AFRICAN vs. EUROPEAN “DEFINITIONS”
For Critical Thinking in assessing African and Western Philosophies of Life (POL), it is fundamental to realize African Tradition prioritizes the Spiritual, the Metaphysical, the Physical, and their made-up version of the Supernatural realms. By contrast, Europeans co-honor their made-up version of the Supernatural and the Physical realms. Thus, for Europeans, the Universe is in the size of a cup relative to the Cosmic “ocean” of African Tradition. This means all European “Definitions” must fit into the “cup” and that requires “fitting square pegs into round holes” (a c1800 expression for misfits)–implying there is not that much to know. These POL incompatibilities and differences are foundational to “Definitions” of a life-shaping or life-changing nature. Whether considering “Definitions” or any of its family members, it is fundamental to distinguish how and when Definiendum (the term to be defined) and Definiens (the defining statement(s)) are applied by Africans and Europeans. To illustrate, whereas Europeans define Ethnicity or Ethnic Group as people who identify with each other based upon common ancestral, social, and cultural, or national experience–a “Conditional” definition–I define them as the people embracing the Base of a shared POL. For Europeans, such a “Definition” concerns separating something from all other things that share some of its qualities, modalities, and properties–dealing primarily with “what it does” & “how it appears.” African Tradition’s “Definition” pertains to the “what it is’ of a Thing when it came into Being–its essence. So within this context, I define African Tradition’s POL Base as Unconditional Love since it is definite, unchanging, specific + it stands for the inner nature of God + it is time tested.
Definitions, in reality, only apply to concrete Tangible things (i.e. those having definite boundaries) because they are the most obviously finite. Boundaries are placed around the Thing, separating it from all other similar things. The hardest to define is the Obvious. However, Confusion is even present in the concrete because European definitions are typically based on opinions related to oneself, ones subculture, and ones society at large. Thus, the conclusion is generally the result of agreement among authorities–and that has nothing to do with being right. “Definitions” become more and more unclear upon entering the various planes of existence within the Metaphysical and the Spiritual–both of which Europeans almost ignore–both of which take on increasing importance in African Tradition. Definition haziness begins with Partially Bounded Tangible Things (e.g. heat, cold)–and it increases with each higher plane. For example, the Unbounded Tangibles (e.g. Thoughts) cannot be defined so much as described. Descriptions paint a word picture of what something is (assumed), does, or appears in general. Intangible things (e.g. contents of the Sublime) cannot be defined nor described and instead the best humans can do is to put them in the ballpark of what they are like, as is the feature of Lofty Words. Yet, Europeans ignore these rules and, despite their lack of qualification to do so, they make incredibly poor attempts to define Spiritual (e.g. ‘consist of spirit’) and the Metaphysical. Their POL simply does not allow for such distinctions.
For this reason, it is fundamentally wrong to use European definitions to try to understand African Metaphysics. And almost nothing in Europeans vs. African Metaphysical is compatible. To ignore this or to “pick and choose” by using European concepts to try to explain anything about African Philosophy is to encounter two bad states. One is to subtly be led off African Tradition’s Spiritual Elements Track of Unconditional Love, Truth, Reality, and the Natural. One thus arrives at a SEEMS right answer without realizing why there is lack of clarity. For example, if one accepts the European definition of “love” (‘set bounds to’ which makes it Conditional) nothing African Sages say about Unconditional Love will make any sense. Second, because daily European usage definitions, descriptions, and “ballpark” associations are almost interchangeable, terrible confusion results and any conclusion made out of it is another ‘giant step’ away from the Spiritual Elements. For example, Europeans consider Emotions (human-made; relative) and “Feelings” (Spiritual; unchanging; without thought) to be the same. Such will not do for precision thinking (e.g. science) because haziness does not allow for insights. jabaileymd.com
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