Philosophy and the Afro-American Experience

West, Cornel

How does philosophy relate to the Afro-American experience? This question arises primarily because of an antipathy to the ahistorical character of contemporary philosophy and the paucity of illuminating diachronic studies of the Afro-American experience. I will try to show that certain philosophical techniques, derived from a particular conception of philosophy, can contribute to our understanding of the Afro-American experience. For lack of a better name, I shall call the application of these techniques to this experience, Afro-American philosophy. I will examine historical sources of these techniques and explore the way in which they underscore the feasibility of an Afro-American philosophy. Finally, I will attempt to show what results such a philosophy should yield.

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Union Theological Seminary
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March 1, 2013