What I mean is, i have heard it claimed that European science and thought "Desacralized" nature in the sense taking away the mysticism and spirituality of nature. I'm thinking of Marimba Ani's critique of European philosophy.

"Ani's 1994 work, Yurugu: An Afrikan-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior, examined the influence of European culture on the formation of modern institutional frameworks, through colonialism and imperialism, from an African perspective.[6][7][8] Described by the author as an "intentionally aggressive polemic", the book derives its title from a Dogon legend of an incomplete and destructive being rejected by its creator.[9][10] External audio audio icon "Marimba Ani speaks" – Yurugu and the European asili Examining the causes of global white supremacy, Ani argued that European thought implicitly believes in its own superiority, stating: "European culture is unique in the assertion of political interest".[6]

In Yurugu, Ani proposed a tripartite conceptualization of culture, based on the concepts of Asili, the central seed or "germinating matrix" of a culture, Utamawazo, "culturally structured thought" or worldview, "the way in which the thought of members of a culture must be patterned if the asili is to be fulfilled", and Utamaroho, a culture's "vital force" or "energy source", which "gives it its emotional tone and motivates the collective behavior of its members".[8][9][11] The terms Ani uses in this framework are based on Swahili. Asili is a common Swahili word meaning "origin" or "essence"; utamawazo and utamaroho are neologisms created by Ani, based on the Swahili words utamaduni ("civilisation"), wazo ("thought") and roho ("spirit life").[9][12][13] The utamawazo and utamaroho are not viewed as separate from the asili, but as its manifestations, which are "born out of the asili and, in turn, affirm it."[11]

Ani characterised the asili of European culture as dominated by the concepts of separation and control, with separation establishing dichotomies like "man" and "nature", "the European" and "the other", "thought" and "emotion" – separations that in effect end up negating the existence of "the other", who or which becomes subservient to the needs of (European) man.[8] Control is disguised in universalism as in reality "the use of abstract 'universal' formulations in the European experience has been to control people, to impress them, and to intimidate them."[14]

According to Ani's model, the utamawazo of European culture "is structured by ideology and bio-cultural experience", and its utamaroho or vital force is domination, reflected in all European-based structures and the imposition of Western values and civilisation on peoples around the world, destroying cultures and languages in the name of progress.[8][15]

The book also addresses the use of the term Maafa, based on a Swahili word meaning "great disaster", to describe slavery. African-centered thinkers have subsequently popularized and expanded on Ani's conceptualization.[16] Citing both the centuries-long history of slavery and more recent examples like the Tuskegee study, Ani argued that Europeans and white Americans have an "enormous capacity for the perpetration of physical violence against other cultures" that had resulted in "antihuman, genocidal" treatment of blacks"


In a sense, European thought has been dominated by concepts of control and separation and rejected holism and unity that seemed common in Eastern, African philosophies and systems of thought?

  • "Mysticism and spirituality of nature", if that is what it was, did not stop people from control and separation, as the history of Oriental wars would attest. Suffice it to recall Persian despots or Genghis Khan. Medieval Europe was also abound in "mysticism and spirituality of nature", which did not stop endless feudal wars and crusades. The problem with this "intentionally aggressive polemic" is that grand generalizations from spotty history and loose associations between abstractions and atrocities do not translate into causal connections.
    – Conifold
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 8:43
  • About "desacralization", see Carolyn Merchant's The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution (1980) Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 10:07
  • And you can see Arthur Lovejoy's lovely book about the Western idea of the Great chain of being: a worldview developed during the Middle Ages about "a hierarchical structure of all matter and life, [starting] with God and progresses downward to angels, humans, animals, plants, and minerals." According to this view (alternative to the Mechanization of the world) the world has meaning and direction. Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 10:24

1 Answer 1


Because we found nothing magical or spiritual or mystical or sacred in it. Many of us believe that we haven't found it because it was never there in the first place.

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