Bio of the Week: Kwasi Wiredu

Kwasi Wiredu

“By decolonization, I mean divesting African philosophical thinking of all undue influences emanating from our colonial past”
-Kwasi Wiredu
Kwasi Wiredu is a philosopher; his work is centred on the relationship between culture and philosophy. In particular, he is concerned with the philosophical conditions of an intercultural dialogue. He points out that the value of the African tradition for the dialogue of cultures, demands a "conceptual decolonisation" and develops new concepts of ethics of consensus to promote democracy. 

Wiredu was born 03 of October 1931 in Kumasi, Ghana. It was at Adisadel College in Cape Coast, Ghana that he discovered philosophy through the works of Plato and Bertrand Russell. After his secondary schooling, Wiredu attended the University of Ghana, Legoni in the vicinity of Accra where he obtained a BA (1958). After graduating, he went to University College, Oxford where he obtained his M.Phil (1960). While at Oxford, Wiredu wrote his thesis on “Knowledge, Truth and Reason”, and upon graduating he was appointed to a teaching post at the University College of North Staffordshire (now the University of Keele). After a year, Wiredu returned to Ghana to teach philosophy at the University of Ghana, his old university. He remained at the University of Ghana for twenty-three years, during which time he became first Head of Department and then Professor. In 1983, Wiredu became a member of the Committee of Directors of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies. Additionally, from 1985 and 1986, Wiredu has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and the National Humanities Centre, North Carolina respectively.  Since 1987, he has held a professorship at the University of South Florida in Tampa in the United States of America (US) and remains there today. He is also Vice-President of the Inter-African Council for Philosophy.

Numerous visiting professorships led Wiredu to various universities are around the world. In Nigera, Wiredu holds a professorship from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1984). In the United States, he also holds several visiting professorships from the University of California, Los Angeles, California (1979–1980), University of Richmond, Virginia (1985), Carleton College, Minnesota (1986) and Duke University, North Carolina (1994–95, 1999–2001). He has published articles in Logic, Epistemology and African Philosophy and has written entries in encyclopaedias and anthologies. His book Philosophy and an African Culture was published by Cambridge University Press in 1980. Person and Community: Ghanaian Philosophical Studies was jointly edited by him and Kwame Gyekye and published in 1992 by the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, New York. His Cultural Universals and Particulars: An African Perspective, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press) appeared in 1996. He also edited A Companion to African Philosophy, published by Blackwell in 2004.

Wiredu's work remains influential as colonial accounts of African thought has led him to raise some fundamental questions about philosophy and culture and, in particular, about the philosophical conditions of inter-cultural dialogue. Investigation encounters intersections with epistemological and ethical issues.

Selected Works:
Philosophy and an African Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1980)
Cultural Universals and Particulars: An African Perspective. Bloomington: Indiana University Press (1996)
Person and Community: Ghanaian Philosophical Studies [ed] Wiredu & Kwame Gyekye. New York: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (1992)
A Companion to African Philosophy. Oxford: Blackwell (2003)
An Oral Philosophy of Personhood: Comments on Philosophy and Orality (2003)
Toward Decolonizing African Philosophy and Religion. African Studies Quarterly, Volume 1 Issue 4 (1998)

Wiredu, K. Toward Decolonizing African Philosophy and Religion, African Studies Quarterly, Volume 1, Issue 4 (1998)

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