Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Phronimon]]> vol. 21 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>The Subject and the Quest for Truth: Heidegger and Lonergan on Truth</b>]]> Since the "elimination of the subject" from truth discourse by Frege, by identifying the subject-or rather the subjective-with the private and personal, philosophical investigations of truth have consciously or unconsciously truncated the role of the knowing subject in the quest for truth. The neglect of the subject has turned the exploration of truth into logical, semantic, conceptual or linguistic analysis of the truth predicate. The consequence of this is that some philosophers tend to treat truth as if it does not really matter; as is shown by their deflationary attitude towards truth or even the total denial of truth. Despite the prevalent elimination of the subject from truth discourses, two thinkers that acknowledge the importance of the subject in the exposition of the concept of truth are Martin Heidegger and Bernard Lonergan. In this paper I explore their positions and argue that Heidegger's situating of the centrality of Dasein in relation to truth in disclosedness-as the basic state of Dasein's ontological constitution-is inadequate. Following Lonergan, I argue that an adequate account of the centrality of the role of the subject can only be situated in the cognitional acts of the subject within the context of the human quest for knowledge, and that the pivotal cognitional act is the act of judgment. <![CDATA[<b>Struggles for Self-liberation in African Philosophy</b>]]> Since its inception as an academic discipline, African philosophy has positioned itself at the centre of the struggle for justice and self-determination, and by that jettisoning-and rightly so-the otherwise sterile pursuit of the abstract. There is an inherent emancipatory urge that is, therefore, historical and that has conferred to African philosophy its identity as a uniquely context-oriented tradition. Even as it seeks to satisfy the quest for knowledge, African philosophy proceeds on the realisation that philosophy cannot hide behind the abstract quest for knowledge at the expense of its practical and ethical commitments. This paper analyses these key issues within the ongoing struggle for liberation in African philosophy. At the same time, attention is also drawn to a problem that potentially threatens this realisation. Unless we choose to ignore history, we should never forget that philosophy, as a practice, has a history of lending itself easily to exclusionary and repressive tendencies-even as the expectation is that it should be the paragon of intellectual freedom. To recognise this fact is an important step in the struggle for intellectual liberation in African philosophy. <![CDATA[<b>The Tenuous Link between Crime and Incarceration: Bosasa's Public-private Partnership</b>]]> Bosasa's role in facilitating the fact that South Africa has one of the highest crime rates as well as one of the highest rates of recidivism in the world, is interrogated in this contribution. The article sets out-through the lens of a Marxist reading of crime in a capitalist society-to explain the phenomenon in terms of the existence of a Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). This was exposed in recent months by evidence at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, which revealed alarming levels of corruption at the Department of Correctional Services, as well as fraudulent collusion with its corporate partners. This strongly suggests the existence of a PIC; part of an avaricious "shadow state" referenced by recent literature on state capture in South Africa. It is contended that even though the Zondo Commission has not completed its hearings, sufficient evidence is available to argue the case that Bosasa, as part of a PIC, has aggravated our recidivism rates and distorted our understanding of crime. The article, drawing on comparative examples, suggests that the high recidivism rate in South Africa can at least partially be explained by a PIC which inclines the Department of Correctional Services-within the context of a stigmatising shaming culture based on incarceration as our dominant sentencing regime-to recycle prisoners for profit rather than to see them rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. <![CDATA[<b>Eurocentric Pitfalls in the Practice of African Philosophy: Reflections on African Universities</b>]]> We argue that African philosophy scholars are sometimes blinded by Eurocentric tendencies in the practice of African philosophy, and that it is important to identify and overcome these problems. The research gap we intend to fill is that the route of self-examination, self-criticism and self-evaluation has been underexplored in the practice of African philosophy at universities in Africa. The self-understanding of African philosophy is necessary for the reconstruction of indigenous elements for the purpose of African development. Firstly, African philosophy is divided along Eurocentric lines of analytic and continental philosophy. We argue that such a dualism closes other approaches to African philosophy. Secondly, the practice of African philosophy is done in the language of the colonisers; however, concepts from indigenous African languages remain largely unexplored. Thirdly, the Eurocentric approach of making philosophy "universal" and "transcultural," results in African scholars seeking a general African philosophy that fails to accommodate the diversity and richness of African cultures. Fourthly, African philosophy, as practised in African universities, tends to disregard African culture as the basis of philosophical thought in trying to make philosophy scientific and objective. We argue for decolonial thinking as a means of making African philosophy more genuine. <![CDATA[<b>The Critical Role of Selected <i>Swiyila </i>(Taboos) in Rural Democratic South Africa: A Theological Perspective</b>]]> In South Africa and other countries, there has for many years been a plea for moral regeneration. Moral decay is fast taking over, while sickness, poverty, crime, violence and other calamities are rapidly engulfing our beautiful nation. In an effort to reintroduce morality into the lives of South Africans, this research represents an investigation into whether African taboos-which in the past governed and directed the lives of African people-may perhaps provide a solution. As society and lifestyles have changed, taboos have come to be ignored. If we look back into our history, when taboos were still held in high esteem, we see that moral decay did not occur at the rapid pace at which it is taking place today. This leads one to consider whether it is through having abandoned those taboos that we find ourselves in the present untenable situation. The intention of the study was, therefore, to explore whether taboos are and could still be vital for morality in African society.<hr/>E tikweni ra Afrika-Dzonga na man'wana ka ha ri na xirilo xo vuyerisa vumhunu. Ku onhaka ka vumunhu swi le ku humeleleni hi xihatla, loko mavabyi, vusweti, vugevenga, ku Iwisana na swin'wana leswo vava swi karhi swi funengeta tiko ra hina lero saseka. Yin'wanaya tindlela to vuyisela vumunhu eka vutomi bya Ma-Afrika-Dzonga, ndzavisiso lowu wu yimela ku vonisisa loko swiyila swa Ma-Afrika, leswi aminkarhini ya khale swi fambiseke no kombisa tindlela ta vutomi byaMa-Afrika, swi nga ha nyika swin 'wana swa swintshunxo. Tani hi leswaki vaakatiko na mahanyelo swi cinceke, swiyila swi tekeriwa ehansi. Loko hi languta le ndzhaku ka ntiva-swa-khale, loko swiyila swa ha tekeriwa enhlokweni, hi vone leswaku ku onhaka ka vumunhu a swi nga humeleli hi rivilo leri hi ri vonaka namuntlha., leswi endlaka leswaku munhu a ehleketa loko ku nga ri ku tshika swiyila leswi, leswi endlaka leswaku hi tikuma hi ri eka xiyimo lexo ka xi nga olovi ku cinca. Xokongomelo xa tsalwa leri iku kambisisa loko swiyila swi nga hapfuneta ku vuyisela vumunhu exikarhi kaMa-Afrika. <![CDATA[<b>Western "Supremacy" and the "Renaissance" Issue: Decolonising as Imitative Reaction</b>]]> Claude Levi-Strauss reminds us that "the notion of humanity, encompassing, without distinction of race or civilization, all forms of the human species, is a recent phenomenon and of limited expansion ... But for the major part of the human species, dozens of millennia, this notion appears totally absent. Humanity stops at the frontiers of the tribe, the language group, often even of the village ..." (Finkielkraut 1996, 1). <![CDATA[<b>Covid-19: In Memory of the "Black Death"</b>]]> Claude Levi-Strauss reminds us that "the notion of humanity, encompassing, without distinction of race or civilization, all forms of the human species, is a recent phenomenon and of limited expansion ... But for the major part of the human species, dozens of millennia, this notion appears totally absent. Humanity stops at the frontiers of the tribe, the language group, often even of the village ..." (Finkielkraut 1996, 1). <![CDATA[<b>To Save Lives: The Ethical Precedent set by South Africa's Leadership during Lockdown</b>]]> None of the lockdown decisions made by governments in response to the Covid-19 pandemic can be considered to be self-evident outcomes of objective data. Executive members of each nation's government considered the particular pandemic circumstances that they deemed to be important and relevant, and decisions were made based on limited epidemiological data in combination with a variety of contingent socio-political and economic variables. These kinds of decisions fall partly into the philosophical category of ethics, and they can be summarised under the umbrella question: What should we do? The precautionary principle must have played a large role in the decision-making process, considering the conspicuous lack of reliable data on which to base decisions. In this article, I turn to South Africa as a case study, and I tease out some of the precautionary factors that may have, in part, driven many major decisions prior to and during the South African lockdown. I argue that if the precautionary principle can be used as part of the justification for large-scale government interventions to save an unknown number of lives, then consistent use of the principle should warrant concerted responses by government to a variety of potential threats and problems in South Africa. I also argue that for government's focus on saving lives to be consistent, preventative action in response to phenomena that take worryingly large numbers of lives annually, is necessary. <![CDATA[<b>Coronavirus Pandemic: Fear of the Unknown, Shaking Psychological Well-being, Economy, Politics and Morality</b>]]> The essay examines the meaning and impact of Covid-19 in comparative relation to some of the experiences of the Black Death (1348-1350). It also presents and critically analyses actual case studies of pseudo-named people-in recognition and respect for confidentiality in research ethics-infected by Covid-19. "South Africa" is the primary but not the only focus of this essay. The thesis defended in this essay is that the "social distance" prescribed as a preventative measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 ought to be complemented by ethical "proximity to the other." Kweli phepha, sizo bonakalisa iintlungu eziviwe ngabantu abaye basuleleka yintsholongwane ye Corona-iSevere Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (Covid-19) ngelasemzini. Lentsholongwane ibaphazamise ngokwase moyeni nangokwase ngqondweni. Sizo phinda sijonge ukuba iCorona ingathelekiswa njani nokuba yohluke njani kwi medieval Black Death eyabulala abantu abaninzi mandulo. Abantu aba balisa amabali abo kweli phepha baphiwe amagama angewo wenyani ukuze sibahloniphe, nemfihlo zabo zingafikeleli kubantu ababaziyo. <![CDATA[<b>Restorative Transformation after Lockdown: Freedom and Ubuntu in Civic Education</b>]]> We contend that lockdown restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa have exposed deep divisions between citizens and the state, due in part to the neglect of citizenship education and to the neglect of our historical citizenship heritage. We propose in this paper two sources of appropriate normative guidelines, rooted in our common, collective history and ethics, which we ought to promote among citizens to reunite our people. We argue that citizenship education ought not only to be promoted actively in schools but that it must be reformed on the basis of two sets of foundational principles: a) Ubuntu; and b) the Freedom Charter. These encourage integration between citizens and subjects, and between citizens and the state; not to impose false universality from above, nor incoherent heteronomy from below, but to regulate these with cultural and historical continuity in transformation. <![CDATA[<b>Covid-19, Philosophy and the Leap Towards the Posthuman</b>]]> A discursive canon around transhumanism and posthumanism as beliefs in the efficacy and necessity of technology as the beneficial transformer of human life "for the better" is well-established in the Western philosophical tradition. However, none of the theorists and protagonists of this technological reconfiguration of humanity could ever have predicted that what they envisaged would be propelled into manifestation with as dramatic and phenomenal momentum such as has been ushered in by the mainly technology-driven interventions introduced in various measures globally to curb the SARS-CoV2 virus. The effect of these responses to the pandemic, it is here demonstrated, have set humanity into a technogenesis, a transformative ontological process headed towards a machinistic and de-anthropic life idealised by posthumanists. Apropos, a set of three intertwined tasks are here executed. Firstly, I explicate my foregoing claim, namely, how at the helm of the variety of measures to control Covid-19 is a discernible socio-scientific movement that is directed at inaugurating and regularising a posthumanist consciousness and de-anthropic modes of sociality. Secondly, I venture a critical understanding of "the Covid-19 moment" that exposes the quadripartite alliance of a postmodernist Western philosophy, technoscience, commercial interests, and politics as the systemic drivers of this technocratic philosophical anthropology. Thirdly, or rather concurrently, taking the work of Nick Bostrom as the theoretical heuristic advocating human technological transformation, I normatively alert of the ramifications of this emerging human ontology. <![CDATA[<b>The Covid-19 Pandemic and Meaning in Life</b>]]> In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, where death, sickness and suffering persist, there is some hint that there is nothing so special about the human race that particularly makes it immune to decimation. This is at odds with the general feeling that there is something significant, purposeful and/or meaningful about human life. Thus, the question that immediately comes to mind is whether the present pandemic and the negative situations it presents, destroy any hope of attaining meaning in life. In this article, we critically examine how the Covid-19 pandemic affects meaning in life. While it is not far-fetched to assume that the pandemic, suffering, isolation, economic hardship, and so forth disrupt humanity's abilities at creating moments of meaning in life, it is our claim that it does not destroy it altogether, as many persons have found new ways of creating such moments, albeit small, through self-sacrifice/care, solidarity, and more. Finally, we conclude that in the face of this tragedy, what humanity can best hope for is the continuous creation of moments of meaning in life in order to reduce despair and sustain hope, however small. We expect that this article will foster future discussions about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the question of meaningfulness. <![CDATA[<b>Thinking of Biko in the Time of Covid-19</b>]]> The Covid-19 pandemic has presented serious questions; not only of a medical-scientific nature, but of a deeply philosophical nature as well. Often, when faced with the unknown-whether in the form of an environmental catastrophe or a general health threat-finding effective ways to overcome our fear of the unknown yields important clues regarding not only the nature of our self-understanding as human beings, but also our all-too-human perceptions of Other(s). While the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been especially harsh on people living in conditions of extreme poverty and material deprivation, our collective response has (predictably) proceeded from a position that privileges the interests and lifestyles of the rich, the well-resourced and the politically connected, in a manner that sadly confirms the biblical prophecy: the poor will always be among you. This essay seeks to examine the impact of Covid-19 in South Africa. Its analytic focus proceeds from the perspective of Steve Biko's conception of Black Consciousness philosophy. It seeks to argue that Biko's humanist project of liberation offers important insights that can assist us in the normative quest for a society "with a more human face." <![CDATA[<b>Solidarity at Issue: Pandemics and Religious Belief</b>]]> A global pandemic such as that of the 2020 Covid-19 corona virus, causing great suffering and loss of life, brings home the difficult conditions that make for our fragile human life. But the question that religious belief poses, about "natural evil" in a world created by a loving God, satirised by Voltaire in the 18th century, masks the more existential problem, the possibility of greater human solidarity. In the background is the Deist view of God complementing the "polite society" of mutual benefit and guaranteeing the latter's benevolent outcome. It is a worldview, as Charles Taylor (2007) explains, that has put aside the premodern idea of human transformation, that was symbolised by religious virtuosi, saints, theophanies, and so on, now looked upon with suspicion by modernity. But the possibility of transformation, of a generous human response to suffering, is what is called for in a pandemic. In Camus' novel, The Plague, we see the more authentic response that resists being boxed in by religious enthusiasts to a constricted and ideological affirmation of a cosmic picture that obscures the fault-lines of bourgeois society. <![CDATA[<b>Experiencing the Covid-19 Outbreak Socially: On Some Recent Philosophical Contributions</b>]]> The coronavirus outbreak is currently scrutinised by professional philosophers from different traditions and geographical areas. By focusing on several contributions from European academic philosophers, this article assesses whether such philosophical works manifest and reproduce, consciously or unconsciously, neocolonial and Eurocentric understandings of the Covid-19 pandemic. Particular attention will be given to Agamben's and Žižek's interpretations to show the role played in their analysis by reductionist and regressive constructions of the social world. I will then draw on several contributions from African and Africana philosophers (Gqola, Asante, More, West and Outlaw), to set up a theoretical space in which the social experiencing of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as the self-understanding of academic philosophers, could be positively reconceptualised. This act of resignification has its aim in promoting adequate forms of institutional analysis and professional engagement, and it points to the emancipatory task philosophy embodies in the global South.