PDF | On Oct 1, , Tarpley Margaret and others published Encyclopedia of African Religion. Second, I want to thank Rotchy Barker, who was my first trading mentor. He took me into his Page How the Turtle W. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Encyclopedia of African religion/ editors, Molefi Kete Asante, Ama Mazama. p. cm. "A SAGE reference.
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The Encyclopedia of African and African-American Religions, the second volume in the acclaimed Religion and Society series, breaks fresh ground on the. Starred Review. With more than 68 books and articles to his credit, Asante ( Temple Univ.) is the most published African American scholar. Here, with. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Encyclopedia of African religion/ editors, Molefi Kete Asante, Ama Mazama. p. cm. “A SAGE reference.
Following this approach in this period almost makes it impossible for second readers to do original and abstract philosophizing for its own sake. Eclectic theories and methods confine one to their internal dynamics believing that for a work to be regarded as authentic African philosophy, it must follow the rules of Eclecticism.
The wider implication is that while creativity might blossom, innovation and originality are stifled. Because of pertinent problems such as these, further evolutions in African philosophy became inevitable. The Kenyan philosopher Odera Oruka had magnified the thoughts concerning individual rather than group philosophizing, thoughts that had been variously expressed earlier by Peter Bodunrin, Paulin Hountondji and Kwasi Wiredu, who further admonished African philosophers to stop talking and start doing African philosophy.
And V. Mudimbe, in his The Invention of Africa…, suggested the development of an African conversational philosophy, and the reinvention of Africa by its philosophers, to undermine the Africa that Europe invented. Influences from these thoughts by the turn of the millennium year crystallized into a new mode of thinking, which then metamorphosed into conversational philosophy. The New Era in African philosophy was thus heralded.
The focus of this New Era and the orientation became the conversational philosophy. The orientation of this period is conversational philosophy, so, conversationalism is the movement that thrives in this period. In the Calabar School of Philosophy, some prominent theories have emerged, namely ibuanyidanda complementary reflection Innocent Asouzu , harmonious monism Chris Ijiomah , Njikoka philosophy Godfrey Ozumba and Jonathan Chimakonam and conversational philosophy Jonathan Chimakonam.
All these theories speak to the method of conversational philosophy.
African Traditional Religions
Conversational philosophy is defined by the active engagement between individual African philosophers in the creation of critical narratives either by engaging the elements of tradition or straight-forwardly by producing new thoughts or by engaging other individual thinkers. It thrives on incessant questioning geared toward the production of new concepts, opening up new vistas and sustaining the conversation. Some of the African philosophers whose works follow this trajectory ironically have emerged in the Western world, notably in America.
The American philosopher Jennifer Lisa Vest is one of them. Another one is Bruce Janz. These two, to name a few, suggest that the highest purification of African philosophy is to be realized in the conversational-styled philosophizing.
However, it was the Nigerian philosopher Innocent Asouzu who went beyond the earlier botched attempt of Leopold Senghor and transcended the foundations of Pantaleon Iroegbu to erect a new model of African philosophy that is conversational.
The New Era, therefore, is the beginning of conversational philosophy.
Iroegbu in his Metaphysics: The Kpim of Philosophy inaugurated the reconstructive and conversational approach in African philosophy. He engaged previous writers in a critical conversation out of which he produced his own thought, Uwa ontology bearing the stain of African tradition and thought systems but remarkably different in approach and method of ethnophilosophy.
Franz Fanon has highlighted the importance of sourcing African philosophical paraphernalia from African indigenous culture. In it, Outlaw advocates the deconstruction of the European-invented Africa to be replaced by a reconstruction to be done by conscientious Africans free from the grip of colonial mentality Iroegbu inaugurated this drive but it was Asouzu who has made the most of it.
Every being, therefore, is a variable with capacity to join a mutual interaction. In this capacity every being alone is seen as a missing link and serving a missing link of reality in the network of realities. One immediately suspects the apparent contradiction that might arise from the fusion of two opposed variables when considered logically. But the logic of this theory is not the two-valued classical logic but the three-valued system of logic developed in Africa cf.
Chimakonam , and a. In this, the two standard values are sub-contraries rather than contradictories thereby facilitating effective complementation of variables. The possibility of the two standard values merging to form the third value in the complementary mode is what makes Ezumezu logic a powerful tool of thought. A good number of African philosophers are tuning their works into the pattern of conversational philosophy.
Like all these thinkers, the champions of the new conversational orientation are building the new edifice by reconstructing the deconstructed domain of thought in the later period of African philosophy. The central approach is conversation. By engaging other African philosophers or tradition in critical and positive discourses, they hope to reconstruct the deconstructed edifice of African philosophy. Hence, the New Era of African philosophy is safe from the retrogressive, perverse dialogues which characterized the early and middle periods.
Also, with the critical deconstruction that occurred in the later part of the middle period and the attendant eclecticism that emerged in the later period, the stage was set for the formidable reconstructions and conversational encounters that marked the arrival of the New Era of African philosophy.
Conclusion The development of African philosophy through the periods yields two vital conceptions for African philosophy, namely that African philosophy is a critical engagement of tradition and individual thinkers on one hand, and on the other hand it is also a critical construction of futurity. When individual African philosophers engage tradition critically in order to ascertain its logical coherency and universal validity, they are doing African philosophy.
And when they employ the tools of logic in doing this, they are doing African philosophy. On the second conception, when African philosophers engage in critical conversations with one another and in construction of new thoughts in matters that concern Africa but which are nonetheless universal and projected from African native thought systems, they are doing African philosophy.
So, the authentic African philosophy is not just a future project, it can also continue from the past. On the whole, this essay discussed the journey of African philosophy from the beginning and focused on the criteria, schools and movements in African philosophical tradition.
The historical account of the periods in African philosophy began with the early period through to the middle, the later and finally the new periods of African philosophy have also been covered taking particular interest in the robust, individual contributions.
If African philosophy is found to be different in approach from Western philosophy, — so what?
African Sage Philosophy
Are logical issues likely to play any major roles in the structure and future of African philosophy? What is the future direction of African philosophy? Is the problem of the language of African philosophy pregnant? Would conversations in contemporary African philosophy totally eschew perverse dialogue?
What shall be the rules of engagement in African philosophy? References and Further Reading Abanuka, Batholomew. A History of African Philosophy. Enugu: Snaap Press, An epochal discussion of African philosophy. Abraham, William. The Mind of Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, A philosophical discussion of culture, African thought and colonial times.
Achebe, Chinua. Morning yet on Creation Day. London: Heinemann, A philosophical treatment of African tradition and colonial burden. Anyanwu, K. Momoh ed. The Substance of African Philosophy. Metaphysica, Translated into English under the editorship of W.
Ross, M. D Edin. Online Edition. Asouzu I. Babalola, Yai. A Review of the Work of P. Hountondji, M. Towa, et al. Betts, Raymond. Assimilation and Association in French Colonial Territory to Bodunrin, Peter.
Lanham: UPA, A discourse on the nature and universal conception of African philosophy. Cesaire Aimer. Return to My Native Land. London: Penguin Books, A presentation of colonial impact on the mind of the colonized. Chimakonam, O. Further discussions on the theory of integrative humanism. Du Bois, W. The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Bantam Classic edition, A discourse on race and cultural imperialism. Edeh, Emmanuel. Igbo Metaphysics. Chicago: Loyola University Press, An Igbo-African discourse on the nature being.
Ekwealor, C. The Humanities and All of Us.
Emeka Oguegbu ed Onitsha: Watchword, A philosophical presentation of Igbo life-world. Etuk, Udo. Ibadan: Hope Publications, A discussion of the nature and possibility of African logic.
Franz, Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth. London: The Chaucer Press, A critical discourse on race and colonialism.
Graiule, Marcel. An interlocutory presentation of African philosophy. Gyekye, Kwame. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, A discussion of philosophy from an African cultural view point. Hallen, Barry. A Short History of African Philosophy. A presentation of the history of African philosophy from thematic and personality perspectives. Hallen, B. An analytic discourse of the universal nature of themes and terms in African philosophy. Hebga, Meinrad.
Philosophy Today, Vol. An extrapolation on the structure of African logical tradition. Hegel, Georg. Lectures on the Philosophy of World History. Horton, Robin. A comparison of African and Western thought. III No. A logical critique of the idea of African philosophy. Hountondji, Paulin. African Philosophy: Myth and Reality. Second Revised ed. A critique of ethnophilosophy and an affirmation of African philosophy as a universal discourse.
Hunnings, Gordon. A critique of classical logic and its laws in African thought and a suggestion of African logical tradition. Ijiomah, Chris. August, : pp. An extrapolation on a possible African logic tradition. Iroegbu, Pantaleon. Metaphysics: The Kpim of Philosophy.
A conversational presentation of theory of being in African philosophy. Jacques, Tomaz. Discursos Postcoloniales Entorno Africa. CIEA7, No. A critique of the rigor of African philosophy as a discipline.
James, George. A philosophical discourse on race, culture, imperialism and colonial deceit. Jahn, Janheinz. New York: Grove Press, A presentation of a new African culture as a synthesis and as philosophical relevant and rational. Jewsiewicki, Bogumil. The African Studies Review. A discourse on the value of African tradition to modern scholarship. Keita, Lansana. Wright, Richard A. Lanham, Md. An examination of African philosophical heritage.
New York: Paragon House, An analysis of methodological issues in and basis of African philosophy.
Lambert, Michael. Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. A discourse on the problems of colonial policies in Francophone West Africa. Lewis Gordon. A survey of the identity crisis of African philosophical tradition. Leo Apostel.
African Philosophy. Belgium: Scientific Publishers, An Afrocentrist presentation of African philosophy. Levy-Bruhl, Lucien.
Primitive Mentality. Paris: University of France Press, A Eurocentrist presentation of non-European world. Makinde, M. Philosophy in Africa. The Substance of African philosophy. A discourse on the practise and relevance of philosophy in Africa. Masolo, D. African Philosophy in Search of Identity. An individual-based presentation of the history of African philosophy. Maurier, Henri.
African Philosophy: An Introduction. A critique of Ethnophilosophy as authentic African philosophy. Mbiti, John. African Religions and Philosophy. London: Heinemann, In the 18th and 19th centuries, the terms Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and world religions first entered the English language.
What is called ancient religion today, they would have only called law. The attempt is a natural consequence of the Western speculative, intellectualistic, and scientific disposition. It is also the product of the dominant Western religious mode, what is called the Judeo-Christian climate or, more accurately, the theistic inheritance from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The theistic form of belief in this tradition, even when downgraded culturally, is formative of the dichotomous Western view of religion. That is, the basic structure of theism is essentially a distinction between a transcendent deity and all else, between the creator and his creation, between God and man. We just know that it is done, annually, weekly, daily, for some people almost hourly; and we have an enormous ethnographic literature to demonstrate it. He also emphasized the cultural reality of religion, which he defined as […] the entirety of the linguistic expressions, emotions and, actions and signs that refer to a supernatural being or supernatural beings.
They define religion as […] a relatively-bounded system of beliefs, symbols and practices that addresses the nature of existence, and in which communion with others and Otherness is lived as if it both takes in and spiritually transcends socially-grounded ontologies of time, space, embodiment and knowing. When more or less distinct patterns of behavior are built around this depth dimension in a culture, this structure constitutes religion in its historically recognizable form.
Religion is the organization of life around the depth dimensions of experience—varied in form, completeness, and clarity in accordance with the environing culture. He also argued that the belief in spiritual beings exists in all known societies. Such a fusion is part of bringing into focus the interplay between philosophy and practice.
Oruka believed, as he explains in Trends in Contemporary African Philosophy pp.
Senghor , and Julius K. The third negative claim Oruka aimed to challenge pertains to the philosophical status of indigenous African thought. Ethnophilosophy had falsely popularized the view that traditional Africa was a place of philosophical unanimity and that African traditions encouraged unanimity regarding beliefs and values. If this were true it would allow no room for individual thinkers like, say, Socrates or Descartes, with their own independent views on such matters.
Oruka was concerned that African intellectuals were drawn into this false assumption regarding the intellectual inclination of African people, maintaining the belief that critique is absent from indigenous African thought. This situation was worsened by the new political movements of postindependence African nations where one-party political systems sprang up. By outlawing opposition politics as being both unAfrican and antinationalist, political leaders often appealed to this view of unanimity.
The Sage Philosophy project objected to this claim regarding unanimity in Africa, which Oruka regarded as absurd, by presenting empirical evidence of the diversity of thought among indigenous thinkers.
Oruka insisted that, while rulers everywhere will always crave unanimity, thinkers thrive in dialogue and diversity of opinion. He pointed out that Sage philosophy was about thinkers, not rulers. An important charge against ethnophilosophy has been that, by simply presenting the teachings of African beliefs in the allegorical modes, the impression is created that indigenous African modes of thought are deeply grounded in their mythical representations of reality, thus leaving the philosophic ideas largely unexplained.
Secondly, he contested the idea that a qualitative mental leap from myth is required for Africans to embrace philosophical thought. Moral principles, for example, would have to be abstract in character to be applicable in general terms beyond one person Hountondji According to Wiredu ff , such independent and critical thinking was available in varying forms in Akan communities and was the basis of frequently protracted disputations among elders in search of a consensus regarding matters that required negotiations.
Thus, contrary to the view that knowledge at the communal level was anonymous, Wiredu argues that it is precisely in regard to the importance of consensus on matters of common good that disputation and careful navigation through different opinions was not just considered to be crucial, but was put on transparent display until some form of consensus was attained. In other words, consensus was not imposed, but relentlessly pursued.
Such important matters like just claims to different kinds of rights were not adjudicated without the input of those members of community who were well regarded for their independent opinions. Another point that Oruka makes against the perception of unanimity in African traditional thought can be found in the expressions of thinkers whose ideas are grounded in critical analysis and evaluation of everyday experiences in their communities.
Another example of this, besides such figures as Paulo Mdownloada Akoko and others who Oruka mentions and discusses in the book Sage Philosophy is the famous Swahili poet, critic, and philosopher Shabaan bin Robert from then Tanganyika, now Tanzania. Shabaan, famed as a pioneer in the interface between the oral and the written traditions, has established a unique legacy as an indigenous independent thinker, whose focus in his written work was to theorize about metaphysical and social ideals.
About the former, Shabaan theorizes in his work entitled Utubora Mkulima the attributes of ideal personhood by arguing strongly, in a dialogical setting, that an ideal person is one whose moral righteousness is aimed at being a perfect member of community, and therefore his concerns for common good supersede individual interests pp.
Regarding social ideals, Shabaan argues in Kusadikika that a good society is defined as one in which all members are accorded their basic rights and treated with equality regardless of gender, age, or social status pp.
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This makes Shabaan Robert an example of a liberal thinker whose ideas bridge between indigenous or pre-colonial social structures and values, and the so-called modern society whose values were significantly influenced by colonial occupations and interests, as well as new economic, political, and moral values. In these senses, Shabaan Robert thought and works complement those of other indigenous thinkers in critiquing both indigenous and new modes of existence. To Oruka, these are signs that indigeneity is not, as is widely but falsely thought, synonymous with anonymity and stagnation in thought.
What counts as Sage Philosophy? Oruka, however, had very definite ideas about who qualifies as a philosophic sage and how such persons are to be distinguished from other sages.
The tendency to express dissatisfaction with the status quo belief system of their communities is an important critical component and a criterion Oruka used to identify sages as philosophical. Dissatisfaction sometimes motivates the philosophic sage to advance the knowledge that everyone has by subjecting it to scrutiny in order to determine its validity and worth.
Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature
While philosophic sages may still share with others some customary practices and beliefs, or aspects of them, unlike other members of their community, they emphasize rational explanations and justifications of courses of action.
They owe greater loyalty to reason than to custom for its own sake. As a result, not only are sages often a source of new knowledge, but they are also a catalyst to change within their communities. In the example cited above, Mdownloada defines communalism in terms of a morality that appeals to the welfare of others as a guide to action.
He indicates its goals, and limitations as a principle that aims at minimizing socio-economic disparity between the haves and the have-nots. While he recognizes that there are other indigenous sages in African communities, he distinguishes these from philosophic sages such as Mdownloada and Chaungo, who are committed to critical inquiry and to the rational grounding of values and beliefs.
Other indigenous sages, who may be wise in some sense, but not critically oriented, act as repositories of the statements of the beliefs of their communities, which they have learned and can repeat, or teach, to others exactly as they are supposed to be remembered. His own voice is submerged into a communal mode of expression. A folk sage is a highly intelligent and good narrator of traditionally imposed beliefs and myths.
He, or she, may explain such beliefs and values with great detail and may even expound on the relation between the mythical representations and the lessons in and for society that they are intended to illustrate. The onisegun, deliberately kept anonymous by Hallen and Sodipo for reasons of privacy, and who expound and elucidate the traditional thought of the Yoruba, are certainly wise and very knowledgeable people.
Quine attacked the concept of universal propositions and meanings that are frequently assumed by translators to exist across all languages. This draws in question the practice of anthropologists studying African belief systems.As much as the philosophers of a given era may disagree, they are inevitably united by the problem of their epoch.
Though such disorder at first comprises "negative" forces, ultimately it becomes the source of a workable social universe. The Fon of Benin, in western Africa, and their neighbors, the Yoruba of Nigeria, share many elements of a highly intricate cosmology.
As in any democratic system, individuals may participate in ways that benefit their interests, their community roles, or their status as religious leaders. Furthermore, scholars today assert that the supposedly accurate records of missionaries, colonial administrators, and the indigenous elite were susceptible to distortion. A philosophical presentation of Igbo life-world. Oral myths elude permanent display on paper, stone, or other media; African traditional religions remain changeable according to the needs of their followers.