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Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Akan and Euro-American Concepts of the Person
2004, In Lee M. Brown (ed.), African Philosophy: New and Traditional Perspectives. Oxford University.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: This essay explores the theories of the person within Western and Akan traditions. It identifies six obstacles to theory comparison. It argues that there may be no non-question begging way of comparing theories since these theories themselves play key roles in understanding how each is to be used.

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Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Issues of Our Time)
2010, WW Norton & Company.
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Back matter: "A welcome attempt to resurrect an older tradition of moral and political reflection and to show its relevance to our current condition." -- John Gray "Cosmopolitanism is... of wide interest-invitingly written and enlivened by personal history... Appiah is wonderfully perceptive and levelheaded about this tangle of issues." -- Thomas Nagel "Elegantly provocative." -- Edward Rothstein "[Appiah's] belief in having conversations across boundaries, and in recognizing our obligations to other human beings, offers a welcome prescription for a world still plagued by fanaticism and intolerance." -- Kofi A. Annan, former United Nations secretary-general "[Appiah's] exhilarating exposition of his philosophy knocks one right off complacent balance... All is conveyed with flashes of iconoclastic humor." -- Nadine Gordimer, winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature "An attempt to redefine our moral obligations to others based on a very humane and realistic outlook and love of art... I felt like a better person after I read it, and I recommend the same experience to others." -- Orham Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Comment: The introduction provides a particularly good entry text to ethics, race and cosmopolitanism.

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Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Reconstructing Racial Identities
1996, Research in African Literatures 27 (3):58-72.
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Added by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: The main theoretical gap in In My Father's House - in the opinion, at least, of its author - is the lack of a proposed alternative to the account of identity in the black diaspora that the book criticizes. The pseudo- biological essentialist account of black identity is, in my judgment, now generally understood to be untenable; what is lacking is an alternative positive account of black identity. In the book I criticized the biological account as a proposed basis for identities in the continent as well: but I offered, in the chapter on "African Identities," some suggestions for a positive basis for a range of continentally based mobilizations of Africa as what I called "a vital and enabling badge." But what I had to say about diasporic identities was, to put it kindly, perfunctory. Katya Azoulay's critique of my work ("Outside Our Parents' House: Race, Culture, and Identity" in RAL 27.1 [1996]: 129-42) identifies this theoretical gap and rightly draws attention to it. Let me offer at least a sketch of an approach.

Comment: The article follows up on Appiah's In My Father's House.

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Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?
2007, in Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York, London: W. W. Nortion & Company.
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Added by: Erich Hatala Matthes
Summary: In this chapter, Appiah offers a cosmopolitan critique of the concept of cultural property/patrimony. By emphasizing the common features of our humanity and the tenuousness of certain cultural identity claims, he puts pressure on conceptions of cultural property that would exclude others, particularly those that have a nationalist character. He raises important philosophical questions about cultural continuity over time, and explores how the location of art can best facilitate its value for humanity. In general, he supports a cosmopolitan/internationalist approach to cultural property that promotes the exchange of cultural products around the world.

Comment: This text offers a clear and effective overview of philosophical issues concerning cultural property, and uses a range of cultural and artistic examples. It offers a concise summary of the legal scholar John Merryman's classic article in support of internationalism about cultural property (not included in this curriculum). It pairs well with Lindsay's article.

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Blyden, Edward Wilmot. Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race
1887, Black Classic Press
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, Contributed by: Quentin Pharr
Publisher’s Note: A native of St. Thomas, West Indies, Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832-1912) lived most of his life on the African continent. He was an accomplished educator, linguist, writer, and world traveler, who strongly defended the unique character of Africa and its people. Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race is an essential collection of his writings on race, culture, and the African personality.

Comment: This collection of essays is seminal in the intellectual foundations of Pan-Africanism, African Islamism, African Anti-colonialism, the Back-to-Africa Movement, and the educational revival in Liberia/West Africa. The essays are great for courses on African thought, or African anti-colonialism/postcolonialism. They would also be excellent companion texts for reading Marcus Garvey or Kwame Nkrumah, or vice versa.

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Gyekye, Kwame. An Essay on African Philosophical Thought. The Akan Conceptual Scheme
1987, Temple University Press
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Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Publisher’s Note: In this sustained and nuanced attempt to define a genuinely African philosophy, Kwame Gyekye rejects the idea that an African philosophy consists simply of the work of Africans writing on philosophy. It must, Gyekye argues, arise from African thought itself, relate to the culture out of which it grows, and provide the possibility of a continuation of a philosophy linked to culture. Offering a philosophical clarification and interpretation of the concepts in the ontology, philosophical psychology, theology, and ethics of the Akan of Ghana, Gyekye argues that critical analyses of specific traditional African modes of thought are necessary to develop a distinctively African philosophy as well as cultural values in the modern world.

Comment: A classical work of modern African philosophy and, because of its analysis of the conceptual scheme, highly relevant for the context of African philosophy and language.

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Tangwa, Godfrey B.. Bioethics: An African perspective
1996,
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Clotilde Torregrossa
Abstract: In this paper I have attempted to open a window on an African approach to Bioethics - that of the Nso' of the Bamenda Highlands of Kamerun - from the vantage position of someone who has familiarity with both African and Western cultures. Because of its scientific-cum-technological sophistication and its proselytising character, Western culture, as well as Western systems of thought and practice, have greatly affected and influenced other cultures, particularly African culture. But Western culture, systems of thought and practice, have been highly impervious and immune to influences from other cultures, philosophies, systems of thought and practice, even where these might have been salutary and enriching to Western culture and systems. What I have here termed Nso' eco-bio-cummunitarianism clearly indicates a viable alternative world-view within which some of the bioethical perplexities and controversies of today might be more satisfactorily resolved than within a Western framework. I have further attempted to show, by way of example, how within such a world-view, abortion and suicide, for instance, would be disapproved of while euthanasia, in its etymological purity, is approved of

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Tangwa, Godfrey B.. Elements of African Bioethics in a Western Frame
2010, Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Jonathan Wolff
Abstract: For millennia, Africans have lived on the African continent, in close contact with the diversities of nature: floral, faunal and human; and in so doing they have developed cultures, values, attitudes and perspectives to the problems, ethical and otherwise, that have arisen from the existential pressures of their situation. The problem, however, is that such values and perspectives do not necessarily form coherent ethical theories. Theory-making is a second order activity requiring a certain amount of leisure and comfort which the existential conditions of life on the African continent have not easily permitted in the retrospect-able past. The elements of African bioethics are to be found in its cultural values, traditions, customs and practices. These are research-able, highlight-able and usable by those who would. The bioethical problems of our current global existential situation are such that all possible solutions, no matter their provenance, ought to be tried. Western culture has far too loud a voice combined with deaf ears in contemporary ethical discourse. But it should never be forgotten that other cultures have their own word to say and that alternative values, ways of thinking and practices exist, and attempt should always be made to bring these out and to highlight them, if they could possibly contribute to the satisfactory solution of a global problem. This book brings together various papers on bioethical issues and problems, written at different times, some previously published, each of which attempts to bring out some African elements, perspective or concern. The African narrative style predominates through these essays but their framing conforms, more or less, to the Western paradigm for presenting academic issues.

Comment: Could be used in 'global bioethics' classes.

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Wiredu, Kwasi. Philosophy and an African Culture
1980, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Suddha Guharoy and Andreas Sorger
Publisher’s Note:

What can philosophy contribute to African culture? What can it draw from it? 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 contemporary African philosophers which is distinctive but by no means parochial. He shows how they can assimilate the advances of analytical philosophy and apply them to the general social and intellectual changes associated with 'modernisation' and the transition to new national identities. But we see too how they can exploit traditional resources and test the assumptions of Western philosophy against the intimations of their own language and culture. The volume as a whole presents some of the best non-technical work of a distinguished African philosopher, of importance equally to professional philosophers and to those with a more general interest in contemporary African thought and culture.

Comment: Kwasi Wiredu’s Philosophy and an African Culture grapples with the relationship between African philosophy and African traditional folk thought in order to carve out a distinctive role for African philosophers in the present day. In the chapters for this week, Wiredu is contributing to a debate in African philosophy that seeks to answer the question: “What is African Philosophy?”. Wiredu takes issue with Europeans elevating the traditional folk beliefs of Africans to the status of philosophy, which historically has been used to justify and legitimise the racist belief in the inferiority of black Africans. Instead, Wiredu suggests that the absence of a written tradition of philosophy means that African philosophy can only exist in the present. Thus, it is up to contemporary African philosophersto create a ‘new’ tradition with distinctive insights for the problems faced by African societies.

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Zera Yacob (Warqe). Hatata
2012, Other internet resources
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by: Jonathan Egid
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In the name of God who alone is just. I shall describe the life, the wisdom and the investigation of Zera Yacob who said: “Come and listen, all you who fear God, while I tell you what he has done for me.” Behold, I begin. In the name of God, who is the creator of all things, the beginning and the end, the possessor of all, the source of all life and of all wisdom, I shall write of some of the things that I have encountered during my long life. Let my soul be blessed in the sight of God and let the meek rejoice. I sought God and he answered me. And now you approach him and he will enlighten you; let not your face be ashamed. Join me in proclaiming the greatness of God and together let us extol his name.

Comment: This is a treatise that covers several philosophical themes such as the morality of actions, the proof of the existence of God and a critique of religious beliefs as presented in the religious systems of the modern era. This text provides good basis for a developing knowlege of Ethiopian Philosophy, it can be viewed as a starting point in the field.

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