The question of happiness in African philosophy

Ugwuanyi, Lawrence Ogbo
December 2014
South African Journal of Philosophy;2014, Vol. 33 Issue 4, p513
Academic Journal
This article articulates some of the problems inherent in the attempt to determine the meaning of happiness in African philosophy and proposes a solution. I begin by outlining the conceptual arguments in contemporary African philosophy. Thereafter, I discuss the difficulties with defining happiness, especially in its psycho-moral implications. Finally, I provide an African philosophical response to the difficulties identified in the first two sections by relating the notion of happiness to an African theory of meaningful life as it is inscribed in a particular form of action. I argue that, while happiness and meaningful life are not equivalent, there is an African conception of happiness that is grounded in an African psycho-social and cultural worldview, which in turn involves a particular conception of the meaning of human existence. This work is exploratory in nature: many of the claims, especially as they relate to African philosophy, are based on analytical deduction from the available literature on African philosophy and intuitive deductions from the African worldview.


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