African Philosophy: Perspectives and Trajectories
Augustine Obi
6-week online course
Thursdays, 5pm–7pm (AWST)
August 4–September 8, 2022

Since the beginning of mid-20th century, African Philosophy has emerged as a full-fledged dynamic and growing philosophical tradition. Prior to this era, there was controversy about the possibility of African Philosophy and how best to do the same. And as numerous readers, anthologies and other contemporary African Philosophers have confirmed through their scholarly literatures, the existence of African Philosophy is indubitable, but what is rather a subject of many debates is the constitution of the African tradition of philosophy and the specific qualities that distinguish this philosophical field from western philosophy and other philosophical traditions.

This course sets out to study African philosophy as a living set of traditions in philosophy. Over six sessions, the module outlines the development of African Philosophy from the mid-20th century, offering synthesis of insights from key scholars of African philosophy and putting them into accessible narrative. The course commences with a survey of “ethnophilosophy” as the discourse that gave birth to African philosophy, under the premise that African philosophy is fundamentally at variance with western philosophy and other regional philosophies. In the second part of the course, we will discuss the theories of various professional African philosophers, beginning with the Sage Philosophy Project of Henry Odera Oruka which offers an unswerving objection to the issues raised against “ethnophilosophy.” Several sessions will be devoted to the study of the other influential contemporary African philosophers, particularly Kwame Anthony Appiah, Kwasi Wiredu, Paulin Hountondji, Valentin-Yves Mudimbe, John Mbiti, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Kwame Gyekye, Motsamai Molefe, Thaddeus Metz and the recently deceased, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  

  1. Blackness and the struggle for reason
  2. A history of African philosophy
  3. Philosophy of Ubuntu
  4. Afro-communitarian debate (selfhood and relations)
  5. Morality and justice
  6. African concept of time

Crowned head from Ife (12th–15thC).

Instructor biography
Dr Augustine Obi is a philosopher working in Metaphysics (Ontology), Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Philosophy of Religion, African Philosophy and Meta-philosophy. He works at Imo State University, Nigeria, and has worked at the University of Melbourne.