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Burning Issues in African Philosophy builds off of the sophisticated work that has now become part of an international conversation on how African philosophy makes unique interventions into almost every important question of politics, ethics, aesthetics, ontology and epistemology. Indeed, the very definition of these fundamental philosophical conceptions is both challenged and enriched. In this way, African philosophy is not only crucial in understanding what constitutes its uniqueness but also in providing us with new and innovative ways to think about some of the most burning issues of our time as far reaching as what is the meaning of being human to how we can effectively challenge climate change. The aim of this seminar then is not simply to bring some of the most important African philosophers to participate so that their work can be known, but perhaps more importantly that they can bring African philosophy into the political and ethical debates about what it might mean to have a more just future. The series begins by challenging the conventional Afro-pessimistic view of time as being unable to organize a future perspective that would allow for adequate industrialization and development. If time is what happens inseparable from events, this does not mean that there is no future in African philosophy. What it means is that there is no future that can be foreclosed or known in advance and thus possibilities for the future remain open. It is therefore up to our actions to bring about the future that we want.
Presenter: Lewis Gordon, University of Connecticut-Storrs
Discussants: Max Hantel, Dartmouth College and Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University
This series is made possible by financial support from the Provost Office and Arts & Sciences at Columbia University and the Partnership University Fund (PUF) of the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE). The venue for this series is provided by the Heyman Center for Humanities.
Image credit: Versions by Sarita Cornell