Philosophy, Culture and Vision: African Perspectives
Believing that the intellectual enterprise called philosophy is essentially a part of the cultural as well as historical experience of a people, that the concepts and problems that occupy the attention of philosophers placed in different cultural spaces or historical times generally derive directly from those spaces and times, and that philosophy, in turn, has been most relevant to the development of human cultures, the Ghanaian philosopher Kwame Gyekye gives reflective attention in this book to some of the concepts and problems that in his view feature most prominently in the contemporary African cultural, social, political, and moral experience. Such concepts and problems include the following: political legitimacy, development, culture and the pursuit of science and technology, political corruption, democracy, representation and the politics of inclusion, the status of cultural values in national orientation, understanding globalization, and others. It is these topics that are covered in the essays collected in this book.
The unrelenting pursuit of the speculative activity by the philosopher in most cases eventuates in normative proposals; these normative proposals often embody a vision-a vision of an ideal human society in terms of its values, politics, and culture. Vision, understood here, has human-not supernatural or divine-origination and involvement and requires action by human beings in order for it to come into reality. A vision may derive from sustained critical evaluation of a culture or some elements of it. Gyekye attempts an articulation of the visions of the essays contained in the book.
Even though philosophical ideas and concerns are originally inspired by and worked out in a cultural milieu, it does not necessarily follow, Gyekye strongly believes, that the relevance of those ideas and insights is to be tetheed to the cultures that produced them. For, more often than not, the relevance of those ideas, or at least some of them, transcends the confines of their own times and cultures and can be appreciated by other societies, or cultures, or generational epochs. This trans-cultural or trans-epochal or meta-contextual appeal or attraction of philosophical ideas and insights spawned by a particular culture or cluster of cultures or in specific historical times is to be put down to our common human nature-including our basic human desires and aspirations. Thus, most of the essays published here should be of interest to the global community-i.e., to cultures and societies beyond the African.