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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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8 The African Ethos 117

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 8  the afrICan ethos The central question in this chapter concerns the existence of an ideal theory of morals for Africans. Beginning with his native Akan, Kwasi Wiredu, the Oxford trained and one of Africa’s best known academic philosophers, provides strong support for such a theory. In asserting that there are non-scientific elements to African traditional thought Prof. Wiredu shows how one might deduce a theory of morals that is founded not on religious values but on humanistic values. In this chapter, I provide a survey of particular African values to test the likelihood of such a theory. The aim is to encourage a discussion on whether African moral standards could be based on or derived from religious or humanistic concerns. What to look for: 1. Defining the moral life 2. Moral beliefs and religious beliefs: a comparison 3. The role values play in African cultures 4. The scope and limits of an African theory of morals interior_WrehWilson 117 1/30/12 9:43 PM 118 Beginning African Philosophy: The Case for African Philosophy Past to Present 8.1 Introduction The central concern of chapter seven was to find answers to the question: How do Africans define the good life and the moral life? For answers to this question I relied on what certain African philosophers say about what their people believe about right and wrong. One of those philosophers is Kwasi Wiredu, the Oxford educated Ghanaian, whose account of the Akan worldview positions the human person at the center of what...

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