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Beginning African Philosophy

The Case for African Philosophy- Past to Present

Elliott Wreh-Wilson

Beginning African Philosophy explores the nature and central features of African philosophy from the perspective of African philosophers, analyzing and assessing the importance of African philosophy, its subject matter, its major themes and concerns, and how those themes and concerns compare to those of Western philosophy. Beginning African Philosophy surveys the best-known responses to the questions: What is African philosophy? What are its central themes and concerns? What does it have in common with Western philosophy?
This book is ideal for philosophy students and those who care about the social, moral, religious, and philosophical implications of African wisdom traditions, particularly those of the sub-Saharan region.

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Preface xi Acknowledgments xiii General Introduction 1 1 African Philosophy 7 1.1 Introduction 8 1.2 African Philosophy: An Historical Sketch 10 1.3 Defining African Philosophy: Various Philosophers 14 1.4 A Critique of Ethno-Philosophy 23 1.5 One Final Thought 24 2 The Case against African Philosophy 27 2.1 Questions of Method and Content 28 2.2 Is African Philosophy Critical Enough? 31 2.3 An Initial Response 32 2.4 Second Response 32 2.5 Third Response 33 2.6 On Tempels’ Bantu Philosophy 34 2.7 On the Critical Nature of Philosophy 36 2.8 Inventing African Philosophy 39 2.9 The Idea of a Folk Philosophy 41 2.10 Concluding Remarks 42 3 Tempels’ Project of Analyzing Bantu Wisdom 45 3.1 Introduction 46 3.2 Force and the Hierarchy of Being 46 3.3 Some Conceptual Problems 49 interior_WrehWilson 7 1/30/12 9:43 PM viii Beginning African Philosophy: The Case for African Philosophy Past to Present 3.4 Further Analysis 53 3.5 One More Word 58 4 Anatomy of African Folk Thought 61 4.1 Introduction 62 4.2 Reconfiguring African Folk Thought 62 4.3 The Myth Dimension of Folk Narratives 64 4.4 The Metaphysical Dimension of Folk Narratives 67 4.5 The Social/Moral Dimension of Folk Narratives 68 4.6 Last Word 71 5 Demythologizing African Folk Thought 73 5.1 Introduction 73 5.2 Understanding Folk Mythology 74 5.3 Mythical Consideration 75 5.4 Ritual Consideration 77 5.5 Social/Moral Consideration 78 5.6 Mythology: A Flawed Memoire? 80 5.7 Beyond Mythology 81 5.8 From Mythology to Metaphysics 83 5.9 Summing Up 85 6 African Conceptions of...

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