Wiredu uses the term ‘empiricalism’ to characterize a mode of thinking that is essentially empirical in orientation but admits non-transcendental metaphysical categories and existents into its systems of thought. Wiredu finds evidence of this mode of thinking in the Akan language. The central question I engage with in this paper is this: what makes empiricalism a plausible system of thought that has universal validity and intelligibility? I argue that the plausibility and universality of empiricalism is evident in Wiredu’s logical and (...) semantic thinking that underpins the theses of empiricalism. Rather than it being an isolated doctrine of Wiredu, the central theses of empiricalism are rooted in, and cast in terms of, his logical and semantic analysis of distinctions such as signification and reference, concept and object, and of his analysis of terms such as ‘existence’. These analyses show that the attractiveness of empiricalism is dependent on theoretical principles other than, and in addition to, the linguistic evidence that Akan provides. (shrink)
Well-Being in African Philosophy: Insights for a Global Ethics of Development, edited by Bolaji Bateye, Mahmoud Masaeli, Louise Müller, and Angela Roothaan, explores the notion of well-being in African and intercultural philosophy and its insights into global ethics of development. Drawing from longstanding debates on communitarianism in the context of personhood in African philosophy, as well as those in intercultural philosophy, the diverse contributors present manifold ways to philosophize about well-being from African contexts. Hailing from sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and the (...) Middle East, they address questions of human well-being related to the major global challenges of our time, such as climate change and socio-economic, gender, and racial inequality in society, education, and organization. This collection, building on the work of African independence philosophers as well as oral traditions from a critical development studies perspective, offers fresh views on well-being, development, and morality, thus contributing to global ethics from an African vantage point. The first author of this book's introduction is Louise Müller. See: Müller, L and A. Roothaan (2023). ‘Introduction’. In: Well-Being in African Philosophy: Insights for a Global Ethics of Development. Maryland, USA, Lexington Books by Rowman and Littlefield, 1-11. (shrink)
In 2020, an international team of intercultural philosophers and African linguists created a multilinguistic game named Adinkra. This name refers to a medieval rooted symbolic language in Ghana that is actively used by the Akan and especially the Asante among them to communicate indirectly. The Akan is both the meta-ethnic name of the largest Ghanaian cultural-linguistic group of which the Asante is an Akan cultural subgroup and of a Central Tano language of which Asante-Twi is a dialect. The Adinkra symbols, (...) which have permeated Akan life and the arts, can be found e.g. on Asante royal staffs and gold weights. They are also loosely connected to Akan proverbs. The game Adinkra aims to enhance its players’ intercultural communicative, and moral philosophical understanding by matching Adinkra symbols with Akan proverbs. It was created for educational and therapeutical purposes. This article focusses on the rules, the making of Adinkra, its aims and objectives. The objective of this article is twofold. First, it focusses on the game itself. It elaborates on what its rules are and the content of the game. It also focusses on how playing the multilinguistic game, Adinkra can enhance intercultural understanding and communication. It, furthermore, concentrates on the results of a pilot reception study of this game in the Netherlands among intercultural groups of players. This study has proven that the Adinkra game stimulates creative thinking, engagement in dialogue and reflective ethical thinking. For this reason, the authors believe that it has a lot to contribute to intercultural educational programs with a focus on intercultural communication, philosophy and arts in both Africa and the global North. Finally, a section is devoted to the question of how the Adinkra game was developed and methodologically grounded in Gadamer’s playful hermeneutics, and the theories of the Wheel of the Intercultural Art of living and (African) Indigenous Religions. Secondly, the article focusses on the game’s oral-literary storytelling context and Akan moral ideas. It then throws the searchlight on the creative, therapeutic value and its potential to serve as a ‘cultural detox’. The authors and game makers think that being introduced to an African communitarian ethos hidden in the Adinkra symbols and Akan proverbs can help its players to develop a critical eye for the highly individualistic ethos of Western culture that, among others, is promoted by neoliberal thinking and praxis. The word praxis is used by the authors in the meaning found in educational contexts. Adinkra’s players are stimulated to reflect upon a different moral idea, which can change their mindset and put them into action to contribute to social awareness and societal change. (shrink)
A journey through The Mind of Africa offers one a breath-taking scenery of the cultural traditions, practices, and conceptions of African societies. Interlacing his exposition with proverbs and sayings, Abraham offers unique perspectives and interpretations of the Akan culture and conceptual scheme – Akan cultural values, social and political institutions, metaphysical conceptions of man and society – as paradigmatic of the culture and conceptual schemes of African societies. But crucially, Abraham reveals, examines, and rejects, a plethora of unfounded notions about (...) Africans and their cultures – some of these erroneous ideas are often repackaged and recited even in present times. In reading the book, one will come to understand and appreciate the theoretical underpinnings and the practical significance of the African experience. (shrink)
Functionalism about truth, or alethic functionalism, is one of our most promising approaches to the study of truth. In this chapter, I chart a course for functionalist inquiry that centrally involves the empirical study of ordinary thought about truth. In doing so, I review some existing empirical data on the ways in which we think about truth and offer suggestions for future work on this issue. I also argue that some of our data lend support to two kinds of pluralism (...) regarding ordinary thought about truth. These pluralist views, as I show, can be straightforwardly integrated into the broader functionalist framework. The main result of this integration is that some unexplored metaphysical views about truth become visible. To close the chapter, I briefly respond to one of the most serious objections to functionalism, due to Cory Wright. (shrink)
Kwasi Wiredu (1931- ) Kwasi Wiredu is a philosopher from Ghana, who has for decades been involved with a project he terms “conceptual decolonization” in contemporary African systems of thought. By conceptual decolonization, Wiredu advocates a re-examination of current African epistemic formations in order to accomplish two aims. First, he wishes to subvert unsavory aspects […].
"Based on extensive research in primary and secondary sources and on field research in Ghana, including more than 40 interviews, and applying her formidable expertise in African history, philosophy, historical anthropology and religious studies, Dr Louise Müller has produced a superb analysis of the history and transformation of the roles of chieftaincy in the religious institutions, rituals and ideas among the Asante." David E. Skinner, Professor of History - African and Islamic Studies. (Santa Clara University, USA .
In many African states, numerous different pre-colonial systems of power – such as kingships, sultanates or chieftaincies – which have a traditional legitimacy often confirmed in colonial and post-colonial times, have survived till our day. Their role in the contemporary republican state has been studied by many African intellectuals, and the views of Kwame Anthony Appiah, a thinker originating from Ghana, are of particular interest. He believes that in order to understand the significance of traditional authority and the phenomenon of (...) its continued existence in contemporary Africa, it is important to consider the source of its legitimacy. Appiah presents various sources – symbolic, religious and state – from which local African rulers derive the right to exert power and to exact obedience from their subjects. He minimizes the significance of most of these, however, and concludes that the basic source of legitimacy for traditional authority in the contemporary African state is the fact that this power, being a very important point of reference for the group over which it is wielded, reinforces its members’ sense of self-respect, and helps form their identity. He uses this idea to attempt to reconcile the continued existence of African power systems with liberal theory. Appiah, who is very unfavorably disposed towards most political and social hierarchies, views the political rights of individuals as the rights of citizens, not as the rights of persons who are the depositaries of some attributed or hereditary status. He enumerates the costs, in terms of liberal principles, of allowing traditional monarchy to persist. In his view, it is contrary to the liberal principle of public offices being open to persons of merit for the king of the Ashanti to be chosen from among persons of royal lineage. Such a perspective should generate a generally negative attitude towards the monarchy of the Ashanti, a people from whom Appiah originates, and yet he views Ashanti’s traditional monarchy as a source of pride. Published in "Africana Bulletin" 2010, No. 58, pp. 47-74. (shrink)
Legitymacja należy do kluczowych zagadnień myśli politycznej i jest nierozerwalnie powiązana między innymi z takimi terminami jak państwo, władza, obywatele, poddani, prawa i obowiązki. Pojęcie legitymacji jest niezwykle ważne i być może właśnie z tego powodu jego istota stanowi temat wielu dyskusji. W tym artykule nie będziemy jednak analizować sporów definicyjnych. Ograniczymy się do podejścia, jakie proponuje Roger Scruton, unikając przedstawienia ścisłej definicji. Termin ‘legitymacja’ określa, jego zdaniem, to samo, co pojęcia ‘prawomocność władzy’ bądź ‘prawowite panowanie’. Gdy rządzący dzierżą władzę (...) nie posiadając do tego uprawnienia, wówczas mówimy, że władza jest przez nich wykonywana bez legitymacji. Legitymacja dotyczy relacji między obywatelami (poddanymi) a władzą państwową lub – jak ma to miejsce na przykład w Afryce Subsaharyjskiej – lokalnym władztwem tradycyjnym. Pojęcie legitymacji odnosi się przede wszystkim do tak podstawowych zagadnień jak podporządkowanie się obywateli (poddanych) decyzji władz oraz prawo władzy państwowej (lub tradycyjnej) do ograniczania wolności obywateli (poddanych). Legitymacja była istotnym problemem politycznym na przestrzeni ludzkich dziejów i we wszystkich obszarach świata. Również i dziś stanowi aktualną kwestię. Władza we współczesnych państwach demokratycznych czerpie legitymację z woli elektoratu wyrażonej w wyborach. Nawet w takim wydawałoby się idealnym stanie rzeczy legitymacja niejednokrotnie stanowi przedmiot dyskusji. Seymour Martin Lipset pisze w tym kontekście o ‘szacunkowości’, czy też względności legitymacji i uważa, że ludzie w państwie uznają istniejący w nim system polityczny jako posiadający legitymację lub nie w zależności od tego, czy wartości systemu odpowiadają wartościom przez nich wyznawanym. I tak na przykład, gdy prezydentem demokratycznego państwa zostanie popierany przez nas kandydat, automatycznie uznajemy jego władzę za legitymowaną. Jeśli jednak wybory prezydenckie wygra osoba, której nie darzymy poparciem czy zaufaniem, wówczas zdarza się nam podważać jej legitymację, zwłaszcza gdy została wybrana na urząd w sytuacji niskiej frekwencji wyborczej. W państwach pokolonialnej Afryki problem legitymacji jest daleko bardziej skomplikowany niż w świecie zachodnim. Podczas gdy Max Weber wyróżnił trzy czyste typy prawomocnego panowania (legalne, tradycyjne i charyzmatyczne) w państwie, David Beetham uznał, że typologia ta jest nieadekwatna ze względu na różnorodność rodzajów władzy, które istniały w XX wieku. Pogląd Beethama odpowiada po części sytuacji w Afryce, gdzie w przypadku wielu pokolonialnych państw przetrwały różne lokalne systemy władzy przedkolonialnej (królestwa, sułtanaty, wodzostwa) o legitymacji tradycyjnej, przy jednoczesnym istnieniu na poziomie ogólnopaństwowym panowania legalnego lub quasi-legalnego, mniej lub bardziej zgodnego z państwowym porządkiem prawnym. (shrink)
The eminent Ghanaian philosopher Kwasi Wiredu confronts the paradox that while Western cultures recoil from claims of universality, previously colonized peoples, seeking to redefine their identities, insist on cultural particularities.
Throughout history in Ancient Egypt, information has been passed on from one generation to another. Information about culture and traditions has been passed on verbally and through scripts. From the time of the Old Kingdom (3100 B.C) in Ancient Egypt, hieroglyphs were used as a tool to pass on information about their history, culture and everyday lifestyle. Hieroglyphs, hieratic and demotic are three stages of writing that were practised throughout Ancient Egypt ’s history. This paper will briefly explain the history (...) and use of hieroglyphs in the Ancient Egyptian times. (shrink)
Sumer was an ancient civilization in southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages. Although the historical records in the region do not go back much further than ca. 2900 BCE, modern historians believe that Sumer was first settled between ca. 4500 and 4000 BCE by people who may or may not have spoken the Sumerian language. These people, now called the "Ubaidians," were the first to drain the marshes for agriculture; develop trade; and establish industries including (...) weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery. (shrink)
The present dissertation is a multi-disciplinary project that examines the relationship between human rights and development in Africa, with specific focus on Ghana. The proposition, which is expressed in a theory of community emancipation, is that human rights hold the key to the attainment of sustainable holistic development. The theory of community emancipation represents the Akan notion of rights which speak to the lived experiences of Akan peoples. It is offered as a contribution to the evolution of distinct African notions (...) of rights. The Akan perspective on rights aims at making human rights a more accessible concept that people can relate to and to use as an effective tool to attain development. The theory is used in a general context to analyse Western development foreign policies implemented in post-colonial Africa with the active collaboration of African leaders. It concludes that these policies "failed" due to the lack of attention to human rights. Consequent to this is the creation of a culture of rights abuse in Africa and the unfounded claim propagated by African leaders that human rights does not matter for Africans, and is not part of the African culture. The work also examines Western development policies in the post-Cold War era and concludes that in general the development NGO concept is not conducive to the promotion of sustainable holistic development in Africa. The solution, among others, lies in local human rights NGOs collaborating in a new relationship with their foreign counterparts; and both given a more prominent role to play in the political, as well as the economic liberalisation processes. (shrink)