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Perverse and Necessary Dialogues in African Philosophy

JL Vest


This article examines the concerns and debates that have arisen in African philosophy over the last few decades, and asks whether it continues to be necessary for African philosophy
to take on what the author calls “perverse questions” or "perverse preoccupations” with the West. The author argues that to engage and respond to questions about the intellectual capabilities of African thinkers or the possible existence of philosophical resources in African cultures is to respond to perverse questions. To engage in academic dialogues implicitly or
explicitly guided by a request or a felt need to justify and defend the very possibility of African philosophy or African rationality is to engage in perverse and unnecessary dialogues.
Because these perverse debates often precede, prevent, or condition the formulation of what count as necessary debates, it is important that they be identified and critically assessed, and when possible, dispensed with. Only then can African philosophy pursue necessary and fruitful debates.