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KeynotesTowards a global conceptual history by Bo Stråth

Meditations on Eikones by Valentin Mudimbe

 

 

Mediations on Eikones. (Questions on « à propos un passe-vue conceptuel »).


By Valentin Mudimbe


In an alternating movement,

like that which leads from skepticism to the refutation that reduces it to ashes,

and from its ashes to its rebirth (renaissance),

philosophy justifies and criticizes the laws of being and of the city, (otherwise).

–Emmanuel Lévinas.


1. On Method.

One way of facing this highly difficult issue of mediations about representations might be to reformulate the preoccupation that grounds the meditation; namely, knowing if there is an epistemology which might not be conquering and subduing. By the way, the issue concerns not only all systems of knowledge, but also ethics and aesthetics; and today’s media cannot be detached from the complex that actualizes all these systems. At any rate, why should we reduce such an issue to Africa, versus European standards and Western cultural values? In all societies, guess, one may face subjugated knowledges, and the evidence of marginal perspectives. Do not notions such as acculturation, cross-cultural interaction, multicultural society imply the idea of competing, or that of complementary outlooks?

First point: how to understand the very idea, the perplexing idea of an epistemological violence? In the last part of The Order of Things, Michel Foucault has a magnificent passage in which he describes a process of knowing as being always elsewhere, always at intersections of multiple lines, and always within a changing cultural configuration. Anthropology, he believed, magnifies this paradox insofar as it really actualizes the power of one’s representations of the law of desire and death; indeed, in the conjunction of having, doing and being. Now, this is also what we get from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, in the chapter devoted to being-for-others, and that on freedom. Moving from the interpersonal to the intercultural, Foucault said it well, “Ethnology is situated within the particular relation that the Western ratio establishes with all other cultures.” And locating ethnology in a dialogue with psychoanalysis, he rightly insisted that their common privilege comes from the fact that they are, fundamentally, both “sciences of the unconscious: not because they reach down to what is below consciousness in man, but because they are directed towards that which, outside man, makes it possible to know, with a positive knowledge, that which is given to, or eludes his consciousness.” This is a quotation from The Order of Things. Without debating what is meant by an unconscious here, and accepting it simply as what is hidden; in sum, the repressed and forgotten, but not erased—; and, thus, bringing together Freud, Foucault and Sartre, it seems that one could go back to the very idea of knowledge, to the processes by which it is produced, hence to the question of epistemology, that is a question about the nature, source, and limits of adducing knowledge anywhere.

Here, very properly, the verb verstehen translates the whole process of knowing: that is, perceiving, accessing an object, and forcing it to disclose its secrets. Using the Actaeon allegory, Sartre writes: “every investigation implies the idea of a nudity which one brings out into the open by clearing away the branches so that he can have a better view of Diana at her bath,” the goddess being spied on by the mythical Actaeon.

Metaphorically, it goes without saying that the production of a knowledge about Africa, like that about any culture, anyone, and anything, can be represented from both the Actaeon and the Jonah complex, that is the preposterous wish to incorporate that which is to be known.

Second point: from this metaphor, a clear and simple approach to the idea of epistemological violence, how could we move, à propos research performance in the practice of disciplines, to an ideal way of understanding cultural difference? Again, for an expedient lesson, let me use the same French intellectual background, looking very closely to a few texts, and reformulating them as faithfully as possible.

For an application, consider Claude Lévi-Strauss’ lesson on the complementarity between two major disciplines, anthropology and history; to which one could link psychology in referring to Foucault. Let me proceed by (a) emphasizing the similarities between anthropology and history, (b) indicating their differences of method; and, (c) conclude by what the conjunction of their combined perspectives allows.

In the introduction to Structural Anthropology (New York, 1963), an unassuming text that inspired the last part of Foucault’s The Order of Things, Lévi-Strauss, after distinguishing the objects of sociology, ethnography and ethnology, vis-à-vis the discipline of history, suggests ways of establishing an original dialogue between perspectives that opinions tend to separate; in sum, ways of accenting mirror-effects that unite them. Here, then, let me accent them from the distinctions of Lévi-Strauss, and integrate them in a plural voice.

There are, he demonstrates, theoretically, strong similarities of method between historical and ethnographic researches. First, both are devoted to the study of different societies, to “societies other than the one in which we live;” therefore, the idea of distance: for the ethnographer, it is a remoteness in space; and, for the historian, it is a remoteness in time. Secondly, Lévi-Strauss continues, the two perspectives have an identical methodic project, that of reconstructing something: what happened in the past, for the historian; what is happening in the present, for the ethnographer. Thirdly, what is expected, from both the historian and the ethnographer, is a contribution to a better knowledge of human experience, in time and in space; and, in order to succeed in this objective, Lévi-Strauss insists, both the historian and the ethnographer must have the same qualities: skill, precision, a sympathetic approach, and objectivity.

There are, indeed, differences. Lévi-Strauss presents them, and then suggests a going beyond. The first difference, and the most visible one, traditionally emphasized, consists of the fact that the historian’s study is, in principle, based on socially organized materials, including documents and past traces; whereas, the ethnographer collects a variety of data, including oral testimonies. But both, the historian and the ethnographer treat these materials according to technical requirements and practices which are submitted to scientific norms. The second difference, less visible, yet a fundamental one (it transcends the similarities existing between the two approaches—subject, goal, method), is that, “history organizes its data in relation to conscious expressions of social life, while anthropology proceeds by examining its unconscious foundations.”

In bypassing the old specialization implied by the opposition of history versus anthropology, we nullify also the nonsensical tension between historical and ahistorical societies, all of them and each one individually deserving the best in multidisciplinary explanation.

In La Formation de l’esprit scientifique, Gaston Bachelard speaks of ‘epistemological obstacles’ in the history of thought and practice of education. He coined the notion of “regional ontologies.” And that is my last point. Any culture is a locality on a global scale; and, as such, is challenged by any other culture.

Since the 1950’s and 60’s, it is simply practical, and less costly, to imagine the privilege of a practice which would fuse, in the same approach, the perspective of the anthropologist and that of the historian. In terms of signification, Michel Foucault suggested such a junction. It could moreover denote the ambition of a psychoanalysis, reformulating its anamnesis in the double-project of history and anthropology. In the process, as Foucault advocated at the end of The Order of Things, the two discourses would access a new maturity:

(…) [N]ot in superimposing themselves on one another, nor even perhaps in coming together, but in intersecting like two lines differently oriented: one proceeding from the apparent elision of the signified in a neurosis to the lacuna in the signifying system through which the neurosis found expression; the other proceeding from the analogy between the multiple things signified [—my addition: in media narratives, the everyday practices of conversations, intercultural explorations, etc., and aimed at] the unity of a structure whose formal transformations would yield up the diversity existing in the actual stories.

2. The Crisis.

Let me situate, from this horizon, Koselleck’s notion of crisis. His highly respected Kritik und Krise, is an effect of his doctoral dissertation of 1959, during the Cold War. In the reasoning, Koselleck reflects successively on, first, the political structure of absolutism in Europe, as the condition of enlightenment, in sum, its condition of possibility; and then, the philosophies of enlightenment, and finally, the notion of crisis itself, and the philosophy of history. The book concludes with an observation, a major point of his thesis. On the one hand, one would remember the following statement, the transformation of history into a judicial process; and on the other hand, the crisis is, he thinks, represented by an utopian vision, that is, precisely, a “capital.” The analysis is made from the viewpoint of the vanquished.

The enlightenment is facing a judge. Koselleck has a harsh language—political camouflage, mystification, dissimulation, hypocrisy of hypocrisy, in order to designate a process which would be responsible of what he calls a “civil war, and we would still be living under its law.” It was important for him, one would think, to describe the intersections of causes and consequences within the state, the idea and the institution. Specifically, this absolutist state, which necessitates an adjective, a qualification, only when the crisis names it as the representation of a universe that it has created; and this process always situates itself vis-à-vis what is external to the state, America or China, for example. Thus, the critique of the bourgeoisie would have contributed to the end of absolutism, and history transforms itself into philosophy, as a discourse of and for the future. This view affirms itself, if one wishes, as the essence of a reading of Koselleck’s thesis.

La transformation de l’histoire en un procès judiciaire a provoqué la crise dans la mesure où l’homme nouveau croyait pouvoir appliquer telle quelle sa garantie morale à l’histoire et à la politique, c’est-à-dire dans la mesure où il était philosophe de l’histoire. La guerre civile, sous la loi de laquelle nous vivons encore aujourd’hui, a été discernée mais minimisée par une philosophie de l’histoire pour laquelle la décision politique visée n’était que la fin prévisible et inévitable d’un procès supra-politique et moral. En la minimisant, on avait aggravé la crise. Conçu à partir d’une vision dualiste du monde, le postulat des militants bourgeois, c’est-à-dire la moralisation de la politique, constituait d’autant plus un déclenchement de la guerre civile qu’on ne voyait dans la révolution que la réalisation des postulats moraux. (op.cit. : 155)

In the preface to the English version of the 1988 MIT Press, that has a subtitle that the French version has erased—Enlightenment and the Pathogenesis of Modern Society, in this American version which is introduced by Victor Gourevitch, besides the Cold War, Koselleck introduces his own viewpoint, an examination of the historical preconditions of German National Socialism. He institutes them in relation to crimes without precedent, and a loss of sense of reality. Modernity would signify that, thanks to means of communications and their powerful capacity, the fate of the human is now everywhere and nowhere.

Three themes are interrelated here, and they are fascinating. One could synthesize their meaning from an attentive reading of the set of appendixes that exist in the German and the French editions, but not in the English version. Let me follow Koselleck carefully, in his own language, in his own words. For him, there is a date, 1789, a sign and symbol of the genesis of the crisis. There is something else, and it is important. External to the structuration of the tension between the sovereign and the subject, that is, external to the revolution itself, there is this difficult concept to define, more terrible than a civil war, in the language of Montesquieu, this discourse of the enlightenment itself, from Hobbes, Locke, Diderot, Rousseau, Raynal, the positions of freemasonry, of illuminati, etc. The concept would have assumed and conveyed the very contradiction that made it possible. Secondly, this is an unique process, European in its origin, a discourse which is a philosophy of history that it is expressing. And one would see it in the affirmed sign of its superiority, always far away, in the bon sauvage. In the twentieth century, this orientation would have constituted the fundamental structuration of the violence that Koselleck saw actualized in the 1950s in the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.

In other words, to the promises of an overture to the world that it could conquer, this power of the subject of the Cartesian Cogito that can position itself by destructuring the hierarchical principle of an imposuisti homines super capita nostra et beneficisti, that is, dispossess the king as a “crowned human being,” against this hope of an attribution and a power, one sees opening up a space in which morality is submitted to the political, « La Nation connaîtra en cela l’intention de ceux qui la gouvernent ». By this, the nation will know the intention of those who are governing it. Koselleck is quoting and commenting on Vattel.

One has in this vision, a purely theoretical discourse on the political, and on the other hand, a subject abandoned to itself, and looking for ways of knowing what’s good and what’s not. In brief, the crisis corresponds to the discourse that names it without knowing that it is, this discourse itself, its best own symbol. From Koselleck, one reads the illustration of this crisis within the definition presented by Diderot in an essay on the Règnes de Claude et de Néron.

[P]endant la guerre d’indépendance américaine, the crisis est un terme généralement utilisé dans les brochures, les discours au Parlement et dans les lettres.

Pour la langue française, c’est Diderot qui formule le sens figuré du mot « crise » : « Ces bruits ont été et seront partout des avant-coureurs des grandes révolutions. Lorsqu’un peuple les désire, l’imagination agitée par le malheur, et s’attachant à tout ce qui semble lui en promettre la fin, invente et lie des événements qui n’ont aucun rapport entre eux. C’est l’effet d’un malaise semblable à celui qui précède la crise dans les maladies : il s’élève un mouvement de fermentation secrète au-dedans de la cité ; la terreur réalise ce qu’elle craint ». Mille prophètes se lèveront pour anticiper la fin imminente, la catastrophe impossible dans un pays bien gouverné. Les passages que Diderot rapportait au Iè siècle pour caractériser indirectement Paris et la situation française en 1778—parallèle qui, comme disait Grimm, « ne rend l’ouvrage ni moins piquant ni moins original »—, font partie des symptômes les plus nets de la crise et témoignent de la conscience qu’on en avait dans la société française. (op.cit. : 176)

3. Lubumbashi.

From this enlightenment legacy, between past and a lived expectation, which time of history to see elsewhere? From the acceleration of history, induced by colonization in Africa at the end of the nineteenth century, academic histories of the continent exist today in their cultural differences. They are normative in the two main orientations of the concept, negative by the ways they situate themselves against what they are challenging, and positive, by the way they constitute themselves as keys to alterity, to politics of otherness. One could dwell on essays that don’t fit the academic model of a Ki-Zerbo, for example, but in which sense they don’t? Not expected by scientific expectations, nor submitted to internal procedures for their practice, these unorthodox essays accord themselves to semantic fields of a lived everyday practice. Thus, for example, this brief commentary summarizing a longer preface to a popular history of a city created during Belgian colonization in 1910, Lubumbashi 1910-2010 (Harmattan, 2010), a work edited by Bogumil Jewsiewicki, Donatien Dibwe dia Mwembu, and Rosario Giordano. This is an unsigned, anonymous history written in Kiswahili Ukumbusho wa mukini wa komponi calls itself “Vocabulaire.” The document is a manner of thinking and telling the history of a colonial city, thus, the practice of history. The Vocabulaire is thus a question about its own meaning. What is this African practice of history which is not an academic practice? In the existing climate of the Congo in the 1970s, with the politics of authenticity as reference, the symbol of the Vocabulaire represented a way that should be interrogated. A popular codification and interpretation of the colonizing process, it reconstitutes a history of the colony, a different one. The Greek ktèma ès aei cannot formulate itself independently from a context, wrote Paul Veyne in his respected work on Comment on écrit l’Histoire (1971). In Lubumbashi, the preoccupation of understanding a text like the Vocabulaire and its implications was a perspective which transcended disciplinary barriers. In effect, the operations and politics of this text reminded one of similar procedures, of elsewhere, manners of « dire des histoires », analyzed in Les Arts de faire (1984) of Michel de Certeau. The book is a sign of a former militant, ex-colonized. Its excess represents more than a symbol, it stands for a wish which is more than a legend, being beyond the anecdote. It stands for a testimony. One remembers Aristotle’s dread about the managing of the city by slaves or former servants. But, here, it is a different type of confession. From the logic of the Vocabulaire, one can understand what is projecting itself, a right to an imagined region by a community of former colonized, who are now citizens with rights and privileges in freedom. An imaginary testifies to the dream of a common good that a political independence is destructuring. The extravagant vision should be situated within the framework of a political crisis which is its condition, and the projection of ethnic provinces demanding the privilege of autonomous states in federation.

The testimony of the Vocabulaire should be related to Benoît Verhaegen’s “l’histoire immediate,” as a mirror of a perception, as a narrative that can be approached by a critical method.

à connaître des sociétés possédant à la fois la parole et l’écriture en leur appliquant non pas les règles de la critique historique ou celles de la tradition orale selon les cas, mais un système de critique historique nouveau qui lui est spécifique.

To understand societies that bring together orality and writing in their interpretation, by not applying to them the traditional rules of “critique historique,” nor that of describing oral tradition, according to their contexts, but a radically new method of critical history which would be original and specific, the “histoire immédiate.” That is a view that considers crisis as a key to the invention of a present and its future in a popular reconceptualization of the past. This is a free rendering of an article of 1971 that Verhaegen published in La Revue Congolaise des Sciences Humaines of the University of Kisangani. It reformulates the essentials of a method marked by the influence of Marx and of Gaston Bachelard’s Rationalisme appliqué. It allows an arbitration of questionable lines of the Vocabulaire, as well as those of its functioning in social milieus that have been over-politicized after the colonial rule. Benoît Verhaegen in the Introduction à l’histoire immédiate (1974), insists on the necessity of taking into account the political agitation of consciences. This is to be related to an accentuation of contradictions in the social, and it creates in this manner situations of a more or less permanent crisis. In effect, crisis is the very context of the writing of the Vocabulaire.

Le Vocabulaire is an attestation of a past which is the modernity that the text itself is trying to occupy. The admiration for Leopold II, King of the Congo, seems sincere and real. It is of an order of the myth, being mythical itself. A background explains it, and with it, gives to the Vocabulaire its means of accounting for events by imitation of written documentation of professional historians. The oral is put to the service of an ideal. The history of Lubumbashi is thus that of a written documentation about a dot of a domino-set which is the Congo. It expresses the singularity of what happened in Kiswahili, and the exercise follows a code to which it is submitted. The writing which is a recitation, follows a line which is immediately visible. On the one hand, one sees formulas and addresses to the reader, to a listener; and on the other hand, there is the presentation of a list of events. In the enumeration of facts and their description, one would recognize a chronological obsession by the way they are organized in stories.

Less visible, yet determinant, is the structuration of the Vocabulaire itself. This popular treatise is organized in actuality according to methodological principles of Jan Vansina’s foundational book on oral tradition, De la tradition orale (1961, trans. Oral Tradition. A Study in Historical Methodology). In this account of a scientific practice, Vansina suggests paradigmatic rules for describing ritual formulas and others, toponimies (that is, designations of localities and proper names), the official and the private, all sorts of histories, commentaries and legal glosses. Unexpected, this division structures the Vocabulaire. Such is the paradox of this popular historical textbook. This means that one has to access it in a different manner in order to face the credibility of its testimony, the testimony of this profoundly popular perspective which is fundamentally marked by an academic work. A possible way would be to go back to the spirit of practices of the “histoire immédiate,” and by using comparative grids from treatises of G.F.A. Ajayi, Joseph Ki-Zerbo, or that of Peter Burke’s New Perspectives on Historical Writing (1992), that is the methodology of “la nouvelle histoire.” Le Vocabulaire organizes a mythical perception of a city in a colonial state. It rewrites a modernity which is suggested in the democratization of an academic practice of history.

4. The Mediterranean Lesson.

From the problems raised here, by the conjunction of the myth of history and its practice, one can rethink the crisis of any intellectual practice. To think differently inscriptions in Koselleck’s perspective is a challenge. One can begin by accounting their relation to the plurality of historical times, as Paul Veyne put it in Writing History. This is the moment to put face to face the theoretical notion of “disponibility of history,” with the principle of “la nouvelle histoire,” according to which anything has a history, and with Koselleck’s concept of historical fields. In brief, to think and understand that any fact is like a plot of an immense text. As Paul Veyne put it, “any fact is simultaneously causing and caused”; the material conditions are simultaneously what humans do to them, and what these material conditions do to humans.

Arduous project, that of moving from reading Koselleck to the comprehension of the practice of conceptual history, and then to its transcultural applicability. Is it necessary? Thus, and concretely, and depending on languages and their own historical experiences, from which disciplinary angles one could be certain that ordinary polysemies of words (progress, revolution, teleology, for example) might not be the considerable problem of conceptual history.

1. From a transcultural perspective, and apropos what concerns the notions related to movements, how to rethink for instance the concept of historical happenings and their development, specify it from interactions with presuppositions of the history called structural, vis-à-vis cultural constraints of regional histories?

2. Apropos the so-called natural chronology, —and this notion understood as obvious, but in which sense?—, this chronology which proceeds from invention processes, its rapport to myth and its own myths being variable, what is exactly the principle for its destruction?

3. Is it useful to dissociate the notion of historical conflicts from that of crisis, and refer to criteria which would be universilizable, including in the language of political economy? And in which sense one would caution without reservation, Koselleck’s temporal hypothesis on exponential curves as being determinant?

Here is an entry to a practice. From the visibility of its reception as a telling map of an immense cultural capital, and the author’s credentials, an award-wining journalist and a member of the Royal Academy of Geography, one can consider as paradigmatic HVF Winstone’s popular Uncovering the Ancient World (1986). The book can be read and contextualized from angles that might or might not be related to its internal validity. There is, first angle, the legacy of nationalism in Middle East studies. For instance, Tobias Richter has documented the influence of political ideology for the 1850-1950 period by focusing on the interaction between historical archaeology and politics in “Espionage and Near Eastern Archaeology. A Historiographical Survey” (Public Archaeology, vol. 7, 4, 2008). Since the 1950s, there is a consequential angle, one which is alert to the implicit or explicit of class, gender, race, rightly or wrongly an emphasis perceived as significant of our time. For me, one of its exemplary signs would be the climate of debates presented by David Russel Harris and Vere Gordon Childe in The Archaeology of V. Gordon Childe (The University of Chicago Press, 1994). What Happened in History? (Penguin, 1954), Childe’s title expresses a symbolic attitude to reading an intellectual activity. Finally, in the name of demands of the discipline, a third angle could make a claim to an objectivity that is relatively attentive but indifferent to any sort of combat disposition from the two preceding factors.

A subjective angle in the practice of the discipline can determine the accent of a work without necessarily undermining its professional quality. On the other hand, an appropriate style at a given period sometimes explains the good fortune of a work whose merits simply rely on expected requirements.

Let me bring in the mythological, by the interaction of myth and history, as a process in cultural invention. For a telling paradigm, one might think of Philostrates’ Eikones. Goethe gave to it a new life with his 1818 essay, Philostrats Gemälde (Cotta, 1868). My reference is to the original Greek text which presents a case of conceptual communication between species by witnessing to an interaction between fables and reality. Philostrates comments on a painting, the Muthoi (1,4). At the center of interactions of species, the figure of Aesop. The implication of exponential curves of Koselleck could include the period of this legendary fabulist. Ancients situate it before the Homeric period, that is, the 8th century B.C.

In the construction of narratives, according to the painting, the calm of the spirit is important, says the text. Of intelligence and expansion, Cartesian categories, the beings of the fable interact in representation. The same framework includes humans and animals, and in Aesop’s manner, creating a “body” constituted by agents of the fables. About this, one recalls Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s passage in L’œil et l’esprit (Gallimard, 1964): “the painting is an artifice that presents to our eyes a projection which is similar to what things would inscribe on them, and do in our common perception, making us perceive, in the absence of the real thing as one sees the real object in real life, and in this manner, makes us perceive space where there isn’t any.”

Philostrates’ writing represents a period during which all species (things, animals, humans) interact. Absent from the framework, any discontinuity which would freeze a periodization. One can say, “Aesop has analyzed all aspects of human life in his fables, giving speech to animals as a way of making a moral point,” ?λλ' Α?σ?π? π?ντα τ? τ?ν ?νθρ?πων ?κμεμ?θωται, κα? λ?γου το?ς θηρ?οις μεταδ?δωκε λ?γου ?νεκεν.

One notes also the clarity of conceptual interactions. There is first, and very well introduced, the intervention of a major concept—and which one? philosophein—; and then its relation to what authorizes it, the graphe. And come in, the beings designated as agents, mythical subjects, τ? τ?ν Μ?θων σ?ματα. Now, the term sôma (σ?μα) belongs to an everyday lexicon. It indicates any material substance, any “body,” opposed to the soul (ψυχ?), or to the spirit (ε?δωλον, from which our ‘idol’). Sôma corresponds to what defines the physical reality of any being (human, animal, vegetable, mineral, etc.). Through conceptual extension, sôma is a designation of a corpse, or a carcass. This is to say that the usual expression, κατ? σ?μα, applies to any being. Naming the visible, their surface, in the language of Aristotle, soma can indifferently designate the being, the framework, and that by which something happens.

And now, one can reread Philostrates’ passage from this conceptual conjunction of philosophein, graphein, and sômata: θηρ?α γ?ρ συμβ?λλουσα ?νθρ?ποις περι?στησι χορ?ν τ? Α?σ?π? ?π? τ?ς ?κε?νου σκην?ς συμπλ?σασα, κορυφα?α δ? το? χορο? ? ?λ?πηξ γ?γραπται. χρ?ται γ?ρ α?τ? ? Α?σωπος διακ?ν? τ?ν πλε?στων ?ποφ?σεων, (…). In translation, this is a statement on a conceptual configuration. In the manner of Aesop, the painting brings animals and human beings in a chorale. They appear in roles of subjects, like in his fables, and the fox is the conductor of the chorale, since that’s the way Aesop uses him, as his representative.

This is a symbolic work for historians and moralists. In what the fox remembers and forgets, the invisible and the visible of history belong to the very space of a memory that remembers or erases things.

5. Figures.

The climate of figures in Eikones transcends the fable which is signified by a painting. This brings to my mind the climate of cosmologies, including the Amerindian ones studied by Claude Lévi-Strauss’ books on mythologies. From the first volume, The Raw and the Cooked (1964), to the last, The Naked Man (1971), they perform a symphony. The closing is the “Bolero” of Ravel.

What is reflected in the Eikones confesses itself in this conceptual retrodiction (retro, behind, the past; dic?re, to speak, to tell). An ancient art of transferring concepts from one place to another, defines itself as a paradigm. Also, indeed, there is a clear invitation for a universe oriented towards a harmony, and characterized by the respect for histories of a third. As Emmanuel Lévinas put it: the neighbor, this third who is an other, but also another neighbor, but also the neighbor of the other, and who is not only of his kind, of her kind.

v-y.m. mudimbe May 25, 2011

Duke University Durham, NC