“Perhaps what is inexpressible (what I find mysterious and am not able to express) is the background against which whatever I could express has its meaning.”
― Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value
A non-ideal social ontology is inquiry keyed toward understanding actually existing constituents of social reality, the nature of the relationships among these constituents, and their meaning and significance for ecology, politics, economics, and culture. As such, a non-ideal social ontology critiques the foundational assumptions of social ontology, which are revealed to be ideologically freighted toward naturalizing and legitimating exploitative and oppressive socio-political regimes.
Inquiry into a non-ideal social ontology unfolds a stunning range of critical projects for African philosophy. If the vectors of a non-ideal social ontology can be said to be those of ecology, politics, economics, and culture, that raises the question of what precisely constitutes ecology, politics, economics, and culture; their points of articulation and disarticulation; and what follows from the deliverance of these knowledges.
What constitutes “the ecological” in African philosophy – in what ways is it theorized in both critical and vernacular intellectual traditions and how is the ecological imbricated in political economic, and cultural practices? What is “the political” in African intellectual thought and practice – what are its residual, dominant and emergent institutional formations, hegemonic and fugitive figurations of power, systematic and diffuse ideologies, particularistic and transversalist relational attachments and affiliations, existential and queer identities, utopian and dystopian imaginative horizons? What are the contours and formations of “the economic” in African societies – what are the zones of contact and incommensurability, conflict and consilience, dissonance and resonance, between and among practices of endowment, exchange, and need? What is constitutive of “the cultural” in the African context – how are subjectivities emergent and performed, what is the texture of political, economic, and aesthetic culture?
And in considering all the above, what are the currents and gyres of exchange and appropriation that cut a middle passage between Africa and other geo-political formations?