Day 16: Kwasi Wiredu #BlackHistoryMonth

20140216-095706.jpg Wiredu was born in Kumasi, Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), in 1931, and attended Adisadel College from 1948 to 1952. It was during this period that he discovered philosophy, through Plato (which weaned him from his interest in Practical Psychology) and Bertrand Russell, and he gained a place at the University of Ghana, Legon. After graduating in 1958, he went to University College, Oxford to read for the B.Phil.. He wrote a thesis on “Knowledge, Truth, and Reason”. Upon graduating in 1960 he was appointed to a teaching post at the University College of North Staffordshire (now the University of Keele), where he stayed for a year. He then returned to Ghana, where he accepted a post teaching philosophy for his old university. He remained at the University of Ghana for twenty-three years, during which time he became first Head of Department and then Professor. Since 1987 he holds a professorship at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Wiredu opposes the “ethnophilosophical” and “philosophical sagacity” approaches to African philosophy, arguing that all cultures have their distinctive folk-beliefs and world-views, but that these must be distinguished from the practice of philosophizing.[citation needed] It is not that “folk philosophy” cannot play a part in genuine philosophy; on the contrary, he has acknowledged his own debt to his own (Akan) culture’s history of thought. Rather, he argues that genuine philosophy demands the application to such thought of critical analysis and rigorous argument. His influences include, apart from his tutors at Oxford, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant, and the pragmatist John Dewey, and the epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical resources of the Akan culture. The result is philosophy that is at once universally relevant and essentially African.

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