Understanding African cultures and philosophies

JEAN LANGLOIS

The study aims to explore the development of a pan-African philosophy and system of thought while relying on the premise suggesting that the values and attitudes of a community determine how it relates to individuals from outside and how it builds trust and loyalty both inside the community and beyond. The paper shows how the development of a pan-African philosophy was based on a wish by Western academics to impose their principles on Africa by positing a single system of thought representing all African societies. The article goes on to describe research by European and African thinkers and the emergence of studies recognising the individuality and originality of systems of thought in African communities. The author stresses the importance of understanding the values and attitudes and philosophies of individual countries and communities and shows how generalisation leads to stereotyping and dominance, and that teachers and trainers need to treat communities individually and recognise their values, especially in the African sub-continent.

KEYWORDS: ethno-philosophy, national philosophy, pan-African philosophy, conceptual decolonisation, the Bantu, Tempels, Bidima

JEAN LANGLOIS. Has been developing a long-term research on intercultural management since 2011. Holds Masters in Asian Studies, Islamic Studies and Middle East, African Studies, Comparative Philosophy, Cognitive Sciences and Comparative Law. Member of the Indigenous Historical Knowledge Group (IDSA/New Delhi), former visiting fellow at CEDEJ (Cairo) and an associate researcher at CHART (Human and Artificial Cognitions Lab/Paris). Also taught a course dealing with transcultural decision making at Sciences Po with the economist Zydney Wong.

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