African Philosophy: Myth and Reality

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Indiana University Press, 1996 - Philosophy - 221 pages
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"Hountondji... writes not as an 'African' philosopher but as a philosopher on Africa.... Hountondji's deep understanding of any civilization as necessarily pluralistic, and often even self-contradicting as it evolves, is simply magisterial.... This is a precious gem of a book for anyone who wishes to reflect on civilization and culture." --Choice

In this incisive, original exploration of the nature and future of African philosophy, Paulin J. Hountondji attacks a myth popularized by ethnophilosophers such as Placide Tempels and Alexis Kagame that there is an indigenous, collective African philosophy separate and distinct from the Western philosophical tradition. Hountondji contends that ideological manifestations of this view that stress the uniqueness of the African experience are protonationalist reactions against colonialism conducted, paradoxically, in the terms of colonialist discourse. Hountondji argues that a genuine African philosophy must assimilate and transcend the theoretical heritage of Western philosophy and must reflect a rigorous process of independent scientific inquiry. This edition is updated with a new preface in which Hountondji responds to his critics and clarifies misunderstandings about the book's conceptual framework.

 

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This is a one, very strong introduction to the central question of who the Africans are and where they originate from.

Contents

Analyses
109
Postscript
170
Notes and references
184

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Page 214 - Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.
Page 203 - Religion through its sanctity, and law-giving through its majesty, may seek to exempt themselves from it. But they then awaken just suspicion, and cannot claim the sincere respect which reason accords only to that which has been able to sustain the test of free and open examination.
Page 202 - I openly confess, the suggestion of David Hume was the very thing, which many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber, and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy quite a new direction.

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About the author (1996)

Paulin J. Hountondji is Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Benin, Cotonou. He is editor of and contributor to Philosophical Research in Africa: A Bibliographic Survey and Endogenous Knowledge: Research Trails. Hountondji is former Minister of Culture and Communication and Special Advisor to the Head of State of Benin.

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