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.