Philosophy in an African Place shifts the central question of African philosophy from "Is there an African philosophy?" to "What is it to do philosophy in this place?" This book both opens up new questions within the field and also establishes "philosophy-in-place", a mode of philosophy which begins from the places in which concepts have currency and shows how a truly creative philosophy can emerge from focusing on questioning, listening, and attention to difference.
Introduction: Philosophy-in-place -- Tradition in the periphery -- Questioning reason -- Wisdom is actually thought -- Culture and the problem of universality -- Listening to language -- Practicality : African philosophy's debts and duties -- Locating African philosophy.
Astronauts often report experiences of awe and wonder while traveling in space. This paper addresses the question of whether awe and wonder can be scientifically investigated in a simulated space travel scenario using a neurophenomenological method. To answer this question, we created a mixed-reality simulation similar to the environment of the International Space Station. Portals opened to display simulations of Earth or Deep Space. However, the challenge still remained of how to best capture the resulting experience of participants. We could (...) use psychological methods, neuroscientific methods or philosophical methods. Each of these approaches offer many benefits, but each is also limited. Neurophenomenology capitalises on and integrates all three methods. We employed questionnaires from psychology, electroencephalography, electrocardiography, and functional near-infrared spectroscopy from neuroscience, and a phenomenological interview technique from philosophy. This neurophenomenological method enabled extensive insight in experiencers and non-experiencers of awe and wonder in a simulated space scenario that otherwise would not have been possible. Traditional empirical analyses were completed, followed by individual differences analyses using interview transcriptions paired with physiological responses. Experiencers of AW showed differences in theta and beta activity throughout the brain compared to non-experiencers. Questionnaires indicated that non-experiencers of AW gave more positive responses of religious and spiritual practices than experiencers of AW. Interviews showed that awe and wonder were more likely to occur when watching the simulated Earth view instead of the Deep Space view. Our study is a successful example of neurophenomenology, a powerful and promising interdisciplinary approach for future studies of complex states of experience. (shrink)
This book analyzes the hermeneutics of place, raising questions about central issues such as textuality, dialogue, and play. It discusses the central figures in the development of hermeneutics and place, and surveys disciplines and areas in which a hermeneutic approach to place has been fruitful. It covers the range of philosophical hermeneutic theory, both within philosophy itself as well as from other disciplines. In doing so, the volume reflects the state of theorization on these issues, and also looks forward to (...) the implications and opportunities that exist. Philosophical hermeneutics has fundamentally altered philosophy’s approach to place. Issues such as how we dwell in place, how place is imagined, created, preserved, and lost, and how philosophy itself exists in place have become central. While there is much research applying hermeneutics to place, there is little which both reflects on that heritage and critically analyzes a hermeneutic approach to place. This book fills that void by offering a sustained analysis of the central elements, major figures, and disciplinary applications of hermeneutics and place. (shrink)
The title of Emmanuel Eze’s final, posthumously published book uses the words “reason” and “rationality” in a manner that might suggest they are interchangeable. I would like to suggest that we not treat them as the same, but rather tease out a difference in emphasis and reference between the two. In African philosophy, the problem of reason is really two separate problems, the first of which I will call the “problem of reason” (that is, the question of whether there are (...) diverse forms of reason or only one universal form) and the second the “problem of rationality” (that is, the question of whether everyone has the capacity to deploy reason past what mimicry or programming makes possible). Both of these problems are addressed by Eze’s schema for forms of reason. He identifies several forms, but focuses on “ordinary reason”, which allows all the other forms to operate. Ordinary reason also makes rationality possible, that is, the culturally specific yet emergent way of navigating forms of reason. Reason is necessarily diverse, because its multiple forms are deployed differently by different rationalities. (shrink)
I respond to Jonathan Chimakonam’s paper in which he presents an approach to dialogue in philosophical space, and raises questions about my own approach. I raise four questions to his understanding of conversation. First, I ask him for more details on his conception of conversation. Second, what happens if not everyone cares to enter into conversation? Third, is conversation a prerequisite to philosophy, or a part of philosophy? And fourth, how does wonder fit into conversation in and about place?
There has been a great deal of work done in recent years on "place-making". The concept has had currency in urban renewal and design circles, and a quick search of the Research on Place and Space page turns up a number of uses of the term. Usually the idea refers to the various ways in which physical and social space can be arranged to facilitate and encourage elusive, visceral things such as " community ".
In this paper, I wish to consider Watsuji Tetsuro's (1889?1960) concept of climate (fudo), and consider whether it contributes anything to the relationship between climate change and ethics. I will argue that superficially it seems that fudo tells us little about the ethics of climate change, but if considered more carefully, and through the lens of thinkers such as Deleuze and Heidegger, there is ethical insight in Watsuji's approach. Watsuji's major work in ethics, Rinrigaku, provides concepts such as between-ness and (...) trust that enable his philosophy of climate to move from a theory of national characters (as Fudo is often seen to be) to an approach to living well within one's milieu. (shrink)
Place is sometimes understood as reinforcing personal and cultural identity in the face of dissipating versions of modernism or postmodernism. However, that identity can also come with a variety of cultural neuroses and manias that are inscribed on place. I consider the ways in which terrorism has become a feature of place, and how we can expect to see the terror of the place in the future. First, we can expect a relative diminishment in 'place-making imagination', the ability to see (...) places as rich, ambiguous, and multi-purposed. Second, we can expect the terror of the place to exhibit itself as an inability to come to terms with the other. Third, we can expect the continuation and development of a triumphalist narrative of place, including a sense of entitlement. Fourth, we can anticipate the death or the fear of the agora, the true 'agoraphobia', as the public space of discourse is closed down, and the private space of patriarchally enforced agreement gains ascendancy. Fifth, we can expect people to regard specific places as having fixed and permanent meanings, and to try to constrain those meanings in such a way as to guarantee that permanence. Sixth, we can expect topophobia, not only the fear of place but also stage fright, as the expression of self on the world stage becomes more and more limited and narrowly focussed. And seventh, we can expect a re-assertion of memory of place, perhaps with a shifted baseline, as the places of terror become exhausted. We can furthermore expect all of these phobias and manias to be rationalized as virtue in a society that cannot deal with the terror of the place. (shrink)
One of the more sustained efforts to think beyond current academic structures has been launched by CIRET, the International Centre for Transdisciplinary Research, in Paris. This centre was involved in the First World Congress of Transdisciplinarity, in Portugal, 1994, and another international congress in Locarno, Switzerland, in early May 1997. They have a project with UNESCO on transdisciplinarity, and are involved in the World Conference on Higher Education, to be held in Paris at the end of September 1998.
Boehme's concern was to outline a theory of knowledge that overcame the lifeless structure of traditional religion, and also made possible the real significance of individuals. He accomplished this by describing a dialectical system that began with a unique version of non-being, Ungrund, which was chaotic, and which was never negated throughout the entire dialectic. This system was one which provided a significant role for knowledge, in that the driving force of the dialectic was self-knowledge on the part of God. (...) The words he uses for the emergence of the dialectic are knowledge words--Verstand , Vernunft , Weisheit , Erkenntniss, Wissenschaft. This self-knowledge is a free movement that happens through the infusion of one force in the chaos, which Boehme calls Lust, into all the other forces, Begierde. The forces of Begierde have their craving for manifestation satiated, while Lust has its desire for self-knowledge met. The cooperation between these two is the entire story of dialectical creation, which Boehme calls Weisheit. One can either recognize this dialectical creation in the search for knowledge , or one can conceive knowledge as apart from that grounding . The second of these is a legitimate form of knowledge, but it becomes illegitimate if it does not recognize its dependency on Verstand. God has Verstand, in that God has knowledge of the dialectic, but this knowledge is conceptual, but particularized. Humans both gain Verstand and assume it, in their knowledge of the world through signatures. The result of this structure of creative knowledge is that: God is related to creation directly, without resorting to pantheism; Evil, which is simply a competing "Weisheit" or manifestation can be conquered; There is a place for positively conceived, named individuals; and, a third option is created, between static ontotheology in which there is an unquestioned foundation that legitimates all else, and pure perspectivism, in which the divine is simply one story that could be drawn from the world around. (shrink)
I have prepared this page in the spirit of Bill 0837, that is, to engage in reasoned reflection on a piece of legislation in Florida. I also wish to clarify the nature of my classes to students, so that they know what to expect. This page is not official UCF policy, nor is it the policy of the Department of Philosophy, in which I teach. It is simply a statement to my students, as well as a reasoned analysis of the (...) implications of this bill. No specific political or religious position is assumed in the writing of this document, and my own beliefs about the bill (as well as my beliefs about anything else) are mine alone, and not relevant to this argument. (shrink)
Bruce Janz, Jessica Locke, and Cynthia Willett interact in this exchange with different aspects of Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad’s book Human Being, Bodily Being. Through “constructive inter-cultural thinking”, they seek to engage with Ram-Prasad’s “lower-case p” phenomenology, which exemplifies “how to think otherwise about the nature and role of bodiliness in human experience”. This exchange, which includes Ram-Prasad’s reply to their interventions, pushes the reader to reflect more about different aspects of bodiliness.
The migration of texts and traditions assumes that philosophy is in some way linked to its places. But this is an assumption that has not been held by the majority of philosophers. For most, philosophy is by definition placeless, concerned with ideas, and not with the circumstances of their generation. However, this version of philosophy does not take into account the lived history of philosophers themselves. Philosophers have had much to say about place, but little about their place.
It is tempting, in remembering Jacques Derrida=s death on October 8, 2004, in Paris, to focus on the controversy surrounding the obituaries already written. Derrida was, after all, the theorist of text, and responding to the proliferation of texts at this moment seems almost too enticing to pass up. I can almost hear a playful reversal in the making, a deflection and deferral of both the critical and the fawning accounts of his life. And yet, I can also hear disappointment. (...) He was the one, after all, who spoke against speaking too soon after a death, particularly the death of a friend, in case the academic impulse turned mourning into analysis: What I thought impossible, indecent, and unjustifiable, what long ago and more or less secretly and resolutely I had promised myself never to do (out of a concern for rigor or fidelity, if you will, and because it is in this case too serious) was to write following the death, not after, not long after the death by returning to it, but just following the death, upon or on the occasion of the death, at the commemorative gatherings and tributes, in the writings Ain [email protected] of those who while living would have been my friends, still present enough to me that some Adeclaration,@ indeed some analysis or Astudy,@ would seem at that moment completely unbearable.i That many of those friends, and enemies, have spoken, is inevitable and understandable.ii More texts about Derrida=s life, influence, and death are inevitable, especially for a philosopher who was so preoccupied with death in his later years. But even though I never knew him, it seems a bit odd writing about him at this time, in this place. It is as if his death can be used to make points, even if those points are only to establish his relevance within Africana philosophy. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Constructivism and Mystical Experience” by Hugh Gash.: Gash leverages earlier discussions about the relationship between mysticism and its world, to argue that it is useful in thinking about the unexpected. I argue for a more nuanced understanding of surprise, which leads to asking about the place of questions and of events in cognition.
specific cultural forms from the charge of ethnophilosophy. It is possible for philosophy to address the particulars of cultural experience without losing its »universal« character. The papers in this volume address three major themes in an effort to illustrate the encounter between philosophy and culture – the nature of persons, the nature of k nowledge, and the nature of change. The essays in the volume vary in their success at reaching the stated goal, inasmuch as some are more successful than (...) others at integrating the particular (cultural) and the universal (philosophical). Overall, though, Karp and Masolo's work is an important and welcome addition to the ongoing task of think ing through the nature of African philosophy. (shrink)
Apparently, the wall was something of an engineering miracle even prior to the events that exposed it to the light of day. People used to go down to the basement where part of it was visible, and marvel at its ability to resist 3500 pounds per square inch of pressure over 3300 feet. When it was called upon to bear even more it rose to the challenge, anthropomorphically speaking. Now it is being compared to the Liberty Bell,1 a physical object (...) that symbolizes a signature and defining event. This wall, built to hold back the Hudson River from flooding the basement of the World Trade Center, was once the foundation and physical site of a place, but has now itself become a place. It has transformed from site to situation. It is being written retrospectively as a humble and unglamorous object that rose to be a noble, even heroic place, one which because of the “ miracle ” of superior engineering stood when everything else fell. This object which newly defines a place has become the classic American story of triumph over insurmountable odds. It has become personified, narrativized, and valorized - it “held” against the onslaught like a defender protecting a city, saving the lives of people who were rushing out of the building. It is a place of memory, although precisely what is being remembered depends on who faces the wall. It is the Wailing Wall. It is being incorporated into the new design for the site by the architects and the memorial planners, an unlikely remembrance to and representation of horrific events. It is the hypostatization of a narrative of siege, another quintessentially American story about the triumph of the inside over the outside. It is the Alamo, it is Independence Day, it is homeland security. Less literally but no less viscerally than Maya Ying Lin’s Vietnam. (shrink)
The pressure to participate in the global community has as one of its manifestations the requirements of an adequate and even a “world class” university system. Historically, universities have had more in common with monasteries than with marketplaces. Universities were always places of retreat, drawing people apart from the world for the purpose of contemplation and self-improvement. At its worst, the focussed vocation of the monastery gives way to the irrelevance of the ivory tower. Indeed, the most common critique of (...) the university, and particularly the liberal arts, is that it does not contribute to the real needs or wants of people. Many believe that the governing metaphor should be changed from monastery to marketplace. Needless to say, this change comes with its own set of problems and, for many, a university which is primarily a marketplace is no longer a university. Nevertheless, in the minds of many, tensions between integrity and relevance are the core problems facing the university today. (shrink)
01 This essay had its genesis in a deliberate misreading of a conference call for papers. I had been working on what I called "place making imagination," when I was told about a conference asking for papers on "Imaging Place." Only two letters separated what I was doing from what was required – Imaging Place easily becomes "Imagining Place" and hypostatizes into "Place Making Imagination." Imagination produces images, I thought, and is comprised of them, and so the misreading is slight (...) at best. I should be able to make things fit easily enough. (shrink)
Here is the Florida website for Bill 0837 Full text of the bill, Web, pdf Tallahassee Democrat stories on Bill 0837: Council approves 'academic freedom' (April 20, 2005) 'Academic freedom' bill dead - but not forgotten (April 21, 2005) Rep. Dennis K. Baxley, Ocala (sponsor of Bill 0837).
One of the luxuries of participating in a cycle of reviews of a work, such as I have been asked to do for H-Africa, is that a writer can focus on a specific theme, trusting that others from different disciplinary backgrounds will cover other themes. This is what I intend to do in this review of Achille Mbembe's..
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