Just the Beginning for Ubuntu: Reply to Matolino and Kwindingwi

South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (1):65-72 (2014)
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In an article titled ‘The end of ubuntu’ recently published in this journal, Bernard Matolino and Wenceslaus Kwindingwi argue that contemporary conditions in (South) Africa are such that there is no justification for appealing to an ethic associated with talk of ‘ubuntu’. They argue that political elites who invoke ubuntu do so in ways that serve nefarious functions, such as unreasonably narrowing discourse about how best to live, while the moral ideals of ubuntu are appropriate only for a bygone, pre-modern age. Since there is nothing ethically promising about ubuntu for today’s society, and since elite appeals to it serve undesirable purposes there, the authors conclude that ubuntu in academic and political circles ‘has reached its end’. In this article, I respond to Matolino and Kwindingwi, contending that, in fact, we should view scholarly enquiry into, and the political application of, ubuntu as projects that are only now properly getting started.

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Thaddeus Metz
University of Pretoria


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