On Defining African Wiredu – forthcoming – African Philosophy: The Essential Readings (New York: Paragon). Repr. In H. Nagl-Docekal and. Could there be a truly African philosophy that goes beyond traditional folk thought? Kwasi Wiredu tries in these essays to define and demonstrate a role for . Kwasi Wiredu is currently Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy in the University of South Florida, Tampa, where he.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Table of Contents Abstract Universals and Particulars of Wiredu Significances of African Philosophy in Africa Choice of a Social and Political System Philosophy and Constructive Kwssi Powers Projection of Sound Methods of Research and Analysis Philosophy and Job Placement in Africa Abstract Kwasi Wiredu is one of the foremost African philosopher and intellectual in the field. It was during this period that he discovered philosophy, through Plato which weaned him from his interest in Practical Psychology and Bertrand Russell, and he gained a place at the University of Ghana, Legon.

Wiredu, Kwasi | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

After graduating in with a degree in philosophy, he went on to Oxford. He then returned to Ghana, where he accepted a post teaching philosophy for his old university. He remained at the University of Ghana for twenty-three years, during which time he became first Head of Department and then Professor.

Philosophy, a discipline as old as the human faculty of reason has its thrust on the good life for man. It employs the instrumentality of contemplation, reflection, analysis and criticism to arrive at truth.

Wiredu like any other African thinkers tailor his thoughts towards addressing the lacuna in the schemata of things as it affects the general existential lives of her people. African philosophy has its orientation in communalism, as contradistinguished from Western philosophy which is individualistic in outlook.

This is also reflected in the African and Western ontology respectively. Our excursus in this work is to show the distinctive features of African thought process and its underlying influence as rooted in her culture and tradition. The work will highlight the effort put forward Wiredu which has lain to rest the debate as to the existence of African philosophy.

Introduction By African philosophy, we mean the critical reflection and the asking of fundamental questions, the seeking of meaning and understanding within the bias and context of African cultural setting and experience. In other words, African philosophy is the reflection of an African or non-African on how Africans make sense of their existence and the world in which they live, based on the African cultural experience and reality.

Kwasi Wiredu (1931— )

This is found in the African philosophical tradition; for philosophy is rooted in a tradition. Such orientation must involve a universal approach to philosophy, which includes scientific method and attitudes. Philosophers need not to be scientist, but it is necessary that they adopt the attitude and methodology of science, which includes exactness, coherence, systematization, and rigorous thinking.

He suggest that philosophy can be universal if it adopt these scientific methodologies as universal technique. Universals and Particulars of Wiredu Wiredu rise argument agaist relativism in its various form like cognitive ethical and cultural and shows how the possibility and actula existence of universal on coceptual cognitive and ethical grounds.

He defends an universal human thought unlike does not deny on particularities and difference among various tribes of human kind by showing, african understanding and the understanding of Wiredu on african philosophy and thinking. In his book universals and particulars, wiredu discuses about the parodox of universalim and particularism in human culture. Wiredu argues that it is possible to arrive at concepts of universal relevance which can be disentangled from the contigiencies of culture.

The universal concept make them intelligible within different cultural groups in his opinion there are universal and particulars in philosophyreligion, and culture.

Wiredu believes that pilosophy can be universal though it is culture relative in actuality through logical application. Ontological, Epistemological, and Anthropological Assessment on African Culture One of Wiredu’s concerns when defining “African Philosophy” is keeping colonialized African philosophy in a separate category from recolonized Africa.


Wiredu proposes that the African philosopher has a unique opportunity to re- examine many of the assumptions of Western philosophers by subjecting them to an interrogation based on African languages.

Let’s say hypothetically an African was born and raised in China. Their thoughts and philosophy will be biased to the culture of the language.

Not only will they naturally philosophize in that language, but also shape their life around that language. Ontology One of Wiredu’s most prominent discussions revolves around the Akan concept of personhood. He believes this traditional framework hosts a two part conception of a person. First, and most intuitive to Western conceptions of persons, is the ontological dimension. This includes one’s biological constitution.

Further, Wiredu states that the second dimension, the normative conception of personhood, is based on one’s ability to will freely. One’s ability to will freely is dependent on one’s ethical considerations.

This then designates a person to become a person. One is not born a person but becomes one through events and experiences that lead one to act ethically. This differs from the Western conception of personhood in that people, in Akan tradition all thought; people are not born as willed beings.

Wiredu also is certain that African tradition is not “purely theoretical because he shows how certain aspects of African political thought may be applied to the practical resolution of some of Africa’s most pressing problems.

USF :: Philosophy Department

Epistemology The idea of an African epistemology as understood by those who propose it is taken as a way the African conceptualizes, interprets and apprehends reality within the context of African cultural or collective wiresu.

The idea of African epistemology is wiredi on their acceptance that such concepts as knowledge, truth, and rationality etc. Thus this epistemology is abstracted from the collective world-view of Africans and leaning essentially on such materials as myths, folklores, proverbs, folk wisdom etc. Here, Wiredu tries to elucidate the epistemology of the Akan using the concept of truth. He discusses the Akan rendition of truth from its moral and cognitive aspects.

Philosophy and an African Culture

According to Wiredu the Akan word nokware translates the English truthfulness, rather kwadi truth and its opposite nkontompo which translates lies instead of falsity in English language.

Wiredu adduces three reasons for wirecu complication as firstly, the main pre- occupation with truth in the traditional Akan society was moral, secondly, the moral concept of truth presupposes the cognitive concept of truth and thirdly, the English word truth itself is ambiguous.

And here science stands as the crucial factor in the transition from the traditional to modern world, what is needed is method applied that is to say the habits of exactness and rigour in thinking, the pursuit of systematic coherence and the experimental approach, it is for the philosophers to precipitate the kwassi 4 K.

A central concern of philosophy is the application of knowledge to the solution of human problems, which is the highest importance to distinguish between traditional versus modern thoughts by set of criterion. And this has prompted and made ant- Africanism racism inevitable but at the same time traditional thought cannot match with modern Scientific Oriented Thought, Wiredu considers three things, namely the African traditional thinking ancestors, sprits secondly the superstition and last by colonialism has affected African thought their way of thinking.

Significances of African Philosophy in Africa The relevance wierdu Philosophy to progress in Africa as pictured by Kwasi Wiredu can be digested basing on the applicability of Philosophy in general. Much of what is learned in philosophy can be applied in virtually any endeavor. This is both because philosophy touches on so many subjects and human activities; and, especially, because many of its methods are usable in different fields.

According to Wiredu, an African philosopher, endowed with the capacity to think he or she is responsible to give a direction and wirwdu need to take the lead by 6 Cf. The philosopher should be able to reveal the basic principles on which to base and manage changes for the wellbeing of the African continent. Basic to the uses of philosophy include the following; 3. Choice of a Social lwasi Political System Wiredu argues that in choosing a social and political system for example, there is need for an ideology to inform the process.


It is this ideology, informed by immanent challenges that trigger change. An ideology is a set of ideas about what form a good society should take. The philosopher, according to Wiredu, needs to positively oppose the emergence of forced dogmas; because imposed and forced ideology negates the spirit and principles of willed changed and bars development and progress.

Forced dogmas deny others the opportunity to think for themselves.

According to Wiredu, will not come from the people at large, but must come from the thinkers; the creative minority of the society. It is the thinkers that will give direction to progressive change in society. Problem Solving The study of philosophy enhances, in a way no other activity does, one’s problem solving capacities. It helps us to analyze concepts, definitions, arguments, and problems. It contributes to one’s capacity to organize ideas and issues, to deal with questions of value, and to extract what is wiredj from sources of information.

It helps one wlredu to distinguish fine differences between views and to discover common ground between opposing positions. And it helps us to synthesize a variety of views or perspectives into a unified manner. Philosophy and Constructive Persuasive Powers Philosophy provides training in the construction of clear formulations, good arguments, and apt examples. It thereby helps one develop the ability to be 9 Cf. One learns to build and defend one’s own views, to appreciate competing positions, and to indicate forcefully why one considers one’s own views preferable to alternatives.

Projection of Sound Methods of Research and Analysis Philosophy in education has nothing to do than its contribution to one’s capacity to frame hypotheses, do research, and put problems into manageable form. Philosophical thinking strongly emphasizes clear formulation of ideas and problems, selection of relevant data, and objective methods for assessing ideas and proposals. Philosophers regularly build on both the successes and the failures of their predecessors.

A person with philosophical training can readily learn to do the same in any field. Philosophy and Job Placement in Africa According Kwasi job placement should be wriedu immediately that the non- academic value of a field of study must not be viewed mainly in terms of its contribution to obtaining one’s first job after graduation.

Students are understandably preoccupied with getting their first job, but even from a narrow vocational point of view it would be short-sighted to concentrate on that at the expense of developing potential for success and advancement once hired.

Conclusion The philosophy of a people is always a tradition, and a tradition must pre- suppose a certain minimum kwwasi organic relationships among at least some of its elements. Any philosophy or thought system that is not part of its tradition does 11 Cf.

Philosophical tradition must be determined in line with a predominant theme such as British philosophy, which is seen as empiricism, American philosophy which is seen as pragmatism, French as rationalism, German as idealism, Russian as materialism, Indian as spiritualism and Chinese as humanism. A tradition of philosophy is identifiable in terms of innermost essence of the intellectual pulse within which it is produced.

African Philosophy; The Analytic Approach. Africa World Press, Fourth Dimension Publishers, Indiana University Press, African Philosophy Projects Publications, A Step Forward in African Thinking. Mwasi University Press, Remember me on this computer.

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