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Filosofia Theoretica

Volume 11, Issue 1, January/April 2022

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Displaying: 1-15 of 15 documents


1. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Luis Cordeiro-Rodrigues, Orcid-ID Jonathan O Chimakonam Orcid-ID

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In this essay, we explore what the African Philosophy of Religion would look like from both a mono-disciplinary and comparative perspectives. To do this, a few concepts such as Gods, ancestorhood, relationality, and the problem of evil that appear in the essays in this special issue will be highlighted. Our aim here is not to provide a lengthy and rigorous analysis of the field of African Philosophy of Religion or even some of its main concepts, but to offer a platform for continuing discussion and development of the field.
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african philosophy of religion
2. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Aribiah Attoe Orcid-ID

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Merciful, holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, spirit, unchanging, the first cause, unknowable. These are just some of the properties that some scholars of African religions have attributed to the being they call God. Setting aside accusations that some of these properties reflect the colonially imposed religions, it is almost taken as a given that these properties really do belong to some of the various versions of the African God. This, then, raises the question: how is it ever the case that the present world, filled with various forms of evil and terror, emanates from a God possessing these same properties? Thus, the African God joins the formidable list of deities for which the problem of evil is relevant. In this essay, I argue that the power of the problem of evil lies in the belief, in many major African traditional religions, that God is a personalized entity. This, in turn, ensures a blind misattribution of the properties (mentioned above) to God. To buttress this point, I begin by presenting a materialistic and de-personalised notion of God that sheds away those properties that are imperceptible and/or are not logically necessary. Next, drawing from this new vision of God, and from religious traditions such as the Luba and Bantu traditions, I provide an account of some properties that can be ascribed to God (such as: genderless, eternal, first cause, material and unconscious), and show how this notion of God enables a predeterministic world. Finally, I show that what we refer to as evil is compatible with the idea of a material, depersonalized and unconscious God, and with the context of a predeterministic world that is indifferent to human experience.
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3. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Amara Esther Chimakonam Orcid-ID

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For decades, the problem of evil has occupied a centre stage in the Western philosophical discourse of the existence of God. The problem centres on the unlikelihood to reconcile the existence of an absolute and morally perfect God with the evidence of evil in the universe. This is the evidential problem of evil that has been a source of dispute among theists, atheists, agnostics, and sceptics. There seems to be no end to this dispute, making the problem of evil a perennial one in Western Philosophy of Religion. In this essay, I will contribute to this discourse from an African perspective. This essay, therefore, explores the evidential problem of evil within the African philosophy of religion. I argue that it is unlikely for the evidential problem of evil to be a problem in African philosophy of religion. I invoke an Ejima-based argument to support this claim. I conceptualize the Igbo word Ejima to metaphysically mean the inevitable coexistence of two opposite variables as complements to argue that God could be both good and evil within the African Traditional Religion, which explains why good and evil exist in the universe.
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4. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Ada Agada Orcid-ID

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This paper explores the contradiction of positing the existence of a God who is at once omnipotent and not omnipotent in respect of his power that arises in the thought of two African philosophers of religion, John A.I. Bewaji and Ademola Kazeem Fayemi who accept the limitation thesis that projects a limited God and deny the legitimacy of the transcendence view in Yoruba and, by extension, African thought. I demonstrate in this paper that the contradiction arises from the fact that while Bewaji and Fayemi explicitly deny the legitimacy of the transcendence view in Yoruba and, by extension, African thought, they implicitly accept the view and unwittingly and illegitimately attempt to reconcile the conflicting views through the analysis of the notions of God’s creatorship, co-creatorship, and controllership. I conclude by recommending that instead of attempting to reconcile the antinomy of God’s existence in African philosophy of religion, African philosophers should acknowledge the legitimacy of the two conflicting theses constituting the antinomy and, accordingly, sustain logical consistency by strictly thinking within either the framework of limitedness or the framework of transcendence.
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5. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Emmanuel Ofuasia Orcid-ID

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In this essay, I will argue that the discourse over the existence of the Devil/Satan has no place among the religious cultures in sub-Saharan Africa. This may be contrasted with the numerous efforts in the dominant philosophy of religion tradition in the Anglo-American sphere, where efforts toward the establishing grounds for the existence of God have occupied and commanded so much attention. On the other hand, it seems to have been taken for granted that Devil, the One who is antagonistic of God, among the Abrahamic monotheisms, is assumed to exist and does not require serious intellectual elaboration. For my aim, I explore the traditional Yorùbá and Igbo religious cultures to foreground that God. In the traditional belief system of these two religious cultures, there is no place to entertain the idea of a necessarily antagonistic entity, popularly called the Devil.Whereas I recognise previous scholarships that have served to show that Èṣù and Ekwensu in each of these religious cultures are not synonymous with Devil in the Abrahamic monotheisms, I move beyond these to establishing the ontological framework which endorses the absence of a Devil, even when evil lingers in the world. If the argument that there is no Devil/Satan in these religious cultures is proved valid, then it is pertinent to tender the origin and persistence of evil in the world. For this task, I explore the process-relational character of Yorùbá and Igbo theology to reinforce my conviction concerning the peoples’ belief in the existence of God in Chukwu and Olódùmarè, the presence of evil in the world, without encountering the philosophical problem of evil.
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6. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Zubairu Lawal Bambale Orcid-ID

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In Hausa worldview, Peaceful living (Zaman Lafiya) is conceived as the chief goal of life. Zaman Lafiya is that which determines goodness or badness of actions and practices. Everything, including morality, life, death and the afterlife is construed as being good or bad with reference to Zaman Lafiya. So, for instance, no matter the gravity of one’s wrongful conducts, it is not justified to punish him, except when punishing him does contribute to the consolidation/realization/attainment of Zaman Lafiya. This paper investigates the Hausa culture and belief system, especially the aspect of punishment alongside the actions that are thought of as being grave to warrant evil punishment such as the death penalty. With the aid of some Hausa proverbs and the African notion of relationality, it would demonstrate how a conversation of metaphysical nature is sparked among such realities/constructs as morality, life, evil, death and the afterlife. It will also show how living an ethical life entails acting in a manner that consolidates communal or relational existence as framework for Zaman Lafiya.
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7. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Jonathan O. Chimakonam Orcid-ID

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This essay argues that the inherent value of Indigenous African Religions (IARs), which ensures that the belief in different gods does not eclipse the fact of common humanity might be of importance to contemporary Africa plagued by ceaseless conflicts. The IAR ideology contrasts, for example, with that of Christianity which views the Christian God as the one true God and regards those who worship a different God(s) as pagans and gentiles. It also contrasts with the ideology of Islam, which views Allah as the one true God and regards those who worship different God(s) as infidels. The essay claims that social orientation in contemporary Africa is mostly influenced by the divisive ideologies of these two foreign religions that have come to dominate. These divisive ideologies are to a large extent, indirectly responsible for some of the violent conflicts on the continent. This divisive religious orientation bifurcates humanity into in and out-groups that are extended to the social sphere where people from different religious, ethnic and linguistic groups are treated as outsiders and are made targets for attacks like in South Africa and Nigeria today. Further, if we interpret such violent conflicts as evil and consider its source in light of the perennial problem of evil, what would be our response? Using the conversational method, the essay argues that both good and evil are part of the universe, and that if we want more good, then a change from a divisive to a complementary orientation based on the relational values of the IARs is imperative.
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8. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
L. Uchenna Ogbonnaya Orcid-ID

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What is the constituent nature of God? Most scholars project the idea that God is an absolute, pure spirit devoid of matter. In this paper, I engage this position from the African philosophical place. First, I contend that the postulation that God is pure spirit stems from an ontological system known as dualism. This system bifurcates reality into spirit and matter and sees spirit as good, and matter as evil. Therefore, scholars who subscribe to this theory of dualism, posit that God, the Supreme Being is the ultimate good that is, and is pure spirit. Secondly, I disagree with this position. Using the African theory of duality, I argue that everything that is has both spirit and matter, and that spirit and matter are good. Thus, God as an existent reality consists of spirit and matter. I will support my argument using Asouzu’s Ibuanyidanda ontology and Ijiomah’s Harmonious Monism, two African culture-inspired philosophical systems. In this paper, I employ conversationalism as my philosophical method.
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comparative philosophy of religion
9. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Wei Hua Orcid-ID

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In this paper, I compare the philosophy of Augustine with the philosophy of relevant African traditions: Donatists, Manichees, and African traditional religions. I try to demonstrate that Augustine’s religious thought was partly influenced by local African religions or movements, but also differed from them substantially. I will carry out this comparative work looking at two important issues: (a) the problem of evil and (b) the existence of other supernatural entities, such as ancestors, and their relationship with humans. These comparisons lead to a new understanding of evil in Augustine’s thought; namely, evil as an inevitable world phenomenon.
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10. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Rouyan Gu Orcid-ID

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This article discusses the concept of God with a focus on the translation of God in the Chinese and Yoruba religious contexts. Translating the word God is of the essence when comparing concepts of god(s). The translation of the Christian God as Olodumare misrepresents the latter. As suggested by Africanists, there should be appropriate translations for God, Olodumare, and other African gods. As a preliminary comparative attempt, this article presents a case on the introduction of God to the Chinese people. The translation of God into Chinese reflects different views regarding the correlation between the Christian God and the Chinese gods.
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11. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Pao-Shen Ho Orcid-ID

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The Igala religion believes in the supreme God (Ọjọ) as well as the ancestral spirits (Ibegwu). This belief system gives rise to the question of whether the Igala religion is monotheistic or polytheistic. Isaiah Negedu has recently argued that the Igala is a peculiar form of monotheism, namely inclusive monotheism. In contrast, this essay compares the Igala understanding of ancestral spirits with the Christian notions of angels and patron saints, and argues that the question of whether the Igala religion is monotheistic or not concerns how we define monotheism and is therefore merely verbal and will not promote our understanding of the Igala religion.
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12. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Naomi Thurston Orcid-ID

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Ancestors play crucial roles in the cultural consciousness of diverse traditions, many maintaining ritualistic practices related to commemorating the dead. Ancestor commemoration reinforces cohesion within traditional as well as modern societies, directing a group’s focus to past accomplishments of its cultural heritage whilst providing a unifying narrative of the values that bring and hold a community together. The West African Akan tradition values those who honor their ancestors and, by leading a moral life, seek to become ancestors themselves: persons whose lives enjoy standing in the community beyond their own death. This short paper explores ideas about the role of ancestors as (symbolic) constituents of enduring moral communities by comparing traditional Akan belief to traditional East Asian conceptions of ancestors. The aim is to consider the metaphysical, social, and moral dimensions related to ancestors, highlighting continuity and communal concerns.
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13. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Bony Schachter Orcid-ID

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This paper asks a simple and yet extremely relevant question for scholars of religion: what is sacrifice? Rejecting monothetic definitions of sacrifice, I argue that the phenomenon must be understood as a polythetic class. In its two first sections, the paper discusses the evidence from African religions and Chinese religions, respectively. The last section is devoted to a comparative exercise through which I highlight the polythetic nature of sacrifice.
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14. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Jiechen Hu Orcid-ID

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This paper reflects on two sets of terms in the field of religious studies, mainly through a comparative study with the divinities and ancestorship between African and Confucian cosmologies: the first one is the classification of monotheism, polytheism and animism; and the second is so-called ‘ancestor worship’. I argue that the classification system of monotheism, polytheism, and animism is partially invalidated in both African religions and Chinese Confucianism. This is because in both traditions, even if there is a supreme or original being, it is on a continuum or spectrum with other divinities and even human beings, rather than an absolute Other. Similarly, the use of the simple word ‘worship’ to summarise ancestorship in African religions and Chinese Confucianism is actually a simplification of the relationship between the living and ancestors across both traditions.
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15. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Jun Wang, Orcid-ID Luís Cordeiro-Rodrigues Orcid-ID

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In this article, we will make the case for an intercultural philosophy of religion with a special focus on interculturality between Chinese and African philosophies. We will provide an overview of the kind of intercultural philosophy that has already been undertaken between the East and the South and point out that a philosophy of religion has been left out. We will then make the case for a global philosophy of religion approach and why Chinese and African philosophies of religion should engage in philosophical interchanges. We will then highlight some directions for carrying out such a philosophy and explain why the problem of evil may be better addressed from an intercultural perspective.
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