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When Theory Meets Practice: Undermining the Principles of Tradition and Modernity in Africa

Monika Brodnicka


Ideology, although a seemingly metaphysical exercise, is known to have concrete effects on our perception of the world around us. It builds up a particular understanding of everyday situations, through which we engage in the world. Whatever ideology is followed, however, we should be aware of its specific limits and boundaries within which it functions. A re-reading of this ideology on different terms, or the discovery of practical inconsistencies within it, points us to those limitations and allow us to take a critical look. Through constant criticism and re-interpretation, any ideology can be adapted to help best deal with the current realities that we are facing. The ideology of tradition and modernity, for example, has been in use for as long as it can be remembered by contemporary society. It is particularly popular with recent generations of the Western world, creating the context for a humanist conception of progress, which affects their social, political, and economic realities. In the colloquial sense, tradition remains old-fashioned, attached to the past, and unchanging, while modernity claims constant renewal, movement towards the future, and continuous change. Although on the surface these terms seem to have more of a harmless, descriptive character, without this theory meeting practice, the tradition-modernity ideology divide is bound to create problems due to the lack of a critical standpoint.

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Journal on African Philosophy. ISSN: 1533-1067 (online).
Editor: Olufemi Taiwo.

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