Kwasi Wiredu in African Philosophy

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African Philosophy as a critical thinking by Africans on their experiences of reality and as a philosophical discourse produced and being tested by African philosophers especially indigenous Africans who lived long ago. Therefore, on this paper I will take a look on ‘Cultural Universals and Practices’, on how cultural differences affect another culture and also critically discuss a philosophical perspective on the concept of human communication by one of the most well-known African philosopher ‘Kwasi Wiredu. In conclusion I will link his standing point with Janz’ s Place and culture’ on how he opposes on Wiredu’s claim.

Basically, Wiredu .K. (1996) as an African philosopher his standpoint is closely related to the notion of communitarians. In a philosophical perspective on the concept of human communication. For Wiredu ‘Communication as the achievement of thought it is not just similar as communication between two entities, but how different individuals acquire knowledge and experience from one person to another. Communication is the transcendence of a thought content from one person to or a group of people. Language of course it is also a vehicle of this transcendence, according to Wiredu. Therefore, communication as a tool to bind many different people from different backgrounds and ethnicities. It plays a very pivotal role not only on the interaction of human species, but it also applies even in nonhuman species.

Therefore, for Wiredu, communication is the tool that ensures unity and cultural universals. In a sense that ‘without this thing called ‘Communication’ community is impossible. In a sense that many cultures, norms and practices from different backgrounds they are now cross-cultural. All these also led to shared meanings between people of difference and depends on how one uses his/her abstract way of thinking and acquiring or adapting these differences. In the other hand Wiredu also explain his argument ii a way that, there are also limitations for the abstract entities while exists in our minds. For example, during slavery, those people of the same group were being separated, so that they will be able to use ‘Lingua franca’ in order to communicate. In other words’ without communication for Kwasi, there is no human existence. Because him as a communitarian, he strongly believe that African cultures are being universalized and also practices. For kwasi ‘the circularity in this suggestion is twofold, for in addition to the circularity just pointed out that any notion of two or more individuals perceiving, apprehending, grasping, attending to, the same entity already presupposes a milieu of communication. Meaning that the moment when two different persons interprets the same object in the same way. It is when there an interpersonal correlation of inner experience’s with external reality, which is unconceivable without communication. Development of mind is the development of communication, because when we are born we are being born empty, but we develop our mental states as time goes from the social environment. All these concepts led us to ask ourselves many different philosophical as Wiredu already did on chapter two of his book that “Are there any cultural universals?

In answering this question I strongly agree that’ cultures are universals, of course yes, because of our biologico-cross cultural identity, reflective perception, abstraction, and also deduction and induction. All these contribute more on the cross cultural practices. By saying ‘Reflective perception wiredu try to put us in a clear distinct of a kind of awareness that involves the identification of objects and events though the conscious application of concepts and which entails power of recalling and to be able to re-identify. Abstraction as one of the human entity and as a mental procedure of bringing particulars together under still more general. All these are already presupposed in rudimentary forms in reflective perception for to recognize something as differ from one another.

This is no contradiction, thus communication as the universal transcendence is not only based on social interaction, but also though individuals and objects on how they interprets them. Cultures are universal, according to wiredu in a sense that, in other cases you will find that a group of different backgrounds from different ethnicities perceive an object in the same way as another interprets. For example there are some white people who are residing here in African countries who are traditional healers, male circumcision is being shared by many different ethnicities. In an African perspective cultures are universal. For example of ‘lingua franca’ some languages are used as common languages for communication even here in reality we have an English language as a global lingua franca, which binds many people from different cultures and norms. For, wiredu “norms and communication are inseparable, in a sense that without communication there is no community, even without thought communication. In comparison to Janz (2009) culture and place. Even the traditions of African philosophy that are most likely, to simply assert their entitlement to a place and willfully ignore the history of African philosophy and practices. Exclusion, must always have one eye on that which is being ignored. These traditions too come from a place, an intellectual place as well as a geographical and cultural one. ‘The concern with philosophical identity and legitimacy is really a concern for one’s place in a discipline, and in the academy. The “nowhere-ness” of AI’ricun philosophy, from the point of view of the discipline as a whole, must he countered by those who believe that African philosophy has or deserves u place on the philosophical map.

In conclusion, janz criticizes Wiredu’s standpoint that ‘African philosophy is a philosophical field at its own. In African philosophy, the aggregation of place implies that we are always working with an assembly. That means that the search for a pure cultural experience will fail, even though the search for cultural experience with integrity has every chance of succeeding. Integrity is a cohesion of the aggregation, rather than a denial of it.


  1. Janz. Bruce.(2009) “The Territory Is Not The Map: Deleuze and Guattari’s Relevance to the Concept of Place in African Philosophy”
  2. Kwasi. Wiredu, (1996). Cultural universals and Particulars

Cite this paper

Kwasi Wiredu in African Philosophy. (2020, Nov 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/kwasi-wiredu-in-african-philosophy/



What are the 4 trends of African philosophy?
The four trends of African philosophy are ethnophilosophy, philosophical sagacity, nationalistic-ideological philosophy, and professional philosophy. These trends reflect the unique cultural and historical experiences of African societies and their philosophical traditions.
What are the key principles of African philosophies?
The key principles of African philosophies are that all people are connected and that everything is connected.
What is Kwasi Wiredu position on decolonization?
Kwasi Wiredu believes that decolonization is essential in order to achieve true independence. He believes that it is the only way to ensure that African countries are able to develop their own unique cultures and identities.
Who is the father of African philosophy?
One of the principal sources of African ethnophilosophy was the French philosopher Lucien Levy-Bruhl (1857–1939).
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