Original Research

Heinz Kimmerle’s intercultural philosophy and the quest for epistemic justice

Renate Schepen, Anke Graness
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 15, No 1 | a554 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v15i1.554 | © 2019 Renate Schepen, Anke Graness | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 February 2018 | Published: 28 May 2019

About the author(s)

Renate Schepen, Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna, Vienna, Netherlands
Anke Graness, Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna, Vienna, Netherlands


Since the 1990s epistemic (in)justice has been a central issue of post-colonial and feminist studies. But only during the last decade the term has become paradigmatic and new aspects of the issue have been addressed – particularly because of the works of De Sousa Santos (2012, 2014) and Fricker (2007). One of the pioneers of an intercultural approach to philosophy is the German philosopher Heinz Kimmerle (1930–2016), who in the 1980s began to focus his research on African philosophies. Intercultural philosophy aimed for more epistemic justice in the academy long before the term epistemic or cognitive injustice was coined and became a new paradigm in the social sciences and humanities. Kimmerle, for example, was one of the main proponents of a radical reform of the Eurocentric curricula in academic philosophy, and he called for the inclusion of philosophical traditions from various regions of the world. Similarities in the starting point of research and research questions in philosophy and post- or decolonial studies, and proposed solutions to epistemic injustice in these disciplines, give enough reason to combine the social sciences’ theories of epistemic justice with the methods of intercultural philosophy for a reciprocal cultural enrichment between these disciplines. This article shows that theories of ‘epistemic justice’ could benefit from Heinz Kimmerle’s method of dialogue and reflective listening. Similarly, insights derived from post-colonial, decolonial and feminist theory could strengthen an awareness of structural power inequalities in intercultural philosophy. Therefore, we explore how theories of epistemic justice and intercultural philosophy can complement each other.


Intercultural philosophy; epistemic injustice; Heinz Kimmerle; feminist theory; difference.


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