Every time I read another report in the newspapers of an African disaster—a famine in Ethiopia, a war in Namibia, ethnic conflict in Burundi—I wonder how much good it does to correct the theories with which these evils are bound up; the solution is food, or mediation, or some other more material, more practical step. And yet, the shape of modern Africa (the shape of our world) is in large part the product, often the unintended and unanticipated product, of theories; even the most vulgar of Marxists will have to admit that economic interests operate through ideologies. We cannot change the world simply by evidence and reasoning, but we surely cannot change it without them either.

– Kwame Anthony Appiah, In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (1992)


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