O.P. Recommends: The African Enlightenment -The Highest Ideals of Locke, Hume and Kant Were First Proposed More than a Century Earlier by an Ethiopian in a Cave, by Dag Herbjørnsrud

Study of an African’s Head by Paul-Jean Flandron, 1830, Seattle Art Museum

In this fascinating piece, historian of ideas Dag Herbjørnsrud describes the ideas of the 17th-century Ethiopian philosopher Zera Yacob (1599-1692) and the 18th-century Guinean philosopher Anton Amo (c1703-55), comparing them to those of the great European Enlightenment thinkers. Well before they were developed in the Enlightenment tradition, Yacob and Amo were articulating ideas about the moral and intellectual equality of all human beings, women included; the immorality of slavery; an open yet skeptical view of religion; and many other key moral concepts we now widely ascribe to and whose origins we often credit to the Enlightenment. Herbjørnsrud asks: ‘Will Yacob and Amo also one day be elevated to the position they deserve among the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment?’ Herbjørnsrud has inspired me to respond ‘I very much hope so!’

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One thought on “O.P. Recommends: The African Enlightenment -The Highest Ideals of Locke, Hume and Kant Were First Proposed More than a Century Earlier by an Ethiopian in a Cave, by Dag Herbjørnsrud

  1. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze! | Ordinary Philosophy

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