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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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1 African Philosophy 7

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 1  afrICan PhIlosoPhy This chapter is a brief survey of the history of African philosophy from Placide Tempels to the present. Its aim is to take a close look at the question: Do we have an African Philosophy? In so doing, it provides various accounts of the meaning of philosophy, African philosophy, and in particular, ethno-philosophy, the term by which African philosophy is popularly known. In addition, it introduces stu- dents and readers to the pioneering role Tempels played in the formation of African philosophy. Students and readers will have a chance to weigh in on the similarities and differences between African philosophy and early Greek philoso- phy, particularly those of the pre-Socratic era. Ultimately, this chapter is a consid- eration of the sense(s) in which African philosophy can be spoken of as ‘philosophy’ in the traditional sense of the word. What to look for: 1. A survey of African philosophy 2. Various definitions of ethno-philosophy 3. The relation between African philosophy, African folk cosmologies and early Greek philosophy 4. Tempels’ role in the history of African Philosophy interior_WrehWilson 7 1/30/12 9:43 PM 8 Beginning African Philosophy: The Case for African Philosophy Past to Present 1.1 Introduction Placide Tempels gave us what is arguably the first and most contentious descrip- tion of African traditional thought in a book he titled, Bantu Philosophy. In it, Tempels presents the Bantu worldview as one based on the idea of a locally ordered hierarchical community that is a manifestation of a...

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