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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

African Philosophy

Course Code:
155901397
Unit value:
0.5
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 1

Prerequisites

The students should have completed either of the introductory courses on African culture or African languages, "Culture in Africa" (155900838) or "Language in Africa" (155900867). Exceptionally students may take "African Philosophy" without having taken either of these courses, after a consultation with the course convenor.  It may also be available as an open option.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of a course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  1. having solid knowledge of African Philosophy, its history, main topics, and its relationship to other philosophical discourses in the world (European philosophies, Intercultural Philosophy, Latin American philosophy, etc.)
  2. having developed the ability of fundamental reflection and critical analysis of central philosophical issues
  3. having developed a critical approach to the underlying cultural presuppositions of philosophical discourses
  4. having developed oral presentations skills (gained practice for giving conference papers)
  5. having developed writing skills (learnt to produce high-quality academic articles)

Workload

Total of 10 weeks teaching with 3 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

This course outlines the development of African Philosophy in the 20th century, a discourse that hinges on the following questions: does philosophy exist in Africa? What are the specific qualities that distinguish it from Western philosophy? We will survey the trends in African philosophical thought classified under the rubrics of "ethnophilosophy", "nationalist-ideological philosophy", "sage philosophy", and "professional philosophy", and discuss specific concepts with philosophical reference or resonance, such as race, time, but also development or art. Several classes will be devoted to influential contemporary philosophers, in particular Paulin Hountondji, Kwame Anthony Appiah, V.-Y. Mudimbe, Henry Odera Oruka, and Kwasi Wiredu.

Method of assessment

One 2,000 word essay to be submitted on the day 5, week 7, in the term in which the course is taught (25%);  one 2,500 word essay to be submitted on the day 5, week 1, in the term after the course is taught (40%); an oral presentation of 10 minutes presenting the selected essay topics for the first essay (5%); an oral presentation of 10 minutes presenting the selected essay topics for the second essay (10%); a written analysis of a reading of 500 words, to be submitted on the day of the lecture in week 5 (10%); a written analysis of a readings of 500 words, to be submitted on the day of the lecture in week 11 (10%).

Suggested reading

The following titles provide suitable introductory readings. The full reading list for this course will be made available from the convenor at the beginning of the course.

  • Hallen, Barry. 2009 (20021). A Short History of African Philosophy. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
  • Imbo, Samuel Oluoch. 1998. An Introduction to African Philosophy. Lanham et al.: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Masolo, Dismas A. 1994. African Philosophy in Search of Identity. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
  • Wiredu, Kwasi (ed.). 2004. A Companion to African Philosophy. Malden, Oxford, Victoria: Blackwell Publishing.