Tag Archives: African Philosophy

The Erklaeren -Verstehen Controversy and Its Relevance for African Philosophy (Published)

This work is a critical examination of the place of explanation and understanding in the overall consideration of the various means employed in the acquisition of reliable knowledge both in the physical and social sciences. This inquiry is made to ascertain if the methods of explanation and understanding employed in the physical and social sciences can constitute relevant tools in African philosophy.  Life is full of puzzles seeking explanation and understanding. Apart from its raising of questions, philosophy also concerns itself with providing answers or explanations to the fundamental questions of life. These explanations make what was previously unintelligible or unfamiliar to be understandable. It demystifies or, as it may be, unravels the apparent mystery beclouding it thus making it intelligible. In explanation questions raised include: how? When? Why? Where? Etc.  The erklaeren – verstehen controversy (i.e. explanation – understanding controversy) is an inter disciplinary controversy which arose in sorting out the primary methodological concerns proper to the philosophy of the natural and socio- historical sciences. It raises the question of whether we can use the same methods of explanation and understanding in the physical and social sciences. This work employing the philosophical methods of critical analysis and evaluation traced the background of this controversy, examined the various methods employed by the physical and social sciences in explanation and understanding and considered the different schools of thought that championed the various methods of explanation. These methods of explanation are further examined with regard to their relevance in African philosophy which also has its ways of explanation and understanding. The work concluded by affirming the significance of this discussion in resolving some questions addressed in African Philosophy.  


Keywords: African Philosophy, Erklaeren –Verstehen, Explanation, Reductive Activity, Understanding

Catholic Social Justice Principles: An African Philosophical Response (Published)

Catholic Social Justice teaching is the body of doctrine developed by the Catholic Church on matters of poverty and wealth, economics, social organization and the role of the state. Its foundations are widely considered to have been laid by Pope Leo XIII‘s 1891 encyclical letter Rerum Novarum, which advocated economic distributism and condemned both Capitalism and Socialism, although its roots can be traced to the writings of Catholic thinkers such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine of Hippo, and is also derived from concepts present in the Bible. Among the social issues addressed by the teachings is the place and relevance of work in human life. According to the teachings, Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected-the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.  How can these teachings be made relevant to the African context and Church?  An attempt to answer this important question is embedded in the dialogue between this body of doctrine and the African world view.  Such a dialogue must consider the nature African thought systems and world-views as found in African Philosophy and more specifically the philosophies of Ubuntu and Communalism.  This paper therefore discusses the responses of African Philosophy in contextualize the Catholic Social Teachings in Africa.

Keywords: African Philosophy, Catholic, Communalism, Rerum Novarum, Social Justice, Ubuntu