What Is Indigenous Philosophy and What Are Its Implications for Education

Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Whether there is an Indigenous philosophy is an issue that intrigues writers as much as the possibility of there being an indigenous research method. There are, of course, local variations on any purported Indigenous philosophy, and these are important to retain, for without them there would be no wider notion of ‘Indigenous philosophy’. When using the term ‘Indigenous philosophy’, it is therefore important to note that indigenous groups are constructed by the term ‘indigenous’; that the term ‘philosophy’ is equally as influential and needs to be thought about carefully before it is introduced into indigenous conceptual frameworks; and that there is a holistic metaphysics that needs to be honoured when these terms are being evaluated. But Indigenous philosophy is indeed a useful nomenclature on its own for a set of perceptions of things in the world that are distinctive from that of the dominant West, and for scholars to institute the normality of holistic perceptions and epistemologies. With indigenous peoples continually asserting their rights to their own holistic perception of the world – a real right such as that of speaking one’s own language or residing on traditional lands – the ethical nature of education arises as a concern for indigenous groups. In this chapter, the authors argue that an Indigenous set of propositions about education must be based on knowledge of colonisation, as well as on the ability to suggest a more positive range of assertions about the potential for Indigenous education when it is based upon a foundation of holism. Two senses of Indigenous philosophy (of education) are explored in the chapter.


Indigenous philosophy Indigenous education Holistic metaphysics Decolonisation Ethics 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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