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.
Week 1: What is African Deep Thought?: Key topics and issues
Week 2: What do you know and how do you know what you know?: Exploring epistemology
Week 3: What does it mean to be a human being in African cultures?: Reflecting on the Ontology of being
Week 4: What is the nature of the universe?: Investigating science, mathematics, and African culture
Week 5: What are our moral obligations?: Discussing ethics in African thought
Week 6: What does it mean to cultivate a philosophy of life and living?: Applying African deep thought to daily life