African, Aztec, Native American Philosophy


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With text from Robert Solomon, "Passion for Wisdom"

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African, Aztec, Native American Philosophy

  1. 1. My ?: - “The African conviction that human beings are intimately connected to nature – 'we are nature' - is part and parcel of the traditional belief that nature is essentially spiritual.” 47 How is this different from saying that Spirit is essentially natural ? Do both imply that we have ecological responsibilities?
  2. 2. Before the “Discovery” of Africa and the Americas The Aztecs revered certain sages – tlamatinime, “ knowers of things,” educators, moralists, role models, ... Only they were qualified to cultivate wisdom in people. As "teacher of people's faces" (teixtlamachtiani), the sage is akin to an artist who skillfully shapes a formless block of stone into a beautiful statue. The sage shapes a child's "faceless" lump of human flesh into a genuinely human "face and heart". . .
  3. 3. African philosophy is strongly associated with tribalism and an intimate feeling of attachment with nature: we're not here to “have dominion” as promised in Genesis and by Francis Bacon. We are a part of the Earth, we are dependent on it, and it is dependent on us. We have ecological responsibilities... “nature” is not just a resource... we are nature.
  4. 4. Under a tribal philosophy, to become a person is an achievement. Birth and death do not mark a person's beginning and end. A newborn baby is not yet a person, while a deceased person who lives in the memory of his or her descendants is a person still, despite physical death.
  5. 5. Animism – belief that entities throughout nature are endowed with (ancestral) souls and spirits. bioregional animism Is the rediscovery of our collective origins and the rebirth of our past for a holistic culture... animism was our first religion and it will be the last... committed to living as one with our bioregions and creating a spiritual and cultural expression of the land and sky that we are an expression of...
  6. 6. Mayas, Incas, Aztecs & others believed superstitiously in gruesome human sacrifice - and in cruel gods who would demand it. Much as Thales and the ancient Babylonians had thought that the world was essentially water, they believed that blood was the fundamental life force... and they lost enough blood to give them religious and mystical visions (or hallucinations).
  7. 7. Navajo Philosophy: The Beauty Way of Life When we recognize and activate the Divine Power-Within, we experience the Beauty Way of Life, hozho (hózhq)'. Through this realization, we live with respect and reverence for all of creation. It is up to each one of us to inspire our youth to cherish and perpetuate beauty, peace, and joy as a Way of Life. “ Go and greet the sun each morning...” - Navajo woman in Chris Phillips' Six Questions of Socrates
  8. 8. As in Hinduism and in Greece, the “jokester” (sometimes portrayed as a coyote or fox) played an important “lightening” role in philosophy. One of the essential elements of reality, we all too easily forget, is its capacity to fool us, surprise us, and make fools out of us. 48