The eminent Ghanaian philosopher Kwasi Wiredu confronts the paradox that while Western cultures recoil from claims of universality, previously colonized peoples, seeking to redefine their identities, insist on cultural particularities.
What can philosophy contribute to African culture? What can it draw from it? Could there be a truly African philosophy that goes beyond traditional folk thought? Kwasi Wiredu tries in these essays to define and demonstrate a role for contemporary African philosophers which is distinctive but by no means parochial. He shows how they can assimilate the advances of analytical philosophy and apply them to the general social and intellectual changes associated with 'modernisation' and the transition to new national identities. (...) But we see too how they can exploit traditional resources and test the assumptions of Western philosophy against the intimations of their own language and culture. The volume as a whole presents some of the best non-technical work of a distinguished African philosopher, of importance equally to professional philosophers and to those with a more general interest in contemporary African thought and culture. (shrink)
There is one thing about some of the first crop of post independence rulers of Africa that I admire greatly. It is their keen sense of the practical importance of philosophy. Preeminent among them were leaders like Nkrumah, Senghor, Nyerere, Awolowo, Kaunda, and Sekou Toure. Amidst the awesome exigencies of postcolonial reconstruction they still devoted considerable attention to the philosophical bases of their programs. It can be debated whether the limits of the appreciation of the relevance of theory to practice (...) were not touched in Nkrumah's Consciencism in which proof of the consistency of his “revolutionary” propositions was offered by means of mathematical logic, but there can be no doubt of the sincerity of the underlying passion. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 27 2008: pp. 332-339. (shrink)
Our question is “Are there Cultural Universals?” I propose a reductio ad absurdum proof for an affirmative answer as follows. Suppose there were no cultural universals. Then inter-cultural communication would be impossible. But there is inter-cultural communication. Therefore, there are cultural universals. Let me now try to unpack this epitome of a proof. I start with the premiss that there is inter-cultural communication. This is too visible in the present-day world to be disputed; what may need arguing is what it (...) implies. But not everything regarding its implications is open to debate. For example, it is tautologically obvious that for any two persons to communicate at all they must share some common medium of communication. In turn this implies that at some level they must share a conceptual scheme, however minimal its dimensions. Any such scheme of concepts is a universal for, at least, the given participants in the communication. The question now is “Is there any scheme of concepts which can be shared by all the cultures of humankind?”. (shrink)
Abstract Democracy as a political system entailing multi-party competition for power is only one form of democracy. Given that democracy is government by consent, the question is whether a less adversarial system than the party system, which is bound up with majoritarian decision-making, cannot be devised. This paper contends that a system based on consensus as a decision procedure would be a democracy of just such a description. It is important to note that the kind of consensus envisaged here is (...) not agreement regarding questions of truth and morality; it is concerned only with the question of what is to be done. And it is an important fact that reasonable human beings can come to an agreement about what is to be done by virtue of compromise without agreeing on issues of truth or morality. A consensual system will naturally be a non-party arrangement. However, as I explain, such a polity need not be one without parties. (shrink)
This volume of newly commissioned essays provides comprehensive coverage of African philosophy, ranging across disciplines and throughout the ages. _ Offers a distinctive historical treatment of African philosophy. Covers all the main branches of philosophy as addressed in the African tradition. Includes accounts of pre-colonial African philosophy and contemporary political thought. _.
Two different kinds of rules are needed in the regulation of human conduct in the sphere of global interaction. There is a need for global ethics and also a need for a global ethic. The first exists but needs reinforcement. The second also exists but not sufficiently widely and therefore needs a fashioning out in some contexts. Because ethics and an ethic are grammatically cognate and are both concerned with behavior, it is easy to conflate the two. Accordingly, clarity will (...) be sought below about the distinction between them. The hope is that such clarity might help in directing efforts in search of harmony and other good things on our planet. (shrink)
This volume of newly commissioned essays provides comprehensive coverage of African philosophy, ranging across disciplines and throughout the ages. Offers a distinctive historical treatment of African philosophy. Covers all the main branches of philosophy as addressed in the African tradition. Includes accounts of pre-colonial African philosophy and contemporary political thought.
In its most general sense a canon of conceptualization is an authoritative principle of thought or discourse. It may exist in explicit formulation in a text or it may be implicit in a convention of speech or even of conduct in a community united by culture, persuation or some cognate criterion. When a canon appertains to those basic modes of conceptualization called categories it may exercise the profoundest influence on life and thought, which may be all the more decisive in (...) cases where that influence is less than fully conscious. And when canons of this sort conflict dialogue is apt to bog down in mutual incomprehension, providing fertile breeding grounds for relativistic meta-reflections. (shrink)
A dialectical interaction exists between cultural unity and diversity. These two factors can operate for good or ill. In order to strengthen the positive factor and limit the negative, it is important to have a good conceptual grasp of the basis of the unity, as well as of the diversity of cultures. Such an understanding should facilitate dialogue in intercultural relations, dialogue that is the most rational of all ways of coexistence. This article aims to explore the underlying conceptual themes.
Wiredu discusses the use of the consensus principle for political theory and practice in Africa. The consensus principle used to be widespread in African politics, and Wiredu elaborates on the example of the traditional political system of the Ashantis in Ghana as a possible guideline for a recommendable path for African politics. For empirical data, he draws from historical material published by British anthropologists and Ghanaian intellectuals . According to Wiredu, a non-party system based on consensus as a central principle (...) of political organisation in Africa could avoid the evident problems of both the one-party system and the multi-party system imposed by the West. (shrink)