Philosophy Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Source

Archives for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy


In a world which exhibits so much power and yet does so little to drive back underdevelopment, it is not to be wondered if the thinking endeavour is shrouded with the impression of being confronted with the greatest enigma, with the most disconcerting sphinx of all times. However, concerning this most pressing and controversial issue of underdevelopment, of all the disciplines which study man, philosophy is the one which until now said the least. Is this due to simple insensitiveness, or to pure neglect, or to the feeling of not being directly concerned? Whatever the reasons may be, the simple fact that philosophy has very little to say regarding this colossal human tragedy, not only does not in the least render it innocent, but most of all, puts a question mark on it. This way of shunning the real world is surely puzzling for a theoretical discipline such as philosophy.

But so harsh a judgement will undoubtedly appear as being inopportune if it were to be shown that the main reason which kept philosophy aloof from the issue of underdevelopment stems from a seemingly epistemological objection. At first sight, to mark off in the topic of underdevelopment an area of real philosophical concern does not seem feasible indeed. Underdevelopment understood as a mere failure of development appears to be within the compétence of the various disciplines of the social sciences, especially of économies, rather than that of philosophy. Viewed as a technical problem, it could thereby be declared outside the sphere of direct philosophical inquiry.

But when one reads the works of those economists, sociologists, and anthropologists, who have dealt with the problem of development and underdevelopment, in their very disputes and lurchings, the idea that, behind the technical issues, a question which looks like a philosophical issue is entrenched, steadily cornes to light. This idea is no sooner accepted than it hints to a way of possible salvation, the remarkable feature of which is that it is fraught with spiritual ticklings rather than technical devices. Just as when ail available means fail to provide a solution, one Starts to rely on one's creative will, so does the man who decides to view the problem of underdevelopment from the philosophical perspective. He soon finds himself gazing at a depth of ethical frame with summoning echoes, so différent from the sirens of modernization and collectivisation. This paper is precisely pointing in such a direction: it is marked out by the graduai métamorphosés of development issues into ethical questions and by the growing suspicion that the theoretician of development may end up by becoming a moralist.

Inclusive pages




Document Version

Published Version


This document is provided for download in compliance with the publisher's policy on self-archiving. Permission documentation is on file. To purchase the issue in which this article appeared, to subscribe to the journal, or to browse the archives, see the publication's website, which is in German.


Franz Steiner Verlag





Peer Reviewed