Some Methodological Controversies In African Philosophy

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The methodology an African scholar adopts in relating his views goes a long way in exposing the genre of African philosophy his works belong to—whether the issues he raise can be said to be typical of philosophical inquiries that relates exclusively to Africans, or if they engender criticisms and reconstructions of worldviews other than African. This paper examines two categories in African philosophy (Universalism and Particularism), adapting from works written by African intellectuals, in attempting to see, which one is more preferable and suitable. A.G.A. Bello in his paper, Some Methodological Controversies in African Philosophy, discusses the persistent issue of what we should be regarded as African philosophy. His arguments however, clearly favoured universalism, as opposed to particularism; and modern as opposed to traditional. This paper examines a work, each from both schools, as it appropriate to do so, in making a productive essay as to how the two views compare.

Keywords: universalism, particularism, proverbism, eschatology.

Philosophers, African philosophers in recent times have engaged themselves with the preoccupation of discussing the nature and methodology of African philosophy. At the core of their debates, are the issues of universalism and particularism, and consequently, the “modern” and the “traditional”. They have also discussed how the issues that are raised by African intellectuals are relevant to African philosophy (or put more directly, to African rationality), and its relation to philosophies of other cultures of the world—its relation to Western Philosophy in particular.
I will be exploring some very unique views in the work of the contemporary African scholar, A.K. Fayemi, on Proverbism and the Problem of African Rationality in African philosophy. He discusses rigorously on the rational competence of the individual unlettered African societies: the conceptual problems involved in the notion and paradigms of rationality. In doing this, he adopts the theory of proverbism as a cogent basis for defending the traditional Africans from the charge of irrationality leveled against them. I will also attempt an insight into the work of Ogunade Raymond on Yoruba Eschatology. These works chosen particularly, goes a long way in giving the subject matter an appropriate exposé.

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