The Role of African Philosophy in African Development

Philosophy being the study of reality causes underlying being and thinking of people and circumstances thus the study of how these aspects can influence the development in the African society. These underlying aspects can lead to significant development if used and interpreted in the right way. To study these aspects we need to consider the different African cultures and beliefs and the western beliefs to integrate both together so as not to rely on one side thus sidelining the other cultures wisdom. Different researchers have come up with different conclusions thus complicating the whole aspect of the relationship between culture and philosophy for development, cultural reflections whether in Africa or in the West do not have to try to provide alternatives to the methods or frameworks of philosophy. They are of better use when they can point out and correct fallacies in our reasoning, critical, and self-critical social reflections to understand our cultures and each other in order to facilitate the development in the African society.

The raging debate about the role of philosophy in development reveals that there is a close relationship between culture, development, and philosophy (Ahluwalia, 2005). The major debate has been on whether philosophy must be methodically universal or whether it can be confined to a particular cultural setting. However, African philosophy, although instrumental in achieving development cannot stand on its own. This is because of the imperialistic attachment it has from western philosophy (Bodunrin, 2008). The lesson that can be gleaned from western philosophy is that even great philosophers are apt to fall into cultural cocoons of bias, prejudice, racism, and discrimination, just like any other person. Indeed, philosopher can go largely to support their discriminations through logical debates and discussion. Because of cultural inclinations of African philosophers to their cultural beliefs, their arguments have been relegated to the back seat (Asante, 2007).

The Pullbacks of Philosophy for Development

A close look at one side, that is, the West, which has different cultural philosophies, reveals that development cannot be achieved adequately due to sidelining of different cultural beliefs of some communities. For instance, the problem with the some philosophical tradition of certain communities tend to be blind to their own cultural biases and thus, remains arrogant enough to present claim that demean the other cultures and their local wisdom. Excellent examples can be found throughout the Western philosophical history from the Ancient Greek until today. In the context of the marginalization of African philosophy and in general all development issues, particularly the Enlightenment’s philosophical tradition, which rhetorically preached for universality of individual rights, equality in human dignity thus reducing the rate of global development due to lack of union (Bodunrin, 2008).

Some of the greatest philosophers of the Western tradition, in the name of universal reason, social and political views that are strikingly communally biased and culturally bound in their racist, as well as chauvinist presumptions. These culturally partial views undermined the very existence of the African making them major set backers of development in the African setting due to their discrimination and view of their cultures as superior thus, the need integration of cultural philosophies to come up with equal development strategies.

Cultural Philosophy and a Return to Tradition and Authentic Personality

It is very important to recognize the cultural philosophies in order to avoid such pullbacks. If we try to bring out our cultural predispositions, we can actually come up with reasoning in the end to use African philosophy as a means of development (Bodunrin, 2008). African philosophers focused on the role of cultural integration of African thought as well as on the cultural identity of Africans as a particular group of people with particular and distinguished cultural characteristics that can be used to support philosophy in development, in the African setting. African philosophy works on uniting Africans and finding an identity that makes them uphold their cultural values like respect for one another, love, and unity of the communities that promote development by working together. African philosophers reflect on how to bring cultural diversity. In addition, they strive to come with original ideas concerning development. Moreover, they try to find ways in which the African society can benefit from the development of local knowledge and understanding. It is generally agreed that philosophical reflection is an indispensable component in the context of globalization (Ahluwalia, 2005).

In conclusion, it is clear that philosophy has an important part to play in the development of any society. Several views point out that all human development is rooted on the social and cultural context it has grown in, and the vice Versa is true. From this discussion, it is can be seen that philosophy has a significant role in providing a theoretical foundation for ideals that society can attest to, in addition to world views and value systems in every society. On the other hand, critical and ethical considerations can help people achieve development through tolerance, equality, and human dignity. However, philosophy has also a dark side, especially when it is used as a rhetorical tool to further ambition of the elite in African societies. The role of philosophy in the African context should be based on finding local and culturally responsive foundation for development that can benefit from African knowledge and customs without losing the wider picture. It is through this approach that philosophy can promote development. In addition, it can foster self-reliance that is based on patience and cooperation with other people in society. However, when not used for critical purposes, philosophy can also be used to justify political and social goals of the elite in society.

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