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Paper Topic:

Reaction Essay on `Person and Community in African Traditional Thought` by Ifeanyi Menkiti


Nowadays the issues of metaphysical and social status of the person in the traditional African though is claimed to be misunderstood . I think that such misconception can result in the fact that the persona and community would be misconstrued and their interrelations would be incorrectly interpreted . Actually , that is the central point of the Person and Community in African Traditional Thought ' by Menkiti . I am sure the author is willing to show that he does maintain the African view asserts the ontological primacy . It means that community is independent from

ontological perspective . In such a way , a person appears to be of derivative and secondary nature . For example Mentiki asserts that as far as Africans are concerned , the reality of the communal world takes precedence over the reality of the individual life histories , whatever these may be (171 ) I agree with the author that it is community that should define the person as person , and not vice verse . Rationality and memory should be secondary drives

However , there are points I can 't agree with . For example , Mentiki says that the relative absence of grief over the death of a child contrasts elaborate burial ceremony , whereas I know that every person who dies in African community is thought to deserve elaborate burial ceremony . The next point is when Mentiki claims that children are not persons yet and , therefore , they shouldn 't be provided with rights possessed by adults . In my opinion , children ought to have rights and nowadays they do have them

Human person has to be identified as complete in his nature and treated as unique individuals possessing particular interests , desires capacities and opportunities of self-expression . Despite belonging to particular community a person should be provided with abilities to think and to act autonomously . Mentiki supports such ideas stressing person is a social being meaning that he a natural desire to relate to other persons and community . Therefore , community is constituted by interpersonal relations and connections

Works Cited

Mentiki , Ifeanyi A . Person and Community in African Traditional Thought In . Richard A . Wright (ed , African Philosophy . An Introduction . Lanham Maryland , 1984 , 171-181


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