Original Research - Special Collection: Wentzel van Huyssteen

Post-foundational theology and the contribution of African approaches to consciousness and identity

Dion A. Forster
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 2 | a2363 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i2.2363 | © 2021 Dion A. Forster | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 August 2021 | Published: 21 October 2021

About the author(s)

Dion A. Forster, Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch; Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


How do we know who we are? What sources can we draw upon in order to explain and understand the complex notions of identity and consciousness? This article revisits this debate and argues that African approaches the consciousness and identity cohere with Wentzel van Huyssteen’s post-foundational theology. Post-foundational theology offers a transverse rationality that operates between explanatory power and truth. The impetus for the research that informs this article emerged from a conversation with Prof. Van Huyssteen in 2000. The conversation set the author on a path of exploration which led to the discovery of the richness of African religious, philosophical and social resources on identity and consciousness. The outcome was an integrated approach to identity known as a ‘generous ontology’ that draws upon subjective, objective, inter-subjective and inter-objective sources of knowledge. The article concludes that an African approach to consciousness, as a post-foundational theological contribution, helps us to offer clear explanations and deeper truths in relation to our understanding of identity and consciousness.

Intradisciplinary and or interdisciplinary implications: This article presents a post-foundationalist argument for the inclusion of African theological notions of identity and consciousness in the debates of this field that take place at the intersections of faith and science. The outcome textures our explanations and deepens our understandings of transdisciplinary approaches to identity and consciousness.


Wentzel van Huyssteen; African theology; post-foundationalism; identity; consciousness; generous ontology


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