Major Texts in Philosophy-19th Century Black Racial Destiny & Philosophy of History (PHIL*4410) | College of Arts

Major Texts in Philosophy-19th Century Black Racial Destiny & Philosophy of History (PHIL*4410)

Code and section: PHIL*4410*01

Term: Winter 2021

Instructor: Dalitso Ruwe


This course is cross-listed with PHIL*6930

Course Description: In the18th-19th centuries, philosophers deemed Africa as a land with no human history worthy of study. Africa was thought to be ruled by despotic kings, cannibals and sexual licentious people. These ideas were instrumental to the theories of human progress that were central to the Enlightenment claims of why Africans should be enslaved as a way of civilizing them. In this class we will explore how 19th centuries Black thinkers contested these claims and wrote about the aims and goals that African civilizations had to offer the world. Utilizing primary texts from 19th century Black thinkers, we will study how the genre of Black philosophy history developed to show the progress of the African race from ancient times through the 19th century. Importantly, these works will help us understand the shifting definition of slavery, race, gender from the bible through the 19th century and how Africans in the new world deconstructed the biblical, ethnological and anthropological justification of their enslavement and subordination in the New World.

Method of Delivery: Because of COVID 19, we will not be meeting face to face. Instead, we will be meeting synchronously, during our regularly scheduled meeting. Office hours will also be available to you upon request.

Texts: All course materials will be provided by the instructor.

Assignments: You are required to turn in position papers. These papers will be (weekly) 3+ page papers that summarize, analyze, and advocate a position in relation to the readings. These papers should be conceptualized as written responses that accomplish three things. 1) A summarization of the author’s position and argument in the works assigned, 2) the cumulative understanding of how the various arguments throughout the course and in the assigned readings inter-relate, 3) and lastly, these papers demonstrate a serious engagement with the texts that can serve as a basis of debate and discussion in the class. This will account for 70% of your grade.

Final: Your final assignment will be a debate. As a class we will generate topics from the readings and class discussions that we will collectively decide to debate. Students will be assigned to groups and will choose either to be on the proposition or opposition side of a topic. All members of the team are required to actively participate with research and curating arguments. You will be graded on your research and soundness of your arguments. This will account for 30% of your grade.