A Short History of African Philosophy

A Short History of African Philosophy

Barry Hallen
Distribution: World
Publication date: 06/27/2002
ISBN: 978-0-253-10918-7
Bookmark and Share

Available through various retailers


A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 2003

In this accessible book, Barry Hallen discusses the major ideas, figures, and schools of thought in African philosophy. While drawing out critical issues in the formation of African philosophy, Hallen focuses on the recent scholarship, current issues, and relevant debates that have made African philosophy an important key to understanding the rich and complex cultural heritage of Africa. Hallen builds upon Africa's connections with Western philosophical traditions and explores African contributions to cultural universalism, cultural relativism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, and Marxism. Hallen also examines African challenges to Western conceptions of philosophy by taking on questions such as whether philosophy can exist in cultures that are significantly based in oral traditions and what may or may not constitute philosophical texts. Among the figures whose work is discussed are Ptah-hotep (Egypt, 3rd millennium BCE), Zar'a Ya'aqob (Abyssinia, 17th century), Anton Wilhelm Amo (Ghana, 18th century), Paulin Hountondji, V. Y. Mudimbe, Oyeronke Oyewumi, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Kwasi Wiredu.
This clearly written, highly readable, and concise work will be essential for students and scholars of African philosophy as well as readers with a wide range of interests in African studies.

Author Bio

Barry Hallen is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy and Religion Department at Morehouse College. He is Associate in the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University. He is author of The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Discourse About Values in Yoruba Culture (Indiana University Press) and coauthor (with J. Olubi Sodipo) of Knowledge, Belief, and Witchcraft: Analytic Experiments in African Philosophy.


“A great virtue of the brief volume is its method of dividing African philosophy into manageable and provocative categories. . . . Hallen has a gift for knowing what to pick and what to exclude. ”
 — H-Net Reviews

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

1. The Historical Perspective
2. Twentieth Century Origins
3. Rationality as Culturally Universal
4. Rationality as Culturally Relative
5. Ethnophilosophy and Philosophical Sagacity
6. Phenomenology and Hermeneutics
7. Socialism and Marxism
8. Philosophy and Culture
9. Histories, Anthologies, Introductions to African Philosophy, Journals and Websites