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In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture Paperback – May 27, 1993

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 27, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195068521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195068528
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A wonderfully crafted collection of essays."--In My Father's House

"Appiah's book on the place of Africa in contemporary philosophy powerfully exposes the dangers of any simplistic notion of African identity in the contemporary world....Tellingly, his reflections upon the calling of philosophy and the relation between post-traditional and not-yet-modern African culture(s) offer a welcome perspective on the increasingly shrill debates over "multiculturalism" that rend the academy. The epilogue on his father's funeral alone more than justifies the whole book."--Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Common Knowledge

"Interesting and thought-provoking."--Safro Kwame, Lincoln University

"Montaigne invented the modern essay;...Appiah has the brilliance to extend it."--The Village Voice

"A groundbreaking--as well as ground-clearing--analysis of absurdities and damaging presuppositions that have clouded our discussions of race, Africa and nationalism since the 19th century....Mr. Appiah delivers what may very well be one of the handful of theoretical works on race that will help preserve our humanity and guide us gracefully into the next century."--Charles Johnson, The New York Times Book Review

"Appiah's essays are exquisitely and painstakingly argued."--Washington Post Book World

"An exceptional work, whose contextual sweep and lucidity provide a refreshing intellectual tone away from yahoo populism. In many profound ways, Kwame Appiah's In My Father's House ushers in a new level of discourse on race and culture, placing it within a universal narrative--and where else should it belong?...Without question, a first of its kind."--Wole Soyinka, from Race and the Rout of Reason

"In My Father's House is a remarkable book that brings previously invisible cultural assumptions to the surface and obliges us to rethink our conceptions about African identity. Drawing upon a variety of elegantly analyzed historical examples and relating them to his own personal experiences of the African world, Anthony Appiah convincingly demonstrates the need to go beyond stereotyped notions of race and futile laments about past injustices. His observations about authenticity movements, the persistence of Western constructions of African realities, and the emergence of new syntheses of knowledge among African peoples represent a major breakthrough in the ongoing debate over the future of African culture."--Richard Bjornson, Ohio State University

"This is an absorbing and path-breaking book by a gifted philosopher. Appiah rescues the philosophy of culture from Herder by insisting that we drop notions like 'authentic negritude' and that 'African culture' is the name of an important project rather than of an available datum. The book's range of reference and the vigor of its argumentation are equally impressive."--Richard Rorty, University of Virginia

"Appiah's concern is, he modestly states, 'with the situation of African intellectuals.' In the growing literature on the subject, nobody has defined that situation, as it exists now, more sharply; nobody has built so many bridges to a discourse that might be shared universally. Learned yet unpretentious, serious and witty, critical and kind--this book is bound to infuse debates among African intellectuals with new vigor and to engage philosophers, literary critics, anthropologists and others everywhere. One also wishes it would be read by politicians for its lucid analyses of racism as well as its demonstration of intellectual independence tempered by colonial and post-colonial experience."--Johannes Fabian, University of Amsterdam

About the Author

Kwame Anthony Appiah is Professor of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University. His books include Assertion and Conditionals (1985), For Truth in Semantics (1986), Necessary Questions (1989), and the novel Avenging Angel (1991). He is currently editing the Oxford Book of African Literature.

More About the Author

Kwame Anthony Appiah, the president of the PEN American Center, is the author of The Ethics of Identity, Thinking It Through: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy, The Honor Code and the prize-winning Cosmopolitanism. Raised in Ghana and educated in England, he has taught philosophy on three continents and is currently a professor at Princeton University. He maintains a website at

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By CodyforOrange on December 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Modern Africans find themselves at the juncture of several worlds: As Basil Davidson might have noted, revolution, episodic nationalism, and postcolonial debacles have cast a pall of chaos onto an already historically chaotic field of peoples. The philosophies of Europe, the roots of tradition, African nationalism, Pan-Africanism, racial, tribal and ethnic solidarity, and a modernity which seeks to unleash individualism all come into conflict when Africans attempt to assess the problems they face, and detail solutions for these problems. Kwame Antony Appiah calls African thinkers to take up this important work, and he offers several assessments of these problems and possible solutions in his book. He believes that a better basis for solidarity in Africa is needed to replace decaying philosophies of negritude, and he discredits Pan Africanism's ability to fulfill this role. He addresses the question of what African philosophers should be preoccupied with, and whether, in their seeking to establish, unify, or recreate cultures, African philosophers can really draw upon philosophies and identities unique to Africa. The importance of an "African" identity has emerged since colonialism, and Appiah questions what such an identity should be founded upon, using Wole Soyinka and his own father Joseph Appiah as examples of intellectuals at work on the question.
After a reading of Appiah's book, I question whether an African solidarity can be usefully articulated. Can inclusive, constructive and accessible modern culture be derived in a continent-wide scale, with some collective experience as its sourcebook? Perhaps the question rides on whether tradition is truly expendable, although so far it has apparently not been expendable (although it has proven malleable).
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
Appiah's book is insightful and powerful. His mastery of language allows for a philosophical chef d'oeuvre that reads with fluency comparable to a fine novel. Appiah's unique perspective as a quintessentially modern academic whose own life has bridged gaps between three continents imbues his writing with a freshness that will captivate any fine intellect. Truly a remarkable work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven H. Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on December 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
Kwame Anthony Appiah (born 1955) is a Ghanaian philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist who is currently Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. He is also author of books such as The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Issues of Our Time), The Ethics of Identity, Necessary Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy, and Thinking It Through: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy.

He states in the Preface to this 1992 book, "in thinking about culture, which is the subject of this book, one is bound to be formed---morally, aesthetically, politically, religiously---by the range of lives one has known... this is especially important because the book is about issues that are bound to be deeply personally important for anyone with my history; for its theme is the question how we are to think about Africa's contemporary cultures in the light both of the two main external determinants of her recent cultural history---European and Afro-New World conceptions of Africa---and of her own endogenous cultural traditions.
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By J. Golding on June 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thanks again for access to used books that are in good condition. This has helped me to complete my studies without much stress at international finding resources. Thanks Amazon
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