An Essay on African Philosophical Thought: The Akan Conceptual Scheme

An Essay on African Philosophical Thought: The Akan Conceptual Scheme

An Essay on African Philosophical Thought: The Akan Conceptual Scheme

An Essay on African Philosophical Thought: The Akan Conceptual Scheme

Synopsis

Defining the main principles of a distinct African philosophy, this work rejects the idea that an African philosophy consists simply of the work of Africans writing on philosophy. It argues that critical analyses of specific traditional African modes of thought are necessary to develop a distinctively African philosophy.

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is fourfold: to stress the fact of the universal character of the intellectual activity called philosophy -- of the propensity of some individuals in all human cultures to reflect deeply and critically about fundamental questions of human experience; to point out that philosophy is essentially a cultural phenomenon; to argue the legitimacy or appropriateness of the idea of African philosophy and attempt a definition of (modern) African philosophy; and to demonstrate that there were sages or thinkers in Africa's cultural past who gave reflective attention to matters of human existence at the fundamental level, and, as part of the demonstration, to critically explore the philosophical ideas of the Akan traditional thinkers (of Ghana).

Since this book was first published in hardcover in 1987, there have been several reviews. In this preface to the revised edition, I do not intend to respond directly to those reviews and will therefore not refer to them, even though a number of them were favorable and full of praises for the effort. Neither do I intend to respond to criticisms of some of the positions or approaches taken in the book -- criticisms some of which reveal an incurable addiction to, or inebriation with, the way the philosophical enterprise emerged and has been prosecuted in the West. Nor will I respond to the contrary views expressed by others in relation to my own, except where those views derive from clear misunderstanding or misstatement of my position. I would like, rather, to use this opportunity to clarify or amplify a couple of positions previously taken by me regarding what would count as (modern) African philosophy, to say something about what is called "ethnophilosophy," and to express some views on the 'invention of Africa' idea.

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