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Souleymane Bachir Diagne is a Senegalese philosopher, born in 1955 in Saint-Louis, French Senegal. His work is focused on the history of logic and mathematics, epistemology, the tradition of philosophy in the Islamic world, identity formation, and African literatures and philosophies.
After passing his baccalauréat in Senegal, Diagne was admitted to the demanding public secondary school Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris, following in the footsteps, almost a half-century later, of his compatriot and the first president of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor. There he prepared for the entrance exams to the École Normale Supérieure, meanwhile receiving his license and maîtrise level degrees in philosophy at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. At the École Normale Supérieure he studied with Althusser and Derrida. After receiving his agrégation in Philosophy (1978), Diagne spent a year at Harvard University in an exchange program. In 1982 he defended a doctoral thesis in mathematics at Université Paris I, where, in 1988, he also completed his doctorat d’Etat, under the direction of Jean-Toussaint Desanti, on George Boole’s algebra of logic.
In 1982 Diagne returned to his native country to teach philosophy at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, where he became vice-dean of the College of Humanities. The former president of the Republic of Senegal, Abdou Diouf, named him Counselor for Education and Culture, a position which he held from 1993 to 1999.
Diagne is co-director of Éthiopiques, a Senegalese journal of literature and philosophy and a member of the editorial committees of numerous scholarly journals, including the Revue d’histoire des mathématiques, Présence africaine, and Public Culture. He is a member of the scientific committees of Diogenes (published by UNESCO’s International Counsel of Philosophy and Social Sciences), CODESRIA (Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique), and of the African and Malagasy Committee for Higher Education (CAMES), as well as UNESCO’s Council on the Future. He has been named by Le Nouvel observateur one of the 50 thinkers of our time. In October 2007 he was invited to participate in a white paper commission on the defense and national security in the French Senate in Paris.
His main publications include two books on George Boole, a book on the Indian poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal, Islam et société ouverte. La fidélité et le mouvement dans la pensée de Muhammad Iqbal (2001) and an examination of Senghor’s philosophy, Léopold Sédar Senghor. L’Art africain comme philosophie (2007). He is currently working on a book on Islam and philosophy: Comment philosopher en Islam.
Having taught for several years at in the departments of Philosophy and Religion at Northwestern University (2002 to 2007), Diagne is currently Professor of French, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Philosophy, at Columbia University in New York.
- Léopold Sédar Senghor: l’art africain comme philosophie. Paris: Riveneuve Editions, 2007.
- 100 mots pour dire l’islam. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 2002.
- Islam et société ouverte, la fidélité et le mouvement dans la pensée de Muhammad Iqbal. Paris : Maisonneuve & Larose, 2001.
- Logique pour philosophes. Dakar: Nouvelles Editions Africaines du Sénégal, 1991 .
- Boole, l’oiseau de nuit en plein jour. Paris: Belin, 1989.
- Columbia University Institute of African Studies Fall 2008 Events Calendar
- Video of the white paper commission hearing (in French)
- Columbia University Department of French and Romance Philology Annual Newsletter, December 2007