OJPP  Vol.5 No.4 , March 2015
An Appraisal of Man’s Essence in Bantu Ontology
Abstract: With the Socratic injunction: “man know thyself”; the West began a formal search for the nature of man. What is man? What is his essence in real life; what exactly makes him what he is? These questions, apart from dividing philosophers in the West into different warring camps, also portray man as incapable of self knowledge; hence man is described as a paradox. This seemingly insoluble problem among Western philosophers is grounded on their conception of reality as static and dichotomised. In Africa with the understanding of reality as one unitary whole, though distinct and yet complementary, penetrating and interacting with each other, the dualism disappears and there is what we call the “harmony of African conceptions”. In this article, using comparative analysis, the essence of man is critically examined within a particular African culture, namely, Bantu ontology and with their conception of reality as dynamic, a conception in contradistinction to the Western static conception of reality The conclusion is that a new definition of man emerges, a definition which is one of the essential characteristics of who is an African?
Cite this paper: Mbaegbu, C. (2015) An Appraisal of Man’s Essence in Bantu Ontology. Open Journal of Philosophy, 5, 217-227. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2015.54027.

[1]   Descartes, R. (1955). Selections: Rapheaton. New York: Charles Scribes.

[2]   Descartes, R. (1960). Meditations on First Philosophy. New York: Library Arts.

[3]   Dewey, J. (1925). Experience and Nature. Chicago: Dover.

[4]   Ezeanya, S. N. (1979). The Contributions of African Traditional Religion to Nation Building. Nigerian Dialogues, 3, 1-17.

[5]   Hamilton, E., & Cairns (nd). Plato: The Collected Dialogues Including the Letters. Bollengen Series, LXXI, 95-120.

[6]   Idowu, B. (1973). African Traditional Religion. London: Heinemann.

[7]   Jahn, J. (1961). Muntu. New York: Groves.

[8]   Mbiti, J. (1969). African Religion and Philosophy. London: Heinemann.

[9]   Mboya, T. (1963). Freedom and after. London: Andre Deutsche.

[10]   Ogilri, J. A. (1973). Self and World. Harwint: Bruce Jonavich.

[11]   Okolo, C. B. (1998). The African Person: A Cultural Definition. Indian Philosophy Quarterly, 14, 90-105.

[12]   Onyewuenyi, I. C. (1982). A Philosophical Reappraisal of African Belief in Reincarnation. International Philosophical Quarterly, 22, 150-164.

[13]   Parrinder, E. (1976). Monotheism and Polytheism in Africa. Journal of religion in Africa, 3, 70-89.

[14]   Randall, J. (1944). Epilogue: The Nature of Naturalism. In H. Karikorian (Ed.), Naturalism and Human Spirit (pp. 350-375). New York: Colombia University.

[15]   Resse, W. (1980). Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion (Volume 2). Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.

[16]   Royce, M. (1961). Man and His Nature. New York: McGraw Hill.

[17]   Russell, B. (1967). Why I Am Not a Christian. London: George Allen and Uwin.

[18]   Russell, B. (1979). Outline of Philosophy. London: George Allen and Uwin.

[19]   Tempels, P. (1959). Bantu Philosophy. Paris: Presence Afrcaine.