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research article
41. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Motsamai Molefe African Metaphysics and Religious Ethics
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Scholars of African moral thought reject the possibility of an African religious ethics by invoking at least three major reasons. The first objection to ‘ethicalsupernaturalism’1 argues that it is part of those aspects of African culture that are ‘anachronistic’ insofar as they are superstitious rather than rational; as such, they should be jettisoned. The second objection points out that ethical supernaturalism is incompatible with the utilitarian approach to religion that typically characterises some African peoples’ orientation to it.2 The last objection argues that religious ethics by their very nature require the feature (of revelation), which is generally lacking in African religious experiences. The facet of revelation is crucial for a religious ethics since it solves the epistemological problem of knowing the will of God or the content of morality. In this article, I construct a vitality-based African religious moral theory; and, I argue that it can successfully meet these objections.
42. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Aribiah D. Attoe The Philosophy of Affirmative Action as a Constraint to Gender Equality: An Introduction to Ukém Philosophy
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In this paper, I attempt to show in clear terms what I believe to be the inconsistencies inherent in adopting affirmative action as a proper philosophy for remedying the gender imbalance in contemporary African societies. I have also gestured towards the fact that apart from the issues involved in adoptingaffirmative action as a principle, the concept quite ironically further widens the gap it is meant to seal. In the spirit of the conversational tradition of African philosophy, I excavate and interrogate a theory of equality that speaks to an indigenous Efik concept of equality. Thus, as a conversational response to theinadequacies of Affirmative Action, I have in this paper adopted ukém philosphy along with its principles of ówó and ikíkè, as an alternative model or tool for combating the ills of gender inequality.
43. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Isaiah A. Negedu, Solomon O. Ojomah The Question of African Communalism and the Antithesis of Democracy
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In this paper, we argue that communalism is not uniquely African. It comes in different forms of social and psychological thinking which can be found in anyculture and society whether capitalistic or socialistic where the notion of social belongingness through reasoned reflection transcends the desire for personalgratification. We claim that some values of communalism such as altruism, mutual cooperation, complementarity etc., can be useful in shaping a viable system ofdemocracy for Africa, not because communalism is unique to Africa, but because it is not. We contend that part of the challenges of democratic practice in Africa is the inclination to extreme form of individualism embedded in its capitalist roots. We show that the structure of democracy can evolve to adapt to changes mediated by communal values. Using the methods of hermeneutics and conversational thinking, we will argue that democratic practice in Africa can profit fromcommunalism and should be restructured to admit relevant communal values.
conversational section
44. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
M. John Lamola The de-Africanisation of the African National Congress and the Malaise of Afrophobia in South Africa
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This essay highlights the root causes of the pervasive discomfort with Africanness common among a significant portion of the South African population. It claimsthat this collective national psyche manifests as a dysfunctional self-identity, and is therefore akin to a psychosocial malaise we propose to name “the LimpopoRiver Fever”. The root cause of this pathological psycho-political culture, we venture to demonstrate, is the historical process of a systematic self-orientationaway from Africa, perceived as “Africa north of the Limpopo River”. This psychosis as presently manifesting as what is distinctly an Afrophobia, and notmere xenophobia, I argue, has principally been nurtured since the 1950s by the ascendency of an anti-Africanist ideology within the national liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC), which has subsequently been the governing party since the defeat of the apartheid regime in 1994. It is concluded that even historic efforts at redirecting the South African body-politic toward a pan-African consciousness which evolved around Thabo Mbeki during his presidency could not achieve the aspired re-Africanisation of South African society.
45. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
L. Uchenna Ogbonnaya What makes African Philosophy African? A Conversation with Aribiah David Attoe on ‘The Foundational Myth of Ethnophilosophy’
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One of the most debated issues in African philosophy concerns the question of ethnophilosophy. While most Particularists equate it to African philosophy, theUniversalists reject it as philosophy let alone being African philosophy. The rationale behind the second position is that ethnophilosophy is said to be descriptive and lacks argumentation, criticality, rigor and systematicity, which are the hallmarks of philosophy. What these two views revolve around is the question of the place of ethnophilosophy in African philosophy. Here, I focus on two scholars who have sought to address this question. The first is Ada Agada, who opines that ethnophilosophy plays a foundational role to African philosophy. The other is Aribiah Attoe, who sees this view as a myth that must be done away with. In this paper, I show two things: first, I show that these two conflicting views arose due to both scholars’ failure to clarify their ideas of what makes a philosophy African. Second, I converse with Attoe on his critique of the foundational role of ethnophilosophy as a myth. Here, I contend that Attoe’s view is a misreading of Agada’s views and that Attoe’s position that critical rigor instead of ethnophilosophy should be the foundation of African philosophy is unfounded. My argument is that criticality is just one among other tools of philosophy; and a tool of philosophy cannot be its foundation.
book review
46. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Chukwuemeka I. Awugosi A Systematic Review of ‘African Philosophy and the EpistemicMarginalization of Women’
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tribute
47. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Ademola K. Fayemi Remembering the African Philosopher, Abosede Sophie Oluwole: A Biographical Essay
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In this biographical essay, I survey the life and time of Sophie Abosede Olayemi Oluwole as a student, scholar and researcher in African philosophy. I show how she emerged as one of the first women to obtain a PhD and subsequently attained the rank of professor of African philosophy in Africa. I show that it was J.B. Danquah who first introduced her to African philosophy which was later to become the main focus of her research. I argue that in the course of a research inAfrican philosophy spanning almost four decades, Oluwole gave the most incisive philosophical interpretation of the Yoruba Ifa Corpus which climaxed in her comparison of Greek Socrates and Yoruba Ò ̣rúnmìlà. Employing the method of conversational thinking, I will discuss Oluwole’s works in African philosophy and conclude by contending that due to her work on Ifa corpus, Oluwole can be credited with the discovery of what is now known and studied as ancient Yorubaphilosophy.
editorial
48. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Michael Onyebuchi Eze Menkiti, Gyekye and Beyond: Toward a Decolonization of African Political Philosophy
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49. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Molefi Kete Asante The African Struggle to Abandon Westernity: African Philosophy at Eshuean Crossroads
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This essay deals with the ideas of Ifeanyi Menkiti and Kwame Gyekye on the individual-community relationship. I begin with a provocative statement: most African intellectuals struggle with abandoning Westernity and consequently remain at the Eshuean crossroads seeking to please both sides of the abyss. It is my argument that both Menkiti and Gyekye understood that teasing out our philosophical problems might lead us to an intellectual clarity about the concepts of community and individual in African cultures. I am making no attempt to solve this problem of Eshuean crossroads in this essay; I simply want to establishthe grounds upon which the combatants of philosophical ideas like Menkiti and Gyekye are fighting.
50. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Peter Amato The Menkiti-Gyekye Conversation: Framing Persons
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Ifeanyi Menkiti’s “Person and Community in African Traditional Thought” is criticized from the standpoint that the author assumes a dichotomous framework taken over in his decision to articulate the African view of the person in the idiom of modern philosophy. Kwame Gyekye’s critique of Menkiti in “Person and Community in African Thought” is also scrutinized to see if it manages to break free from this framework. I conclude by calling for a departure from quasi-scientificapproaches to human nature and experience that attempt to apprehend culture from a position without culture.
51. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Edwin Etieyibo Moral Force and the “It-It” in Menkiti’s Normative Conception of Personhood
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What is the status and nature of the “it” and the ontological progression from an “it” to an “it” in Ifeanyi Menkiti’s normative conception of a person? In this article, I attempt to preliminarily give some nuance content to the “it” of childhood and the “it” of the nameless dead. My motivation is straightforwardly simple: to defend Menkiti’s claim that both “its” have some depersonalised moral standing or existence. However, in doing so, I argue that a better account of the ontological progression of personhood is from an “it” to an “it-it”5 rather than from an “it” to an “it.” On this modified version of the double hyphenated “its”, which isunderpinned by the idea of moral force, the prior moral worth of the nameless dead is taken into account as valuable members of our collective immortality, notwithstanding the fact that their names have been forgotten.
52. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Kai Horsthempke African Communalism, Persons, and the case of Non- Human Animals
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“I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am”, generally regarded as the guiding principle of African humanism, expresses the view that a person is a person through other persons and is closely associated but not identical with African communitarianism, or communalism. Against Ifeanyi Menkiti’s “unrestricted or radical or excessive communitarianism” Kwame Gyekye has proposed a “restricted or moderate communitarianism”. Whereas personhood, for Menkiti, is acquired over time, with increasing moral maturation, seniority and agency, Gyekye considers it to arise automatically with being born human. The problem with Menkiti’s account of personhood is that it is at once too wide and too narrow. On the other hand, it remains unclear to what extent Gyekye’s is a communitarian view – and to what extent it is distinctly ‘African’. I conclude with a critical reflection on the implications of African communalism and personhood for non-human animals.
53. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Polycarp Ikuenobe Radical versus Moderate Communitarianism: Gyekye’s and Matolino’s Misinterpretations of Menkiti
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This essay provides an exposition and a plausible interpretation of Ifeanyi Menkiti’s conception of personhood vis-a-vis this community. I do this, partly, to rebut some specific criticisms by Kwame Gyekye and Bernard Matolino. They construe Menkiti’s account, primarily, as a metaphysical thesis about the community that provides the essential ontological basis for the nature of personhood. They argue that this view of communitarianism is radical or extreme because the community diminishes individuality and prioritizes community’s interests over individuals’ interests, freedom, and rights. I argue that Gyekye’s and Matolino’s interpretations of Menkiti’s view are mistaken, and that Menkiti’s account of the connection between the community and personhood is a social-moral thesis. This thesis argues that the community provides the norms and material conditions for individuals to live a meaningful life and achieve personhood, and achievingpersonhood involves being integrated into, and contributing positively to the harmony of, the community.
54. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Bernard Matolino The Politics of Limited Communitarianism
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The debate on the communitarian notion of personhood as initiated by Gyekye, in response to Menkiti, is both exhaustive and exhausted. Its exhaustiveness and exhaustion lies in the fact that, in all probability whatever can be said around it has been said, with truly nothing new likely ever being added. What is possibly left, is the potential for further additions to be more strident in their picking of sides or repeating that Gyekye and Menkiti are not sufficiently different or insisting on the authenticity of either approach to African thought. What is needed is to transcend the constraints of this debate by opening up new vistas of interpreting communitarian thought in personhood. Whatever merit there is in showing whether radical or moderate communitarianism is real, or in showing which of these two is better than the other, this discussion can be furthered by looking at implications of communitarianism to other facets of philosophy. The most plausibleavenue that could be implicated in communitarian considerations is the sphere of politics. Theorising about the communitarian notion of persons, I suggest, is partly to theorise about the political. If the commitments on which the doctrine of communitarianism is founded, are used to capture the sort of relations that exist between individuals, and between individuals and the community, then this relationship has an effect on how we conceive of the political theory we thinkappropriate. It is suggested here that contemplating on the communitarian polity will show the shortcomings of communitarianism as conceived by Gyekye and Menkiti.
55. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Jonathan O. Chimakonam Can Individual Autonomy and Rights be Defended in Afro-Communitarianism?
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I argue that individual autonomy and rights can be defended but only in African or qualified version of communitarianism. I posit that there are two possible versions of communitarianism: the qualified or the African and the unqualified or the version discussed mostly by Western scholars. I show that Ifeanyi Menkiti, Kwame Gyekye, Michael Eze and Bernard Matolino have formulated communitarian theories of right in African philosophy. I explain that while Menkiti and Gyekye erroneously employed the unqualified version in their proposals, Eze and Matolino who employed the qualified version failed to ground it in a non-Western or African logic. I argue that while the Western or Aristotelian logic grounds the unqualified version making it difficult to defend autonomy and rights within it, an African logic can be used to ground a qualified version of communitarianism in order to bring out an important African cultural value such as complementarity which affirms the identity of the individual first, so as to justify other communal values such as solidarity and common good, etc. I therefore contend that the qualified version is the correct specimen for analysing the individual-community relationship in African philosophy in which autonomy and rights can be defended.
56. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Ada Agada, Uti Ojahi Egba Language, Thought, and Interpersonal Communication: A Cross-Cultural Conversation on the Question of Individuality and Community
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The ongoing debate among African philosophers on the relation of the individual and the community has spawned radical, moderate, and limited communitarian views. In this paper we will insert the question of interpersonal communication into the individual-community conundrum and raise the discourse to the level of cross-cultural engagement. We will highlight the dominant perspectives in Afro-communitarianism with particular emphasis on the Ghanaian philosopher Kwame Gyekye and the Nigerian philosopher Ifeanyi Menkiti. Expanding the discourse into the domain of intercultural/comparative philosophy, this paper will engage Gyekye and Menkiti’s Afro-communitarianism and Jean-Paul Sartre’s radical individualism and the resulting conflictual presentation of interpersonal relation. The paper adopts the conversational method.
57. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Ifeanyi Menkiti Person and Community—A Retrospective Statement
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Over the past four decades, I have been asked many questions regarding the substance and methodology of my essay “Person and Community in African Thought”. I cannot in the space of these pages retrieve or reframe the content and implications of these several questions and it would be fool-hardy to attempt an answer to all of them here. But that is no reason not to try to say a few things, by way of additional commentary, on the occasion of this retrospective on the essay. It would be helpful to proceed by concentrating on a few issues which have been of some concern, or interest, to readers over the years, adding a response, however brief, as I go along.
book review
58. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Ada Agada Reincarnation: A Question in the African Philosophy of Mind
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59. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Pius M. Mosima Francophone African Philosophy: History, Trends and Influences
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In this paper, I engage in a critical discussion of Francophone African philosophy focusing on its history, the influences, and emerging trends. Beginning the historical account from the 1920s, I examine the colonial discourses on racialism, and the various reactions generated leading to the Négritude movement in Francophone African intellectual history. I explore the wider implications of the debate on Négritude as an integral component of ethnophilosophy in postcolonial Francophone African philosophy. Finally, I argue that in spite of the apparent linguistic divides/boundaries between Francophone African philosophy and thephilosophical traditions in Anglophone and Lusophone Africa, there are robust interactions and critical exchanges of ideas converging and reconnecting with other philosophical orientations outside Africa.
60. Filosofia Theoretica: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Ojah Uti Egbai Why African Philosophers should build Systems: An Exercise in Conversational Thinking
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At the height of the Great Debate about the existence or otherwise of African philosophy, Kwasi Wiredu bemoaned the dearth of originality in the practice of African philosophy. For him, African philosophers should now go beyond talking about African philosophy and get down to actually doing it. But what does it mean to do African philosophy? And what is the importance of actually doing African philosophy? In this paper, I will argue that doing African philosophy should involve,among other things, system-building. I will argue that the growth of the discipline and the advancement of Africa’s intellectual history constitute strong reasons for African philosophers to aim at building systems in this era. I will highlight existing attempts at system-building in African philosophy and show their weaknesses in order to project conversational thinking as a better framework. I will conclude by arguing that systembuilding is part of the overall goal of conversational philosophy, which has been demonstrated in some quarters as the future direction of African philosophy.