Volume 24, Issue 1/2, Fall 2018
Excluded Moderns and Race/Racism in Euro-American Philosophy
James Africanus Beale Horton
The literature on race/racism and modern Euro-American philosophy obscures a category of continental African thinkers who not only embraced modernity and its core tenets but used them as the metric for judging their societies and self-making. Their embrace of modernity led them to share certain assumptions about their societies’ past like those that ground the racism of modern Euro-American philosophy. The literature has not attended to their ideas. The obscuring arises from racializing the discourse of philosophy and race/racism within a black-white/white-nonwhite schema. We, instead, historicize the discourse and show how, in embracing modernity, Africans managed, simultaneously, to repudiate modern philosophy’s racism. African thinkers never saw modernity as white or quintessentially European: it is the latest iteration of the human march to a better life for the species; they historicized it. The paper concludes with an exegesis of one such thinker from nineteenth century West Africa, James Africanus Beale Horton.