Volume 7, Issue 2, December 2015
Reincarnation, Predestination and Moral Responsibility
Critical Issues in Akan Philosophy
African scholars such as Bolaji Idowu and John Mbiti have argued that belief in reincarnation is alien to African thought. However, this article argues that an adequate understanding of the Ghanaian Akan culture points to the presence of reincarnation in Akan, and for that matter African, philosophy. Nevertheless, unlike in Indian philosophy, for instance, where reincarnation depends on the quality of an individual’s moral life and is a means of ensuring moral responsibility, in Akan philosophy reincarnation is not dependent on moral considerations. Yet there is the idea of moral responsibility in Akan philosophy. The article interrogates how moral responsibility, an idea which is ordinarily regarded as reasonable in the presence of free will, is in the case of the Akan held alongside predestination. The article also reveals some serious philosophical difficulties which this Akan conception of moral responsibility generates in respect of the ‘reincarnated’ person.