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A postmodern narrative for African philosophy.

1. Introduction

There is a growing body of literature on attempts to critically understand and apply the concept of postmodernism in African philosophy, and by extension the analysis of the post-colonial African predicament (see Masolo, 1994, Van der Merwe, 2000; Ciaffa, 2008; Afolayan, 2009; Araia, 2014; Etieyibo, 2014; Mungwini, 2014).

In this essay I argue for a distinctively postmodern African knowledge culture, which is opposed to that formulation of knowledge espoused by modern Western/European thought, where rationality is closely connected to knowledge. Such a postmodern African knowledge culture recognizes that knowledge is not only local, but also inter-subjective. Alongside African indigenous knowledge cultures there also are many different knowledge cultures present on the African continent, which testify to its fundamentally plural composition. If this fact is overlooked, then we might be confronted with the danger of a renewed fundamentalism founded on the view of a peculiar African knowledge culture. I therefore argue for an African knowledge culture that does not only include the idea of what I refer to as plural conversations in an inter-African context, but also includes a cross-cultural knowledge that facilitates cross-cultural dialogue and understanding.

For the purposes of a broad consideration of a distinctively African knowledge culture, it is possible to oversimplify this diversity and look only at an African traditional knowledge culture. The existence of a peculiarly African traditional knowledge culture is fairly well attested to (see Masolo, 1994: 1; Khaphagawani & Malherbe, 1998: 205; Hallen, 2002: 12). However, reference to an African knowledge culture is also used in a generic sense, which does not deny that there are significant variations among the many African knowledge cultures in Africa.

In the light of this, I am proposing an orientation to African knowledge culture that has cultural relevance insofar as it is mounted on concepts peculiar to an inter-African context, as well as in the larger context of a continuing cross-cultural dialogue. Such an African knowledge culture acknowledges the necessity to develop the ability to grasp the fundamentals of indigenous African cultures and other cultures by way of adopting and living out what I call a postmodern dis-position, which attests to what Burbules (1995) refers to as a sense of plurality, a sense of pragmatism, a sense of fallibility and a sense of judiciousness. Such a postmodern disposition would perceive an African knowledge culture not only as an intercultural African philosophy of personal intent, but also as the practice of cross-cultural dialogue, where culture takes on the form of a consensual or social epistemology, that is, an epistemology deliberately situated in a particular cultural context and sensitive to the need for cross-cultural dialogue. In this instance, the individual recognizes and exercises knowledge(s) appropriate to his/her culture, and at the same time has a critical awareness of the knowledge(s) and cultural traditions of both his/her culture and that of other cultures. In so doing, the individual constructs a sound epistemic identity for his/her culture, as well as one that meets the particular demands of his/her unique cultural context. Such an epistemic identity perceives of philosophy as a product of, and a reflection on, reality, as a guide to life; while the experience out of which philosophy emerges is determined by how people have lived in their particular historic and cultural contexts.

2. Reason and the Practice of Philosophy in Africa

In surveying the current scene in African philosophy, Oruka (1987: 49) identifies four main types of philosophy being defended and practiced in Africa today. He labels these as ethno-philosophy, philosophic sagacity, nationalist-ideological philosophy and professional philosophy.

Ethno-philosophy views philosophy as implicit in the collective and basically religious experience of everyone, rather than as the explicit thought or rational argument of anyone in particular; and it regards African philosophy as fundamentally different from Western philosophy in meaning, logic and content, because of the very different respective mental orientations. Philosophic sagacity or sage philosophy represents the thought of indigenous wise men who critically engage the established tradition and culture of their respective ethnic groups and/or societies. National-ideological philosophy is basically political philosophy and is found in manifestos, pamphlets and discourse related to the African anticolonial struggle for liberation. Professional philosophy is regarded as technical philosophy that utilizes the techniques of Western philosophy, which affirm the centrality of rationality in the activity of philosophy.

Mudimbe (1988: 154) speaks of three main approaches in current African philosophical practice. First is the critique of ethno-philosophy, which draws on the Western philosophical tradition's view of what constitutes appropriate philosophical practice. The second is the foundation approach, which questions the epistemological foundations of the human and social sciences. The third approach includes philological studies, critical anthropology and hermeneutics. Gyekye (1987: 11-12), in turn, distinguishes between traditional and modern African philosophy, or simply between professional and traditional African philosophy.

If one examines the discussion surrounding the various types of African philosophy mentioned so far, one recurring issue that emerges is whether philosophy is to be construed primarily as professional philosophy and thus ultimately along the lines of the institution of Western philosophy, or whether it is to be construed contextually as some form of cultural philosophy. One important aspect of this debate concerns the role of rationality in African philosophy.

The appeal to an African rational discourse has been associated with the debate on the ontological status of African philosophy and its appropriate method (Hountondji, 1983; Gyekye, 1987; Oruka, 1987; Mudimbe, 1988; Bodunrin, 1991; Oruka, 1991; Wiredu, 1991; Bodunrin, 1995). Professional African philosophers argue that it is not enough for African philosophers to collect, interpret and disseminate African proverbs, folktales and myth and call this genuine philosophy. Rather, as Wiredu (1991: 91) claims, philosophy is a rational and critical reflection on the most fundamental ideas and principles underlying our thought about human life and its environment, both natural and supernatural. Philosophy, according to African professional philosophers, must be explicit, methodical and rational. In this instance they see philosophy as the handmaiden of science and modernization (Hountondji, 1983). In short, philosophy, according to this group, is a rational activity that thrives on criticism. According to Bodunrin (1991: 173), criticism is rational, impartial and an articulate appraisal, whether positive or negative. Bodunrin believes a philosopher must state and argue his case clearly. Wiredu (1991: 32) also believes that philosophy thrives on criticism, and hence the rational aspect of the discipline. He claims that, without argument and clarification, there strictly is no philosophy. Further, Wiredu (1991: 47) posits that the philosopher argues for his thesis, clarifying his meaning and answering objections, known and anticipated. Together, both Bodunrin (1991) and Wiredu (1991) are of the opinion that philosophy in Africa should be analytical in its endeavor to clarify conceptual confusions in our world. They believe that it is the critical method that distinguishes philosophical activity, and that this is what makes it a rational discipline. In fact, Oruka (1987: 66) states that reason is a universal trait, and that the greatest disservice to African philosophy is to deny it reason and dress it in magic and extra-rational traditionalism. Hountondji's (1983: 72) conception of philosophy is that it fundamentally is a critical reflection. He claims that philosophy thrives on continuous debate. Philosophy is not a system because it never stops. According to him, its very existence lies in the to and fro of free discussion, hence it is not a closed system but a history, a debate that goes on from generation to generation. What emerges from Hountondji's reflections on philosophy is that it is a critical activity, and therefore a rational discourse.

In his paper, Keita (1991: 153) proposes a method for contemporary African philosophy that amounts to the same position as that of Bodunrin, Wiredu, Oruka and Hountondji when he states:
   This paper attempts to promote the following rational conception of
   philosophy in the Africa context: a dynamic philosophy in the
   vanguard of each of the research disciplines, committed to the
   formulation of new or modified rational concepts and modes of
   knowing appropriate for sociological and technological development.


Keita (1991: 149) believes that a useful approach for African philosophy to adopt is that of a rational and theoretical analysis of issues and ideas. He maintains that, by the very nature of the enterprise, philosophy engages in a rational and critical analysis and that philosophers in Africa should consider the importance of a rational and theoretical analysis of the foundations of empirical science, and this, according to him, is with a view to aid the development of scientific research in Africa.

What emerges from the pronouncements of Bodunrin, Wiredu, Oruka, Hountondji and Keita is the argument that philosophy is a critical activity and, therefore, a rational discourse. In these pronouncements, however, these professional African philosophers identify themselves with the Enlightenment tradition, represented by thinkers such as Hobbes, Descartes, Rousseau, Locke and Kant, who all maintained that reason is a natural human endowment, which, when directed properly, can discover certain universal truths. These truths, it was argued, were embedded in our sense experiences and revealed in inter-subjective agreement among like-thinking rational minds. In this tradition, rational thought was supposed to lead to enlightened action, to the development of rational citizens who would establish a perfect world. Reason was to bring light into darkness, to disabuse people of superstition and tradition, to liberate them from irrationality. It was argued that, unless we have a true and reliable picture of how things are in the world around us--unless, that is, we have knowledge of the world--we are unlikely to have much success in acting. Knowledge is the means by which we direct our behavior to achieve our ends most efficiently and successfully. Rationality of the kind that we humans strive for therefore is an epistemic rationality, or rationality that aims at the truth and is based on knowledge.

This Enlightenment project, which has represented the dominant philosophical tradition in the West, certainly since Descartes, generally regarded a particular type of rationality as the only method for investigation into the truth. The procedure adopted by Cartesian rationality is based upon logical deduction, strict rules of evidence, and an avoidance of the distorting tendencies of affect, a method of investigation in which correct answers were thought to be rationally determined, that is, true. Cartesian rationality, therefore, regards itself as the only avenue toward reliable knowledge, and also sees itself as certain of success in yielding correct, final answers if its methods are followed properly.

3. Philosophy and the Unreason of Reason in a Postmodern Moment

This faith in the inherent power of reason to determine truth has been severely challenged, however, and can be regarded today only with skepticism. The work of Kuhn (1970) and other historians and philosophers of science, such as Popper (1972), Lakatos (1983), Feyerabend (1978) and Lynch and Woolgar (1990), has deeply undermined the belief that even scientists proceed in a purely rational way. Rorty (1987) has also pointed out that this overemphasis on the epistemic functions of reason, and within that a privileging of a particular scientistic approach to inquiry devoid of personal will and affect, has led scientific enquiry away from moral and political considerations, which actually are at the heart of decisions about what we believe and how we act.

In the light of this skepticism and criticism, postmodernism seeks to deconstruct the language of Cartesian rationality by abandoning the idea of rationality as a neutral arbiter of the rules of clear thinking; a disimpassioned means for reaching indubitable, final conclusions; and a universal guide to human thought and conduct.

However, it is also possible to argue that, instead of abandoning altogether the Cartesian method of rationality, we rather should adopt a more inclusive and flexible understanding of reason that does not deny or reject the specific achievements of that method within certain areas of human thought and practice. In arguing this point, I would suggest that reason is neither necessary nor universal, but arises as a practice growing out of what I refer to as plural conversations in which human thought, feeling and motivation operate in practical, everyday experiences. Such a position recognizes the limits of our ability to arrive at final or absolute truth by rational means only, for truth is seen as being rooted in inter-subjective biographies that are constantly in the process of evolving. What this means is that we will be critical of all forms of absolutism, universality and moral smugness in the sense that one has an unquestionable hold on what is really true and right. At the same time we also will be much more modest in the claims we make and not necessarily regard these claims as binding on persons or groups who might have evolved different ways of answering questions and solving problems.

All this leads to a very different notion of reason, one modest about its claims to universality and sensitive to intellectual and cultural differences. This is a view of reason located in plural conversations that have their origin in practical activities such as speaking, listening and reflecting, rather than in objective and dispassionate observation, logical deduction or a scientistic search for facts. Evidence and analysis are undoubtedly important to careful reasoning, but these methods must take their place in a larger context of choices directed at multiple sources of information, appreciating the merits of other perspectives and, in that light, reflecting critically on the potential limits of one's own methods and theoretical assumptions. Such critically reflective persons want to make sense of their existence, they want to understand and be fair to alternative perspectives, and are willing to admit when they have made a mistake in judgment. These qualities do not find their origin in certain formal rules of reasoning inherent in the human condition. They are far more complex than that, and find their origin in what Rorty (1987: 40) refers to as the set of moral virtues that distinguish reason, and that members of a civilized society must possess if the society is to endure. He identifies these virtues as tolerance, respect for the opinions of those around one, a willingness to listen, and reliance upon persuasion rather than force. These virtues are revealed in the enactment of plural conversations, that is, in practical everyday experiences that are witness to the ways in which people speak with and listen to one another. What is important in these instances is not the exercise of an impersonal, disimpassioned, dominating reason governed by the application of mechanical rules of inquiry, but rather the emergence of what I call a consensual or social rationality in which people inquire, disagree, explain or argue their views together in the pursuit of a consensual outcome. Such an outcome is one that the participants, after careful deliberation of different opinions and alternative perspectives, are satisfied with for that moment in time.

Recent literature in African philosophy has been slow to pursue this line of argument, and in those instances that it does focus on reason or critical thinking, the discussion inevitably, in varying degrees, begins with the premise that reasoning equates with rationality, which is dependent on the operation of formal epistemic rules and procedures (see, for example, Houndtondji, 1983; Oruka, 1987; Bodunrin, 1991; Wiredu, 1991). This literature considers any attempt to discuss alternative and plural rationalities as tantamount to creeping relativism, and asserts that there is an urgent need to defend the value of rationality.

This is rather an unfortunate conclusion, as it is not necessarily the case that outcomes based on plural conversations will lapse into relativism of necessity. This is because the process of reason in plural conversations is revealed in a movement towards an agreed upon consensus, arising from careful deliberation and the exercise of choice in reaching a conclusion. If, at a later stage, the conclusion is found to be incorrect, which it may well be, then it can be recognized as such and rectified through an extension of the same process. In arguing that plural conversations are necessary for the intersubjective negotiation of knowledge, I therefore would assert that the alternative to relativism is not a single, uncompromising vision or standpoint. The alternative to relativism is a consensual or social rationality that reflects a sense of solidarity in the experience of shared plural conversations.

The exercise of reason in the postmodern moment, pauses, therefore, to reflect on the limits of our understanding, while at the same time respecting diversity and unassimilated otherness in the experience of finding the space to listen and converse. All this is manifested in an age that Lyotard (1988: 278) claims can no longer talk about a totalizing idea of reason, for "... there is no reason, only reasons." Such a discourse on rationality does not limit itself to the following of formal rules and procedures of thought in making sense of the world, but reveals itself in the intersubjective engagement of what I call a postmodern dis-position.

By a postmodern dis-position I mean that fundamental re-orientation that we adopt in relation to our intersubjective engagement with the world. Here we have to do with a deep personal transformation that effects the way we engage with others in our practical everyday experiences in thinking and acting.

In developing my argument, I propose that such a personal transformation, which is taken up in a postmodern dis-position, is marked by certain moments that are manifestations of something much more fundamental about us as individual persons. Here I draw on a seminal contribution by Burbules (1995) in identifying such moments as being constituted by a sense of plurality, fallibalism, pragmatism and judiciousness.

A sense of plurality is fostered partly by having been exposed to a range of different perspectives, but also by engaging them in a way that enables one to consider seriously the merits of each. This means that we reveal a capacity to regard alternative positions without a "rush to judgment," in that we can withhold our own opinions in an engagement with other points of view. This capacity is fostered, not primarily by the exercise of certain intellectual skills, but by the exercise of a disposition and capacity for restraint. Such a capacity for restraint reveals that we are able to recognize what our own prejudices might be, while acknowledging the limits of our own capacity to appreciate fully the viewpoints of others, and caring enough about others to exert the effort necessary to hear and comprehend what they are saying. A sense of plurality, therefore, has to do with commitment, caring and feeling. It is clearly not a purely rational, cognitive endeavor.

Burbules (1995) maintains that such a sense of plurality is supported not by a position of holding no view, but by the position of having regarded other views thoughtfully and sympathetically enough to realize that each has something to be said for it, so that one is distanced somewhat from the attitude that there is or can be one best way of all. We therefore would acknowledge the fact of difference, perhaps irreconcilable difference, as a condition of the social world, and take our direction not from an ethnocentric presumption of superiority or the erasure of difference in the name of presumed consensus around a unified truth, but in a thoughtful and sensitive engagement across differences, while even at times leaving some of those differences in place.

What this line of argument suggests is that our thoughts and actions will be richer, more balanced and fair, in that we will able to hear and consider a variety of alternatives. Being able to do so requires not only some intellectual capacities, but also aspects of character, personal relations and social contexts that encourage and support the development of such a sense of plurality. Taking all this into account, a sense of plurality is not a result of an uncaring neutrality or of ostensibly holding no position. Nor does a tolerance of and appreciation for many alternative points of view imply a relativistic embrace of simply any view. Rather, it involves an awareness of, and reflection on, positions one does hold, and what their consequences are for other people.

One of the great insights of modern philosophy of science is Popper's (1972) reminder not to be afraid of making mistakes, because it is only through the discovery of error, through some process of falsification, that we are driven to change. Indeed, Popper's recommendation seems to extend far beyond the confines of scientific hypothesis testing (where it is typically applied) to a broader vision and attitude to life. In a variety of contexts, both personal and professional, and intellectual and emotional, we all have experienced failure, error, frustration and disappointment. If we can live with this, as we must, it is usually with the understanding that these experiences have formed us, taught us something, and strengthened our capacity to endure change. In this broader sense, what Burbules (1995) refers to as a sense of fallibalism is also distinctive of a postmodern dis-position.

What is involved in a sense of fallibalism? First, it requires certain commitments, or certain risks, that run the possibility of error. Purposely hiding behind obscurantism, withholding commitment, or playing it safe by only conforming to the conventional and obvious, are all ways of avoiding mistakes, and hence, ultimately, of avoiding learning and change. Second, it requires a capacity to recognize that one is wrong, which is fundamentally linked with the capacity to admit, to oneself and to others, that one was wrong. This includes our capacity to hear and respond thoughtfully to the criticisms of others. Thirdly, it involves a capacity for reflection, as we ponder not only that we have made a mistake, but also why it happened and how we can change to avoid repeating it in the future.

A sense of fallibalism, therefore, speaks of a capacity for change, change prompted by one's own recognition and acknowledgment of error, but also supported by a social environment in which the process is regarded with favor and not disdain. Fallibalism also implies a particular view of learning, namely that we gain new understandings not only by the accumulation of novel information, but by the active reconstruction of our frameworks of understanding. This sort of change requires that we encounter and interact with radically different points of view from our own. It also means, of course, that we must exist in contexts that support and encourage difference, but also that we must have the capacity and willingness to engage others in plural conversations that make the meaningful juxtaposition of different views possible.

Then there is what Burbules (1995) refers to as a pragmatic sense, which I believe also distinguishes a postmodern dis-position. Here reference is not being made to a specific school of thought such as that found in Dewey, James or Pierce. Rather, what is being referred to is a deeper underlying attitude that underlies a general worldview, namely a belief in the importance of practical problems in driving the process of intellectual, moral and political development. Such an outlook is sensitive to the particulars of given contexts and the variety of human needs and purposes.

Most important, a sense of pragmatism reflects a tolerance for uncertainty, imperfection and incompleteness as the existential conditions of human thought and action. Yet it also recognizes the need for persistence in confronting such difficulties with intelligence, care and flexibility. The central lesson of fallibalism in philosophy, from Socrates to Popper, is that we proceed, not towards truth, but away from error. It is much easier to know when we are wrong than when we are right. The philosophical consequence of this insight is distrust in obtaining sought-after results. Certain approaches to inquiry are relied upon, including "conversational" ones, not because they will yield a convergence around truth or agreement, but because experience has shown them to be reliable ways of avoiding certain egregious kinds of mistakes. There is no guarantee built into them to produce what we seek. We merely expect that whatever they yield is more likely to be dependable than what we might have received from other approaches. Such a commitment to a process of inquiry or negotiation, without certainty of results, is what describes a pragmatic sense, which also is a primary feature of a postmodern dis-position.

Supportive of such a pragmatic sense are social contexts in which an emphasis on success is not exaggerated, and in which failure or frustration are accepted as inevitable conditions of growth. In such a social context, the offering of co-operative assistance and constructive suggestions, and asking for them, are socially and personally acceptable options.

But we also need to recognize our own limitations. This would mean that we know when not to try to work out certain things in a particular rational way, while at the same time regarding the skills of rationality and the assessment of reasons as simply heuristics in the much more complex process of trying to decide what to believe and what to do. In recognizing that it is not reasonable to try to apply the analysis of logic, or the strict rules of evidence, or the critique of informal fallacies, to each and every situation, we reveal what Burbules (1995) calls a sense of judiciousness. A sense of judiciousness has to do with a capacity for prudence and moderation, even in the exercise of reason itself. We are not always reasonable. We occasionally fail to act upon our own best inclinations. We frequently fall short of our aspirations. Acknowledging and accepting this in ourselves and in those around us, and asking others to accept it in us, are related to the acceptance of a sense of fallibalism and the willingness to embrace the imperfection and incompleteness that is a part of the pragmatic sense of reasonableness.

There often is more than one reasonable thing to believe, to say, or to do; and it is part of the fallacy of Cartesian conceptions of rationality that they seek a determinative calculus that will converge on the one best or right answer. A sense of judiciousness will reveal that we are discerning about when and how to follow the dictates of argument in the strict sense of the term, and are receptive to the influence of other kinds of persuasion as well. In the actual practice of communicative interaction, strict and conclusive arguments are very rare. Alongside this form of argumentation is a vast range of interlocutory styles, including questions, allusions, unsubstantiated suggestions, metaphors and other tropes, as well as an even broader range of expressions, gestures, touches, tonal utterances, and other kinds of communication. To participate in plural conversations, therefore, entails a sense of judiciousness regarding the influences of other avenues of mutual exploration, negotiation, and the pursuit of understanding.

A sense of judiciousness, as is the case with a sense of plurality, fallibalism and pragmatism, speaks, therefore, of a certain disposition that governs the ways in which we engage with others in our practical everyday experiences in thought and action, and also how we perceive the world in relation to ourselves. The nature of our intersubjective engagements lie, therefore, at the heart of how we think and act, even in relation to our endeavors in philosophy.

4. African Philosophy and a Postmodern Dis-position

The relationship between tradition and modernity has been a central theme of postcolonial African philosophy. While African philosophers have examined this theme from many angles, several basic questions have become the focus of ongoing debate and discussion: What is the relevance of indigenous African traditions to the challenges of contemporary life? Do traditional modes of thought and behavior constitute resources or impediments to the projects of development and modernization in Africa? What, precisely, is meant by the terms "development" and "modernization" when they are used with reference to African countries?

Ciaffa (2008) notes that discussion of such questions reveal a conflict between two broad perspectives. The first perspective, which Gyekye (1997: 233) calls "cultural revivalism," assumes a basic reverential attitude towards traditional African knowledge culture. According to this view, the key to effectively addressing contemporary problems lies in reclaiming and revitalizing African indigenous traditions that have been degraded and suppressed in the wake of colonialism. Colonialism violently disrupted African cultural traditions and imposed European forms of thought and social organization upon the colonized people. Having achieved independence, postcolonial Africans must now pursue a more decisive liberation, a "decolonisation of African minds and societies." For revivalists, the key point is that genuine modernization in Africa can only be realized through the revitalization of African cultural norms.

The second perspective assumes a more critical attitude toward indigenous African traditions. Adherents of this perspective argue that the revivalist project is fundamentally misguided and ill-suited to the challenges of contemporary Africa. According to critics such a Hountondji (1996: 48), the call for a nostalgic return to the past is not merely naive and romantic, but positively dangerous. In their view, cultural revivalism diverts attention from pressing political issues, such as authoritarian oppression and class exploitation, and endorses forms of thought that interfere with the important goals of scientific and technological advancement. Modernization, for them, requires a mental orientation commensurate with the problems of the present, not an attempt to resurrect ideas from societies of the distant past.

In the light of these African philosophical perspectives, I am proposing an orientation to African rationality in responding to the relationship between tradition and modernity that has cultural relevance insofar as it is mounted on materials and concepts peculiar to African thought. This means that we acknowledge the necessity to understand other cultures and our own given cultures better by developing the ability to grasp the fundamentals of our culture and other cultures by living out a postmodern dis-position that attests to a sense of plurality, a sense of pragmatism, a sense of fallibalism and a sense of judiciousness. Such a position would perceive African philosophy as an intercultural philosophy of intent, in which rationality takes on the form of a consensual or social knowledge culture, that is, a knowledge culture deliberately situated in a particular cultural context. In this instance, the individual has to develop and exercise the concept of rationality appropriate to his/her society, and have a critical awareness of the intellectual and cognitive traditions of both his/her society and of other societies. This is thought to be necessary so that the individual can construct a sound intellectual identity for his/her society, one that meets the particular demands of his/her unique cultural context. In other words, such a notion of rationality would perceive philosophy as a product of or a reflection on reality, a guide to life; and the experience out of which philosophy emerges would be determined by what people have lived and by historical situations. If this is recognized by professional African philosophers then they certainly would be seen to address human beings in their historical circumstances, rather than only concerning themselves with matters academic, which do not really have an impact on the human condition. In other words, what I am suggesting is that the philosophical endeavor of professional African philosophers should represent an appealing form of life that they can see themselves enacting. It should offer a conception of rationality that has room for passionate commitment, as well for as open-mindedness, emotion and intellect, in addition to intellectual rupture and consensus.

5. Conclusion

In this essay I have attempted to show the possibilities of such an African knowledge culture for African philosophy in my exposition of what I have referred to as a postmodern dis-position. The merits of such an African knowledge culture include its acknowledgment of alternative forms of knowing and their accompanying cultural expressions, in both an inter-African context and a cross-cultural context; its insistence that knowledge production is not independent of moral and political value; its grounding of rationality in social relations; and its recognition of the role of commitment, caring and feeling in rationality

PHILIP HIGGS

higgsp@unisa.ac.za

University of South Africa

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