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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


BOSHOFF, Hercules. The call for a philosophical Afrikaans outside the public university. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2018, vol.58, n.3, pp.586-596. ISSN 2224-7912.

This article explores possibilities for the future of, and need for philosophy in Afrikaans in the light of the recent exorcism-like removal of Afrikaans from local universities. To do this, firstly the phenomenon of the manner in which English is taking over as the only medium of instruction not only locally, but also internationally, will come under scrutiny. Secondly, the meaning of thinking philosophically in a particular language will be explored, followed by pointers towards a way forward into a situation where philosophy in Afrikaans can be thought from outside of the margins of tertiary institutions, but never closed off to conversation with the public institutions and the broader context of South Africa. I will challenge the claim that English is merely a more practical lingua franca, by rooting it in its colonial prejudices, claiming to be the medium of the Christian message, similar to the way Latin before it was seen. It will be argued that secularisation did not neccessarily root out these issues, but appropriated this salvific quality of the English language into modern science and its claims to objective and universal truth. As a first step towards reaching objectivity, the mind needs to be detoxified from the malnutrition of the inferior and limited mother tongue, the indigenous language. The move from the smaller to the larger language, supposedly correlates to the movement from the subjective to the objective realm. Instead of accomplishing this goal however, the movement rather results in what Van Wyk Louw calls "modern barbarism". The effects of modern barbarism, is that it creates in its homogeneity a sort of contemporary tower of Babel, with an exorcised Faustian workforce, toiling away at producing consumables that constantly reproduce the initial process to drive out souls and imprint on these blank pages (tabula rasa) global trade-"marks". The passage to knowledge has become an automation of the abstracted head function (Capitas in Latin) into which all impulses should neatly fit. As an alternative to this state of affairs, a call is made for an orientated thinking, that never loses sight of the Delphic principle "know thyself, without which further "objective" knowledge has the danger of being disjointed from the concrete situation and becoming oppressive. Knowing yourself conversely also means familiarising oneself with the larger framework in which one is situated. The solution is therefore active and dynamic translation and expression in which the languages are given platforms to be cultivated and to cross-pollinate. Philosophy itself has benefitedfrom many languages through which it has been able to form concepts that have influenced the history of thinking. Outside of the public tertiary institution, philosophy steps into the sphere in which Afrikaans has been cultivated over the last few years, the market. In a certain sense, philosophy returns to the place where it first attained a clear manifestation, as itself a form of exchange (in Afrikaans: "handel"), but a form of exchange that mediates between other exchanges, from the most particular to the overarching. This interaction is also the movement in which justice (as right) crystallizes, justice understood in the sense of letting things come to right ("teregkom"). Through this exchange, the understanding of economy as that which is informed by abstract principles, in which the free play between the oikos and the nomos is determined by the nomos alone, is challenged by one in which the local, in all its complexity, is invited to participate and contribute to the global discourse on an open platform.

Keywords : mother tongue; self-contempt; translation; babelisation; homogenising; Faustian drive; absolution; sublation; orientated thinking.

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