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Advanced History of Philosophy: African Philosophy




Admissions requirements

Passing History of Philosophy is required. Depending on the specific focus of the course each year, passing Philosophies of the World is recommended (but not required).


The purpose of Advanced History of Philosophy courses is to allow students to zoom in on important periods in the history of philosophy that they only got a taste of in History of Philosophies or Philosophies of the World. From year to year, the subtitle will shift as the course focuses on different periods. In this particular version of AHoP – Advanced History of Philosophy: 20th Century African Philosophy – students will be introduced to the specialized discipline of African philosophy. As students will find out, a lot of controversies surrounds the discipline; these range from methodology, nature and content of such a regional philosophy. However, bulk of the history of African philosophy to be discussed here will be on developments in the 20th century till date. Several texts will be examined by students in the duration of this course. This is with a view to having a handle on the issues that animated, and helped inaugurate, the discipline of African philosophy. Some of these topics are: the emergence of African philosophy, early response to Eurocentrism, professional philosophy and their approach to Africa, traditionalist current, modernist current, sage philosophy, problem of identity, personhood and the individual/community debate in African philosophy. To maximize the values of this course, students will be expected to have and cultivate an active learning habit via regular class attendance, participation in class/group discussion, reading background texts and undertaking any other course-related activity.

Course objectives

By the end of this course students should:

  • Be able to have a good grasp of the context which helped birth the discipline of African philosophy

  • Be familiar with the dominant trends and perspectives on African philosophy

  • Be able to discuss some of the major topical issues in African philosophy


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Each ordinary meeting of the course will consist of a 2-hour interactive discussion on the scheduled topic, with reading to be completed prior to the meeting. This course depends heavily on group discussion of significant primary texts. Each class will begin with the instructor introducing the key issues and readings for that day and offering an interpretation of the works being discussed. Students should join in the discussion at any time, asking questions, making suggestions, or making comparisons with other texts we have read. For each meeting, each student should mark out a short passage (1-3 sentences) from the day’s reading that especially stood out.


  • Participation and attentiveness in classroom discussions is worth 18% of the overall course grade. This will be assessed throughout the course, and is meant to encourage constructive and active engagement with course materials and fellow students.

  • A 300-word reflection will be due in four different weeks, and each will be worth 6% of the overall course grade (totaling 24%). These will help to assess the capacity to articulate questions, concepts, and arguments based on individual engagement with course readings.

  • One in-class “midterm” short answer and/or essay exam will be worth 18% of the overall course grade. This will encourage a clear comprehension of objective course content.

  • One final paper (due during reading week) will be worth 40% of the overall course grade. This will encourage analysis of concepts covered throughout the course, and force students to express their ideas clearly and organize them coherently.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Required texts:

  • Azenabor, G. (2009). “Odera Oruka’s Philosophic Sagacity: Problems and Challenges of Conversation Method in African Philosophy” In Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya (PAK) Premier Issue, New Series, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 69-86

  • Bodunrin, P.O. (1981). The Question of African Philosophy. Philosophy vol. 56, pp. 161 – 179

  • Hallen, B. (2002). A Short History of African Philosophy. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press

  • Oladipo, O. (1995). “Reason, Identity, and the African Quest: The Problems of Self-Definition in African Philosophy” In Africa Today, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 26-38

  • Oyeshile, O. (2008), “On Defining African Philosophy: History, Challenges and Perspectives”, Humanity & Social Sciences Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1: 57 – 64.

  • Wiredu, K. (Ed.) (2006). A Companion to African Philosophy. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Suggested: Cazeneuve, Jean. (1972). Lucien Levy-Bruhl. Oxford: Basil Blackwell
Hountondji, P. J. (1983). African Philosophy: Myth and Reality. London: Hutchinson.
Idowu, E.B. (1962) Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief. London: Longmans

Matolino, Bernard (2014) Personhood in African Philosophy. Dorpspruit: Cluster Publications
Masolo, B. (1994) African Philosophy in Search of Identity. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
Mbiti, J.S. (1969) African Religions and Philosophy. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.
Oladipo, O. (2000) The Idea of African Philosophy. Third Edition. Ibadan: Hope Publications
Oyeshile, O. (1997), “Humanistic Universalism as an Imperative for Africa’s Development’, Journal of Philosophy and Development, Vol. 3, Nos. 1 & 3, 40 – 71.
Oyeshile, O. (2002) “Towards an African Concept of a person: Person in Yoruba, Akan and Igbo Thoughts”, Orita, XXXIV.
Oyeshile, O. (2003) “Predestination and Freewill in the Yoruba Concept of the Person: Contradictions and Paradoxes”, Philosophy, Culture and Traditions, Vol. 2.
Sogolo, G. (1993) Foundations of African Philosophy. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press
Wright, R. A. (Ed.) (1984). African Philosophy: An Introduction, 3rd Ed. New York: University Press of America.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact

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Students are expected get all of the required texts.