A Short History of African Philosophy
New and Expanded Edition

A Short History of African Philosophy

Second Edition
Barry Hallen
Distribution: World
Publication date: 8/12/2009
Format: paper 208 pages
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-22123-0
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A Short History of African Philosophy discusses major ideas, figures, and schools of thought in philosophy in the African context. While drawing out critical issues in the formation of African philosophy, Barry Hallen focuses on recent scholarship and relevant debates that have made African philosophy critical to understanding the rich and complex cultural heritage of the continent. This revised edition expands the historical perspective, takes account of recent discoveries and new canonical figures, highlights new discussions about gender as a cultural and philosophical phenomenon, clarifies issues regarding indigenous cultures and human rights, and builds on the notion that African philosophy shares methods and concerns of philosophy worldwide. This short reference is an essential resource for students, scholars, and general readers.

Author Bio

Barry Hallen is Professor of Philosophy at Morehouse College and Associate in the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is author of The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Discourse about Values in Yoruba Culture (IUP, 2000).


"Hallen has provided an immeasurable service to students and scholars of Africana thought by lucidly and concisely chronicling the history, development, and current issues in African philosophies." —Choice, named Outstanding Academic Book

"With this small book, Barry Hallen has opened up the field of African philosophy to the general public, without turning professionals off." —

"Provides an excellent orientation to the various approaches and issues which have emerged throughout the history of African philosophy." —
International Studies in Philosophy

"While avowedly a short conspectus, the book as a whole is dynamized by a number of recurring debates which make their appearance in most of the chapters, giving the work an internal coherence belying its brevity and simplicity." —Leeds African Studies Bulletin

"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

"Hallen's writing is consistently clear and accessible to a general reader, and his knowledge of the subject is wide-ranging, making this an excellent introduction to the vibrant and complex melange that falls withing the category of African philosophy." —Mikel Burley, University of Leeds, Leeds African Studies Bulletin , #71 Winter 2009/2010

"The purpose of Hallen's book is to provide professional philosophers, students, and intellectually interested laypersons with both a synopsis and analysis of the field of African philosophy, a scholarly field that is still widely ignored in the philosophical profession and still widely unknown in the public realm. He succeeds quite well in this enterprise." —
Intl. Jrnl. of African Historical Studies

"A Short History of African Philosophy is a good read for both the neophyte and the seasoned scholar; it is a helpful guide and beginning for anyone with an interest in African philosophy." —Dialogue

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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

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