African Philosophy

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
Term 1
Module code
Department of Religions and Philosophies

Module overview

This module 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.


155900838: Culture in Africa

155900867: Language in Africa

Exceptionally students may take "African Philosophy" without having taken either of the above modules following consultation with the course convenor.  It may also be available as an open option.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of this module, 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)


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial.

Method of assessment

  • One presentation (40%)

  • One 2,500 word essay (60%)


Elvis Imafidon

Suggested reading

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

  • 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.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules