Philosophy of Culture: African-American Egalitarianism



Nita de Oliveira, Ph.D. - Office: Scott Hall 3012
Phone: 419-530-4517 - Office Hours: MF 8:30-11:00

Email: [email protected]

PHIL 3550-001 : PHILOSOPHY OF CULTURE - MW 12:30-13:45


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Register for this course at UT


Course Description:


[3 hours] Examines the relevance of cultural differences to values and modes of thought through case studies in non-Western culture. Topics may include cultural relativism and cultural imperialism. Non-Western multicultural course.
In this course, we will explore African-American philosophical contributions to a cosmopolitan, pluralist egalitarianism. It will be shown how the African Diaspora political thought, such as expressed by Black Theology of Liberation and African Philosophy, has contributed to Third World liberation movements and to a more egalitarian, inclusive view of globalization, as opposed to both colonialism and cultural imperialism. By exploring the interdependence between African-American, African, and Afro-Latin (esp. Afro-Brazilian) political discourses of liberation we shall attempt to contribute to the interdisciplinary field of Global African Studies. The distinction between liberation theology and liberation philosophy will be also thematized.


Required Texts (Paperback):


Lee M. Brown, ed. African Philosophy: New and Traditional Perspectives. Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN13: 978-0-19-511441-6 / ISBN10: 0-19-511441-8.
Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.
Kwame Anthony Appiah, In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture. London: Methuen, 1992; New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Further Reading:

Mario Azevedo, Editor. Africana Studies: A Survey of Africa and the African Diaspora. Third Edition. Durham: Carolina Press, 2005.

Richard Bell. Understanding African Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2002.

P. H. Coetzee and A. P. J. Roux, eds. The African Philosophy Reader, 2nd Edition. London: Routledge, 2003.

Emmanuel Eze. African Philosophy: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Frantz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans. Constance Farrington. New York: Grove Press, 1967.

Samuel Oluoch Imbo. An Introduction to African Philosophy. Rowman & Littlefield, 1998.

Bruce B. Janz, "African Philosophy" (pdf)


Olufemi Taiwo, Legal Naturalism: A Marxist Theory of Law. Cornell University Press, 1996.

Kwasi Wiredu, ed. A Companion to African Philosophy. Blackwell, 2004.



Grading Policy:

Grades are based on point accumulation throughout the semester. There are 2 Homeworks worth 15 points each and 1 Midterm worth 30 points. One of the Homeworks might be replaced by a Class Presentation. NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED, unless they are accompanied by evidence of a medical emergency (e.g., signed doctor’s note) or death in the family (e.g., funeral program). Make-up exams will be given only to those students who inform me of their emergency by email on the day of the exam. The cumulative final exam is worth 40 points, so as to make up 100 points:


30 points = Homework

30 points = Midterm

40 points = Final Exam

100 total points


Final grades for the course are based on the following scale:


93-100 pts. = A 77-79 pts. = C+

90-92 pts. = A- 73-76 pts. = C

87-89 pts. = B+ 70-72 pts. = C-

83-86 pts. = B 60-69 pts. = D

80-82 pts. = B- 59 and below = F


Academic Honesty:

Neither plagiarism (i.e., presenting the written work of another as one's own) nor cheating (i.e., providing answers to exam questions or receiving exam answers from another) will be tolerated. Any academic dishonesty will be disciplined according to the guidelines in the University of Toledo student handbook.



If you need special accommodations to attend my class, please notify me immediately. Your need for special accommodations, including special testing requests, will need to be documented by the Office of Accessibility, located at 1400 Snyder Memorial.


Reading Assignments & Class Structure:

Make sure to prepare all the readings before the date given. The reading assignments are usually short and hopefully pleasant. Homework is turned in at the beginning of class on the day it is due. There will be audiovisual presentations (DVD, online videos) and oral presentations. In-class final exams will take place during the last week of semester exams.


Class Participation

Class participation is essential. That includes class attendance (75%) as well as active involvement in all phases of the class.


Class Schedule:



About the Textbook:
In the last two decades the idea of African Philosophy has undergone significant change and scrutiny. Some critics have maintained that the idea of a system of philosophical thought tied to African traditions is incoherent. In African Philosophy, Lee Brown has collected new essays by top scholars in the field that in various ways respond to these criticisms and defend the notion of African Philosophy.
The essays address both epistemological and metaphysical issues that are specific to the traditional conceptual languages of sub-Saharan Africa. The primary focus of the collection is on traditional African conceptions of topics like mind, person, personal identity, truth, knowledge, understanding, objectivity, destiny, free will, causation, and reality. The contributors--who include Leke Adeofe, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Lee Brown, Segun Gbadegesin, D.A. Masolo, Albert Mosley, Ifeanyi Menkiti, and Kwasi Wiredu--incorporate concerns from various African philosophical traditions, including Akan, Azande, Bokis, Igno, Luo, and Yoruba.
African Philosophy ultimately tries to bring a more rigorous conception of African philosophy into fruitful contact with Western philosophical concerns, specifically in the philosophies of psychology, mind, science, and language, as well as in metaphysics and epistemology. It will appeal to both scholars and students.


In-Class Discussions on Racism, African Philosophy, Liberation Theology, and African-American Studies

Wiki entry on African philosophy

Wiki entry on African-American Civil Rights Movement

African Studies Quarterly

Journal on African Philosophy

Global African Studies (Seattle U)

Martin Luther King Jr.

W.E.B. DuBois

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Sojourner Truth

Cornel West

Rosa Parks

Cornel West on the Web

The Sojourner’s Truth

African Philosophy

Black Theology

African American Studies

Wiki on Afro-Brazilians

Wiki on Afro-Latinos

Liberation: Theology and Philosophy

Liberation Theology


Toni Morrison Page

Black Toledo

MLK Research Institute

Africana Studies at UT

UT Course: Philosophy of Religion

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