African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the Idea of Negritude (Paperback)

African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the Idea of Negritude By Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Chike Jeffers (Translated by) Cover Image

African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the Idea of Negritude (Paperback)


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This critically acclaimed study offers a distinct, incisive look at how Senegalese philosopher Senghor sees in African art the most acute expression of Bergson’s philosophy.

Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001) was a Senegalese poet and philosopher who in 1960 also became the first president of the Republic of Senegal. In African Art as Philosophy, Souleymane Bachir Diagne uses a unique approach to reading Senghor’s influential works, taking as the starting point for his analysis Henri Bergson’s idea that in order to understand philosophers, one must find the initial intuition from which every aspect of their work develops. In the case of Senghor, Diagne argues that his primordial intuition is that African art is a philosophy.

To further this point, Diagne looks at what Senghor called the “1889 Revolution” (the year Bergson’s Time and Free Will was published), as well as the influential writers and publications of that period—specifically, Nietzsche and Rimbaud. The 1889 Revolution, Senghor claims, is what led him to the understanding of the “Vitalism” at the core of African religions and beliefs that found expression in the arts.
Souleymane Bachir Diagne is Professor of Philosophy and Francophone Studies and Director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University. His books include The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa, Open to Reason: Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with the Western Tradition, and Postcolonial Bergson.

Chike Jeffers is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Dalhousie University. He is coauthor of What is Race? Four Philosophical Views and translator of Aimé Césaire’s Letter to Maurice Thorez.
Product Details ISBN: 9781635423211
ISBN-10: 163542321X
Publisher: Other Press
Publication Date: September 5th, 2023
Pages: 208
Language: English
“It perfectly articulates all of the answers to the questions one asks oneself when in contact with modern, postmodern, and contemporary Western arts, as well as non-Western traditional arts.” —New York Times Book Review

“Diagne has further entrenched his reputation as a clear-sighted thinker.” —African Studies Review

“The book is an inspiring read with excellent bibliographical references and notes for readings on Negritude that will attract a wide audience of readers. As such, African Art as Philosophy makes an important contribution to African studies from a multidisciplinary perspective.” —African Studies Quarterly