KWAME GYEKYE PDF

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THE AFRICAN PHILOSOPHER KWAME GYEKYE explores how the Akan people of. Ghana conceive of a person. He uses this exploration to argue that there is. Ethical Values Underpinning Gyekye's Idea of Communitarianism . The aim of my research is to give a critical exposition of Kwame Gyekye's. Kwame Gyekye ISBN: Produced in Ghana. Typesetting by MES Equipment Ltd,, Accra. Printing and Binding by Commercial Associates.


Kwame Gyekye Pdf

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How Moderate is Kwame Gyekye's Moderate Communitarianism? 65 This article undertakes a critical examination of Kwame Gyekye's main arguments. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION AND SCIENCE: AN. OVERVIEW. Kwame Gyekye*. Abstract. This paper presents an overview of the relationship between. Request PDF on ResearchGate | How Moderate is Kwame Gyekye's This article undertakes a critical examination of Kwame Gyekye's main.

Gyekye imagines respect that responds to human nature.

I imagine that Matolino may here interject and suggest that I consider this assertion by Menkiti , : In the African understanding, priority is given to the duties which individuals owe to the collectivity, and their rights, whatever these may be, are seen as secondary to their exercise of their duties. Here, it is clear that Menkiti is ranking duties higher than rights; and it may, in light of this assertion, be reasonably supposed that he truly is a radical communitarian.

However, he may insist that Menkiti may be a radical communitarianism even without necessarily connecting this position to a particular conception of personhood. I submit that the mere fact that Menkiti regards rights as secondary in a communitarianism system does not necessarily imply that he is a radical communitarian.

Such a case cannot be merely stated; it needs to be demonstrated, supposing one already has a theory that explains the place of rights in the African axiological system. The criterion we have at our disposal, as suggested by Gyekye, does not warrant interpreting the priority of duties over rights to amount to radical communitarianism.

The standard proffered by Gyekye defines what is to count as moderate. A moderate stance, according to MC, is one that balances or equalises duties and rights. It appears to be overreaching to label a position that relegates rights to a secondary status as radical.

A radical position is one, I submit, that rejects rights entirely. But an account that accords rights a secondary status, in its axiological scale, should in all consistency and fairness be described as either limited or partial in its commitment to rights; but never radical.

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There must surely be a difference between an account that has no place at all for rights and one that gives rights a secondary status. It is possible that Menkiti is pointing us to the idea that Afro- communitarianism offers an alternative vision for advancing the common good without necessarily rejecting or elevating rights to a higher status, as is common in Western political theories. This line of reasoning is more appreciable, given that Donnelly , informs us that the rights are foreign to Afro-axiological vision; in fact, he observes that Africans typically emphasised duties to secure a dignified life.

So, if truly Menkiti is no radical communitarian then we can safely accuse Gyekye and Menkiti of being partialist and never radical communitarian. Normative Force of Rights I proceed to my second response to Matolino. In this part, I consider his unstated assumptions about the normative force of rights in the African context.

It must be noted that in all fairness, Gyekye did not specify what it means to take rights seriously in Afro-communitarianism. Matolino , Famanikwa , Oyowe and others, so far as I am aware, do not tell us what it means to take rights seriously.

Such a specification of the content of what it means to take rights seriously is crucial since it would have buttressed their criticism.

GYEKYE-Person and community in African thought.PDF - Module...

For Menkiti, rights are always secondary to duties. For Gyekye, rights, under certain circumstances may take a secondary status; but all things equal, rights are as fundamental as duties. Note, in the Western moral-political tradition rights are taken to be at the heart of what is to count as a just or even a robust society—i. The language employed to signify this important status occupied by rights is that they have a trumping property, thus they tend to take priority over other competing claims in the case of a clash.

Philosophy Culture and Vision: African Perspectives

In other words, all things being equal, rights take priority over other social and moral considerations in the case of a trade-off Sumner , This trumping property of rights is what makes them special in the Western tradition. However, many Western scholars do not take rights to be strictly absolute.

They take rights to be relatively absolute; in other words, under most circumstances they will trump other competing moral and non-moral considerations Donnelly Donnelly , , informs us that there is a tendency to overstate the normative force of rights by representing them as strictly absolute.

Admitting that rights are relatively absolute appears to be cushioning Gyekye from being construed as treating rights as if they matter less.

It is for this reason that he states: The steps are likely to involve abridging individual rights, which, thus, will be regarded by the moderate communitarian as not absolute, though important. Gyekye , 65 In keeping with the sentiment shared by some scholars like Donnelly, Gyekye thinks that rights are important but they are not absolute—as some seem to think they are.

Gyekye On Moderate Communitarianism

In other words, there is nothing necessarily radical in imagining circumstances under which rights may be superseded by considerations of the common good. It is crucial to note that Gyekye does not explicitly assert that rights will always be set aside for the sake of the community. He uses a language that is not as stringent as his critiques would have us think; this is indicated by him merely stating the likelihood of their abridgement and not a necessity Gyekye MC has to balance both the potential and tension entailed by the dual norms that inform it, the good of all and the dignity of each individual.

Whereas we have a duty to deliver conditions necessary for each human being to achieve an ordinary human life, we cannot do so by employing means that violate the dignity of human beings in the utilitarian style Nozick The idea of dignity serves as crucial guiding and constraining norm in our quest to promote the good of each and every human being MacNaughton and Rawling In other words, dignity constrains what strategies and routes communitarians may employ to promote the common good; and, the good of all also constrains some individual rights, which may threaten the community and its continuance that is necessary for the exercise of rights.

Unchecked obsession with the common good may threaten the dignity of individuals; and unchecked obsession with rights may threaten the good of all. The superlative beauty of MC is a function of its call for moderation; that is, a creative way to manage excesses inherent in obsessing about either the common good or rights.

The foregoing reflection mainly focuses on the tension entailed by this dualistic moral- political theory. The other side of this theory is its potential to enrich an Afro-communitarian axiological by recognising rights. It is to be noted that rights and the common good are not necessarily opposed, though they may be at times. In fact, rights and the common good are different approaches to securing a life of dignity. Rights refer to an individualistic regime for securing a dignified life by empowering an individual to claim or demand what she is entitled to Feinberg ; Donnelly The common good refers to a regime of other-regarding duties and obligations that revolve around individuals to secure the wellbeing of all individuals Gyekye Instead of appreciating this dynamic tension created by the complexity of social life and individuality that may pit rights against duties, colleagues merely see a theoretical inconsistency.

Another useful way to think about the tension and potential entailed in this integration of rights and the common good, is in terms of an analogy of a continuum. Rights are at the left end of the continuum and the common good on the other.

We must bear in mind, however, that when we say some communities are individualistic and others are communitarian, we are only talking in degrees Gyekye ; Wiredu No society is completely individualistic and no society is completely communitarian. The reason for this is because both facets are necessary and crucial for facets of human existence. There are certain pitfalls to a society that is overly communitarian. It may be authoritarian; it may choke individuality, uniqueness, innovation and creativity, which are crucial for advancing a robust individual life and a healthy community.

Equally, there are certain pitfalls associated with unrestricted individualism. Some people are more talented than others, more socially connected than others and have a history of privilege more than others. Communitarianism, therefore, addresses these limitations by emphasising social relationships laden with other-regarding duties.

The continuum model is an attempt to balance these two facets of moral-political thought without shying away from the point of departure being communitarian. In other words, though moderate communitarianism is located somewhere in the middle of the continuum, where individualism and communitarianism meet; in the case where things are not equal, however, the political system will tilt towards the community taking priority only to self-correct and then tilt to its equalising position in the continuum.

This is a more promising interpretation of Gyekye, I submit; and it must appreciate this dynamic interplay that I suspect is inherent in his analysis. Rights in the Afro-communitarian Context One of the surprising facets of the criticism offered by Matolino , Famanikwa and Oyowe , is that they do not expect rights to be affected by an African axiological system that prioritises the good of all as the point of departure.

An Essay on African Philosophical Thought

This is surprising, given that scholars of rights have insisted that though rights are universal they are not so stringent as not to be affected by varying particular contexts in which they have to be practised and realised Cobbah ; Deng Why should a possibility of rights losing some normative force in the African context be considered radical?

The idea of personhood does not deny that human beings have dignity.

In fact, human beings are thought to be characterised by a divine spark, Okra, in virtue of which they deserve an ineliminable minimum respect Gyekye ; Shutte ; Wiredu A human being is expected to realise the ideal life befitting a human being and she can only achieve such a status by exercising duties to others, by way of promoting the good of all Molefe ; Wiredu This very idea of personhood that corresponds with other-regarding duties and obligations implied by the idea of the common good, surely should have an impact on how rights ought to be imagined and practised in this tradition.

It is this reflection between the interplay of a human being as a bearer of rights and a bearer of duties that has not been fully explored, which the author contends is at the heart of the contribution of MC. The moral-theoretical contribution that Gyekye makes is a sophisticated one and should be criticised with this understanding.

It is both practical and theoretical. Practically, Gyekye is burdened by widespread violation of human rights in Africa Gyekye , He is also equally alive to the fact that rights are now adopted as a measure of civilisation and a good life Gyekye , These practical considerations impel African scholars to think about the important place that rights should have in an African context.

He is aware that rights have a tendency to threaten group-morality, which is a distinctive feature of Afro-communitarianism Gyekye , Moreover, should we leave matters to the sovereignty of the individual and the state unchecked, we would have threatened the very paramount African-communitarian project of at least securing the basic needs necessary for ordinary functioning of each and every individual Cobbah , ; Gyekye , Therefore, criticism of Gyekye must imagine the difficulty of marrying these two together.

Generally, criticism of MC does not fully appreciate these considerations. Conclusion This article set itself the task of defending MC as a progressive moral-theoretical attempt to philosophically include and defend rights as a plausible feature of Afro-communitarianism. I formulated a response against the criticism that MC is ultimately no different from RC in its failure to embrace the culture of rights. Central to my argument was the idea that MC offers a creative way to accommodate rights in the Afro-communitarian milieu, without compromising the group-morality characteristic of African moral thought.

I believe it is crucial for literature concerned with the topic of rights in African philosophy to think about the criticism made against MC. Is it the case that MC is rejected because it is not a plausible attempt to introduce rights in Afro-communitarianism?

Or, is it rejected because rights ought not to feature in Afro-communitarianism? In this article, I have demonstrated that MC offers a promising way to think about rights.

I have challenged the literature to seriously reflect about the place and relevance of rights, taking a cue from moderate communitarianism. References Ake, C.

May et al. Behrens, K. Cobbah, J. Darwall, S.

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Deng, F. Human Rights in the African Context. In Companion to African Philosophy, edited by K. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, — Donnelly, J. Famanikwa, J. Feinberg, J. Gyekye, K. Gyekye and K.

Philadelphia: Temple University Press. New York: Oxford University Press. African Ethics. Ikuenobe, P. MacIntyre, A.

After Virtue. MacNaughton, D. Oxford: Oxford Press, — Menkiti, I. Lanham: University Press of America, — Metz, T. Molefe, M. DOI: Nozick, R. New York: McGraw Hill, — Personhood also involves responsible action that leads to success. Exercising one's potential cannot be seen as the process of becoming a person in the sense in which Menkiti describes it.

Individuals have a rational, moral sense and a capacity for virtue and judgment that the community nurtures. Individuals can also question what they do not agree with. Individuals are self-directing and self-determining and for that reason possess autonomy. Individual autonomy should not be equated with morality; instead, a moral agent must have the capacity to distinguish between good and evil. Although there is no conceptual link between autonomy and morality, there is a link between autonomy and freedom.

Actions that result from a person's vision visionary acts concretize individuality because visionaries are always ahead of the public. Individuals who have visions can come up with innovative things to do even though such innovation might draw from the past history and narrative of the community.

Gyekye also has advocated moderate communitarianism because communities are more than associations of individuals; communities share values and obligations, and members of the community often express a desire to promote communal interests. Thus members of the community often invest intellectual, ideological, and emotional attachment to the community and engage in reciprocal social relations within the family, clan, village, ethnic group, neighborhood, city, and nation.

Community, in this sense, refers to a cultural community, one that shares values and practices, not simply to a language group. The idea of community implies a common good, which is not merely the combination of individual interests but shared values, working together to meet the necessities of life and a common humanity, and not merely a surrogate of total individual goods. Thus "the common good" refers to all the values a community shares: peace, freedom, respect, dignity, security, and satisfaction.

Gyekye has argued that Western communitarians like Alas-dair MacIntyre and Michael Sandel, who argue that individuals are only part of a community because they inherit their narratives from the community in which they are embedded, have overstated their case.

One may indeed start from a certain narrative, but the fact that one can also reject sections of the narrative or practice one finds immoral is an indication that an individual person is not entirely constituted by the social. Radical communitarians thus exaggerate the impact of history and communal structures on individual autonomy.

Furthermore, communitarians have rejected the construction of political thought solely from a foundation of individual rights. According to MacIntyre, "the truth is plain: there are no such rights, and belief in them is one with the belief in witches and in unicorns" , p.

Communitarians would want to replace the politics of right with the idea of common good. By contrast, Gyekye has argued that rights are indispensable to self-assertion and the evaluative process.

The idea of rights strengthens human dignity. Advocates of rights anchor their beliefs in the theistic perspective that human beings have intrinsic value because God created them.

Finally, rights can also be derived from nature because an individual has a rational faculty that allows him or her to strive to be the best he or she can be. Therefore a community cannot disregard individual rights.

Moderate communitarianism, however, is not obsessed with rights alone but also emphasizes, according to Gyekye, social values such as peace, harmony, stability, solidarity, mutuality, and reciprocity. Individual rights should be matched with responsibility. A sense of responsibility implies that supererogation is not necessary to morality, but that morality should be open, with no limits placed on individual self-sacrifice.

This view of personhood allows for consideration of, among other things, human rights in the African context. Postcolonial leaders stressed communitarian views, assuming that this kind of communal spirit would easily translate into the more complex needs of a nation-state. Politicians were eager to champion socialism and communal essentialism, and their preference for a communitarian ethos has compromised the debate on human rights in Africa. The human rights question suggests and implies that individuals have certain rights and should therefore possess self-determination.

Strengthening individuality cannot be seen then as a concession to Western values because the Western tradition also supports communitarian perspectives. Moderate communitarianism is appealing because a radical communal thesis paints only a partial portrait of the dialectic between individualism and communitarianism.

Comaroff, Jean. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Corin, Ellen. Dieterlen, Germaine. Paris: Institut d'ethnologie, Dieterlen, Germaine, ed. La notion de personne en Afrique noire. Donnelly, Jack. Washington, D. Evans-Pritchard, E. Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Oxford: Clarendon, Fortes, Meyer. The Dynamics of Clanship among the Tallensi. London: Oxford University Press, Cambridge, U.Neither philosopher expounded an elaborate philosophy of religion, but both discussed the traditional Akan conception of God in ways that impact the transcendence-immanence conflict and leave open the possibility of new ways of explicating the relation of transcendence and immanence in African philosophy of religion.

The central contribution of this article is to call our attention to the fact that the intellectual culture of rights will surely be affected by Afro-communitarianism, which emphasises our duties to all. Wright, Richard A. The basis for this agreement is panpsychism. In this part, I consider his unstated assumptions about the normative force of rights in the African context.

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