African Slave Trade Essay Research Paper Philosophy

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African Slave Trade Essay, Research Paper Philosophy and the Afro-American Experience In this thesis, Cornel West attempts to illustrate that particular techniques in certain forms of philosophy could enable one s understanding of the Afro-American experience. West uses the term, Afro-American philosophy when referring to these techniques. The author shows historical background of these techniques, and the effect that have on Afro-American philosophy. West also depicts, what results such a philosophy should yield. Philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, Wittgenstein and John Dewey stated great disapproval with the ahistorical character of modern philosophy. These men s thoughts differ on many occasions, but they all agree that the Cartesian philosophical world-view is not

applicable to Afro-American philosophy. Cartesians postulate the absolute autonomy of philosophy. They presuppose that there is a distinct set of problems independent of culture, society and history. For them, philosophy stands outside the various conventions on which people base their social practices and transcends the cultural heritages and political struggles of people. West states Afro-American philosophy would be absurd, if the Cartesian perspective is the only sound philosophical position. Wittgenstein and Heidegger have obvious differences, although they both see philosophy as a move from the obscure to the obvious, rather than from doubt to certainty. Each want to find the human conventions concealed by the Cartesian perspective, to interpret the Cartesian hieroglyphics

that instill philosophical deceptions. Both believe that only the bravest will be able to accept the simple truths revealed by their interpretations. For example, Heidegger and Wittgenstein presume that philosophy is an interpretative activity that makes the complex simple, the opaque clear, and so on. To them, all philosophizing requires resolute fearlessness, fortitude and ultimately a change in living and perceiving. Afro-American philosophy subscribes to this approach. On the other hand, Dewey combines aspects of Heidegger and Wittgenstein along with his own practical orientation to form his insight. Dewey s metaphilosophical view is that, Philosophy is the interpretation of a people s past for the purpose of solving specific problems presently confronting the cultural way of

life from which the people come. These are the three philosophers from which Cornel West furnishes the definition of Afro-American philosophy. Afro-American philosophy is the interpretation of Afro-American history, highlighting the cultural heritage and political struggles, which provides desirable norms that should regulate responses to particular challenges presently confronting Afro-Americans. West says that there are two basic obstacles presently confronting Afro-Americans: self-image and self-determination. The problem for an Afro-American, according to West, is that one has problems identifying who and what one is, simply self-identity. West also acknowledges the political struggle to gain serious control over the primary institutions that manage people s lives. He

believes that culture and politics go hand in hand. The major function of Afro-American philosophy is to help rebuild Afro-American history and provide understanding of oneself to allow the Afro-American experience guide oneself in making desirable decisions in the present. Cornel West illustrates that modernity is a central notion in his rendition of the Afro-American past. Modernity is the descriptive notion that connotes the historical state of affairs characterized by an abundance of wealth resulting from the industrial and technological revolution and the ensuing cultural isolation and fragmentation due to a disintegration of closely-knit communities and the decline of religious systems. For instance, when Afro-Americans are perceived as passive objects of history,