The Centre of Philosophy in Africa heeds the irrepressible call of our times for tangible transformation within knowledge production processes in Africa. Such processes ought to facilitate thinking, action and being for viable change to contemporary realities of Africa and African life. And so, the Centre commits to advancing new configurations of philosophical activity (innovative ways of thinking and being) towards a living philosophy for Africa. Such configurations move away from the sterility of contemporary Academic Philosophy (predominantly a universalistic, professionalised discourse, often reduced to mere criticism of written arguments, often doomed to the impotent dead/locking of horns over the meaning of texts).

 By contrast, a living Philosophy includes five main components. Firstly, a philosopher was tasked with developing a kanon, which included a worldview, a fitting lifestyle and a portrait of the sage to be emulated. Secondly, the kanon was to be condensed into pithy maxims, heuristics, and fit for purpose concepts that were easy to remember and repeat. Thirdly, specific therapeutic and practical, self-transformative exercises were to be devised to guide philosophers in the art of living. The fourth task was one of dialogical self-examination and critique, and the final task was to direct attention outward towards others for the sake of forming mutually beneficial didactic relationships.

Since new philosophies never fall from the sky, but emerge, from tough-self-reflection in present responses to past conditions, in relation to projected hopes for the future. This happens incrementally, all the time (intentionally or compelled) often via paradoxical movements of “repeating differently”. With this in mind:

  1. The Centre for Philosophy proceeds by integrating the on-going debate around such-self reflexivity, regarding the nature of Philosophy’s task within Africa’s present conditions.
  1. The Centre’s activities seek to transcend discursive barriers, extending beyond the academic space to the broader issues of social and ethical transformation, conflict and poverty, biodiversity, conservation and restoration in South Africa and Africa. Such process requires integrating ideas with creative and ethical philosophical practice, by working work closely with researchers and students across all academic Faculties and disciplines at Nelson Mandela University.
  1.  Importantly, the Centre for Philosophy in Africa aims to conduct research that will enable a contemporary “repetition”- new creative thinking and action -  of the practical, living philosophy characteristic of the world’s ancient sages- where philosophical components of, logical, critical thought, entwined with ethical action in one’s daily interactions with self, the environment and society. Such living philosophy assumes deep process of contemplation in exercises of everyday life.  This takes account of the fact that we have live in the age of technological and communicative complexity

 

Key Objectives of the Centre at Nelson Mandela University and Beyond

  • Africa-Purposed Research: At present NMU does not have extensive research depth regarding Africa-purposed philosophy. The first objective of the Centre will be to conduct and stimulate inter-disciplinary, intra-institutional and inter-institutional philosophical research with a focus on developing a kanon and maxims (creating concepts) for thinking purposed for Africa and Africanity, without detaching Africa’s issues from wider global realities as Africa does not exist outside the wider globe.
  • Tuition and supervision: Concurrently, Centre aims at providing inter- and cross- faculty tuition and curriculum design/renewal at undergraduate levels and postgraduate supervision and co-supervision of studies in pure philosophy as well as theoretically orientated cross-disciplinary studies.
  • Practice and Engagement: Centre will also focus on extending opportunities to researchers, teachers, students, local leaders and ordinary people to engage actively in philosophical practices. Significantly, the Centre aims to respond to calls for innovative contributions, towards deepening thinking practice at school level. Focus will be on engaging and collaborating with high schools –both teachers and learners- in developing fit-for-purpose material that will stimulate philosophical thought fit for specific school contexts.