GSG Public Lecture by Paulin Hountondji: Moralising God? - Religions and Politics in Africa Today

This public lecture is hosted by the CRG 'Politics, Governance and Law in Africa' at the African Studies Centre Leiden. It is part of the Paulin Hountondji Tour initiated by the Globalisation Studies Groningen (GSG) programme at the University of Groningen, the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development (PCF) and the University of Münster. 

Paulin Hountondji is one of the most prominent African philosophers of the last fifty years. With his sharp and argumentative style of writing and with his outspoken position on the tasks of philosophising in Africa he has made friends and enemies. Most famous is his devastating critique of so-called ‘ethnophilosophy’ that takes African philosophy to be the collective worldviews of African peoples. He wrote his dissertation in Paris with Althusser and Derrida, and his book Philosophie africaine: critique de l'ethnophilosophie (Paris, Maspero 1976) (African philosophy, Myth and Reality, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983) was awarded the Herskovits Prize, and was selected as one of the 100 best African books of the 20th century; he was also awarded a Prince Claus prize and Mohamed El Fasi prize.

His critics argued that Hountondji simply wants to philosophize like Europeans, but he defends himself by arguing that human rationality knowns no boundaries and that the way to be authentically African is to develop vibrant philosophical traditions within Africa dealing with the most urgent problems of Africa. Much intellectual work in Africa, he argues, suffers from ‘extraversion’ – following foreign intellectual agendas such as explaining to the outside world ‘how Africans think’ or how communalist or Ubuntu African life forms are. Professor Paulin Hountondji lives and works in Benin.

Date, time and location

05 December 2019
15.00 - 16.30
Pieter de la Court building / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden