What African Philosophy Can Teach You About the Good Life

Acknowledging how we constantly change each other can help us imagine better futures

Africa’s diverse philosophical traditions unfold striking accounts of ‘the good life’.

“Be not haughty with what you have learned and now know, hold forth with the unknowing as well as the sagacious,” reads the first thesis of Ptahhotep  –  an ancient Egyptian official who lived c. 2400 BCE, who distilled a vision of how one ought to live in thirty-seven theses. “None knows all. Excellent discourse is better than the most precious stones and is found in the most unlikely of places,” he went on.

In West Africa, Orunmila – a sage born c. 500 BCE and considered to be the most important figure in the Ifa philosophical tradition – taught that Iwa (living a virtuous life) is the most important ideal worth living for.  “What matters most is good character,” ri

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