Recommendations: African Philosophy
In view of the issues discussed in the previous section, I offer the following recommendations:
1. Another department, probably Anthropology or Sociology, should undertake the study of traditional African thought. I agree with Wiredu in his essay "How Not to Compare African Thought with Western Thought" when he says, "African traditional thought should in the first place only be compared with Western folk thought." (Wright, 157) The same recommendation will be made with respect to Native American "philosophy".
2. Philosophy classes should be upfront about how some Western philosophers, especially before 1800, took for granted attitudes toward Africans which were universally rejected by 19th- and 20th-century philosophers. Plato and Aristotle, for example, took slavery for granted. Hume thought "Negroes" inferior to whites.
3. Philosophy classes should note, however, that despite its lamentable history of slavery, intolerance, imperialism, and impoverishment of the spirit, Western culture has eliminated slavery (unlike some African cultures), and, more than any other culture, has instituted religious tolerance, progressive attitudes toward women, and the most widespread institutionalization of equal rights for all. Christianity and Marxism werent all bad.
4. Philosophy classes should study African wisdom writings at the same time they study Western wisdom writings, i.e., in ethics classes.
5. Philosophy classes may choose to read the African philosophers of the 16th and 17th centuries as representatives of various views of modern philosophy. For example, a selection from The Treatise of Zera Yacob could be read along with Descartes Meditations to illustrate the mistrust of traditional authority and the reliance on reason characteristic of the 17th century.
6. African nationalist writings, particularly on the African "tradition of socialism", should be included in any classes in political and social philosophy.
7. The writings of contemporary African philosophers in all areas of philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, logic, etc.) should be read whenever they are relevant.