African Ethics: Cognatus/cognitus sum, ergo sumus
“African ethics is like North American communitarianism in its emphasis on community, although (as we shall see later) there are important differences between the two in the process by which norms are established. The concern that motivates communitarianism in its critique of the ‘unfettered self’ or of ‘atomism’ against liberalism is entirely in keeping with African ethics, which rejects the idea that being a human person and acting with responsibility is merely the result of having assented to rational principles, or arguing and thinking rationally. For Black Africa, it is not the Cartesian cogito ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”) but an existential cognatus [cognitus] sum, ergo sumus (“I am known [relationally related], therefore we are”) that is decisive” (Bénézet Bujo, Foundations of an African Ethic: Beyond the Universal Claims of Western Morality, p. 4).
[N.b. The translation “I am known,” for cognatus sum seems problematic, as
cognatus means something in the neighborhood of “I am related,” or “I am
connected (in a familial sense).” The Latin equivalent of “I am known,” is cognitus sum. Even so, both potential meanings are suggestive].