Empiricalism: Contemporary Philosophical Thought
AbstractAfrican thought is frequently said to be concrete rather than abstract. This is, at best, only a half truth. Africans do express abstractions to all necessary extent. However – and this is the half that is true – they express abstractions usually by means of gerunds rather than abstract nouns. My claim is that African thought, or at least the thought of the Akans of Ghana, the ethnic group to which the author belongs, is empirical in cast, and that the gerundive manner of expression is of a piece with that outlook. The underlying principle of this outlook is that no concept is admissible unless it is ultimately derivable from sense experience. I call this principle and its applications empiricalism. In the discussion below, I defend it and distinguish it from empiricism, which, although basically including the principle in question, also carries a sensationalistic component that is, from an African point of view, incoherent. This comparison opens up vistas of intercultural dialogue.
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