AN AFRICA-FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVE TO THE STANDARD PHILOSOPHY CURRICULUM

P. Giddy

University of Kwazulu-Natal (SOUTH AFRICA)
The standard introductory philosophy agenda is set up so as to disallow genuine dialogue with the African traditional thought-world. What characterizes contemporary global culture dominated by technology is a kind of autism, a loss of a well-articulated sense of self. This is mirrored in the familiar standard topics of introductory philosophy from “can we know anything at all?” to “the intractable problem of free will” and on to a procedural (value free!) ethics and concept of justice. The disengaged subject stands over and against the world which is to be studied. But a good curriculum will help the learner to articulate their sense of self in ever more adequate ways and so become more self-aware and self-directing. Every pre-modern culture articulates, however inadequately, an understanding of human agency and responsibility (adulthood) as a norm. By bypassing this crucial element the curriculum allows the dominant attitudes and values (individualism, the disengaged stance, cultural relativism) to remain uninterrogated and alternative views simply placed alongside. I present an alternative philosophy curriculum drawn from the non-skeptical pre-modern thomistic tradition but framed not by any naïve understanding of human nature but by the critical norms of being a subject and agent.