Saturday, June 14, 2008

Teaching Multicultural Philosphy of Religion

A reposted "bleg" (blog+beg) from The Prosblogion: A Philosophy of Religion Blog:
Because I am teaching philosophy of religion in the fall and teach at a historically black college, I am looking for writings on what might be called African-American philosophy of religion or African-American perspectives on philosophy of religion (or even African philosophy of religion). I have not had much luck finding things. If anyone knows of anything relevant and can pass on the info or post it, I would appreciate that greatly.

Here are some of the replies so far:

Nicholas Rhodes said:

I wrote a long post that was accidentally deleted. It's simply too much to rewrite. I suggested some of the following texts to get started:

African American Philosophy of Religion

Yancy, African American Philosophy: Seventeen Conversations
West, Prosphesy Deliverance
West, Keeping Faith
West, African American Religious Thought
Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation
Cone, God and the Oppressed
Pinn, African American Humanist Principles
Pinn, The African American Religious Experience in America

African Philosophy of Religion

Masolo, African Philosophy in Search of Identity
Hallen, African Philosophy: The Analytic Approach
Griaule, Conversations with Ogotomelli
Brown, African Philosophy

If you want to chat more about this topic leave a note here so that we might get in touch.

Let me know if you would like to chat further.

Patrick Todd said:

The Blackwell Companion to Phil. Religion has an entry, "African religions from a philosophical point of view." Seems like a good place to start.


  1. To get a sense of African philosophy as a field of inquiry, I would also suggest the following:

    Hallen, "A Short History of African Philosophy"

    Imbo, "An Introduction to African Philosophy"

    Both of these are short works. Additionally, you could easily incorporate the "Conversations with Ogotommeli" I suggested in the Prosblogion post into your "Philosophy of Religion" course. Those conversations represent the religious, metaphysical, and epistemological perspectives of the Dogon people.

    Another good place to begin is Lewis Gordon's just published "An Introduction to Africana Philosophy" (Cambridge, 2008)

    Here's the brief:

    "In this undergraduate textbook Lewis R. Gordon offers the first comprehensive treatment of Africana philosophy, beginning with the emergence of an Africana (i.e. African diasporic) consciousness in the Afro-Arabic world of the Middle Ages. He argues that much of modern thought emerged out of early conflicts between Islam and Christianity that culminated in the expulsion of the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula, and from the subsequent expansion of racism, enslavement, and colonialism which in their turn stimulated reflections on reason, liberation, and the meaning of being human. His book takes the student reader on a journey from Africa through Europe, North and South America, the Caribbean, and back to Africa, as he explores the challenges posed to our understanding of knowledge and freedom today, and the response to them which can be found within Africana philosophy."

    PS: I have both Prosblogion and In Socrates' Wake on my google reader. I am indebted to both blogs for they have done for my teaching and understanding.

    Nicholas Rhodes

  2. Thanks for the information on teaching religion.

    We recently wrote an article on religion at Brain Blogger. How do we really view religion? Could it be the very source of belief comes from our brain?

    We would like to read your comments on our article. Thank you.


  3. Also see William R. Jones' Is God a White Racist? A Preamble to Black Theology

  4. Nathan, I think I misread this when I saw it posted at Prosblogion (and now the comments are closed on that entry), because I didn't know of anything on African philosophy of religion. I didn't see that you also want African-American stuff. If you want to know about African-American philosophy of religion, you're going to be best off talking to historians of African-American philosophy such as John McClendon (Michigan State) or Tommie Shelby (Harvard).

    I know John knows about this stuff, because I talked to him about it at the APA in December. It's hard to find it, though, because the philosophy journals wouldn't publish articles by black philosophers. Most departments were reluctant to hire them too. So they had to publish in journals of black church denominations and such things. The only way to find it is to get it from people like him, at least until he gets the stuff published in anthologies, which he's working on, but it might still be a ways off.

  5. Hi Jeremy,
    Thanks for this. I will look these people up.

    I actually have found some writings on African American philosophy of religion (or perspectives on philosophy of religion). I have found it all rather hard to track down since most methods of trying to find philosophy literature don't turn up anything.

    The best sources I've found are a number of books by
    Anthony Pinn
    , in religious studies at Rice. (Amazon is more useful than his page). William R. Jones also has an interesting books and essays.

    This semester I will likely be writing up something of a critical literature review on what I have found. If anyone is interested in my working bibliography and notes, let me know. This material is a more accessible way (as opposed to Asian or African perspectives, which will not seem to be "live" options to many Westerners) to add more diversity to philosophy courses. And it's all interesting in its own right.


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