Intercultural Philosophy (Philosophy and the Global Context)
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He believed that the German language was not only different from Latin in this case, but that it actually grasped reality. Heidegger turned confidence into faith. With respect to the relation of his mother tongue Akan to English, his professional language, Kwasi Wiredu talks about the "Need of Conceptual Decolonization" since for a person whose mother tongue is Akan the meaning of words like "truth, reality, knowledge, self, person, space, time, life, matter, subjectivity" and many others is different from the meaning English native speakers ascribe to these terms.
In any case, it is necessary to translate the discoveries into new terminologies. Since the whole process of revision, criticism and translation of philosophical concepts and descriptions of problems requires understandable results, there must be some standardised terminology - such standards can only develop within a tradition. Can we, then, criticise or analyse traditions without relying on or creating traditions at all? Obviously, we cannot. There are two thinkable ways out of this dilemma.
One way is, to search for a single method of reasoning that goes beyond every cultural conditioning. However, no one method was or will be a universally accepted one. In such a case there will be a lesser need for translation and interpretation.
Consequently it will be addressed to a smaller number of audience. Wimmer eds. Without criteria to distinguish the true universality from the false one, every criticism of "eurocentrism" or of anything similar will be little more than an empty noise. The task here is threefold: to reflect on the cultural and regional particularities of each kind of thinking on every possible level; to search for universally valid arguments and concepts; and to do justice to the respective regional philosophic traditions.
Language in this sense becomes a tool to express national and regional feelings or Weltanschauungen. Quite often such an attempt is linked to emancipatory political or ideological movements. Intellectuals of formerly colonised countries argue against the predomination of the colonising culture. More generally, this tendency is growing also in Europe itself as a result of regionalist and nationalistic movements.
A "Russian soul" as well as a "Croat philosophy" can be found in texts from the past decade. In: Theodor Haering ed. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2. In this process, bilateral communication between centre and periphery is virtually absent. Ethnophilosophers therefore resent the monopolistic attitude of occidental philosophers who pretend that their philosophy is universally valid and representative for all humans.
In fact, occidental philosophers expressed the thoughts of their own class or their cultural tradition, as did philosophers from other regions of the world. Why, then, should we not recognise the right of every cultural tradition to express their own thoughts, and to call these expressions one's own philosophy? Why, after all, should different philosophies be in competition with each other in an objectivistic way?
They could as well be on equal terms with each other. Yet, such a view may not be tenable since the project of argumentation itself, the fundamental prerequisite in any theoretical practice, is put into question.
Philosophic sagacity and intercultural philosophy : beyond Henry Odera Oruka
If particularity and separateness of culturally bound ways of thinking are true, there is no distinction between convincing and manipulating, between logic and rhetoric. Of course this in itself is no argument. What we need to reflect upon is the possibility of philosophical argumentation itself. Let me illustrate this by some discussions in contemporary African philosophy about ethnophilosophy. Ethnophilosophy in an African context often has been discussed in relation to the famous book on Bantu Philosophy of the Belgian missionary Placide Tempels.
In fact, it is an ethnological work with philosophical pretensions, or more simply, if I may coin the word, a work of 'ethnophilosophy'. Myth and reality, London: Hutchinson , p. It considers collective units, stable in time and autochthonous in habits, as its subject matter.
There has been a vivid discussion about Tempels' stance which was practised by Africans as well as by non-Africans9 within Africa, especially after the period of political decolonisation. Tshiamalenga Ntumba summarises the discussions about this topic. He lists the following to be implicit or explicit concepts that shape Tempels' description of Bantu philosophy": 1.
There is a traditional philosophy of the Bantu people.
Intercultural Philosophy by Mall Ram Adhar
This philosophy is ontology in the strict sense. The central concept in Bantu ontology is a concept of force rather than of essence, as compared with occidental ontology. Bantu philosophy cannot express itself explicitly, but is rather an unconscious and hidden layer structuring Bantu languages and institutions.
Occidental concepts are both necessary and apt to explicate this implicit thinking. Bantu ontology belongs not only to the Baluba - whom Tempels was living with - but also to all Bantu, even to all "primitive" men. Paris: Presence Africaine The book had been published first in French in Especially during the years following political decolonisation academic philosophy became institutionalised in many African universities. A bundle of questions arise: what are the characteristics of such an African philosophy supposed to be?
Is there some unity across the many languages and traditions of the continent? Whether and how can such traditions be reconstructed? And so on. Bodunrin, Peter O. Wien: Oldenbourg pp. Bemerkungen wider den Zeitgeist". Berlin: Dietz pp.
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This visual reason is distinguishing between subject and object, and it analyses the realm of objects in a sober and calculating way, which according to Senghor is the characteristic of the French or, more generally, the Occidentals. On the other hand, if practised exclusively, it reduces the possibilities of human emotionality and social life. But there are objections against this kind of role ascription to Africans. It therefore is apt to be part of the ideology of neo-colonialism.
One certainly ought to ask about the philosophical relevance of such findings if for example, the so-called philosophy of a people, a nation, or a culture is distilled out of institutions and linguistic structures, including its myths and sayings. What is it that can be learnt from such an exercise?
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At least in the context of African discussion, such work usually is done using interpretative concepts from one or the other occidental tradition. People show an emancipatory interest, if they document the sayings and tales of their tradition or reflect on the history and the structures of their language. Europeans have done so, too, in the period of beginning nationalism during the late 18th and 19th centuries. However, these collections of sayings and proverbs, of tales and myths, and analyses of linguistic patterns and structures hardly provide any arguments on philosophical matters.
Can we ever expect to get arguments in favour or against, say, Kantian concepts of time or of moral duties by reading Grimm's tales? It sounds no less absurd to me when I hear that Kant's theory of the categorical imperative is proved to be invalid by some Gikuyu sayings. What we do not learn from Gikuyu or Tyrolian, Chinese, or any other sayings is the one thing which we ought to know: what exactly are the criteria, the methods, the proofs and where can they be found, which could entitle us to say that a proposition is true or false, that a norm is valid or not?
Proverbs may have taught us to be cautious, they do not teach us the way to obtain knowledge.
There is a dilemma in every sort of ethnophilosophy. On the one hand it is necessary to draw attention to traditions neglected and ignored so far, by the mere fact that occidental historiography, in philosophy and elsewhere, is parochial. On the other hand, such emancipatory projects are grounded on occidental concepts and methods of analysis. So there is the Occident which did injustice to all other traditions and yet the occidental conceptualisations are not only considered to be adequate but necessary for the interpretation of any tradition of thought.
Although the subject of ethnophilosophy seems to be predominant in contemporary African discussion, the phenomenon is by no means restricted to that region, but includes Latin America, Asia, and Europe as well. Characteristically, no branch of ethnophilosophy accepts the idea of a transculturally authoritative philosophy. Further, there is a typical restricted set of authors and positions to be criticised; most prominent among them is Hegel. Discussions about the need to criticise Eurocentric pretensions to universalism rarely fail to quote Hegel's lectures on the philosophy of history, as for instance his statement that nothing of importance in American history has happened so far, except for an echoing of Europe.
We can find similar or even worse statements in Hegel's lectures when he deals with African matters. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press , p. We can detect silent, but rather unambiguous convictions about the virtues and vices, the advantages and shortcomings of different traditions and languages with respect to philosophy. To exclude even Spanish as an official language from a World Congress of Philosophy, as reportedly was the case until late, means to take sides with Hegel's opinions. But Hegel at least tried to argue for what he claimed. The protest against a Hegelian view on history and on history of philosophy does not necessarily lead to a fundamentally different view.
For instance, African and Afro-American authors have tried to show that it was not true that Africa was of no historical importance, before the period of Westernisation.