Introduction to African Deep Thought

Draft course Description

African philosophy, or simply African deep thought as Jacob H. Carruthers referred to it, is the collective wisdom of peoples of African descent as it emerges from the context of African tradition in dialog and exchange with the world. Though there is a great deal of variance across African cultures, we find that there are shared values and principles that inform their ways of being. Thus, when we refer to “African philosophy”, we are also referring to this apparent unity of thought and practice.

African philosophy is both ancient and modern, continental and global, seeking to ask probing questions about the very nature of reality and life itself, the basis of our knowledge, our standards of ethical conduct, the form and function of scientific inquiry, what constitutes a good society and world, social change, and so on. African philosophy is represented in various forms including proverbs, sayings, stories, symbols, dance and other forms of movement, architecture, engineering, farming, and more.

Our exploration will draw upon the traditional wisdom of the Yorùbá, Akan, Fulani, Hausa, Igbo, Bakongo, Wolof, and others. We will also examine key ideas from ancient Kemet (Egypt). Finally, we will study the retention and evolution of African philosophy among Diasporan Africans in the U.S. and Brazil.