An Essay on African Philosophical Thought
The Akan Conceptual Scheme
Publication: Aug 95
5.5 x 8.25
African philosopher Gyekye defines the main principles of a distinct African philosophyRead an excerpt from the Preface (pdf).
In this sustained and nuanced attempt to define a genuinely African philosophy, Kwame Gyekye rejects the idea that an African philosophy consists simply of the work of Africans writing on philosophy. It must, Gyekye argues, arise from African thought itself, relate to the culture out of which it grows, and provide the possibility of a continuation of a philosophy linked to culture. Offering a philosophical clarification and interpretation of the concepts in the ontology, philosophical psychology, theology, and ethics of the Akan of Ghana, Gyekye argues that critical analyses of specific traditional African modes of thought are necessary to develop a distinctively African philosophy as well as cultural values in the modern world.
"I find (Gyekye's) work brilliant in its approach, in its ideas, and in its argument. He asks courageous questions concerning the idea of an African philosophy and he not only succeeds in exposing the shallowness of some skeptical claims regarding that question but also clarifies the lines along which answers might properly be sought.... His work is the most massive in a new generation of thoughtful approaches to an important question regarding human culture." —W.E. Abraham, University of California at Santa Cruz, and author of The Mind of Africa
"The author builds an impressive case for an indigenous African philosophy which is different from but not inferior to European philosophy. This text is valuable because (of its) insights into the relationship between life and thought, philosophy and experience." —James H. Evans, Jr., Religious Studies Review
"(A) wonderful starting point for understanding black peoples on all sides of the Atlantic." —Colors Magazine
"...anyone interested in questions in the philosophy of culture—especially, though by no means only, in Africa—should profit from Gyekye's work... This book is rewarding reading." —Kwame Anthony Appiah, Times Literary Supplement
Table of Contents
Preface to the Revised Edition Acknowledgments to the Revised Edition Preface to the First Edition Acknowledgments to the First Edition Guide to the Pronunciation of Akan Words
Part I: The Question of Philosophy in African Culture 1. On the Denial of Traditional Thought as Philosophy 2. Philosophy and Culture Sources of African Philosophical Thought Collective and Individual Thought Language and Philosophical Thought On Defining African Philosophy: Some Proposals 3. Methodological Problems False Impressions about the Unwritten Character of African Traditional Philosophy Difficulties Besetting the Study of African Traditional Philosophy
Part II: The Akan Conceptual Scheme 4. The Akan Conception of Philosophy 5. Concepts of Being and Causality God and the Other Categories of Being Causality 6. The Concept of a Person Okra (Soul) Sunsum (Spirit) Relation of Okra and Sunsum Relation of Okra (Soul) and Honam (Body) Akan Psychology and Freud Conclusion 7. Destiny, Free Will, and Responsibility Basis of Belief in Destiny Nature of the Concept Causality, Fate, Free Will, and Responsibility The Problem of Evil 8. Foundations of Ethics Religion and Morality in Akan Thought The Social and Humanistic Basis of Akan Morality 9. Ethics and Character The Akan Word for "Ethics" The Centrality of Character (Suban) in Akan Ethics 10. The Individual and the Social Order Communalism as a Social Theory The Tensions of Individualism 11. Philosophy, Logic, and the Akan Language The Mind-Body Problem Time Existence, Predication, and Identity The Ontological Argument Subject and Predicate Conclusions
Part III: Toward an African Philosophy 12. On the Idea of African Philosophy The Need not to Generalize Common Features in African Cultures The Community of Cultural Elements and Ideas Conclusion: The Legitimacy of Talking of African Philosophy
Notes Select Bibliography Name Index Subject Index