IN-HUMANISM OF HUMANISM: A CRITIQUE OF FRANTZ FANON’S HUMANISM

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(Philosophy)
IN-HUMANISM OF HUMANISM: A CRITIQUE OF FRANTZ FANON’S HUMANISM
ABSTRACT

Various dimensions have been the anchor point to the understanding of humanism. Hence, we can think of violence or non-violence. African philosophers like Frantz Fanon, Nelson Mandela and others are proponents of this philosophy. In contemporary time, various violent activities against humanity has been projected under the canopy of humanism. Frantz Fanon’s humanism is seen as liberation philosophy for dehumanization of the colonized and on how he explores different roles of violence in his quest of decolonization in Algeria. However, could such actions be humanism? Was that not a camouflage? What is humanism? Is there in-humanism in humanism? This work with critical analysis and method examines Fanon’s humanism and crystallizes how his theory of violence affect humanity and the extent at which humanism is inhumane.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE:  GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1    Background of the Study    -    -    -
1.2    Statement of the Problem    -    -    -    -
1.3    Purpose of the Study    -    -    -        
1.4    Significance of the Study    -    -    -    -
1.5    Scope of the Study    -    -    -    -    -
1.6    Methodology    -    -    -    -    -    -    -
1.7    Clarification of Concepts    -    -
1.8    Literature Review    -    -    -    -    -        Endnotes
CHAPTER TWO: BACKGROUND OF THE THEORY OF HUMANISM
2.1    The Origin and Meaning of Humanism    -    -
2.2    The Nature and Importance of Humanism    -
2.3    Types of Humanism    -    -    -    -    -
2.4    Humanist Beliefs and Traditions    -    -    -    
2.5    Humanist Manifestoes    -    -    -    -
2.5.1    Humanist Manifesto I    -    -    -        
2.5.2    Humanist Manifesto II -    -    -    -    -
2.6    Some Philosopher’s Views on Humanism    
Endnotes
CHAPTER THRREE: FRANTZ FANON’S HUMANISM: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
3.1    Historical Background of Frantz Fanon     
3.1.1    Frantz Fanon Influence        
3.2    Frantz Fanon’sConcept of Humanism    -
3.3    Types of Violence in Fanon    -    -
3.4    The Necessity of Violence in Decolonization    -
3.5    Critique of Fanon Humanism: In-humanism of Humanism
3.5.1    Gandhi and Fanon Humanism    
3.5.2    Martin Luther King and Fanon Humanism    
3.6    In-humanism in Fanon’s Humanism    -
    Endnotes
CHAPTER FOUR: EVALUATION AND CONCLUSION
4.1    Evaluation    -    
4.2    Conclusion        
    Endnotes
Bibliography
CHAPTER ONE
GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1    BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
    Humanism is a term freely applied to a variety of beliefs, method and philosophies that place central emphasis on the human realm. According to Merriam – Webster Dictionary, Humanism is defineas “a doctrine, attitude or ways of life centered on human interests or values, a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stress an individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self – realization through reason1.
    Oxford Advance learner’s dictionary define humanism as, “a rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters”2. However, the term is use with reference to a system of education and mode of inquiry that developed in Northern Italy during the 13th and 14th century and later spread through continental Europe and England alternatively known as Renaissance humanism.
Humanism sought to emphasize on the value and dignity of people. This work is base to investigate into the humanism of some philosophers such as Frantz Fanon and extract in-humanism from his theory of humanism. Nevertheless, this work will crystallize the work of Frantz Fanon during his quest for decolonization in Algeria where he explores the role of violence as the perfect revolutionary weapon in which the colonize man liberate himself from the shackle of colonialism. In Fanon’s work “The wretched of the earth”, he argues that the colonized world is “a world divided into compartments, divided into two to cater for two different species”3.
One would argue that this special divide which seeks to establish boundaries were set up in which the “colonized was localized and positioned and essentially made to perform the role of a foreigner, in his or her own country.4Fanon is of a view that a compartmentalized colonial city perpetuates itself even after a successful independence. He was able to understand the pain of the colonized because of his experience as a psychologist, he understood and pointed out all forms of oppression, that the Negro undergoes and draw their justification from a simply biblical source that allows them to rationalize the lack of humanity in whoever is been oppressed. Thus, in chapter six of Fanon’s book, “Black Skin White Mask”, he presents brief deep psycho-analysis of colonized black people and proposes the inability of black people to fit into the norms (social, cultural, racial) established by white society, and that “a normal Negro child having grown up in a normal Negro family will become abnormal on the slightest contact of the white world”5.
Such an extreme psychological responses originate from the unconscious and unnatural training of black people from early childhood to associate “blackness” with “wrongness” while “whiteness” is considered “virtue” and for Negro to liberate himself from this inferiority complexes, it requires violence that Fanon poised as the perfect revolutionary weapon to escape from colonialism.
1.2        STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
    Various violent activities against humanity is been projected under the canopy of humanism and such dehumanizing actions are attack on the values and dignity of human. Thus, Frantz Fanon in his work “’The Wretched of the Earth” starts out with a dialectical analysis of violence. His primary concern is the decolonization. He understands colonization to be the substitution of one species of human kind for another that he also referred to as racism. Fanon referenced a work by Aime Cesaire, which compares lynching in America, worldwide discrimination against Jews and the legalization of forced labor in Africa to the action of Adolf Hitler to prove his point that oppression is a universal concept that does not vary its intensity whatsoever.
He also contends that particular segment of a society are not more or less responsible for racism when he paraphrases Francis Jeanson’s statement that, “every citizen of a nation is responsible for the actions committed in the name of that nation”6. Fanon also argued that France is a racist country, which was been revealed in their modus operandi in Africa where they made black to feel inferior and see themselves as been superior. Inferiority complexes usually occur within a fraction of a minority population and those majority populations seldom experiences such complexes. However, in Africa such was not the case, the white minority made themselves superior over the majority black. Fanon reminds us in his work:
in Martinique, there are 200 whites who consider themselves superior to 300,000 people of colour, in South Africa there are two million white against almost thirteen million native people and it have never occurred to a single black to consider himself superior to a number of the white minority.7
    Fanon insists that there is a correlation between the feelings of inferiority experienced by people of colour and the feelings of superiority espoused by whites that in fact “it is the racist who creates his inferior”8. Here, the oppressed individual must either develop feelings of inferiority or remain dependent on the colonizers with all his oppression suffered by the black man. Fanon dream was to rid-off this inferiority complex not by remaining in the place of dependent but by becoming aware of the source of his subconscious conflict and choosing action against its structure or else remaining passive.
    However, Fanon suggested violence as the ultimate weapon for decolonization and for the colonized to liberate himself from the shackles of racism, but this work is to remind Fanon that his advocacy of violence goes against the value and dignity of human and such should not be projected under humanism.
1.3    PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
    This work will analyze the condition of the colonial reality and critically analyze an overwhelming numbers of issues drawing from racial formation, identity, decolonization, liberation struggles, language nationalism and violence and the various ways in which it shapes and alters the relationship between the colonizers and the colonized. Thus, crystallizing Frantz Fanon theory of violence, which was his fundamental premise in the quest for decolonization in Africa, Juxtaposing it with the universal theory of humanism and debunking this theory as dehumanizing as it affect humanity.
1.4    SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
    Humanism is a system of thought attaching fundamental importance on human rather than other supernatural matters. It is problematic to describe humanity as purity of thought and rationality as thinking according to absolute rules of inference and then “locate human existence exclusively with in Europe”9. This however runs a “risk of confining and condemning non-Europeans to irrationality or cognitive underdevelopment”10.
    This therefore is a rethinking of humanity in a critical way. Critical humanism entails the rethinking of the problematic of being or existence outside the confines of metaphysics of ‘presencing’ in the Globe. Reflecting on Fanon, it is believe that “each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it”11. As a generation of a disbanded revolution in our underdeveloped countries, this work emphasize the need to continuously question, challenge and resist the neo-liberal technocrat thinking and the legacy of colonialism and also help on the “maturing of the struggle of our lifetime”12.
1.5    SCOPE OF THE STUDY
    The scope of this study is limited to the critical analysis of Frantz Fanon humanism theory. It will also cover Frantz Fanon’s life, works influences and his philosophical belief.
1.6    METHDOLOGY
    The method adopted in the study is a critical analysis of Frantz Fanon’s humanism. Critical analyses here means to “breakdown” Frantz Fanon’s humanism and properly examine his theory of violence carefully in order to extract those actions that are dehumanizing toward humanity in general. To start first, chapter one centers on the general introduction, where we will be looking at the background of the study, the statement of problems, purpose of the study, significance of study, scope of the study, methodology, Clarification of concepts and lastly the literature review.
    The chapter two will center on the background of the theory of humanism, nevertheless we will be looking at the origin and meaning of humanism, nature and importance of humanism, types of humanism, humanist beliefs and tradition, humanist manifestoes and lastly other philosophers view on humanism.
    The chapter three will focus on the critical analysis of Frantz Fanon humanism, his historical background and influence, his concept and types of humanism, the necessity of violence in decolonization and lastly the critique of humanism in the light of Gandhi and Martin Luther King’s non-violence theory. Lastly, chapter four centerson evaluation and conclusion.
1.7    CLARIFICATION OF CONCEPTS
    At this point some words that will be used regularly needs clarification so that there would be no confusion of meaning as the words might have other meaning elsewhere, but in this study, we would tie them to one meaning in respect of this study. We have words like violence, Negro, state, black, white inferiority complex and chauvinism.
1.7.1    Violence
According to Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary 8th edition, violence is define as “a behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage or kill someone or something”13.This could also mean the unlawful exercise of physical force or introduction by the exhibition of such force. An example of this concept can be point out in Fanon’s work “The wretched of the earth” in the first chapter where he analyzes anti-colonial violence. For him, it was an act of rebirth “the veritable creation of new man”14. Fanon also use the concept of violence also in the first chapter of this same book, where he articulates that “Violence is a cleansing force it frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction, it makes him fearless and restores himself respect”.15
1.7.2    Negro
According to Merriam – Webster Dictionary Negro Means, “a member of a race of human kind native of Africa and classified according to physical features as dark skin pigmentation.16Also, Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary defines it as “a member of a dark skinned group of people originally native to Africa South of the Sahara”. The word Negro was first adopt from the mid-16th century from Spanish and Portuguese. It remains the standard term throughout the 17th – 19th centuries and was use by prominent black American campaigner such as W.EB Dubois and Booker T. Washington in the early 20th century. An example of this concept can be crystallize in Fanon’s work “Black Skin White Masks” on the first chapter where he pointed out that, “the negro will become whiter – become more human as he masters the white man’s language”.17
1.7.3    State
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, it is refers to a, “a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government”.18
1.7.4    Black
Black in this context refers to the man of black skin i.e. the African man of colour. An example of this concept can be crystallize in the first chapter of Fanon’s work “Black skin white masks” where he affirms that, “The black man is a reaction and since the Negro is appraised in term of the extent of his assimilation, it is also understandable why the newcomer expresses himself only in French.19
1.7.5    White
 White in this context refers to the Europeans with white skin i.e. the non-African man. An example this in this context can  be crystallize in the first chapter seven of Fanon’s work ‘Black skin white masks” where he affirms that, “A white man addressing a Negro behaves exactly like an adult with a child and start smirking, whispering, patronizing, cozening.20
1.7.6    Inferiority Complex
 According to Oxford Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary. It is refer to ‘’an unrealistic feeling of general inadequacy caused by actual or supposed inferiority in one sphere, sometimes marked by aggressive behavior in compensation’’. This term can also be pointed out in the chapter four of Fanon’s work “Black skin, white masks” where he described the lack of subjectivity displayed by Mannoni, which he believed is responsible for the scholar assumption that; the inferiority complex is something that antidote colonization or put more simply that inferiority complexes are someone inherent to priorities uncivilized people.21
1.8    LITERATURE REVIEW
    Lewis R. Gordon in his “Essay on philosophy and human science’’, manages to revive the importance of Fanon’s existential phenomenology which many critics of both Marxist and post-structuralist persuasion had come to see as an embarrassment. It also represents an extension of Gordon’s earlier work, which revived the Sartrean concept of “bad faith” as a way to talk about anti-black racism. However, it also goes further placing fanon alongside Husserl’s description of the crisis of the human sciences in Europe. In his final chapter, “Fanon’s continued relevance”. Gordon advanced a convincing argument that Fanon’s relentless attack on the murderous nature of European humanism should be read as an attempt not to dispose of humanism “per se”. Rather to bring into existence a new humanism, Gordon argues earlier in his book “man needs to emerge out of the ashes of the fact of his desiccation”21 and concludes that;
Challenge becomes one of radical engagement and attuned relevance he does not mean that the project of constructing or engaging in human science must also be abandon instead in the spirit of Fanon’s call for radicality and originally, the.22
Ato Sekyi – Otu’s ‘‘Fanon’s Dialectic of experience” also breaks new ground by reading Fanon’s text “as though they formed one dramatic dialectical narratives whose principal subject is political experience”.23
    His deployment of this dialectical analysis leads to reading which must strike even those familiar with Fanon’s work as remarkably fresh and exciting. As Sekyi – Otu suggest in his conclusion a careful reading of Fanon’s dramatic ‘’personae” brings us the realization that his texts;
reveals themselves to us not as faithful reports, still less as self-enclosed proposition stamped in each and every occasion with author’s discrete assent and unmistakable imprimatur rather, they are grasped now as enactments of positions assumed stances, staged, claims advanced by typical character in a story of experience .. always as products of the dialectical movement by which the enacted extent or figure is compelled to disclose its incompleteness that fatal short coming of its moral  consequence and thereby made its yield to a vision of suppressed or transgressive possibilities”24.
However, noting a few of Sekyi-Otu’s most significant re-readings of Fanon, motivated by his explicitly Gramscian approach (at one point) he declares that he is “tempted to call Gramsci a precocious Fanonian”25. His brilliant reconsideration of “concerning violence” which as Gordon has pointed out is often cited as a way to reduce Fanon from a complex thinker to a “simplistic prophet of violence”26
It has revealed in the part of this chapter that Fanon’s larger argument about Manicheanism in the colonial situation leaves the colonized in a state, where there is no public or political sphere and no mediation is possible between the rulers and the ruled. In Gramscian terms, a state of pure violence rather than of hegemony fanon is thus suggesting, “with the most classical of political philosophers (Sekyi-Otu cites Aristotle as well as Arendt) that where there is no public space, there is no political relationship, only violence, violence in a state of nature”.27
Equally suggestive is Sekyi – Otu’s interpretation of fanon’s withering attack upon the post-colonial natural bourgeoisie. He recognizes fanon’s position that this bourgeoisie condemns itself to become “a figure of baleful inconsequence” in the post-independenceera. However, reading dialectically he goes on to argue the very fact that Fanon has failed to provide any other candidate for the critical leadership roles in post-colonial society. Stopping to make a persuasive case that fanon is not in fact ready to claim that the peasantry are the most promising revolutionary agents as most readings of “the wretched of the earth” suggested. It revealed fanon to be, “a retrievalist open to the possibility of redeeming role for members of the national bourgeoisie”28.
Stuart Hall in his essay “The After-Life of Frantz Fanon: Why Fanon? Why now? Why black skin white masks? Among others, attempt to put to rest what Hall referred to as the “finding fanon”. Conferenced as the easy and unproductive early or late, young or old, bourgeoisie or revolutionary binary found in most fanon scholarships, insisting that an honest appraisal of his work presents us with; “a radically incomplete fanon who is bound to unsettle us from whichever direction we read him”29.
    Equally significant is Bell Hook’s contribution in ‘’Feminism as a persistent critique of history: What’s love got to do with it? Which takes seriously Fanon’s declaration in  “Black Skin White Masks’’ that ‘today I believe in the possibility of love, that is why I endeavour to trace its imperfecton’30.It offered a searing but ultimately loving critique of fanon for his hemophilia and for the “symbolic matricide’ he commits in “The wretched of the earth”.
    Charles Taylor in his article “The politics of recognition’’, tries to make a case for Fanon as  prophet of the sort of multiculturalism which maintains that, “recognition forges identity and thus the ultimate solution lies in reform of curricular allowing for the inclusion of women, minorities etc”31.But to reduce Fanon’s work to a more request for recognition is to ignore the fact that when Fanon writes about life and death struggle of master and slave, it is real life and real death that are at stake when he protest against the social construction of blackness against racism “Epidermal Schema “. It is with understanding that such construction has the power to kill or at least to sentence certain numbers of society to death. The emphasis on the violent struggles for freedom, the recognition as Gordon put it that, “one cannot give another his freedom, only his liberty”.32
    The statement is central to Fanon’s legacy. The kind of cultural and political works that will continue to be inspire by him needs to maintain this sense of urgency. This brings one to another concern, one that is the flipside of the first that Fanon’s legacy will be reduce to an incitement to violence under all circumstances.
    In Julian J. Samuel’s review of “the fact of blackness”, he suggests that the text has nothing to offer those who wish for a new interpretation of Fanon’s work because it ignores the question of violence while agreeing with this, Samuel points that, “it is impossible to discuss Fanon without discussing the many violence laden Algerians today”. I am not at all certain that Fanon’s central message is violence, it’s the only thing the master listen to nothingelse”33.
    This is one place where Sekyi – Otu’s Gramscian reading is particularly useful. If Fanon’s “concerning violence” addresses a situation where no civil or political sphere exists, where no war of position is possible then indeed violence is the only response. Nevertheless, such a model is hardly transferable to every political situation. For one thing, to use Samuel’s term “The master” are not always the same sets of people. If the reality of too many post-colonial nations has been the same as colonialism. It’s worth noting that the remainder of “The wretched of the earth” is as concerned with the battle that needs to be fought against the emergent national bourgeoisie as it is with the anti-colonial struggle perse. “concerning violence” in other word is meaningless except when read together with “spontaneity” its strength and weakness and “the misadventures of national consciousness”.
 End Notes
Merriam – Webster Dictionary 11th Edition (Merriam – Webster Inc. 2003).
p. 1124
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
8th Edition of Turnbull and Joanna.(Oxford University Press 2010) p. 539
Frantz Fanon ‘’The Wretched of the Earth’’ (New York: Grove
 Weidenfield, 1961)p.30.
Ibid, p. 187.
Frantz Fanon, ‘’Black Skin, White Mask‘’ (New York Grove Press,
1967), p.145.
Ibid, p.91.
Ibid, p.92 - 93.
Ibid, p.93.
Marina Paola, Banchetti – Robino Headly, ‘’Shifting the
Geography of Reason, Gender, Science and Religion‘’ (Cambridge Scholar Publisher 2006), p.7
Ibid, p.8.
Fanon, ‘’The Wretched of the Earth’, p.205.


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Department Philosophy
Project ID PHI0015
Price ₦3,000 ($9)
Chapters 4 Chapters
No of Pages 123 Pages
Methodology Descriptive
Reference YES
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    Project Details

    Department Philosophy
    Project ID PHI0015
    Price ₦3,000 ($9)
    Chapters 4 Chapters
    No of Pages 123 Pages
    Methodology Descriptive
    Reference YES
    Format Microsoft Word

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