An Appraisal of Man’s Essence in Bantu Ontology


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?

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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.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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