Filosofia Theoretica: Journal of African Philosophy, Culture and Religions

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Why African Philosophers should build systems: An exercise in conversational thinking

Ojah Uti Egbai


At the height of the Great Debate about the existence or otherwise of African philosophy, Kwasi Wiredu bemoaned the dearth of originality in the practice of African philosophy. For him, African philosophers should now go beyond talking about African philosophy and get down to actually doing it. But what does it mean to do African philosophy? And what is the importance of actually doing African philosophy? In this paper, I will argue that doing African philosophy should involve, among other things, system-building. I will argue that the growth of the discipline and the advancement of Africa’s intellectual history constitute strong reasons for African philosophers to aim at building systems in this era. I will highlight existing attempts at system-building in African philosophy and show their weaknesses in order to project conversational thinking as a better framework. I will conclude by arguing that systembuilding is part of the overall goal of conversational philosophy, which has been demonstrated in some quarters as the future direction of
African philosophy.

Keywords: African philosophy, system-building, conversational thinking, conversational philosophy

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