Maat, The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt (African Studies: History, Politics, Economics and Culture) 1st Edition

11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415947534
ISBN-10: 0415947537
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Maulana Karenga is professor and chair of the Department of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach. He is also chair of the President's Task Force on Multicultural Education and Campus Diversity at California State University, Long Beach. Dr. Karenga holds two Ph.D.'s; his first in political science with focus on the theory and practice of nationalism (United States International University) and his second in social ethics with a focus on the classical African ethics of ancient Egypt (University of Southern California).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415947537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415947534
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,964,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. B. Abbott on August 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
First, this book is well worth reading as a fascinating and serious attempt to get to grips with the ancient Egyptian concept and practice of Ma'at - not just as a historical exercise but with a view to showing its relevance to modern life. Maulana Karenga firmly believes that the practice of Ma'at offers credible social and personal advantages in the 21st century, and is very persuasive without trying to over-simplify the issues or overlook the enormous changes in human society since then. It is an openly African-centred approach to Egyptian studies, and as such draws in fresh and compelling insights and analogies.

There are some disappointing aspects to the treatment, though. In numerous places the author seems so keen to promote Ma'atian principles over others that the arguments are overstated or simplified, or straw-man positions set up to represent secular or religious positions. One feels that from time to time the wrong things are being compared! For example, simplistically-stated positions of Christian theology are set up against specific Egyptian texts and found wanting: however, Christian theology has to cope with difficult texts in the Biblical tradition as well, and is a more complex and flexible system of thought than he gives it credit. On a similar vein, Egyptian texts are almost entirely drawn from the Wisdom tradition rather than the whole gamut of Egyptian thought: suitable comparisons would be with the Hebrew wisdom tradition which frequently has quite a similar focus. The differences seem to be exaggerated so as to make Ma'at come out on top more easily!

I would have like to see a greater attempt to tackle "difficult" texts and so present a more rounded picture of Egyptian ethics. For example, the Declarations of Innocence "I have not killed...
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Hyper Thalmus on July 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
I literally have hundreds of books many of which are great but this book honestly needs ten stars. I get quivers when I think about the pain staking scholarship that went into this book. This book travels into domains unventured. It inaugurates a new 4th phase of Egyptology. It left the authority of Egyptology saying we have alot to learn from traditional African cultures, signing the praises of Karenga. Ironically Karenga is like the teacher and Assmann the authority who is made to look like the student as his works are corrected. So many people need this book. Spirituality, Philosophy, History, Culture and revealing knowledge that has been locked away for millenniums. Diffinetly for all those who wish to be conscious.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christina Paul VINE VOICE on January 13, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Ma'at: The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt by Dr. Maulana Karenga is probably one of the most important and thorough books on African philosophical principles. Unlike many other Afrikan centred writers, Dr. Karenga applied many of the same rules that egyptology puts into place in order to underscore his points about Ma;at as a social principle and construct that was absolutely central to Ancient Kemetic civilization. While egyptologists can be a rather stodgy lot and often they turn upon each other, let alone those who put forth theories that they don't entirely approve of, Dr. Karenga meets them. The foreword by egyptologist Dr. Jan Assman alone underscores the depth and the effort of this work.

No, the two sides are not going to necessarily agree on every point. However, the problem with much of Egyptology is their incessant failure to admit that the Ancient Kemetic people were not a bunch of superstitious primitives, but every aspect of this place that is the cradle of all civilization had very complex concepts of philosophy and spirituality as well as an astute understanding of the larger world and their place within it. Ma'at is just as relevant as a philosophy and life approach as it was in antiquity. This is what Karenga and many African-centered scholars and writers are getting right. This attention to detail and getting it right is what will make the culture live again and regain respect for African traditional thought, religion and philosophy in the world. We need that now more than ever.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By The Sesh on March 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the book we have been waiting for. It is the first book to truly unravel the spiritual philosophy of Ancient Kemet. Most books before this were Eurocentric babble attempting to downplay the Kemetian legacy in order to reinforce Eurocentric myths of supremacy; others attribute Kemetian genius to Asiatics and/or extraterrestrial aliens; still others attempt to validate Kemetian philosophy by looking at it from a Jewish or Indian lens. Many of those who seek to rejuvenate Kemet for the world and attempt to speak on Kemet do not used the Kemetian texts sufficiently to illustrate their point.

Karenga does none of that nonsense. His exploration of Kemetian spiritual philosophy is unparallel as he focuses primarily on the actual ancient texts, meanwhile correcting the current Egyptologists' bias views. Karenga exposes the primary force behind Kemetian spiritual philosophy as Maat, the feminine deification of truth, goodness, and balance. In addition, he shows the familial relationship between Kemetian ontology and that of other Afrikan spiritual systems, though this could have been more thoroughly explored.

This text is without doubt academic in nature, yet it has the making of a philosophically spiritual manual as well. Unlike most other texts that take a spiritual stance on Kemet, Karenga at no point forces the reader to rely on his word, but relentlessly points the reader to the text, even when he is agreeing or disagreeing with another scholar.
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