2009 | 19 | 4 | 363-377
Article title

Resignifying the Universal: Critical Commentary on the Postcolonial African Identity and Development

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The dimension of the debate on the relation between the universal and the particular in African philosophy has been skewed in favour of the universalists who argued that the condition for the possibility of an African conception of philosophy cannot be achieved outside the "universal' idea of the philosophical enterprise. In this sense, the ethno-philosophical project and its attempt to rescue the idea of an African past necessary for the reconstruction of an African postcolonial identity and development becomes a futile one. A recent commentator even argues that works concerning African identity are now totally irrelevant and misguided. In this essay, I will be arguing, on the contrary, that the universalist's argument, much like its critique of ethno-philosophical reason, mistakes the nature, significance and necessity of such a resistance (rather than original) identity that the ethno-philosophical project promises. I will also argue that the fabrication of such an identity facilitates the avoidance of an uncritical submersion in the universal as well as a proper conception of an African development. This, furthermore, is the only avenue by which the imperialistic ontological space of universal humanism, in which most universalistic claims are rooted, can be made more polygonal and mutually beneficial for alternative cultural particulars.
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  • Department of Philosophy, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
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