This book discovers freedom in the colonial idea of African primitiveness. As human transcendence, freedom escapes the drawbacks of otherness, as defended by ethnophilosophy, while exposing the idiosyncratic inspiration of Eurocentric universalism. Decolonization calls for the reconnection with freedom, that is, with myth-making understood as the inaugural act of cultural pluralism. The cultural condition of modernization emerges when the return to the past deploys the future.
Messay Kebede is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton in Ohio. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Grenoble in France. He previously taught philosophy at Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia). He is the author of two books, Meaning and Development (Rodopi, 1994) and Survival and Modernization (Red Sea, 1999). He has also published numerous articles. The most recent include: "The Rehabilitation of Violence and the Violence of Rehabilitation: Fanon and Colonialism" (Journal of Black Studies, 2001), "Directing Ethnicity toward Modernity" (Social Theory and Practice, 2001), and "Generational Imbalance and Disruptive Change" (International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 2003).
Editorial Forward Acknowledgments ONE Western Discourses on Africa 1. The Invention of the "White Man" 2. Western Attempts to Make Sense of Africa TWO Between Evolutionism and Pluralism: Tempes's Path to Human Sameness 1. Logic and Conversion 2. Mysticism and Rationality 3. Getting Over Evolutionism: Evangelization as Purification 4. Beyond Evolutionism and Relativism THREE The Holy Grail of Otherness 1. The Complementariness of Otherness: Negritude and the Idea of Race 2. Past-Oriented Temporality and Otherness: The Case of Mbiti FOUR Sameness versus Otherness 1. Myth and Reality in African Philosophy 2. Philosophic Sagacity 3. Fanon and the Rehabilitation through Violence FIVE Particularism versus Otherness 1. Diop and the Stolen Legacy 2. Traditionality in lieu of Otherness 3. From Otherness to Historicity: Hermeneutical School 4. The Primacy of Deconstruction SIX The Future as Forward Movement into the Past: The Constructedness of Identity 1. The Return to the Past 2. Questioning the Conflict between Tradition and Modernity 3. Postmodernist Approaches to African Identity 4. Myth-Making and Construction 5. African Attempts at Myth-Making SEVEN Colonization without Colonizers: The Phenomenon of African Elitism 1. From Colonialism to Elitism 2. The Elitist Drift of Ethnophilosophy 3. Power as Tutorship EIGHT Ethnicity and State Formation: The Mystical Root of Nationhood 1. Ethnicity and the African Philosophical Debate 2. Primordialism and the Naturalness of Ethnicity 3. Instrumentalism and the Constructedness of Ethnic Identities 4. Ethnicity and the Legitimacy of the State 5. From Ethnicity to Nation-State: The Mystical Moment NINE Harnessing Myth to Rationality 1. The African Dilemma 2. The Complementarity of Myth and Rationality 3. The Particularism of Freedom Notes Bibliography About the Author Index