Menkiti, I. A. (1984). Person and Community in African Traditional Thought. In R. A. Wright (Ed.), African Philosophy. An Introduction (pp. 171-181). Lanham, MD: University Press of America. (S)
Describe how the phrase ‘I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am’ encapsulates the critical difference between the traditional African view of personhood and the Western view?
What are the static factors the Western philosophy use as the critical defining features of personhood? What are the potential problems with those factors?
What is meant by the African notion that personhood is something that must be achieved, not something one is simply born with because of human heritage? What are the potential problems with this approach?
What role does ritual play in African personhood?
Discuss the meaning of the African proverb “What an old man sees sitting down a young man cannot see standing up”
Who are the “living dead” in traditional African society? What role do they play?
When does personhood cease in the traditional African view?
How does one grow in personhood in the traditional African view?
Describe how “community” differs between the African and Western views. What significance does this have for the idea of individual rights?
1. Explain the two main differences between the Western view of man and the African traditional view of man.
2. What is meant by the phrase “ontological progression?” How does it relate to age?
3. How are the newly born and the long-deceased similar in the African traditional sense?
4. Compare and contrast the existentialist and the traditional African views of personhood.
5. How are the Western and traditional African ideas of “community” different? How are their societies organized?
6. How does the African Traditional view of personhood relate to the Andes story?
7. Explain what it means to “attain” personhood.