Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya

Volume 3, Issue 2, December 2011

Innocent I. Asouzu
Pages 9-34

Ibuanyidanda (Complementary Reflection), Communalism and Theory Formulation in African Philosophy

This paper avers that most attempts at formulating viable theories in African philosophy are saddled with intrusions of ethnophilosophic and ethnocentric types: The author identifies this as the phenomenon of “unintended ethnocentric commitment”. He uses communalism, a socio-political theory in African philosophy, to illustrate his point. He further argues that overreliance on the method of synthetic deduction - as is widely practised in African philosophy - can impact adversely on the universal outreach of theories and limit our knowledge of the world. The paper contends that any theory that aspires to give us a clearer picture of the world should be in a position to contain the distortions arising from the promptings of sense experience. Likewise, such a theory should show clear evidence of analytic insight into the mechanisms and phenomena on the basis of which our knowledge of the world can be broadened and our judgement thereof improved. By recourse to the method and principles of ibuanyidanda (complementary reflection) philosophy, a systematic methodological approach to theory formulation in African philosophy, the author shows how theories in African philosophy can be articulated more resourcefully with a view to upholding their systematic and universal relevance.