Broadening the Scope of American Philosophy at the Turn of a New Millennium

American Philosophical Association Newsletter on American Indians in Philosophy (2001)

This paper argues that Renaissance ideas of great thinkers like Copernicus and Galileo were already integrated in indigenous thought and life. And this, indigenous thought rather than the European import commonly labelled "American" philosophy, is Turtle Island philosophy, or "American philosophy," and should be properly named and rightfully recognized as such, throughout the Americas. Waters argues that in the USA, articulating the metaphysics and epistemology of survival experience of American Indigenous, African Indigenous, and other global indigenous cultures may philosophically lead to a paradigmatic shifting of what has come to be known as "American" Philosophy. The argument claims that Indigenous philosophies of science embed epistemologies of knowing, of value inquiry, and metaphysics of Being. Indigenous science method studies observed recordings of anomalies toward purpose to maintain a balance of the interdependency of relationship with all things in the cosmos. Yet what has come to be known in North America as "American" methods of philosophies of science, having intellectual roots in Western thought, study observed recordings of similarities toward purpose of building a formal system of causal theory to control human environment. It is problematic that such control has no balancing meta-ethical principles. However, IF this "American" philosophy were to locate itself within its larger historical and cultural context of American indigenous thought, it may give rise to a paradigmatic Kuhnian shift embracing both Heisenbergian principles of indeterminacy, alongside Delorian metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory. Such a philosophy could embrace ideas as emerged on Turtle Island, and include North America, as well as Central and South America, and possibly other global indigenous cultures. Because indigenous science on all continents has proven its ability to survive, by embracing cooperative communal pragmatic approaches to information gleaned from anomalies of human experience in the cosmos, a renewal of indigenous philosophy may provide humans with a new "American Survival Philosophy," in the wake of exploring what appears to us as a "new" (unpredictable and changeable) cosmos, holding its own cosmological information.
Keywords American Indigenous  Indigenous Thought  Meta-philosophy  Science  Cosmology  Pragmatic  Survival Philosophy  Turtle Island  Harmony  Deloria
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