In the above units, we have been discussing what is generally known as the Western Philosophy. According to opinion leaders and thinkers, the
Western philosophy had its origins among the Ionians and the Greeks and spread to all parts of the world. We have already known what philosophy is all about: It is a critical reflection on reality as perceived by the Western minds. African Philosophy also has to do with reflection on reality as perceived by the Africans.
The aim of this Unit is not to give you a new philosophy that is different in essence, but a philosophy that is different in practice. But we must warn you that African philosophy is still in its infancy stages. Thus African Philosophy is still developing.
3.0 MAIN CONTENT
3.1 African Philosophy
African Philosophy is said to have originated in Egypt which is said to have been the cradle of civilization and the center of all learning in the ancient world. The Pre-Socratics, Plato and the rests are said to have studied in Egypt. Egypt was responsible for the Hellenistic advancement in knowledge and philosophy. In Africa, man is the center of everything. This means also that African Philosophy is man centered. African philosophy concerns man as he lives and interacts with other humans in his cultural environment and how that cultural environment affects man.
Thus African philosophy is more real and dynamic than the abstract nature of Western philosophy. In Africa, reality is like a web of inter-locking forces in one harmonious existence. God, being the highest of all forces and thus responsible for the existence of other forces. God or the Supreme Being interacts with man and the forces of nature which otherwise are called spirits in a forward and backward movements. From man through the spirits to the Supreme Being and vise versa. It is a philosophy of one-for all and all-for-one. I am because you are and because you are therefore I am. African Philosophy is communitarian in nature Wisdom in Africa does not consist in knowing how to read and write, but in good life which is manifested in a harmonious existence with God, the spirits and the fellow humans. It is a life of virtue which portrays the harmony of knowledge, wisdom, justice, prudence, honesty and the values of family life, community living and good behaviour in
the wider society. African wisdom is contained in wise sayings which are associated with old age. African philosophy is not so much in the book as it is in the rhythm of African life.
You may have thought that Africa has no philosophy. That may be because of your particular understanding of philosophy. African philosophy does actually exist. Do not forget that your manner or method of reflection is influenced by your environment.
Remember that if you do not say here I am, no one will say there you are. If you deny yourself what you have, no one will claim that you have it. Therefore, we must acknowledge our rich heritage and values and know also that we have something to offer to the world.
6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT
- What is the center of African philosophizing?
- Where would you normally find African Philosophy?