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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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9 African Talk of God 131


 9  afrICan talk of god Despite the conventional wisdom that Africans are animists and polytheists, African theistic ideas, on balance, seem to point to belief in the existence of one rather than multiple Gods. This chapter tests the strength of this claim (1) by walking students and readers through a discussion of certain important theologi- cal concerns that are normally associated with monotheism and polytheism to see how they apply to both Africa and the world’s best known monotheistic religions; and (2) by taking up the concerns people have about names and aliases Africans are known to employ when referring to God, the supreme being. The goal here is to see whether multiple names and aliases do to the major monotheistic religions what some say they do to African theistic ideas. What to look for: 1. Defining monotheism and polytheism 2. The case for polytheism in Africa 3. Is God maker, creator, or both? 4. The case for monotheism in Africa interior_WrehWilson 131 1/30/12 9:43 PM 132 Beginning African Philosophy: The Case for African Philosophy Past to Present 9.1 Introduction Much of what we know about God in Africa comes largely from what Africans say and do about their belief in God. We know accordingly that in addition to what they say and do about the existence of an entire universe of spirit-beings, Africans also hold beliefs that show they have a conception of a supreme spiritual being whom they worship directly or indirectly. They employ a variety...

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