African Philosophy of Education Reconsidered

On being human

By Yusef Waghid

© 2014 – Routledge

148 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415825849
pub: 2013-07-01
US Dollars$160.00

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About the Book

Much of the literature on the African philosophy of education juxtaposes two philosophical strands as mutually exclusive entities; traditional ethnophilosophy on the one hand, and ‘scientific’ African philosophy on the other. While traditional ethnophilosophy is associated with the cultural artefacts, narratives, folklore and music of Africa’s people, ‘scientific’ African philosophy is primarily concerned with the explanations, interpretations and justifications of African thought and practice along the lines of critical and transformative reasoning. These two alternative strands of African philosophy invariably impact understandings of education in different ways: education constituted by cultural action is perceived to be mutually independent from education constituted by reasoned action.

Yusef Waghid argues for an African philosophy of education guided by communitarian, reasonable and culture dependent action in order to bridge the conceptual and practical divide between African ethnophilosophy and ‘scientific’ African philosophy. Unlike those who argue that African philosophy of education cannot exist because it does not invoke reason, or that reasoned African philosophy of education is just not possible, Waghid suggests an African philosophy of education constituted by reasoned, culture-dependent action.

This book provides an African philosophy aimed at developing a conception of education that can contribute towards imagination, deliberation, and responsibility - actions that can help to enhance justice in educative relations, both in Africa and throughout the world. This book will be essential reading for researchers and academics in the field of the philosophy of education, especially those wanting to learn from the African tradition.


‘This is a work from an African philosopher whose status and authority are growing internationally. It argues for a new approach to African philosophy of education, showing how it can be transformed from its previous cultural and rational roots into a new approach to problems of education, social justice and education policy-making from a communitarian stand-point. Waghid argues for an education and social justice policy approach underpinned by understanding and application of the values of "Ubuntu" (African humaneness and interdependency) as pathways for our onward journey towards justice and reconciliation. This is view and a recommendation which should be more widely shared among wider international communities. Its resonance at the present time would be widely welcomed and applicable around the world.’ - D N Aspin, Formerly Dean, Faculties of Education, Monash University, Australia and King’s College London, UK

Table of Contents

Introduction: African Philosophy of Education as a Practice 2: In Defence of a Communitarian View of African Philosophy of Education 3: Religion, Ethics and Aesthetics in African Metaphysics and Epistemology 4: Towards a Different Understanding of African Education: Reconstituting the Place of Ubuntu 5: On Enacting Ubuntu, Democratic Citizenship Education and the Enlargement of Moral Imagination: Learning and Teaching in South Africa 6: On Education and Human Rights in Africa: Restating the Claims of Cosmopolitan Justice 7: On Educational Change and the Illusion of Inclusion: Against Exclusion on the African Continent Postscript: Terrorism and the Challenges to African Philosophy of Education

About the Author

Yusef Waghid is Professor of Philosophy of Education in the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

About the Series

New Directions in the Philosophy of Education

This book series is devoted to the exploration of new directions in the philosophy of education. After the linguistic turn, the cultural turn, and the historical turn, where might we go? Does the future promise a digital turn with a greater return to connectionism, biology and biopolitics based on new understandings of system theory and knowledge ecologies? Does it foreshadow a genuinely alternative radical global turn based on a new openness and interconnectedness? Does it leave humanism behind or will it reengage with the question of the human in new and unprecedented ways? How should philosophy of education reflect new forces of globalization? How can it become less Anglo-centric and develop a greater sensitivity to other traditions, languages, and forms of thinking and writing, including those that are not routed in the canon of Western philosophy but in other traditions that share the ‘love of wisdom’ that characterizes the wide diversity within Western philosophy itself. Can this be done through a turn to intercultural philosophy? To indigenous forms of philosophy and philosophizing? Does it need a post-Wittgensteinian philosophy of education? A postpostmodern philosophy? Or should it perhaps leave the whole construction of 'post'-positions behind?

In addition to the question of the intellectual resources for the future of philosophy of education, what are the issues and concerns that philosophers of education should engage with? How should they position themselves? What is their specific contribution? What kind of intellectual and strategic alliances should they pursue? Should philosophy of education become more global, and if so, what would the shape of that be? Should it become more cosmopolitan or perhaps more decentred? Perhaps most importantly in the digital age, the time of the global knowledge economy that reprofiles education as privatized human capital and simultaneously in terms of an historic openness, is there a philosophy of education that grows out of education itself, out of the concerns for new forms of teaching, studying, learning and speaking that can provide comment on ethical and epistemological configurations of economics and politics of knowledge? Can and should this imply a reconnection with questions of democracy and justice?

This series comprises texts that explore, identify and articulate new directions in the philosophy of education. It aims to build bridges, both geographically and temporally: bridges across different traditions and practices and bridges towards a different future for philosophy of education.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Philosophy & Social Aspects