Anton Wilhelm Amo: The African Philosopher in 18th Europe

Blog of The American Philosophical Association (2018)
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Abstract

Anton Wilhelm Amo (c. 1700 – c. 1750) – born in West Africa, enslaved, and then gifted to the Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel – became the first African to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at a European university. He went on to teach philosophy at the Universities of Halle and Jena. On the 16th of April, 1734, at the University of Wittenberg, he defended his dissertation, De Humanae Mentis Apatheia (On the Impassivity of the Human Mind), in which Amo investigates the logical inconsistencies in René Descartes’ (1596 – 1650) res cogitans (mind) and res extensa (body) distinction and interaction by maintaining that (1) the mind does not sense material things nor does it (2) contain the faculty of sensing.

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Dwight Lewis
University of South Florida

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