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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

African Philosophy (Postgraduate)

Course Code:
15PAFH008
Unit value:
0.5
Taught in:
Term 1

Prerequisites

Students wishing to take the course as a major course are strongly advised to also take the course 'Afrophone Philosophies' 15PAFH009. This course can be taken on its own as a minor.

On the following programmes this course may only be taken as a minor:

  • MA History (Africa)
  • MA Historical Research
  • MA Comparative Literature

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the 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. being able to give conference papers
  5. being able to produce high-quality academic writing
  6. being able to give conference papers
  7. being able to produce high-quality academic writing

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 5,000 word essay to be submitted on the day 5, week 1, term 2 (60%); one 20-minute oral presentation on the selected essay topics and the bibliographic sources for the essays (20%); a written analysis of readings of 1000 words, to be submitted on the day of the lecture in Week 5 (10%); a written analysis of readings of 1000 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.