cover of book

The Struggle For Meaning: Reflections on Philosophy, Culture, and Democracy in Africa
by Paulin J. Hountondji
translated by John Conteh-Morgan
foreword by K. Anthony Appiah
Ohio University Press, 2002
eISBN: 978-0-89680-433-3 | Paper: 978-0-89680-225-4
Library of Congress Classification B5305.H6713 2002
Dewey Decimal Classification 199.66


The Struggle for Meaning is a landmark publication by one of African philosophy's leading figures, Paulin J. Hountondji, best known for his critique of ethnophilosophy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In this volume, he responds with autobiographical and philosophical reflection to the dialogue and controversy he has provoked. He discusses the ideas, rooted in the work of such thinkers as Husserl and Hountondji's former teachers Derrida, Althusser, and Ricoeur, that helped shape his critique.

Applying his philosophical ideas to the critical issues of democracy, culture, and development in Africa today, he addresses three crucial topics: the nexus between scientific extraversion and economic dependence; the nature of endogenous traditions of thought and their relationship with modern science; and the implications—for political pluralism and democracy—of the emergence of “philosophies of subject” in Africa.

While the book's immediate concern is with Africa, the densely theoretical nature of its analyses, and its bearing on current postmodern theories of the “other,” will make this timely and elegant translation of great interest to many disciplines, especially ethnic, gender, and multicultural studies.

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