Is Philosophy?: Reading Murungi, or Notes on the Conceptual Economy

This piece was originally written in “Logos of Phenomenology and Phenomenology of The Logos. Book Three” (Logos of History – Logos of Life, Historicity, Time, Nature, Communication, Consciousness, Alterity, Culture) Series: Analecta Husserliana , Vol. 90 by John Murungi, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, at Towson University in 2006. The title of the piece is “Husserl and the Crisis of Philosophy.” I am reposting it here because I think it is important and might be read/thought/shared if I share it here. Even if not, it will be nice for me to return to at a click of a button on my own blog.

Dr. Murungi was my professor in undergrad when I went to Towson University. He teaches courses in Existentialism, African Philosophy, Existential Psychoanalysis, and Aesthetics. I have never read his work until I came to grad school. I think part of not reading his work was the fact that I had never heard of his work being discussed by others, his books are way too expensive to purchase on Amazon, and that I had never come to see my University as an elite enough University to garner citations from. I always admired his knowledge on the wide range of books we would discuss, but I never deeply sought out his own original ideas as research. This misapprehension, this lapse in judgement, stems from the structure of the conceptual economy of our paradigm. The University not only diminishes Black ideas, renders Black ideas fungible and commodifiable,  but it also directs us toward which Black ideas are “citable” and which Black ideas aren’t through the ranking of Black “scholars” typically through their proximity to larger, more “prestigious” and elitist White institutions. This plays out inside the University and outside the University and manifest in its most simplistic, material way in the form of ravenous disbelief in regards to the content implicit in Black concepts. I recently started to think it’d be fun to play around by reading the ideas of my advisor from my public university in undergrad and his thoughts have blown me away in a way that I have found radically important for my research, and important for the World of theory, thought and Thought. In a lot of ways, in reading his work, I have found how much of a force he is been in the creation of my own ideas through both personal conversation on texts read inside and outside of class and even unconsciously perhaps on the contents of my current ideas. Nevertheless, the question that his paper requires us to ask is further and deeper than the question that Deleuze and Guattari asked in their final book together, “What is Philosophy?” The question is radical because he is attempting to get us to unthink the entire conceptual economy itself in asking: is Philosophy? Is philosophy when the history of philosophy is overdetermined as Man? Is philosophy when the core of its conceptual elaboration and ideational circulation is an ongoing, self-referential autopoiesis of Europe in conversation with Europe? What does it mean to think again? To think anew? To Re-think thought and Thought?

 

JOHN MURUNGI

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