Introduction -- The historical phase -- Western discourse on Africa -- Egyptology : an African response to western discourse -- Afrocentricity -- African philosophy's ethnophilosophy -- Tempels on Bantu philosophy -- African religions and philosophy -- Horton on African and western thought systems -- General critiques -- Professional approach to African philosophy -- Ethnophilosophy and professional philosophy -- The myth and reality of African philosophy -- Traditional thought and modern philosophy in africa -- On (...) Wiredu's truth as opinion -- Philosophic sagacity --Sage philosophy and philosophic sagacity -- Relevance of sagacious reasoning -- Keita's objections -- Tthree ways of approaching philosophic sagacity -- Masolo on philosophic sagacity -- Odera Oruka's mission in African philosophy -- Nationalist-ideological philosophy -- Nationalist-ideological philosophy and ethnophilosophy -- Consciencism : philosophy and ideology for decolonisation -- Ujamaa : the basis of African socialism -- African socialism and the federal system in postcolonial Africa -- African philosophical hermeneutics -- Universalism and particularism -- Hermeneutical orientation in African philosophy. (shrink)
This volume of newly commissioned essays provides comprehensive coverage of African philosophy, ranging across disciplines and throughout the ages. Offers a distinctive historical treatment of African philosophy. Covers all the main branches of philosophy as addressed in the African tradition. Includes accounts of pre-colonial African philosophy and contemporary political thought.
Understanding African Philosophy serves as a critical guide to some of the most important issues in modern African philosophy. Richard Bell introduces readers to the complexity of Africa, the legacy of colonialism, the challenges of post independence Africa, and other recent developments in African Philosophy. Chapters discuss the value of African oral and written texts for philosophy, concepts of "negritude," "African socialism," and "race," as well as current discussions in international development ethics connected to poverty (...) and human suffering. Two chapters are focused on moral issues related to community, justice, and civic responsibility. Bell's sensitivity to and engagement with the complications of cross-cultural understandings help non-African readers connect with African culture and thought. (shrink)
In the last two decades the idea of African Philosophy has undergone significant change and scrutiny. Some critics have maintained that the idea of a system of philosophical thought tied to African traditions is incoherent. In African Philosophy Lee Brown has collected new essays by top scholars in the field that in various ways respond to these criticisms and defend the notion of African Philosophy. The essays address both epistemological and metaphysical issues that are specific to (...) the traditional conceptual languages of sub-Saharan Africa. The primary focus of the collection is on traditional African conceptions of topics like mind, person, personal identity, truth, knowledge, understanding, objectivity, destiny, free will, causation, and reality. The contributors--who include Leke Adeofe, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Lee Brown, Segun Gbadegesin, D.A. Masolo, Albert Mosley, Ifeanyi Menkiti, and Kwasi Wiredu--incorporate concerns from various African philosophical traditions, including Akan, Azande, Bokis, Igno, Luo, and Yoruba. African Philosophy ultimately tries to bring a more rigorous conception of African philosophy into fruitful contact with Western philosophical concerns, specifically in the philosophies of psychology, mind, science, and language, as well as in metaphysics and epistemology. It will appeal to both scholars and students. (shrink)
The African Philosophy Reader, Second Edition , is a substantially revised and greatly enhanced collection of writings on African philosophy. Editors P.H. Coetzee and A.P.J. Roux have brought together thirty-seven philosophers, thirty-three of whom are black Africans, to present the most current philosophical discussions. Divided into eight sections, each with introductory essays, the selections offer rich and detailed insights into a diverse multinational philosophical landscape. Revealed in this pathbreaking work is the way in which traditional philosophical issues related (...) to ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology, for instance, take on specific forms in Africa's postcolonial struggles. Much of its moral, political, and social philosophy is concerned with the turbulent processes of embracing modern identities while protecting ancient cultures. (shrink)
Introduction: Philosophy-in-place -- Tradition in the periphery -- Questioning reason -- Wisdom is actually thought -- Culture and the problem of universality -- Listening to language -- Practicality : African philosophy's debts and duties -- Locating African philosophy.
First published in 1986, Knowledge, Belief, and Witchcraft remains the only analysis of indigenous discourse about an African belief system undertaken from within the framework of Anglo-American analytical philosophy. Taking as its point of departure W. V. O. Quine's thesis about the indeterminacy of translation, the book investigates questions of Yoruba epistemology and of how knowledge is conceived in an oral culture.
Hermeneutics is a crucial but neglected perspective in African philosophy. Here, Tsenay Serequeberhan engages post-colonial African literature and the ideas of the African liberation struggle with critically-used insights from the European philosophical tradition. Continuing the work of Theophilus Okere and Okonda Okolo, this book attempts to overcome the debate between ethnophilosophy and professional philosophy, demonstrating that the promise of African philosophy lies with the critical development of the African hermeneutical perspective.
This wide-ranging, multidisciplinary collection of newly commissioned articles brings together distinguished voices in the field of Africana philosophy and African-American social and political thought. Provides a comprehensive critical survey of African-American philosophical thought. Collects wide-ranging, multidisciplinary, newly commissioned articles in one authoritative volume. Serves as a benchmark work of reference for courses in philosophy, social and political thought, cultural studies, and African-American studies.
This book looks in particular at Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah and Petals of Blood by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, but situates these within the broader context of developments in African literature over the past half-century, discussing writers from Ayi Kwei Armah to Wole Soyinka. M.S.C. Okolo provides a thorough analysis of the authors' differing approaches and how these emerge from the literature. Okolo argues that these authors have been profoundly affected by the political situation of Africa, but have also (...) helped to create a new African political philosophy. (shrink)
This study examines the issues of indigenous philosophies, which are embedded in different aspects of socialization process among the Akan of Ghana. The research explores the possibility of forging a new future that builds on the positive aspects of their past and present and on carefully chosen ideas, methods and technology from abroad.
Concept of African social and political philosophy -- Faces of African freedom -- African socialism and Nyerere -- African personality : a social portrait -- Negritude : a philosophy of social action -- African tribalism : social and political implications -- Apartheid and African social experience -- The African and neo-colonial predicament -- Social self in African philosophy -- Crisis of common good and political instability -- Pan-Africanism as a concept and social (...) philosophy -- African philosophy and social reconstruction. (shrink)
The universalists argue that there is currently no African philosophy. Compared to Western philosophy, African philosophy does not have the requisite features of a writing tradition and a rigorous and critical analytical approach to debates over universal conceptual issues, engaged in by individuals. This stance, it is argued here, involves a parochial conception of 'philosophy' that is applied to African philosophy and captures only the contemporary analytic tradition of Western philosophy--while the ancient and medieval periods indicate that (...) other speculative, constructive, and normative approaches to philosophy exist that are not captured by this conception. Moreover, African philosophy that is equivalent to the ancient and medieval periods does exist, and this African equivalent is a precursor to the contemporary analytic philosophy that the universalists are looking for in Africa. (shrink)
Introduction -- Biographical details -- The nature of the philosophic enterprise: initial issues -- Contemporary scholarship on (African) arts -- Artistic expression in Africa -- Philosophy and artistic expression in Africa -- Arts, memory and identity -- Conclusion.
Conceptions of philosophy -- Philosophy as a rational inquiry -- Logical reasoning -- The debate on the idea of African philosophy -- Philosophy, society, and national development -- Appendix : writing a long essay/project in philosophy.
In this undergraduate textbook Lewis R. Gordon offers the first comprehensive treatment of Africana philosophy, beginning with the emergence of an Africana (i.e. African diasporic) consciousness in the Afro-Arabic world of the Middle Ages. He argues that much of modern thought emerged out of early conflicts between Islam and Christianity that culminated in the expulsion of the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula, and from the subsequent expansion of racism, enslavement, and colonialism which in their turn stimulated reflections on reason, (...) liberation, and the meaning of being human. His book takes the student reader on a journey from Africa through Europe, North and South America, the Caribbean, and back to Africa, as he explores the challenges posed to our understanding of knowledge and freedom today, and the response to them which can be found within Africana philosophy. (shrink)
The basic concern of the paper is to state what the practice of African Philosophy is and should be in view of the contemporary dismal situation of postcolonial Africa. The attempt is to articulate a conception of African philosophy as a critical un-packing of the ideas and conceptions that legitimated European expansion and to this day–having been internalized by the Westernized African elite–sanction Western hegemony. And so, along with the critique of Eurocentrism the paper explores what it (...) means to “return to the source” and to reclaim our “generic human identity.” The aim, in all of this, is to articulate a conception of African philosophy as a critical and combative hermeneutics of the contemporary African situation. (shrink)
Carole Pearce's argument against African philosophy is founded on a set of factual flaws and the fallacious assumption that African philosophy is equivalent to ethnophilosophy, which she defines as a form of intellectual apartheid founded on irrational belief systems. I argue that African philosophy is in no way qualitatively different from, say, French or Chinese philosophy, and that ethnophilosophy is merely one aspect of it But ethnophilosophy could play the important role of critically evaluating African ethnic (...) belief systems and the interpretation of such by Western anthropologists. In general, African philoso phy is nothing more than the philosophical research (of whatever order) carried out by African philosophers in the context of African research paradigms. (shrink)
In this article I argue that African-American philosophy emerges from a socio-existential context where persons of African descent have been faced with the absurd in the form of white racism. The concept of struggle, given the above, functions as both descriptive and heuristic vis-à-vis the meaning of African-American philosophy. Expanding upon Charles Mills’ concept of non-Cartesian sums, I demonstrate the inextricable link between Black lived experience, struggle, and the morphology of meta-philosophical assumptions and philosophical problems specific to (...)African-American philosophy. Then, I provide a sketch of two early African-American philosophers whose philosophical work is, though neglected, indispensable to African-American philosophical legitimating practices and whose work is informed by the defining motif of struggle. Lastly, I demonstrate the efforts of Africana philosophers at creating philosophical sites that nurture a sense of shared struggle and community. (shrink)
A special issue of The Philosophical Forum , one of the most prestigious philosophy journals, is now available to a wider readership through its publication in book form. The volume includes twelve essays in three sections-- Philosophical Traditions; the African-American Tradition; and Racism, Identity, and Social Life. Contributors are: K. Anthony Appiah, Kwasi Wiredu, Lucius Outlaw, Leonard Harris, Bernard Boxill, Frank M. Kirkland, Tommy L. Lott, Adrian M.S. Piper, Laurence Thomas, Michele M. Moody-Adams, Anita L. Allen, and Howard McGary. (...) The introduction is by John P. Pittman. (shrink)
"African philosophy," when conceived of as ethnophilosophy, is based on the idea that all thought is social, culture-bound, or based in natural language. But ethnophilosophy, whatever its sociological status, makes no contribution to philosophy, which is necessarily invulnerable to the sociological thesis. The sociological thesis must be limited in application to its own proper domain. The conflation of sociological and philosophical discourse arises from the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. This fallacy is responsible, among other things, for the sociological misinterpretation (...) of Wittgenstein. African philosophy, to be thought philosophical, must conceive of itself as addressing universal problems instead of pursuing intellectual apartheid. (shrink)
Sceptics of an Africanisation of education have often lambasted its proponents for re-inventing something that has very little, if any, role to play in contemporary African society. The contributors to this issue hold a different view and, through the papers included in this issue, arguments are proffered in defence of an Africanisation of education on the African continent, particularly through the notion of ubuntu.Since the 1960s, Africana philosophy as an instance of Africanisation has emerged as a ‘gathering’ notion (...) for philosophical endeavours practised by professional philosophers and intellectuals, either of African descent, including those living in the diaspora, or those of non-African descent but who are devoted to matters pertaining to African and African-descended individuals and communities (Outlaw, 2004, p. 90). These philosophical endeavours mostly relate to a ‘critical analysis and reflective evaluation of the evidence and reasoning’ that constitute the beliefs, customs, values, traditions, oral literature (parables, proverbs, poetry, songs and myth), languages and histories of African and African-descended peoples (Hallen, 2004, p. 105). The articles presented at this symposium analytically explore ideas and practices central to Africana philosophy, their underlying rationales, and how these forms of philosophical inquiry can potentially engender defensible educative relationships. (shrink)
Pearce's "African Philosophy and the Sociological Thesis" makes very interesting reading. Why it is interesting is not because it advances the frontiers of philosophical discourse in Africa or globally but because it shows that certain unwarranted dispositions die hard and that deliberate ignorance, if that is what is displayed, is hard to cure. In this article the author comments on the following contentions made by Pearce: (1) philosophy has no social relevance and/or responsibility; (2) philosophy is purely a linguistic (...) activity concerned with analysis of concepts and examination; (3) philosophy derives from religion; (4) because African philosophy cannot supplant world philosophy, it lacks locus and legitimacy; (5) African philosophy pursues intellectual apartheid through an ethnophilosophical agenda; and (6) African philosophy is vulnerable to the Sociological Thesis and is voided by it. The author's rebuttal consists of a critical and analytic examination of Pearce's views, counterfactual illustrations, and elicitation of enthymemic presuppositions. (shrink)
Samuel Imbo has written a short, concise introduction to some of the major issues addressed over the last century by scholars and activists concerned with African philosophy. The book is divided into five chapters, the first of which surveys answers to the question "What is African philosophy?". Because of a legacy of intellectual denigration that portrays Africans as incapable of abstract thought, this question is often the first raised by those outside the field. This legacy is reinforced by (...) the assumption that philosophy requires a tradition of written communication. Imbo addresses both of these sources of skepticism, delineating three senses of African philosophy: ethnological, universalist, and hermeneutical. (shrink)
The liberation of Africa and its peoples from centuries of racially discriminatory colonial rule and domination has far-reaching implications for educational thought and practice. The transformation of educational discourse in Africa requires a philosophical framework that respects diversity, acknowledges lived experience and challenges the hegemony of Western forms of universal knowledge. In this article I reflect critically on whether African philosophy, as a system of African knowledge(s), can provide a useful philosophical framework for the construction of empowering knowledge (...) that will enable communities in Africa to participate in their own educational development. (shrink)
The flurry of debate that trailed the existence of African philosophy in the 1960s and 70s and the consequent demise of the controversies in the late 1990s have occasioned a periodiszation shift from traditional African philosophy to contemporary African philosophy. While the scope and nature of predominant issues inthese periods differ considerably, what ought to constitute the basis and shape the direction of discourse in contemporary African philosophy remain controversial. In this regard, this paper argues that (...) rethinking African philosophy should be high on the agenda. It harps that more fundamental to contemporary African philosophy, is the critical need for self-assessment and re-evaluation, which would involve rethinking the nature, direction, scope, method and place of African philosophy. Rethinking African philosophy is a cognitive process of charting a new course of pragmatic reflection on metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, aesthetical, social and political themes in contemporary African philosophy, in order to make relevant philosophical abstraction to practical human problems inthe continent. The case is justifiably made that those African philosophers should make the influence of their speculations spill beyond the confine of academic citadel to the outside world such that will influence the lives of contemporary Africans. (shrink)
The aim of this study is to undertake an in-depth conceptual and ethical analysis of African philosophy of sex and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa by taking the Oromo of Ethiopia as an example. The continent with just 10% of the world’s population is home to over 70% of the world’s HIV/AIDS infection. HIV/AIDS is a social, economic, demographic and moral problem as well as a health care issue. Some scholars hypothesise that the unique nature of African sexuality, (...) sexual promiscuity, the prevalence of other ailments, and the unique nature of the viral subtypes (known as clades) are the major reasons for Africa’s AIDS prevalence. However, there is little substance to their hypotheses. As of today there is no sound explanation for the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Africa. So far the HIVintervention has largely focused on behaviours, systems and structures which are visible without fully taking into account culture, values, norms and traditions which are invisible but have a strong influence on visible aspects of individual behaviours and societal structures. Thus, this issue requires further research into people’s philosophy of sex and indigenous moral values. This study and the contributions of many scholars have shown that Africans have a diverse spectrum of sexual behaviour ranging from the very restrictive to the permissive. Although some ethnic groups have developed a profound philosophy of ex that can curb the expansion of HIV/AIDS, there have been some sexual and religious norms and expectations in Africa that have contributed to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS. Social, economical, and political forces have also shaped the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This paper thus suggests that global fight against HIV/AIDS should go beyond a narrow focus on the behavioural and biological, and consider broader structural and underlying factors such as poverty, homelessness, widespread sex work, rural to urban migration, instability, a high rate of unemployment, unequal gender relations, harmful traditional practice and global injustice that have facilitated the spread of HIV/AIDS. African governments should involve the local people and civil society organisations in the fight against HIV/AIDS by using a wide range of participatory methodologies and culturally sensitive advocacy strategies. This study thus suggests that a multi-faceted approach is needed to deal with the challenges of the 21st century and address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our world. This study relies on literature review, interviews and personal observation. (shrink)
This paper seeks to reflect on the challenges of developing a new graduate program in philosophy at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. What does it mean to establish a program that both retain a commitment to the universal aspirations of a global discipline while being true to its Ethiopian and African roots. Various prominent philosophers who have addressed such issues on a general level are invoked in order to try and clarify this challenge such as Paulin Hountondji, Michel Foucault, Jurgen (...) Habermas, Henrique Dussel, and Jacques Derrida. In conclusion a general ethos is suggested for how such a philosophical projection into the future might be possible as an indication of the role of philosophy and philosophers in the 21st century. (shrink)
In our age of globalization, we need a theory of global management consistent with our common human nature. The place to begin in developing such a theory is the philosophy of traditional cultures. The article focuses on African philosophy and its fruitfulness for contributing to a theory of management consistent with African traditional cultures. It also looks briefly at the Confucian and Platonic-Aristotelian traditions and notes points of agreement with African traditions. It concludes that the needed theory (...) of global management should regard the firm as a community, not a collection of individuals, and should understand the purpose of management as promoting the common good. (shrink)
This paper reviews the major approaches taken to African philosophy during the 20th century: etnophilosophical, universalist, and hermeneutical. It elaborates and evaluates criticisms of ethnophilosophy by universalists (Hountoundji, Wiredu, Appiah) and hermeneuticists (Serequeberhan) and proposes an orientation for African philosophy in the new millennium that incorporates a revised version of the ethnophilosophical program. This paper also elucidates the connection between ethnophilosophy in African philosophy and similar developments in African-American and feminist philosophy.
Some years ago I reviewed a collection of papers called African Philosophy: The Essential Readings , edited by Serequeberhan. My last comment in that review was the expression of the hope for collections of papers that would give an insight into what's going on in African philosophy, rather than into the debate over the existence and nature of African philosophy. My concern is echoed by the last line of a letter printed in the present volume of readings: (...) "Hitherto most of us have been talking about African philosophy, instead of doing African philosophy." (p.xlii) So when I received this book for review, I naturally hoped that it was what I'd been waiting for. I'm afraid that it isn't. (shrink)
If contemporary African political philosophy is going to develop substantially in fresh directions, it probably will not be enough, say, to rehash the old personhood debate between Kwame Gyekye and Ifeanyi Menkiti, or to nit-pick at Gyekye’s system, as much of the literature in the field has done. Instead, major advances are likely to emerge on the basis of new, principled interpretations of sub-Saharan moral thought. In recent work, I have fleshed out two types of moral theories that have (...) a clearly sub-Saharan basis, that differ from Gyekye’s moral perspective, and that also happen to constitute genuine rivals to dominant Western theories such as utilitarianism, Kantianism and contractualism. In catchwords, these African moral theories are constituted by ideals regarding community or friendliness, on the one hand, and vitality or liveliness, on the other. In this article I sketch these two under-explored ethical perspectives and then suggest several respects in which their implications for salient political controversies are novel and revealing. Sometimes the new African moral theories—and the community-based one in particular--entail different conclusions from Gyekye's position, while other times their conclusions are the same as Gyekye’s, but they provide different rationales for them that are more compelling than his. (shrink)
African philosophy, as a negritude, is a moment in the postcolonial critique of European/Western colonialism and the bodies of knowledge that sustained it. Yet a critical analysis of its' original articulations reveals the limits of this critique and more broadly of postcolonial studies, while also pointing towards more radical theoretical possibilities within African philosophy. Jean-Paul Sartre's essay 'Black Orpheus', a philosophical appropriation of negritude poetry, serves as a guide for this reflection, for the text reveals the inspiration and (...) wealth of expressions of negritude, as well as their ambiguity. Sartre's essay however also renders possible a further act of re-appropriation that takes us beyond culture and identity-centred readings of African philosophy and postcolonialism, readings whose conceptual and critical potential is far greater than what has hitherto been explored. (shrink)
Abstract Could the ?analytic? approach take greater roots in the traditions of African Philosophy? In this contribution, I give an affirmative answer to the question. However, I also argue that the process requires a ?political will?, as it involves a clear acknowledgement of the historical impetus animating the very idea?and contemporary institutional existences?of African philosophy.
This essay critiques the ontology and epistemology of African philosophy, with particular attention to Odera Oruka’s sage philosophy project, one of the most influential schools of thought in African philosophy. Oruka posits an absolutist ontology that holds to a conception of epistemology as presuppositionless and transcendental. Against this, I argue for a critical contextual epistemology that proffers a view of epistemology as embodied, linguistically performed, social, ideological, rhetorical, and contextual. I argue, ultimately, that a critical contextual epistemology is (...) not only useful for charting new directions in African philosophy but also may illuminate productive intersections between African philosophy and Western philosophy. (shrink)
Although African philosophy has become a part of the world philosophic heritage that can no longer be neglected, no comprehensive history of it is available yet. This lacuna is due to the numerous problems that affect any attempt to outline such a history. Among these problems are those inherent in the historiography of philosophy in general and many others specific to African philosophy. They include the absence of scholarly unanimity over the exact nature of philosophy and, by extension, (...)African philosophy; the dispute over the beginning of philosophy in Ancient Egypt, as well as the Afrocentrist assertion of the origin of Greek philosophy in Egypt; the problem of periodization; the status of ethnophilosophy, etc. These difficulties do not make a comprehensive history of African philosophy an impossible or irrelevant task. On the contrary, such a history is a necessity that promises to exert an enormous positive influence on the future development of African philosophy. (shrink)
Abstract I examine Wiredu's views that (1) ethnophilosophy cannot be considered a legitimate philosophy because it has the feature of authoritarianism, and that (2) this feature of African tradition will not allow modern philosophy to flourish because it prevents individuals from rationally and critically examining beliefs. The ability to rationally acquire and examine beliefs, he insists, is critical for modernization in Africa. I argue that authoritarianism per se in Africa is not necessarily bad because its rational variant, which is (...) justifiable, does not prevent philosophical practice and the critical examination of beliefs, and that ethnophilosophy can provide a foundation for modern African philosophy and modernization. (shrink)