The Sense in which Ethno-philosophy can Remain Relevant in 21st Century African Philosophy

Keywords: African philosophy, Ethno-philosophy, Ibuanyidanda philosophy, Ezumezu logic, Universalists, Particularists


Ethno-philosophy, as a philosophical project, has had its fair share of criticism from some professional African philosophers, with Paulin Hountondji as an outstanding critic. Ethno-philosophy is believed to be deficient in criticality and analyticity, which are considered hallmarks of good philosophy anywhere. In this paper I engage Fainos Mangena, a tireless defender of ethno-philosophy, in a critical conversation. In making a case for the continuing relevance of ethno-philosophy, while acknowledging its shortcomings, I argue that the universalist critique of ethno-philosophy has exposed the philosophical poverty of this specific form of thought. I assert that the equation of ethno-philosophy with substantive African philosophy will lead to the emergence of an impoverished African philosophical tradition, notwithstanding the desirability of a unique African philosophy distinguishable from non-African philosophical traditions—in particular the Western philosophical tradition. I point out that Innocent Asouzu and J.O. Chimakonam’s Ibuanyidanda ontology and Ezumezu logical system demonstrate the viability of a philosophical programme that seeks to transcend ethno-philosophy by enriching it with concepts that promote the criticality and analyticity demanded by critics of ethno-philosophy, in a manner conducive to system-building.


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Author Biography

Ada Agada, University of Calabar

Research Fellow

Department of Philosophy

University of Calabar