Tag: <span>Jacques Maritain</span>

Alexandre Marc Rapprochement of Cultures.

Alexandre Marc: Con-federalism, Cultural Renewal and Trans-frontier Cooperation

Featured Image: Through the Russian Revolution. By Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons.

Alexandre Marc ; (19 January 1904 – 22 February 2000) was born as Alexandre Markovitch Lipiansky in Odessa, Russia in 1904.  He later simplified his name by dropping Lipiansky; (which his sons have reclaimed) and modifying his father’s first name to Marc; which he used as a family name.  His father was a Jewish banker and a non-communist socialist. 

Alexandre was a precocious activist. He was influenced by his early reading of F. Nietzsche; especially Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  He started a non-conformist student journal; while still in secondary school during the Russian Revolution; asking for greater democracy and opposed to Marxist thought.  This led to death threats made against him by the Communist authorities.

Also sprach Zarathustra. Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen. In drei Theilen. By Unknown authorUnknown author, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Forerunners of the Nazi Movement

The family left Russia in 1919 for France; but not before Alexandre had seen some of the fighting and disorder of the Russian civil war.  These impressions left a deep mark; and he was never tempted by the Russian communist effort as were other intellectuals in France; who had not seen events close up. 

During part of the 1920s; Marc was in Germany studying philosophy; where intellectual and philosophical debates were intense after the German defeat in the First World War; and the great difficulties of the Weimar Republic.  He saw the forerunners of the Nazi movement. 

Anti-Nazi German Youth

Marc was always one to try to join thought and action; and he had gone back to Germany in 1932 to try to organize anti-Nazi German youth; but ideological divisions in Germany were strong.  The Nazi were already too well organized and came to power the next year. Marc; having seen the destructive power of Nazi thought; was also never tempted by Right Wing or Fascist thought.

Seeing the destructive potential of both Communist and Fascist thought and sensing the deep crisis of Western civilization; Marc was looking for new values that would include order, revolution, and the dignity of the person.

Friedrich Nietzsche, circa 1875. By Friedrich Hartmann, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

L’Ordre Nouveau

  There was no ready-made ideology; which included all these elements; though two French thinkers — difficult to classify — did serve as models to Marc and to Denis de Rougemont and some of the other editors of L’Ordre Nouveau: Charles Péguy and  J Proudhon . Marc wrote a book on the importance of Péguy at the start of the Second World War. 

Marc was living in Aix-en-Provence at the time; and the book was published in still unoccupied Marseilles in 1941. He also met in Paris Nicolas Berdiaeff, Jacques Maritain and Gabriel Marcel.  It was from these meetings that the personalist doctrine of L’Ordre Nouveau was born. The rallying cry of personalism was “We are neither collectivists nor individualists but personalists …the spiritual first and foremost, then the economic, with politics at the service of both of them”.

Denis de Rougemont. By Erling Mandelmann / photo©ErlingMandelmann.ch.

once a Jew, always a Jew

In 1943 when all of France was occupied, he was in danger of arrest both for his views and his Jewish origins. Although in 1933; Marc had become a Roman Catholic in part under the influence of intellectual Dominicans; for the Nazi occupiers — as well as for some of the French Vichy government — “once a Jew, always a Jew”. Therefore he left for Switzerland where he was able to study the working of Swiss federalism with its emphasis on democracy at the village and city level.  He was also able to meet other exiles from all over Europe who had managed to get to Switzerland.

Alexandre Marc seemed destined to use words which took on other meanings when used by more popular writers.  The name of the journal L’Ordre Nouveau was taken over after the Second World War by a French far-right nationalist movement influenced by a sort of neo-Celtic ideology and was widely known for painting Celtic cross graffiti on walls in the days before graffiti art filled up all the space. 

French writer Charles Péguy (1873 – 1914) Painted by Jean-Pierre Laurens (1875-1932).

The Jewish philosophers

Revolution, especially after the Nazi-Fascist defeat, could only be considered in the broader society in its Marxist version.  Person, which as a term had been developed by the Roman stoic philosophers could never carry the complexity of meanings which Marc, de Rougemont, and E. Mounier wanted to give it. 

Personalism.

The Jewish philosophers Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas also used the term “personalism” in the same sense as Marc; but their influence was limited to small circles.  In fact, “individualism” either seen positively or negatively; has returned as the most widely used term.  In some ways; this difficulty with the popular perception of words exists with the way Marc uses “federalism” by which he really means “con-federalism”.

Martin Buber in Palestine/Israel (1940 – 1950). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Foundations of the European Movement and the European Federalists

Alexandre Marc and Denis de Rougemont met again in Switzerland at the end of the Second World War; when de Rougemont returned from spending the war years in the USA.  They started reconnecting people whom they knew in the pre-war years; who also saw the need for a total reformation of European society. 

Both de Rougemont and Marc were good organizers of meetings and committees; and they played an important role in 1947 and 1948; setting up the first meetings for the foundations of the European movement and the European federalists; especially the August 1947 meeting at Montreux, Switzerland; in which world citizens  and world federalists were also present.

Emmanuel Levinas. By Bracha L. Ettinger, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Cold War.

Both men stressed the need for education and highlighted the role of youth to move European unity; beyond the debates of the 1930s and the start of the Cold War; though both continued to stress the importance of the themes; which brought them together in the 1930s.

Centers for the Study of European Federalism

They were both founders of centers for the study of European federalism and an exploration of European values. It was in the context of seminars and publications of the two centers; that I worked with both in the 1970s.   Culture in the philosophical sense was crucial for both; and their efforts in Geneva and Nice were rather similar.

Marc and de Rougemont had a personal falling out that lasted nearly a decade; due, it seems, to the tensions surrounding the break up of de Rougemont’s first marriage.  But even during this break; de Rougemont always spoke to me highly of Marc and his ideas.

Distrust of European Integration

De Rougemont knew that I was seeing Marc and had an interest in the intellectual; currents of France in the 1930s.  The two men came together again later; especially after de Rougemont’s happy second marriage.  From his death be; de Rougemont spoke to Marc on the telephone concerning the need to reprint the issues of L’Order Nouveau; since the articles were still important. The reprinting has been done since.

Both de Rougemont and Marc shared a distrust of European integration; as it was being carried out within the European Community and later the European Union; Both men stressed the need for local democracy; and shared a strong distrust of the politicians prominent in the nation-state system. 

The Lobbying of Governments on Federalist Issues.

De Rougemont went on to give most of his attention to the role of regions; especially the trans-frontier Geneva area; which combines part of Switzerland and France and is an economic pole of attraction for the Italian Val d’Aoste.

Marc continued to stress what he called “global” or “integral” federalism; a federalism with great autonomy and initiative at every level as over against “Hamiltonian”; federalism which he saw as the creation of ever larger entities such as the United States; whose culture and form of government Marc distrusted.

Hamiltonian Federalism

Marc remarked that  ‘Hamiltonian federalism’; as a whole was turning its back on spiritual; cultural and social questions and devoting itself to a form of action that can be defined; as ‘political’ and underlined the contradiction that is inherent in the lobbying of governments on federalist issues.

The Future is within Us

De Rougemont was the better writer.  His last book The Future is within Us; though pessimistic; especially of political efforts, remains a useful summing up of his ideas. (2) Although Alexandre Marc wrote a good deal; his forms of expression; were too complex, too paradoxical, too filled with references to ideas; which are not fully explained to be popular. 

Marc’s influence was primarily verbal as stimulant to his students.  Having seen early in his life the dangers of totalitarian thought; he always stressed the need for dialogue and listening; for popular participation at all levels of decision-making. As with ‘order’ ‘revolution’ ‘the person’, ‘federalism’ was probably not the term he should have chosen to carry the weight  of his ideas.

A Complex Man

The other Alexander — Hamilton — has infused the word ‘federalism’ with the idea of unification of many smaller units.  ‘Popular participation’ is probably a better term for Marc’s ideas; if the word ‘popular’ could carry the complex structure; which Marc tried to give to the word ‘person’. Con-federation is probably the better term for the de-centralized administrative structures that Marc proposed.

Marc was a complex man; one of the bridges; who helped younger persons to understand the debates; which surrounded the Russian Revolution; the rise and decline of Fascism and Nazism; and the post-Second World War hopes for a United Europe.  As de Rougemont on his death bed said to Marc:

“We have been able to do nothing, start again, talk to the young and we must carry on.”

 Notes

  • For the 1930s period see: Christian Roy. Alexandre Marc et la Jeune Europe: L’Ordre nouveau aux origins du personnalisme (Presses d’Europe, 1998) J. Laubet del Bayle. Les non-conformistes des années 30 : Une Tentative de renouvellement de la pensée politique francaise (Seuil, 1969) Michel Winock. Esprit : Des intellectuels dans la cité 1930-1950 (Seuil, 1996)
  • Denis de Rougemont The Future is within US  (Pergamon Press, 1983).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Jacques Maritain Portraits of World Citizens.

Jacques Maritain: World Citizen Philosopher.

Featured Image: Jacques Maritain, French philosopher and writer. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By René Wadlow.

Jacques Maritain (18 November 1882 -23 April 1973);  was a French intellectual who spent the years of World War Two in Princeton in the USA. He was a friend of the anti-Nazi German author Thomas Mann;  who also lived in Princeton. Both men were among the active advocates of world citizenship. When Thomas Mann’s daughter, Elizabeth Mann Borgese, was editing the world citizen journal Common Cause from the University of Chicago in the 1947-1950 period; Jacques Maritain wrote a number of articles for the journal along the lines of his thinking set out in his Man and the State.

Thomas Mann

Thomas Mann. By Carl Van Vechten, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

At the time that he was writing for Common Cause, he was the Ambassador of France to the Vatican, having been named ambassador by Charles De Gaulle from 1945 to 1948. Maritain had supported De Gaulle during the war when many French Catholics had sided with the Vichy government or were silent.

 

Jacques Maritain had become a well-known French intellectual in the 1930s for his writings on a wide range of topics but always in a spirit of spirituality in the Roman Catholic tradition. However, he was born into a Protestant family with anticlerical views which were common at the start of the Third Republic in the 1870s.

Maritain was converted to the Roman Catholic faith in his early twenties after a period of depression linked to his search for the meaning of life. He had married young to his wife Raissa, who came from a Jewish Ukrainian family who had come to France due to a persistent anti-Jewish atmosphere in Ukraine. Both Jacques and Raissa converted to the Roman Catholic faith at the same time as a result of intense discussions between the two.

Raissa became well known in her own right as a poet and writer on mystical spirituality, but she also always worked closely on the writings of her husband. Their spiritual Catholicism was always colored by their early friendship with unorthodox Catholic thinkers, in particular Charles Péguy and Leon Bloy. After Raissa’s death in 1960, Jacques Maritain moved back to France from Princeton to live in a monastic community for the last 12 years of his life.

His writing on the spiritual background for creative actions for the benefit of the world community can be an inspiration to us all.

 

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Leopold Sendar Senghor. Rapprochement of Cultures.

Leopold Sendar Senghor.

Featured Image: President of Venezuela Rafael Caldera receiving the President of Senegal, Leopold Senghor-Original at the FAO World Summit on Agrarian Reform in Rome (1979). By Prensa Rafael Caldera, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leopold Sendar Senghor was a poet, a cultural bridge-builder between Africa and Europe, an active world citizen and world federalist.

Who will teach rhythm to the world laid low by machines and cannons,
Who will shout with joy to wake up the dead and the orphans at the dawn?
Say, who will give back the memory of life to the man with eviscerated hopes?…
We are the men of the dance, whose feet regain force by drumming on the hard earth.
Senghor “Prayer to the Masks”

The first President of Independent Senegal.

Leopold Sendar Senghor  was the first President of independent Senegal although he had first wanted to create a West African Federation.

His efforts at the rapprochement of cultures; and their mutual enrichment are very much in the spirit of world citizens’ cultural policies;  at a time when the dialogue among civilizations as well as a possible clash among civilizations is on the world political agenda;  it is helpful to look at the lasting contribution  Senghor as a cultural thinker.

While his intellectual convictions were rather constant, his intellectual life falls into four rather separate segments:

  1. 1930s: His studies in France against the social background of unrest linked to the Depression.
  2. 1940s: The War years and the social and economic reconstruction in France.
  3. 1950s: Participation in French politics and the lead up to the independence of Senegal.
  4. 1960-1980: The years as President of Senegal.

Leopold Sendar Senghor  was born in 1906 in the small village of Joal; on the Senegalese coast; about 75 miles south of the capital Dakar. His parents were relatively well-to-do farmers; both of the Serer ethnic group.

Family tradition held that the father came from what had been a royal family; but the Serer had lost most of their power to other ethnic groups; and there were no powerful chiefs left. Both of Senghor’s parents were Roman Catholics; and his father in particular saw education as the chief road to advancement.

Thus at seven years old; Leopold Sendar  Senghor was put in a Catholic boarding school and later in the Lycee at Dakar. He developed nostalgia for his childhood and the innocence of village life;  which he expressed in his poems but little knew in reality. He was a good student and was chosen to continue university education in Paris in 1928.

Leopold Sendar Senghor

President Leopold Senigor of Senegal, middle, and members of his party are welcomed upon their arrival in the United States for a visit (1980). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Popular Front of Socialists and Communists.

The French colonial administration, unlike that of England; did not create universities in Africa until very late. The first;  the University of Dakar, began in 1957: the second;  the University of Abidjan, in 1963.

 Senghor went to the leading French university;  the Sorbonne, and graduated in 1934; having majored in French language and literature. Paris in the 1930s was a center for literary and political thought.

The world-wide economic depression had hit France in the early 1930s;  leading to strong social and political movements. February 1934; saw a far-Right effort to bring down the government with a march on the Parliament; and May 1936; saw the first Left government;  The Popular Front of Socialists and Communists.

Students and others were active in considering alternative structures for a new society.

Influenced by the Catholic “Spiritualists”

Senghor was influenced by the Catholic “spiritualists ” – writers who were Roman Catholics; but not very “orthodox”. The poet and social critic Charles Peguy;  who had been killed during the First World War; was a strong influence on many Catholic youth;  and there are echoes of Peguy in Senghor’s poems.

Peguy was an unorthodox socialist;  who thought that the French peasants; and not the industrial workers were the revolutionary force of the 20th century.

 Senghor;  with more reason for Senegal;  also saw the rural population as the core social base. As Senghor wrote: 

“I have chosen my toiling black people, my peasant people, the peasant race throughout the world.”

Charles Péguy

French writer Charles Péguy (1873 – 1914) Painted by Jean-Pierre Laurens (1875-1932).

Identity of traditional African society.

Senghor proposed that the communal identity of traditional African society;  which he saw as classless and non-exploitive could serve as the base for a new society – ideas that he later developed; when President of Senegal as ‘the road to African Socialism’.

He was part of the student milieu around the journal Esprit; edited by Emmanuel Mounier;  which was trying to find a path other than capitalism, communism or fascism – a path called “personalism”. Espirit was also a home for people influenced by the French;  “utopian-socialist” and federalist Proudhon.

Emmanuel_mounier

Picture of the 1930s: Emmanuel Mounier (1905–1950) was a French philosopher. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The World Federalist Movement.

Senghor was always strongly federalist in his approach to the structure of the state;  and later was an active participant in the world federalist movement. Jacques Maritain and his wife; were also active among intellectual Catholic youth of Paris.

Maritain was an adult convert from Protestantism to Catholicism;  and a powerful voice in defense of democracy; in a broader Catholic milieu largely anti-democratic;  with a strong pro-Royalist far-Right current.

Jacques Maritain

Jacques Maritain, French philosopher and writer. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Civilizing Mission”

Paris in the 1930s; was also home to African students from countries other than Senegal;  so that a Pan-African spirit developed. In the 1930s;  in a France where all the political parties;  Right and Left;  supported the colonial system as part of the “civilizing mission” of France;  the idea that African culture had anything to contribute to European political and economic thought;  was met with scepticism.

Therefore;  Senghor and his friends put their emphasis on the idea that African civilization was equal to that of Europe;  and could make contributions as an equal.

Stressing equality;  was also a way of denying legitimacy to the prevailing ideological charters of colonialism. As there were also students; from the French-speaking West Indies and Haiti and Guyana;  a “Pan-Black” movement grew up for which Senghor coined the term Negritude.

The Black Student.

Negritude;  Senghor wrote is: 

“The sum total of the cultural values of the black world.”

Aime Cesaire and Leon Damas, along with Senghor were the intellectual leaders of the movement;  and founded a journal L’Etudiant Noir (The Black Student).

Into this group came American Black writers;  who were living in Paris such as Countree Cullen and Langston Hughes. There were mutual intellectual exchanges;  related to the Americans discovering Africa and the Africans discovering Black literary efforts in the USA.

Public debate on the ways to transform the economic and political structure of France; was weakened by the start of the Second World War and the German occupation of France; although discussions in smaller circles continued; both around the “National Revolution” of the Vichy government of Marechal Petain; and in the different resistance movements.

Langston_Hughes.

Portrait of American writer and activist Langston Hughes (1943). By Gordon Parks, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Prisoner of War.

Senghor spent 1940-1942;  in a German prisoner-of-war camp where group discussions were prohibited. Thus;  Senghor concentrated in the camp on writing poetry;  which he started publishing in 1945 as France came out of the war.

In 1945;  when France was restructuring itself after the war; everything seemed possible. There was a widely felt need to transform the society. The old society had led to war and defeat. A new society was needed, more just, more peaceful and with new political faces.

Constituent Assembly.

Senghor was chosen to represent Senegal in the Constituent Assembly;  that was to write a new constitution for France. As the colonial administration in Senegal during the war had been pro-Vichy;  and the older Senegalese political leaders had been compromised by association with the colonial government; new representatives from Senegal needed to be chosen quickly. Senghor was already living in Paris and had been a member of the anti-Nazi resistance.

Although he had been living in France since 1928;  and had spent only a few summer vacations in Senegal; he became a forceful voice for Africa in French politics;  and started to think of a political future rather than a literary one.

The French political system had developed so that the colonies had representatives in the French Parliament. A good number of the first leaders of the independent African states had been members of the French Parliament;  where they had played important roles in French politics.

Since the African representatives had no political base in France;  they could be chosen as ministers as relatively neutral figures in the often-changing French governments of the Fourth Republic (1945-1959).

The government of Edgar Faure.

Senghor was elected to the French Parliament from Senegal in 1951;  and served as minister in 1955 in the government of Edgar Faure; one of the most intellectual of the French political leaders;  who appreciated Senghor as a “fellow intellectual”.

The French withdrawal from Indochina in 1954;  and the start of the war for independence in Algeria in November of the same year;  highlighted that the colonial system was coming to an end.

Senghor came to see that his future was not in politics in France as “the voice of Africa” in French politics but in Africa itself. Thus;  he started building a political base in Africa.

Edgar_Faure

President of the French Council Edgar Faure attending the Big Four Conference. Geneva, 18th July 1955. By Mario De Biasi (Mondadori Publishers), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The French West African States.

He hoped that a federal structure could keep the French West African states together – the start of a “United States of Africa”. However, the richer states;  in particular the Ivory Coast; were not prepared to pay for the poorer states, and in 1960; each colony became an independent state; although the colonies did not correspond to the pre-colonial West African societies.

Senghor had contributed to the restoration and reform of French society. In 1960; he would have to answer “Present” to his greatest challenge as President of now independent Senegal. Senghor faced two major challenges.

As President he was chief of a large administration; and he had never been an administrator. Some French colonial civil servants stayed on;  but the politically sensitive posts had to be held by Senegalese. Senghor had stressed in political debates in France;  that the African farmers were a “revolutionary force” and the building block of a new society.

Senegalese Reality.

Now he confronted a Senegalese reality;  where the most productive agriculture (peanut production largely for export);  was in the hands of conservative Islamic religious orders called the Mouride;  who ran a system of work in exchange for salvation, little short of serfdom.

The second major challenge was in developing a common ideology;  that would mobilize the efforts of the ethnically-divided Senegalese population.

Negritude as an ideology had been largely addressed to Europeans; in order to stress the worth and dignity of Africans. Now Senghor had to address Africans; and it could not be in the same terms.

Moreover; many Senegalese had thought that with the end of colonialism wealth;  which had been going to France would now stay in Africa. However;  Senegal had always been a poor country with few resources for export; other than peanut oil and some cotton. Wealth was not going to come automatically.

Society of Senghor’s Negritude.

The classless and non-exploitive African society of Senghor’s Negritude; was in reality one of deep divisions on ethnic and urban/rural lines; and exploitation of the weaker was not a European monopoly.

True to his convictions; Senghor stressed the creation of cooperatives and credit unions in the rural areas and developed village-level training programs based on local leadership.

He asked Louis-Joseph Lebret; a French Dominican monk to carry out the studies; which led to Senegal’s first five-year development plan.

Lebret was one of the Catholic intellectuals that Senghor had known in France; and who had been the leader of humanist economic; planning first in France and after the Second World War in Brazil, Lebanon, South Vietnam as well as in Senegal.

Louis-Joseph Lebret

Louis-Joseph Lebret en Colombie, 1958. By Unknown authorUnknown author, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Spirit of a New World.

A book by Lebret Mystique d’un Monde Nouveau (The Spirit of a New World published in 1940);  had stressed the idea of “the common good” or “the common welfare” and had had a deep impact on Catholics in the resistance movements and in the MRP – the liberal Catholic Party created at the end of the war.

Although Negritude remained the ideology; with which Senghor is most associated and which he continued to uphold in organizing Pan-African conferences of artists and thinkers; after 1955 he focused his thinking on the “civilization of the Universal”;  and the application in Africa of the philosophy of the French Jesuit palaeontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Senghor was introduced to the thought of Teilhard de Chardin in the mid-1950s by Theodore Monod; the director of IFAN located in Dakar; the leading West African research institute in both the natural and the social sciences.

Monod was a biologist with wide interests. He was a Protestant; his father and uncles having been leading liberal Protestant clergy. Monod had already quoted Teilhard in an article in Presence Africaine in 1950. In the early 1950s; Teilhard de Chardin was living in New York City; more-or-less in Church-imposed exile.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1955). By Unknown authorUnknown author, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

His working life in China.

He had spent most of his working life in China doing research on the remains of pre-historic man – best remembered for his work on “Pekin Man”. Teilhard’s view of a Cosmic Christ; of a new evolutionary stage on human consciousness; of the earth as a single organism brought fear to the dogmatists of his day.

The Jesuit Order prohibited him from publishing or teaching. Since he spoke little English; the Jesuit authorities felt he would be harmless in New York; and Teilhard lived there in relative obscurity until his death. Direct obedience to the Pope and discipline are characteristics of the Jesuit order; and he accepted the ban on publishing his writings.

However; his unpublished manuscripts circulated in a relatively small circle; especially among Protestant such as Theodore Monod; who had no interest in reporting Teilhard to Catholic Church authorities.

Copies of all Teilhard de Chardin’s manuscripts were given to a Dutch Protestant; who had been the Netherlands Ambassador to China during World War II.

Teilhard believed that obedience ended with death. Thus after his death on Easter Sunday 1955; his manuscripts started to be published in France. Teilhard was unable to explain or defend his writings; but his influence has grown steadily.

Synthesis of the Christian Concept.

In Teilhard de Chardin; Senghor found a way to develop a synthesis of the Christian concept of God; who is both the source and the aim of life with the African concept of a universal vital force in all creation.

This vital force is the base for the essential oneness of all life; life coming from a common source; evolving through a multitude of different shapes and forms; but called upon to become aware of its oneness through a planetary consciousness.

Teilhard de Chardin also provided a framework for a way to understand the contribution of African society and culture to world civilization. “All that rises, converges” is a key concept in Theilhard’s thought. Senghor has been described as the poet and theorist of synthesis against apartness.

It is not clear what Senghor’s philosophical approach has had on current Senegalese political thinking; however, the seeds have been sown. For the majority of the Senegalese; Senghor was the man who knew when to step aside – one of the few West African leaders not to have been overthrown by a military coup.

In 1980; after 20 years of presidency; Senghor left a multi-party democracy in place with Senegal; playing an important role in African and UN efforts. Other Senegalese leaders now face the challenges of development; and the search for common welfare.

 

Professor Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Notes.

For a good selection of Senghor’s writings translated into English see: John Reed and Clive Wake (Eds.) Senghor: Prose and Poetry (London: Oxford University Press, 1965).

For Senghor’s political thinking on the eve of becoming President of Senegal see Nationhood and the African Road to Socialism (Paris, Presence Africaine, 1962).

For his appreciation and application of the thought of Teilhard de Chardin, see L.S.Senghor Pierre Teilhard de Chardin et la Politique Africiane (Paris : Le Seuil, 1962).

 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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