, E. 2013. On the ontological foundation of a social ethics in African traditions. In Ontologized ethics: New essays in African meta-ethics, ed. Elvis Imafidon and John A.I. Bewaji, 37–54. Lanham: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  15. Imafidon, E. 2017. Dealing with the other between the moral and the ethical: Albinism on the African continent. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38 (2): 163–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kant, I. 1960. Observation of the beautiful and the sublime. Trans. J.T. Goldthwait. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kant, I. 2006. In Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view, ed. Robert B. Louden. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Laruelle, F. 2010. Philosophies of difference: A critical introduction to non-philosophy. Trans. Rocco Gangle. London: The Continuum International Publishing.Google Scholar
  19. Levy-Bruhl, L. 1947. Primitive mentality. Paris: University of France Press.Google Scholar
  20. Mbiti, J.S. 1970. African religions and philosophies. New York: Doubleday and Company.Google Scholar
  21. Onobhayedo, A. 2007. Western education and social change in Esan land. IRORO: A Journal of Arts 7 (1): 270–271.Google Scholar
  22. Pobee, J. 1976. Aspects of African traditional religion. Sociological Analysis 37 (1): 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. South African Pagan Rights Alliance. 2017. Remember their names – Victims of witch-hunts in South Africa 2000–2017. www.paganrightsalliance.org/remember-their-names/. Accessed 25 Oct 2017.
  24. Tempels, P. 1959. Bantu philosophy. Paris: Presence Africaine.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts, Department of PhilosophyAmbrose Alli UniversityEkpomaNigeria

Personalised recommendations