(Click on the title for a link to the wikipedia entry on Ubuntu, it is worth it.)
(and thanks to Harvey for getting me thinking about this.)
"COGITO ERGO SUM. (I think therefore I am.)"
"UBUNTU. (I am what I am because of who we all are.)"
"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
-Bishop Desmond Tutu
Descartes' words have been often called the bedrock assumption upon which modern Western thought is based; radical skepticism forming a basis upon which we can build our conceptual framework, and ultimately our lives, without fear that we are building a house of cards on nothing but air. We start with only that of which we are absolutely certain and build from there; it is a fundamental tenet of Western rationality.
...yet, there is a cost (perhaps more than one, but here we discuss one) the starting point for this line of reasoning is fundamentally individualistic. In pursuing this line of rationality we deny our own communal and relational nature. In fact, some might argue that we even deny what is basic to our humanity.
I will close with more of Bishop Tutu's words on the subject:
"One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity."