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Philosophy in Africa, Africa in Philosophy



Philosophy in Africa, Africa in Philosophy



A weekly series of academic research seminars hosted jointly by the Centre for African Studies and the Philosophy Department, University of Cape Town


Convenors: Prof. Lungisile Ntsebeza & Dr. George Hull


Recent months have seen renewed interest in questions about the role which academic philosophy can play in solving problems specific to Africa, including South Africa, and about the role which indigenous African traditions of thought and practice can play in enriching the academic discipline of philosophy. These questions are central to debates about what positive change in teaching and research in humanities faculties, both in South Africa and further afield, would look like; but they are also the focus of on-going research by both academic philosophers and academics from other disciplines. This weekly seminar series, beginning in March 2016 and running over the whole academic year, provides a forum for the presentation of well-researched, critical, carefully argued academic papers addressing topics including the following:

  • What distinctive concepts, ideas and arguments are contributed by African traditions of thought and practice to philosophical debates?
  • What constructive insights can academic philosophy offer into problems—political, social, epistemological, metaphysical—specific to Africa, including South Africa?
  •  What does it take for a philosophical theory or argument, or a philosopher, to count as “African”?
  •  To what extent is the work of “canonical” Western philosophers in need of radical re-evaluation due to their inconsistencies, hypocrisies or scurrilous claims regarding African and indigenous people?
  • Do indigenous African traditions of thought provide alternative models of rationality which can challenge presuppositions of philosophical work in the “analytic” tradition?
  • Has “analytic” philosophy been misrepresented as being of limited relevance to African contexts and traditions?

The best of the papers presented over the year will be published in a volume edited by Lungisile Ntsebeza and George Hull.