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Quasi Materialism: A Contemporary African Philosophy of Mind

Summary of Article by Safro Kwame, 2004 / Edited by Kwasi Wiredu

In this work, the debate between Kwame Gyekye and Kwasi Wiredu, on the subject of the Akan concept okra, is examined within broader philosophical debates on physicallism(the thesis that only physical objects exist)and quasi-physicallism. Safro Kwame establishes the inadequacy of physicallism in explaining reality and suggests that quasi-physicallism is a more defensible path. He exposes a flaw in Gyekye’s translation of the okra to the Western concept of soul. He argues that Gyekye is caught in the danger that many African writers succumb to in translating African categories into the most obvious Western ones. He supports Wiredu’s position on quasi-physicallism which admits the existence of objects that are not obviously physical yet not outrightly spiritual. An old philosophical question on the mind-body problem is also given a conclusive solution through the Akan concept of mind which perceives the mind as a capacity and not a separate entity from the body.