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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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6 African Conceptions of the Human Person 87


 6  afrICan ConCePtIons of the human Person This chapter concerns the problem of the nature of the human person in African thought. In particular, it explores various African accounts of what it means to be a person, what various African groups say makes us persons rather than things. More importantly, it considers whether there are reasons, according to African folk, for the differences between humans and things. The views examined in this chapter come mainly from the Akan, the Bantu, the Igbo, the Yoruba and other lesser known African groups. What to look for: 1. Various African accounts of the notion of the human person 2. The relation of the individual to the community in African thought 3. An Assessment of the Above Accounts 4. Gyekye’s challenge to communalism and individualism in Akan thought 6.1 Introduction So far, our discussion has concentrated on Tempels and the challenges posed by his account of Bantu beliefs to African philosophy. The reason is tactical; first, Tempels’s book is a helpful starting point especially for those unfamiliar with interior_WrehWilson 87 1/30/12 9:43 PM 88 Beginning African Philosophy: The Case for African Philosophy Past to Present African philosophy. Second, the book provides insight into the types of issues and questions that have dogged African philosophy and African philosophers over the years. Because it is not feasible to list every name and every book ever published on this topic, we do ourselves a favor when we can rely on an example, in this case...

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