Philosophy (Arts)

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    Syncretism and the Indian Ocean: the genesis of Hesychasm by the Neoplatonic reception of Yoga in antiquity
    (University of Zululand, 2024) Kleinhempel, Ullrich; Nicolaides Angelo
    This work responds to the – largely consensual – assumption, held over a century, that the Christian Orthodox meditation form of Hesychasm owes essential features to Yoga. The time and pathway of this reception has so far remained unclear. With a set of theoretical tools I investigate, how, why, when, and by which pathway, it took place, and fathom its depth. I show that this reception did not go directly from (Hindu) Yoga into Christian Orthodoxy, but by mediation through formations of spiritually engaged philosophies of Hellenistic and Greco-Roman culture in Antiquity, especially Neoplatonism, and from thence into Christian Orthodox monasticism, by the end of this era. In this way, this study makes an original, and long overdue, contribution to the field. Yoga, as practice and doctrine, comprises ‘eight steps’. These are described, fairly consistently, in Yogic tradition and commentaries over centuries, already in Antiquity. They have been recognised to exist in Hesychasm, in principle, but not in systematic detail. I identify them in the literature of Hesychasm, from early on, in late Antiquity, up to the culmination of Hesychast theory in the 14th century. I show that they can be regarded as a set of significant, symbolic, and performative, practices, processes, phenomena, perceptions, ritual elements and experiences, with their supporting metaphysical concepts, and social forms. This system has not been analysed in coherence, for Hesychasm, so far. As to design and method, I apply the systemic Theory of Syncretism, as conceptualising the structured reception of foreign elements by a receiving religion, that is transformed in the process, reasserting itself. The extended cultural and religious contact, as well as the perception of the alien elements as compatible and useful, are identified here. Therefore, I trace the historiography of exchange between the Indian and the Greco-Roman realms, their mutual philosophical understanding, the appreciation of Yogis in the latter, and encounters, as documented by Neoplatonists and Christian authors of the patristic age. As main realm of this transfer, Alexandria is identified, as centre of commerce, academic Neoplatonism, religious syncretism, and of Pagan-Christian coherent systems, I apply perspectives of Embodiment and Habitus. The consistency of Yoga and Hesychasm is conceptualised as ‘Formations of Longue Durée’. I show that the reception did not only comprise (external) features of body practices, such as breathing meditation, postures, the calming of the mind and stillness, self-awareness, ‘energetic centres’ of the body, such as the ‘heart’, and the navel region, but also philosophical, anthropological and cosmological notions, especially the concept and role of ‘pneuma’ and ‘prana’, in relation to body, intellect, and the Divine. I also compare the perceptions and phenomena of ‘spiritual light’ and their conceptualisation. Here, Neoplatonism, as mediating formation, but also Cynicism, is shown to be important. As a feature of ‘Tantra’, I identify the mantra-like invocation of the ‘holy name’, the ‘Jesus-Prayer’, as indication that this reception lasted into very late Antiquity. Thus, I work out a long-standing assumption of reception of Yoga into Hesychasm. Furthermore, I show it to comprise not merely elements of practice, but also their symbolism, philosophical, and systemic significance. Regarding purpose, I show that a comparison of religious-philosophical literature of Yoga, and of Hesychasm, remains meaningful, and should comprise both the knowledge of their historical and systematic connection. (The theological implications remain to be worked out further.) In view of the deep global reception of Yoga, and the renewed interest in Hesychasm, over the past century, in Orthodoxy, and in other denominations of Christianity, the identification of their relation is of interest, systematically and historically. In view of rising interest in inter-cultural, and inter-religious exchange, this study is intended to present a profound and formative case of such processes. It shows that a Euro-centric perspective, that takes only the Middle East as wider realm of origin into regard, is insufficient to understand this most eminent form of Christian meditation. Considering that Syncretism Theory focusses on ‘reception’, a merely ‘Orientalising’ view is avoided, to ascribe mystic ‘Indian origins’ as form of mystic legitimisation. Rather, the ‘agency’ of active interest, understanding, and ensuing systematic appropriation, as source of new development, is taken into view in this study, of a paradigmatic case.
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    Afrikan contribution to international relations theory: an Afrocentric philosophical enquiry
    (University of Zululand, 2012) Mvulane-Moloi, Tshepo; Koenane, M.L.J.
    The academic field of IR has been haunted by its Westerncentric philosophical founding masters. This has consequently led almost the overall (if not the entire) literature, of this particular academic discipline, to have become a typical platform wherein the Eurocentric driven masternarratives have become consolidated, as the norm. The interrogation of pedagogy thus led to concerns of indoctrination, as a direct result of the dogmatic views (as specifically derived and driven by the literature of Western philosophy), which overtime has informed the bulk of IR (theory) literature. Themes of racism, dynamics introduced by the role of language, sexism, (Feminism, gender, patriarchy) even the age factor of authoritative IR theorists, amongst other factors, are thus brought afore and engaged in detail, hopefully not in an overly complex manner. Within this study, concepts such as Worldview are interrogated and stripped of their implied scholarly innocence. When studied closer, expressions (which have led to the formation of Mainstream IR theories), as located within the bulk of IR literature, reveal that what is presented as nuanced and structured thought, may specifically be traced back, and realized as mere rhetorical echoes of pioneering Western philosophers. From such an Eurocentric/Westerncentric foundation, as specifically located in the suspected scholarly body of Western Philosophy, this exploratory study, has thus inevitably placed an enormous question mark, on what may possibly be / have been the contribution of the other (non-Eurocentric / non-Westerncentric) IR theories. Particular investigative focus would hopefully, be placed upon securing a possible existence of an Afrikan philosophical Worldview, as may possibly be / have been informed by the doctrine of Afrocentricity. It should thus be understood that this particular study, is mainly interested, in what may currently be or have been Afrikan contribution to IR theory. The specific employment of Afrocentricity should hopefully be read, as an effort by the author of this study, to secure the sought Afrikan contribution to IR, from a local/from below (Afrikan) narrative perspective. Such an effort, may hopefully within this study, be linked to the chief aim(s) of Afrikan philosophy.
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    Grief counselling : community intervention practices
    (2000) Selepe-Madima, Molago Cathrine; Edwards, S.D.
    Loss through death is an inevitable part of life. Not only does it separate families from their loved ones; it also threatens community cohesion and solidarity. In most cultures, the painful road from loss to healing concerns not only the immediate family, but the community at large. In other words, grief is a shared experience. The disposal of the dead and the accompanying mourning rituals are a social, if not a public affair. Though it is never solicited, support subsequent to bereavement is expected from friends, relatives, and the community at large. This is well expressed in the Zulu poetic saying, "umuntu umuntu nga bantu/" (broadly translated as ''Only through you do I become"). Community psychology as a discipline cannot afford to give casual attention to alternative support services offered in communities, including, grief counselling. This study therefore explores community intervention practices in grief counselling. The research seeks to clarify the experiences of people who experience grief with the objective of understanding how they are supported. Grief counselling, as practised in communities in this study, has been found to be an informed process. It takes the bereaved step-by-step from the initial stage of informing them about the death, through the shock and denial and ushers them into the awareness of loss phase. Burial ceremonies accentuate the departure of the deceased from among the living, while they also offer solace, support and solidarity to the bereaved as they are confronted with the reality of death. Not much was found to be done in terms of post-burial support except for the purification rites and traditional inquests with healers and prophets. Of the ten participants that were interviewed, eight attributed the death of their loved ones to bewitchment. The wearing of mourning clothes marked the transitional period and facilitated for the withdrawal of the bereaved for purposes of their healing over time. This transitional period culminated into the re¬incorporation celebration. This progression has, as delineated above, been recommended to form guidelines for the development of a psycho-educational grief counselling programme in order to recycle resources.
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    Aspekte van oorganklikheid in Afrikaans
    (1995) Zulu, Sylvia Phiwani; Klopper, R.M.
    Afri: = In bierdie verbandeling word bepaalde aspekte van oorganklikbeid in Afrikaans ontleed. Hoewel akademiese bandboeke, pedagogiese grammatikas en woordeboeke infonnasie oor oorgankl~eid bevat, word die begrip nfu-ens sistematies uiteengesit me. In die eerste boofstuk word On prinsipiele verantwoording gemaak vir die bestudering van oorganklikbeid in Afrikaans. Nadat daar in die ·tweede boofstuk On saaklike uiteensetting gegee is van die prinsipes waarop die kognitiewe grammatika berus, bied die derde boofstuk On oorsig van die sienings wat gevestigde Engelse en Afrikaanse grammatikabronne buldig oor oorganklikbeid. Die vierde en vyfde boofstukke gee onderskeidelik uiteensettings van die rolgrammatika as benadering om oorganklikbeid te bestudeer en die gestaltgrondslag waarvolgens entiteite binne On gebeure-opset waargeneem word tydens die aansetfase van roltoekenning. In die sesde boofstuk word die onoorganklike en oorganklike werkwoorde van letterlike gebeure bebandel. In boofstuk sewe word die gevolgtrekkings van die ondersoek aangebied. = Engl: Various aspects of transitivity in Afrikaans are analyzed in this dissertation. While academic handbooks, pedagogic grammars and dictionaries contain information regarding transitivity there is no source where it is presented systematically. The first chapter motivates the need for such a research project on transitivity in Afrikaans. The second chapter sketches the tenets underlying cognitive grammar. The third chapter reviews the way in which various English and Afrikaans textbooks approach transitivity. The fourth chapter details the way in which transitivity is dealt with in cognitive grammar. The fifth chapter deals with the gestalt perceptions that people form of entities during the onset phase of semantic role designation. Chapter six deals with Afrikaans intransitive and transitive verbs of literal events while the conclusions arrived at in the course of this project arc presented in chapter seven.
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    A philosophical inquiry into the problem of democracy in Africa
    (2011) Olatunji, Cyril-Mary Pius; Wait, E. C.
    The study acknowledges that there have been attempts by scholars of African politics to explain the problems impeding the smooth running and consolidation of democracy in Africa. The acknowledgement of these previous efforts notwithstanding, the thesis sets out to show the value of a philosophical reaction to the positions of scholars on the issue, as a shift towards a better approach to it. It makes an examination, which exposes the inadequacy of the previous approach to the explanation of the problems militating against the democratic project in Africa. The thesis is not therapeutic. It is primarily diagnostic. Therefore, it did not set out to prescribe some procedural steps to change the ailing political system in Africa. Rather, it has identified the shortcomings of previous approaches to the problem of democracy in Africa, which, has portrayed Africans as mere effects of causes, and incapable of taking control of their own life situations. In the analysis, the scholars had argued that the unstable state of democracy in Africa has been caused by some internal and external factors. That is, by implication, Africa has been caused to be what it is. This study rejects the causal model of explanation taken uncritically from the Newtonian physics by the scholars of African politics in their explanations of the political challenges of Africa. This study argues that by applying the causal explanation, the scholars have implied that Africa is not more than a mere effect of causes, and therefore, incapable of a self-motivated and a free action. They have also implied that their own analyses were either caused or false Consequently, the study proposes that any reliable explanation of the problems militating against the democratic project in Africa must be non-causal in structure. That is, an explanation in which my explanations, as an African, are my own wilful actions. By so doing, the study has initiated a new consciousness of who I am as an African. It initiated the consciousness of the fact that such factors as colonialism and corrupt leadership in Africa may have had serious influences on the trajectory of my own history as an Africa, but they do not determine my situation in the deterministic cause and effect relation in the manner in which the scholars intended.
University of Zululand