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Every event had both a physical and a spiritual cause, traceable to the influence of a continuum of spiritual beings (consisting of the living, the ancestral dead, deities, and God).Key to understanding this African metaphysic was a concept of time that consisted of an endless past (the Zamani ), a living present (the Sasa ), and a truncated future that returned to the past.For Tempels, the basic difference between European and African views of reality was ontological.
Rather, they were "collective representations" inculcated during rites and rituals as a result of intense affective and psychomotor experiences.
The concepts of non-European people were felt rather than understood, mystical rather intellectual, and mediated relationships between both physical and nonphysical modes of being.
Medicine, magic, witchcraft, divination, and communication with the dead were made possible through mystical forces apprehended through "laws of participation" that could not be reduced to "rational explanations" structured by the laws of logic.
In Bantu Philosophy (1945), Father Placide Tempels proposed to articulate the structure of reality implicit in traditional African culture.
Africans who chose to remain in the diaspora nonetheless had an obligation to focus inward to develop their peculiar talents so as to address their peculiar problems, rather than looking to Europe for ideas and solutions.
From a nationalist perspective, African philosophy should be concerned with articulating those factors that distinguish the African worldview.
This orientation rejects the European Enlightenment focus on universal standards of reason, religion, and political development, relative to which every other culture was to be measured.
Among European philosophers, it drew its support from Johann Herder, who championed a kind of cultural pluralism that encouraged each race or ethnic group to develop a national character that reflected its peculiar linguistic, historical, and cultural heritage.
Senghor argued that Africans have a distinctive approach to reality in which knowledge is based on emotion rather than logic, where the arts are privileged over the sciences, and where sensual participation is encouraged over cerebral analysis.
For Senghor, the European analyzes reality from an objective distance whereas the African embraces reality by participating in it aesthetically and spiritually.