There is a lot of speculation over the relationship between philosophy and culture. The topic has divided the scholars due to polarizing opinions. Some hold the view that philosophy and culture are two distinct entities, while some are of the opinion that these are two concepts for the same thing.
Definition of Philosophy
Philosophy has different definitions, but it is interchangeably used with the word “rationale.” It is used to refer to the guiding principle behind our actions. Every meaning of philosophy has its own intellectual background, orientation, age, etc.
Definition of Culture
It is the beliefs about the customs, arts, way of life, and social organization of a particular group.
During the Great Debate on African Philosophy, one of the issues was whether African culture could be referred to as African philosophy. It was noticed that the group that agreed with the crossover between culture and philosophy that the fundamental thought pattern addresses the fundamental issues about the people’s existence. The group included luminaries like Paulin Houtinki, Henry Maurier, W.A. Hart, Peter Bodurin, Odera, Oruka, etc. Both the groups could see eye to eye in regards to their opinions of the culture and philosophy crossover. While some vehemently disregarded any commonality between the two, the rest acknowledged the need for culture to support philosophy’s existence and philosophy to support culture’s existence.
Culture provides the raw materials for intellectual reflection that has led to the birth of philosophy. Though culture is not philosophy, it forms the backdrop where philosophy emerged. Africa, too has its own famous philosophers. It is understood that where is a question about the fundamentals of being a man, there is philosophy. Culture does make room for philosophy. Philosophy has infiltrated various aspects of cultures. Not only that, but philosophy also helps shape the current culture. It leads to consistency, logicality, criticality, coherence, and comprehensiveness. It is believed that if there were no philosophy and philosophers, religious fanatics would have labelled everything regarding our culture as anachronistic and, even worse, a fetish.
Philosophy and culture both are interdependent concepts. There is a strong relationship between the two. Culture holds the background for every philosophy and gives shape to its existence, the meaning to its morale. Philosophy gives us the rationale lens that saves us from anachronism. It allows us to think, question, critic, and then accept or reject any thought. There are elements of culture in philosophy and pieces of philosophy in every culture.