A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF J.S MBITI’S AFRICAN CONCEPTION OF TIME

ABSTRACT

J.S Mbiti contended that Africans perceive time composition of events which must be lived through. He contended further, that one can from such ontology, arrive at the understanding of African philosophical concepts.

This essay attempted a critical examination of Mbiti’s view on Africans’ conception of time, and to show that Mbiti’s Africans’ conception of time, is not key to the understanding of African philosophical concepts.

The method employed was an in depth analysis of concept of time in African cultures and philosophical argumentation.Mbiti’sAfrican Religions and Philosophy, Masolo’sAfrican Philosophy in Search for Identity, Ayoade’sTime in Yoruba thought, Oke’sFrom an Ontology to an Epistemology, and Gyekye’sAn Essay on African Philosophical Thought: The Akan Conception Scheme, were studied and analyzed.

The results of this essay included the following: first, that Mbiti’s claim that Africans lack the idea of an extended future is false, that there various time conception on the continent of Africa, and that the understanding of Mbiti’s African conception of time did not necessarily mean an understanding of African philosophical concepts.

This essay concluded that there is the concept of an extended future in Africa and Mbiti should not have based his conclusion from his understanding of the Kikamba culture only, which erroneously led him to the fallacy of hasty generalization with regard to the conceptions of time in Africa.

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