Between Earth and Sky

Martinon, Jean-Paul. 2016. Between Earth and Sky. Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, 24(1), pp. 25-44. ISSN 1936-6280 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper focuses on the idea of the limit of African thought. It asks: what exactly do we mean by a limit when it comes to a whole continent, with many different histories and modes of thought? To address this issue, it is necessary to abandon all spatial and geographical markers, and therefore all socio-cultural, political, and economic determinations, and to focus on the subject addressing the question. With such a focus, all thinking of the limit with regards to Africa becomes reduced to what I call a mono-logic voice for which there’s only one limit and one African thought. As such, the task does not entail to find a limit to African thought, but to avoid any form of mono-logical voicing or thinking, that is, any form of thinking that posits itself as limit: one, singular, identity. The essay therefore argues that without a new thinking of the limit from which one asks questions, no new mode of thinking on the limits of Africa or its philosophy is possible. Main references include, Martin Heidegger, Valentin Mudimbe, Jacques Derrida, Reiner Schürmann, and Bourahima Ouattara. The essay is published in a well-known open-access online US journal dedicated to French thought in a special issue devoted to African thought in general alongside other essays by prominent Africana and Africanist scholars from the US, Africa, and Europe. The paper’s originality consists in reversing the order of proceedings when asking about the limits of an entire continent. It puts forward new concepts (poly-logical voicing and thinking) and draws inspiration from pioneers in African thought.

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Martin Heidegger, African philosophy

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures > Centre for Research Architecture


23 August 2016Accepted
13 October 2016Published Online

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Date Deposited:

13 Oct 2016 11:19

Last Modified:

17 Dec 2020 18:58

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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