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Imafidon, Elvis, , . Intrinsic Versus Earned Worth in African Conception of Personhood
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 239-254
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Abstract: Every human being ought to have some form of intrinsic value that she has in herself as well as earned or extrinsic value that she earns for herself. Although not free from contention, the possibility of a human being having certain intrinsic values is essential for the very idea of personhood. It is the reason why it would be wrong not to take a baby as a person simply because she is at that moment unable to earn some value for herself. In this chapter, I interrogate how the idea of personhood dominant in African cultures separates one category of persons from another category. In the first category of human beings, persons are intrinsically valued as persons due to their possession of certain ontological and normative qualities. In the second category, a few other persons are not intrinsically valued as persons due to their lack of certain required ontological and normative qualities needed to belong to the first category of human beings. But in this second category, such persons have the opportunity to earn the value of personhood given to those in the first category. Put differently, the other has the potential of becoming the one if he works tirelessly toward it through individual and group efforts. I explore three specific examples of the second category of persons who have worked to earn some form of worth that the African society in which they live presents as extrinsic to them: persons with albinism, black people, and black women. In this case, a consistent individual lifestyle of rising above expectations and group rights advocacy are essential. I conclude that the African conception of personhood is flawed in its failure to recognize the intrinsic worth and value of all human beings regardless of their ontological and normative status and because it also fails in appreciating the importance of difference in the unfolding of reality.

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Imafidon, Elvis, , . Exploring African Philosophy of Difference
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 15-30
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Abstract: It is the tradition of philosophy as a rational and critical human activity across borders to isolate specific human ideas both as syntax and as real and lived human experiences, bring them to the foreground, and make them occupy a crucial and specialized place in philosophical discourse. This is apparent in the many delimited branches of philosophy such as metaphysics – an inquiry into the fundamental principles underlying reality; epistemology – an inquiry concerning the nature, scope, and theories of human knowledge; axiology – an inquiry into the theories of human values; and philosophy of science – a critical examination of the nature, methods, and assumptions of science. African philosophy has thrived and flourished in the last six decades beginning as a reactionary scholarship to prior denial of the possibility of its existence, to becoming an established academic discipline. However, African philosophy although succeeding in establishing its general nature, themes, and problems, is still at the elementary stage of discussing specifics and delimiting its areas of inquiry into specialized fragments. Thus, beyond the general commentaries on African philosophy in existing literature, it is only recently that we find a few scholars writing and laying the groundwork on specialized themes in African philosophy such as African ethics, African epistemology, and African ontology. My goal in this chapter is to bring one essential human experience to the foreground in African philosophy as a specialized area of inquiry. The human experience that interests me here is the ubiquitous concept of difference and the peculiarities of its experience by Africans in Africa and beyond. My intention is to attempt a preliminary sketch of the meaning, nature, scope, and primary tasks of African philosophy of difference. I show, for instance, how African philosophy of difference can shift the discourse of difference from empirical manifestations of difference to an exploration of the theories that stands under such manifestations. I conclude that African philosophy of difference is crucial in understanding and dealing with the complex issues of identity, difference, and the other experienced in Africa in areas such as albinism, xenophobia, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and politics. The possibility of such an inquiry also indicates the prospect of delimiting African philosophy to more specialized spheres of discourse.

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Abudu, Kenneth U. , Imafidon, Elvis, . Epistemic Injustice, Disability, and Queerness in African Cultures
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 393-409
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Abstract: Perception, representations, and knowledge claims about disability and queerness vary across societies and cultures. In African cultures negative knowledge claims and representations of disability and queerness create a perception of the disabled and queer that are not only detrimental to such persons in African societies but arguably undermine the work of understanding difference and tolerance in general. These negative claims raise some epistemological questions, such as: how do Africans come to know about disability and how are such knowledge claims validated within African communities? Against this backdrop, this chapter critically examines the epistemology of disability and queerness in African traditions. It shows that the epistemic authoritarianism found in African epistemology leads to an epistemic injustice that contributes immensely to the discrimination against disabled and queer beings as reflected in many cultural practices across the continent of Africa. The chapter argues that knowledge claims about disability and queerness in Africa emerge mainly from neglect, superstition, myth, and, above all, ignorance.

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Ukpokolo, Isaac E. , , . Enriching the Knowledge of the Other Through an Epistemology of Intercourse
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 193-204
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Abstract: Ideas, knowledge, and cognitive claims we have about “the other” or “the different” traditionally stems from what can be referred to as mainstream Cartesianism of epistemic duality, an orientation that has primary consideration for subject-object dichotomy; the knower and the known; the I and the thou; and the center and the periphery. In such considerations, what is of the center perceives what is not as an “other.” This disposition about the other constitutes a gap in cognition resulting in poverty of knowledge – knowledge of the other attained from a distance. Furthermore, this condition presents some rigid boundary between episteme (the knowledge) and doxa (the opinions), between the “self” and the “other,” between reality and appearance, between noumena and the phenomena, or between space and time. The present work attempts an alternative epistemology that avoids the impossibility of obtaining genuine knowledge beyond the self, proposing an epistemology of intercourse which alone, I believe, is capable of re-presenting a robust understanding of the entirety of reality (a holistic cognition of reality that is a continuum). According to this proposal, “knowledge” is “intercourse.” The knower is subsumed in the known and vice versa. Only then can the knower know the other for what it is and appreciates the non-difference between the knower and the known. This way, a just relationship between the self and the other would evolve.

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Freter, Yvette, , . Difference in African Educational Contexts
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 217-237
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Abstract: Educational institutions pull together students of different genders, abilities, races, classes, and religions and are the microcosm of their communities. In African contexts, schools have been the location of “cultural parochialism” and “colonial epistemicide and the consolidation of colonization” (Lebakeng et al. 72, 2006). Thus an additional dimension of difference drawn along the fallacious line of the superior dominant Eurowestern colonizer versus the inferior indigenous African population has been institutionalized within the educational system. I engage in a philosophical examination of the African context of difference in the sphere of education. I consider the hopeful gaze philosophy offers in the light of difference, by considering the concept of pluralism, and argue for a view of difference that is both inclusive and appreciative of diversity and suggests ways educators can critically assess their own differences by considering their positionality. I conclude by applying the philosophical outlook that embraces pluralism to our classroom spaces and suggests multicultural theory that embraces difference by including both dominant and marginalized educators to impact education in an efficacious way.

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Masitera, Erasmus, , . Creating the Other in the Context of Land Redistributions. The Paradox of Decolonization and Common Good
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 525-544
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Abstract: In this chapter I argue for land redistribution that promotes common good and decolonisation for all humans. I achieve this by criticising land redistributions that are discriminatory, in that regard I particularise the issue to Zimbabwean land reform of 2000 onwards. I note that the particular land redistribution resulted in marginalisation, exclusion, thingification and disempowerment of certain groups of people based on their race, political, economic and social standing. Opposed to the discriminatory land redistribution, I argue (through the use of philosophical terms and systems) for land redistribution that aims at empowering and promotes well-being, common good and harmony among members of society.

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Myambo, Melissa Tandiwe , , . Class Identity, Xenophobia, and Xenophilia. Nuancing Migrant Experience in South Africa’s Diverse Cultural Time Zones
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 465-488
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Abstract: In 2008 and 2015, South Africa’s most deadly and violent xenophobic attacks erupted. Dozens of people were killed and thousands displaced. The dominant storyline in the media and the academy cast the figure of the migrant as the perpetual victim of xenophobia and as the ultimate Other. There was not enough emphasis on nuancing that statement to indicate that it is not all migrants who run the risk of deadly xenophobia even though xenophobia is pervasive across all South African socioeconomic classes. Deadly attacks only took place in specific microspaces, or Cultural Time Zones (CTZs). Those living in the CTZ of the informal settlement (shanty town) were most vulnerable. Migrants in economically privileged CTZs like the wealthy suburbs do not typically become victims of xenophobic violence. In this paper, I attempt to examine the relationship between (micro)space and migrant experience. Through an analysis of South African cities as a cluster of radically different CTZs where language, skin color, race/ethnicity, education, socioeconomic class, etc. function in different ways to impact the migrant experience, I try to uncover the nuanced reasons why working-class migrants who work and live in socioeconomically deprived CTZs may experience violent xenophobia, while middle-class professionals, especially those from Western countries, often enjoy high levels of xenophilia. This chapter employs the philosophy of Cultural Time Zone theory to explain this paradox and explore how some migrants are considered culturally “closer” to the South African Self, while some are viewed as culturally more “distant” Others.

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Imafidon, Elvis, , . Alterity, African Modernity, and the Critique of Change
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 171-189
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Abstract: A large chunk of the existing literature on African modernity understood here as African experience largely defined and influenced by her contact with the West or foreign cultures has mainly described the modern experience in African spaces as a predicament, an unfortunate distortion of the pre-modern status quo or systems in Africa. In this chapter I intend to explore a perspective for understanding and appreciating the description of the African experience of the West as a predicament, one founded on alterity and difference. I argue that the primary basis for understanding the claim that African modernity is a predicament is to understand the ways in which the one mode of thought or cultural orientation (African) was radically alien from, and different from, the other mode of thought or cultural orientation (Western). Specific cases of alterity between both cultures include moral values, system of education, religion, ontologies, and knowledge production and cognition systems. The African experience of the West could easily become a predicament because the former’s experience of the latter was under compulsion and the latter refused to accept and respect the otherness of the former, but rather painted it as nothing of worth. To explore this line of thought, I begin by examining important texts in the description of the African experience of the West as a predicament. I then proceed to show that these texts can best be understood as emanating from the difficulties that were associated in coping with the difference and changes that came with African contact with the West. I conclude that difference can be a positive force and easy to accept if it is willfully understood and assimilated, but it can become a negative force and a source of frustration if it is imposed on the other by the self or vice versa.

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Izibili, Matthew A. , , . African Arts and Difference
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 205-215
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Abstract: In this chapter, I examine the role African art play in the institutionalization of difference in African traditions. I am particularly interested in how aesthetic signs and symbols or other forms of art are employed by persons of an African culture to differentiate themselves or set themselves apart from other persons within the same culture or other cultures. Such forms of art of interest here include modes of dressing, tribal marks, hairstyles, and nonverbal signs of communication. I assert in this chapter that these aesthetic forms of difference are in some way institutionalized into the fabric of culture that they are taken by members of the society as objective givens and often not subject to questioning. Hence the othering is sustained and maintained through time. I also argue that these forms of differences sustained through art often promote inequality and preferential treatment of the self over and above the other. A case in mind is the preferential treatment of female folks from the royal family as against those who are not from the royal family, a difference clearly made visible through art.

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Imafidon, Elvis, , . Africa and the Unfolding of Difference: An Introduction
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 1-11
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Abstract: This chapter provides introductory comments or preliminary remarks to the Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. It begins by defending the claim that difference stands under as the foundation of the unfolding of African philosophy as an academic discipline and the unfolding of many lived experiences in African spaces both in Africa and in the Diaspora. Hence, African philosophy of difference is a critical reflection on the place of difference in the African experience. The chapters in this handbook thus explore various and specific aspects of such lived experiences and the roles difference or alterity play in their unfolding. The handbook is thus divided into five sections with each section exploring key aspects of the importance of difference in the understanding of the African experience. The first section provides conceptualizations of difference in African thought. The second section explores various aspects and provides critical comments on the question of racism, particularly the institutionalized racial discrimination by whites against blacks due to racial differences. The third section examines some key issues emerging from the role difference plays in the unfolding of African experiences such as epistemological issues, the language issue, the role of art in the institutionalization of difference, and moral issues. The fourth section explores the important roles that difference plays in questions of disability, gender, and the non-human other. The last section examines how difference plays key roles in the unfolding of lived experiences in specific African places such as the experience of xenophobia in South Africa, the Skolombos in Calabar, Nigeria, and the land distribution question in Zimbabwe. The chapter concludes that this handbook is an important contribution to alterity discourse in African philosophy not because it exhausts the issues involved, but because it provided a robust discussion that would provoke further reflections and discussions.

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