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Epistemology in African Philosophy: A critique of African concepts of knowledge.

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The question of the existence of African epistemology cannot be addressed without the acknowledgement and acceptance of African philosophy. This is of paramount importance as African epistemology originates from the discourse of African philosophy. Didier N. Khaphagawani and Jeanette G. Malherbe explain that to affirm the existence of an African philosophy suggest the existence of an African epistemology. To them, African epistemology can be regarded as a subset of African philosophy. African epistemology, like African philosophy, deals with issues about Africa. African epistemology engages with the nature and concept of knowledge, and the limit of human knowledge. African epistemology includes the African conception of the nature of knowledge, the ways in which knowledge could be gained, the ways in which one can justify an epistemic claim or validate a knowledge claim, and the role that knowledge plays in human existence. The protagonists of African epistemology, like Placide Tempels, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Innocent C. Onyewuenyi, Christopher Anyanwu and others based their argument for a distinctive or unique African epistemology on the premise or proposition all races is gifted with a unique nature and ways of knowing things. Based on the above, one of the conclusions that can be drawn is that the protagonists of African epistemology believe that things like knowledge, language, religion, emotions, perception, and some other ideas make African epistemology distinct and unique. Given the above, it will be of interest to inquire if African epistemology is entirely distinct and unique. Thus, this dissertation is a critique of African epistemology. My aim in this dissertation is to argue that given our ‘common humanity’ (the ideas we share) and our interaction (languages) with each other irrespective of where we come from, African epistemology is not as distinct or unique as the protagonists of African epistemology claim.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.