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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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4 Anatomy of African Folk Thought 61


 4  anatomy of afrICan folk thought Part of Tempels’ genius was that he learned to take nothing for granted. This led him to view African myth traditions not as pure myth, but as the raw material to aid in the construction of the underpinnings of the beliefs and customs of the people. Tempels could have ignored folk traditions; instead, he chose a different route, namely, to explore their relevance to life in Africa. In the process, he learned of Africa’s ethical ideas, political ideas, and religious ideas which undergird their vision of human life, the moral life, and the existence of God. This chapter con- siders whether we can go from a people’s myth inspired beliefs to their more rea- soned ideas about being, human life, and God’s existence. Students/readers can use the discussion questions at the end of the chapter to relate these ideas to the general study of metaphysics, the nature of the human person, and the nature of God as conceived by Africans. What to look for: 1. The link between folk narratives and philosophy 2. Whether mythology is a bridge to philosophy 3. The significance of ritual in Bantu/African life 4. Mbiti’s Analysis of the Concept of Time interior_WrehWilson 61 1/30/12 9:43 PM 62 Beginning African Philosophy: The Case for African Philosophy Past to Present 4.1 Introduction It is of course an understatement to say that Tempels’ most important discovery was that Africans were not the childlike humans he expected to find when he...

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