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Filosofia Theoretica

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2015

David A. Oyedola
Pages 20-45

Appiah on Race and Identity in The Illusions of Race: A Rejoinder

Whether Appiah’s concession in [The Illusions of Race, 1992] that there are no races can stand vis-a-vis Masolo’s submission in “African Philosophy and the Postcolonial: some Misleading Abstractions about Identity” (1997) that identity is impossible, it is worthy to note that much of what is entailed in human societies tend toward the exaltation and protection of self-interest. Self-interest, as it is related to particular or individual entities, to a great extent, presupposes the ontology of different races and identities. Paul Taylor in “Appiah’s Uncompleted Argument: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Reality of Race,” to begin with, asserts that races and identity struggles are real entities as individuals’: where this can be said to aid and abet racial differences. Though, there are those who lend credence to Appiah’s and Masolo’s explications like Hountondji and Gyekye; however, it is noteworthy that philosophers like Du Bois, Nkrumah, Fanon, Mandela, Senghor, Hallen and Cabral who, in one way or the other, lend credence to Taylor’s claim, could not have said so without taking into consideration, the colonial and anthropological experiences which has, in one way or the other, has affected Africa and Africans. Despite the latter, certain flaws like (i) the failure to acknowledge the utility and global importance of human race or family, and (ii) the failure to recognize the distinctiveness of each existing race, tribe or ethnicities in a diverse political, religious, and culture-biased world, are inherent in Taylor’s, Appiah’s and Masolo’s views coupled with those who lend credence to their views. In this study, nevertheless, it is conceded that it is not enough, as a derivative of Appiah’s skepticism about race and identity, to gesture at racial and identity concerns while using logical incoherence, globality, methodological separatism and cosmopolitan traits to undermine the relevance of identity which is the soul of the postcolonial quest for a distinct African race or black (African) philosophy.