Philosophy Interrogates an African Culture: Echoes from the Frankfurt School


  • Isaac E. Ukpokolo
  • Elvis E. Imafidon
Keywords: philosophy of culture, Frankfurt School critical theory, authoritarianism, Esan moral tradition, dynamic nature of culture, emancipation


[In English]

The present paper reiterates the role philosophy plays in the critique of culture. This role, the paper asserts, is strongly reechoed in the legacy of the Institute for Social Research, Frankfurt, Germany – a legacy now popularly referred to as Critical Theory. The critical social theory of the Frankfurt School remains famous today for its critique of traditions, cultures and ideologies. Beyond this, the Frankfurt School critical theory aims at diagnosing social ills, providing practical (not just theoretical) remedies for such social ills, and, perhaps, most importantly, to advance the emancipation of the individual from undue and unjustified domination in given societies. Hinging on the charge of authoritarianism in African traditions by scholars such as Kwasi Wiredu, Kwame Anthony Appiah and Didier Kaphagawani, the paper asserts that these aims of Frankfurt School critical theory are precisely the role philosophy ought to play in its interrogation of culture. It therefore employs the axioms and canons of the Frankfurt School critical theory in the interrogation of moral aspect of the culture and tradition of the Esan people of Southern Nigeria.


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How to Cite
Ukpokolo, I., & Imafidon, E. (2020). Philosophy Interrogates an African Culture: Echoes from the Frankfurt School. Topos, (2), 115-130. Retrieved from