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Knowledge, Belief, and Witchcraft: Analytic Experiments in African Philosophy (Mestizo Spaces / Espaces Métissés) Hardcover – August 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Analytic philosophers have invested enormous amoun ts of energy attempting to analyse various terms that play a central role in our everyday thinking about the epistemic and ethical dimensions of our lives. It is often supposed that the conceptions underlying these terms are universals of human culture. The fascinating thesis of this intriguing little book is that supposition is false.' Ethics

About the Author

Barry Hallen is a Fellow of the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University. J. Olubi Sodipo is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press (August 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804728224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804728225
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,687,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
A very interesting book. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in cross-cultural communication or non-Western thought, even if you're not familiar with philosophy or anthropology (it's a pretty straightforward read).

The book is a collaboration between an American philosopher and a Nigerian philosopher, and arises out of debates over the definition (or even the mere existence) of “African philosophy.” Hallen and Sodipo argue against the common notion that the term “philosophy” should only apply to the traditions of thought deriving from the Ancient Greeks. But instead of just presenting a theoretical argument about how Western and indigenous philosophies might fruitfully communicate, they set out to demonstrate it, to actually *DO* African philosophy. To accomplish this they draw on the methods of “ordinary language philosophy” - a school of thought originating in 1940s England that focuses on how philosophical terms are actually used in everyday communication (so instead of asking “what is truth,” for example, an ordinary language philosopher would ask “what sorts of things do people mean when they use the word ‘truth’?”).

Using this approach, they analyze two terms in the Yoruba language (an oral culture) that are typically translated into English as "knowledge" and "belief." They discover that in the way they're actually used, these terms mean completely different things from their assumed English equivalents, the former term referring to things directly seen with one's eyes, the latter term referring to things learned second hand.
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Knowledge, Belief, and Witchcraft: Analytic Experiments in African Philosophy (Mestizo Spaces / Espaces Métissés)
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