African Philosophy: New and Traditional Perspectives

African Philosophy: New and Traditional Perspectives

African Philosophy: New and Traditional Perspectives

African Philosophy: New and Traditional Perspectives

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

During the past two decades, the idea of there being an African philosophy has undergone significant scrutiny. Criticisms have largely come from three fronts. First, it has been alleged that philosophy is written and that since traditional African cultures were rooted in oral traditions they could not produce philosophy. Second, it has been alleged that philosophy is rooted in critical inquiry, and that since what is usually characterized as traditional African philosophical thought is associated with folk wisdom or sagacious edicts, it is not philosophy. This objection has two components. It alleges that philosophy is rooted in epistemology—in concerns about what it is to know that something is true—and that traditional African cultures have shown no evidence of a systematic analysis of what could constitute knowledge. Similarly, it alleges that philosophy is also rooted in metaphysics—in concerns about what it is for something to be true or to be real or to exist, and that traditional African cultures have shown no evidence of a systematic analysis of metaphysical concerns. Third, it has been alleged that philosophical concerns are universal and as such they are not specific to a culture, population, or location.

When carefully scrutinized, none of these criticisms proves fatal to the notion that there were philosophical perspectives within traditional African cultures—at root the controversy is really about just that—or that there exists a philosophical phenomenon that can be appropriately characterized as African. As in the case of other philosophical traditions tied to locations and populations, African philosophy is the philosophy . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.