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The Status of the Individual in African Social Thought, THE UNEXAMINED LIFE, Philosophy and the African Experience

Summary of Article , 2004

This essay analyses the conception of the status of the individual in the African social and moral thought. This conception has both metaphysical and moral roots. The metaphysics considers whether individual interests could be placed above or subsumed under society. The moral approach rests on the metaphysical and it involves the status of individual rights, the place of duties and the interdependence of individuals within society. He challenges western critics of African culture whose claims suggest that African cultures are over communal and asserts that there is as much room for individual concerns just as there is for communal. The false suggestion that individuality is obliterated by membership in a human community in Africa was further debunked by references to some Akan proverbs, which emphasise the importance of the individual as well as the society. In conclusion he suggested that communality n individuality deserve an equal moral standing however precarious this balance might