Philosophy 366: African, Latin American, and Native American Philosophy

full syllabus available here

Tuesday and Thursday: 1:10pm to 2:30pm

Murray Hall, Room 204

Course Description

This course is an introduction to philosophical work from Africa, Latin America, and the indigenous peoples of North America, covering topics in ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, aesthetics, social philosophy, and political philosophy.  We will cover philosophical views from the Akan, Aztec/Nahua, Dogon, Igbo, Lakota, Navajo, Ojibwe, and Yoruba traditions, among others. 

This philosophical work has largely been excluded from the study and practice of philosophy in North America, Europe, and Australia.  The course aims to give work from these traditions greater exposure and to provide a chance for students to encounter work that might spark an interest in future research. 

Throughout, we will also engage with related meta-philosophical issues that emerge with work from all three areas, allowing for interesting cross-discussion.  Are these really proper subfields of philosophy?  How do we make sense of the idea of African (or Latin American, or Native American) Philosophy as a field?  Are there philosophically important differences between oral traditions and written traditions?  What kinds of texts and artifacts can present philosophical views?  How should we understand ethnophilosophy and cultural worldviews as philosophical contributions?  How should we distinguish philosophical views from religious ones?  How should we think of the “sage” figure in relation to philosophy?  How do these traditions engage discussions of identity, autonomy, and post-colonialism?  Should this work be incorporated into the mainstream philosophical canon?   

Plan for Course and Readings

All readings will be posted here on the course website.

 

Day

Topic

Reading

1/22

Introduction: What is Philosophy?  Is there really ______ Philosophy? 

 

Susana Nuccetelli, “Latin American Philosophy,” in A Companion to Latin American Philosophy, pp. 343-355

 

 

Part I – African Philosophy


1/24

The Long History: What is “African” Philosophy?

 

Barry Hallen, A Short History of African Philosophy, “The Historical Perspective,” pp. 3-12

Ptah-hotep, The Maxims of Ptah-hotep

Zera Yacob, Treatise of Zera Yacob, Chapters 2, 4, and 6

 

1/29

Anthropology or Philosophy

 

Marcel Griaule, Conversations with Ogotemmêli, pp. 1-34, 123-129

 

1/31

Anthropology, Philosophy, and “Ethnophilosophy”

 

Placide Tempels, Bantu Philosophy, Chapters 1 and 2

Paulin Hountondji, African Philosophy: Myth and Reality, pp. 47-54

 

2/5

Independence and Ordinary Language Philosophy

 

J. Olubi Sodipo and Barry Hallen, Knowledge, Belief, and Witchcraft, pp. 1-14, 127-141

 

2/7

Independence and Ordinary Language Philosophy: Yoruba Epistemology

 

J. Olubi Sodipo and Barry Hallen, Knowledge, Belief, and Witchcraft, pp. 40-41, 45-81

 

2/12

Sage Philosophy, Experimental Philosophy, and Worldviews

 

Kibujjo Kalumba, “Sage Philosophy: Its Methodology, Results, Significance, and Future,” in A Companion to African Philosophy, pp. 274-281

Stephanie Wykstra, “Out of the Armchair”

 

2/14

Persons and Identity

 

Didier Njirayamanda Kaphagawani, “African Conceptions of a Person: A Critical Survey,” in A Companion to African Philosophy, pp. 332-342

“Introduction to Personal Identity,” Norton Introduction to Philosophy, pp. 538-544

 

2/19   

Identity, Community, and Politics

 

Julius Nyerere, “Ujamaa: The Basis of African Socialism”

 

2/21

Community, Sex, and Politics

 

Nkiru Uwechia Nzegwu, Family Matters: Feminist Concepts in African Philosophy of Culture, pp.  1-21, 209-229, 233-239

 

 

Part II – Latin American Philosophy

 

2/26

Latin American and Native American

 

James Maffie, “Pre-Columbian Philosophies,” in A Companion to Latin American Philosophy, pp. 9-21

 

2/28

Aztec (Nahua) Metaphysics

 

James Maffie, Aztec Philosophy: Understanding a World in Motion, pp. 1-12, 21-42

 

3/5

Aztec (Nahua) Metaphysics

 

James Maffie, Aztec Philosophy: Understanding a World in Motion, pp. 43-62

 

3/7

Aztec (Nahua) Ethics

 

L. Sebastian Purcell, “Eudaimonia and Neltiliztli: Aristotle and the Aztecs on the Good Life”

 

3/12  

Latin American Identity

 

Jorge J.E. Gracia and Elizabeth Millán-Zaibert, “Defining Latin America: National versus Continental Approaches,” in Latin American Philosophy for the 21st Century, pp. 219-229

Simón Bolívar, “Jamaica Letter,” in Latin American Philosophy for the 21st Century, pp. 63-66

José Martí, “Our America,” in Selected Writings, pp. 288-296

 

3/14

Mexican Existentialism

 

Carlos Alberto Sanchez, Contingency and Commitment: Mexican Existentialism and the Place of Philosophy, pp. 1-5, 15-42

 

3/26

Mexican Existentialism (2)

 

Carlos Alberto Sanchez, Contingency and Commitment: Mexican Existentialism and the Place of Philosophy, pp. 65-92

 

3/28

Identities and Complexities

 

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, pp. 21-61

 

4/2

Identities and Complexities

 

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, pp. 75-113 

 

4/4

Identities and Complexities

 

María Lugones, “Playfulness, ‘World’-Traveling, and Loving Perception”

Mariana Ortega, In-Between: Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self, pp. 17-46

 

 

Part III – Native American Philosophy


4/9

Native America and Native American Philosophy

 

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, pp. 1-31

Charles Mann, 1491, pp. 18-31

Anne Waters, “Structural Disadvantage and a Place at the Table”

 

4/11

An AhnishinahbÓ•ótjibway Perspective: Introduction

 

Wub-e-ke-niew, We Have the Right To Exist: A Translation of Aboriginal Indigenous Thought, pp. xiii-liii, 1-9

 

4/16

An AhnishinahbÓ•ótjibway Perspective: Identity and History

 

Wub-e-ke-niew, We Have the Right To Exist: A Translation of Aboriginal Indigenous Thought, pp. 34-38, 54-107

 

4/18

An AhnishinahbÓ•ótjibway Perspective: Metaphysics, Language, Ethics

 

Wub-e-ke-niew, We Have the Right To Exist: A Translation of Aboriginal Indigenous Thought, pp. 194-243

 

4/23

Native American Epistemology and “Eco-Philosophy”

 

Brian Yazzie Burkhart, “What Coyote and Thales Can Teach Us: An Outline of American Indian Epistemology,” in American Indian Thought, pp. 15-26

Gregory Cajete, Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence, pp. 57-83

 

4/25

Ethics and Ecology

 

Kyle Whyte, “Critical Investigations of Resilience: A Brief Introduction to Indigenous Environmental Studies & Sciences”

Dennis McPherson and J. Douglas Rabb, “Values, Land, and the Integrity of the Person: Cross-Cultural Considerations,” in Indian from the Inside: Native American Philosophy and Cultural Renewal, pp. 83-139

Kent Nerburn, Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder, pp. 39-51, 73-81

 

4/30

Politics and the Choice of How to Live 

 

Sa-Go-Ye-Wet-Ha, “Speech at Council at Buffalo Creek,” in American Philosophies: An Anthology, pp. 11-14

John (Fire) Lame Deer, “Talking to the Owls and Butterflies,” Seeker of Visions, pp. 119-126

Robert Yazzie, “Life Comes from It: Navajo Justice Concepts,” in Navajo Nation Peacemaking: Living Traditional Justice, pp. 42-58

Charles Mann, 1491, pp. 379-392

 

5/2

Indigenous Identity, Philosophy, and the Future

 

Linda Tuhiwai Smith, “Twenty-Five Indigenous Projects” in Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, pp. 143-164

Anne Waters, “Ontology of Identity and Interstitial Being,” in American Indian Thought, pp. 153-170