Notes on Bantu Philosophy

Justin E. H. Smith in his blog:

6a00d83453bcda69e201a511ebbe8c970c-400wiThere is an observation sometimes made in connection with the history of philosophical reflection on the nature of human distinctness, that language has moved in, in the past few centuries, to fill a role that had previously been taken up by belief in a divinely implanted soul. We allow the faculty of language to play a role in defining what is most excellent about human beings in part because appeals to the inherence of an immortal, eternal, immaterial principle that makes us what we are have, to put it bluntly, fallen out of fashion. While for the most part the soul now has a greatly reduced place in contemporary philosophy, a reduction that was already well under way in the 19th century, nonetheless language is often invoked in ways that suggest that it is this faculty that gives us our own share of divinity, as the soul once did. Thus the poet Paul Valéry evocatively describes language as “the god gone astray in the flesh.”

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