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Nature, concept of in Akan thought

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Z023-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2005
Retrieved September 30, 2023, from

Article Summary

It can be argued (and sometimes is) that Africans do not make a distinction between the natural and the supernatural. But the resulting conceptual economy may be rationally defensible. Nature is not just the spatio-temporal realm of existence governed by regular laws. It is also understood in contrast, at least conceptually, to the supernatural, as transcending both that realm and its laws. This contrast is unintelligible in the conceptual framework of at least the West African peoples known as the Akan. For them, reality is a spatio-temporal array of orders of being with the Supreme Being at the top, spirits and humans (in that order) in the middle and inanimate matter at the bottom. All events and interactions, without exception, are governed by law. There is an obvious similarity between this worldview and that of naturalism, but there is also a subtle difference.

Citing this article:
Wiredu, Kwasi. Nature, concept of in Akan thought, 2005, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Z023-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2023 Routledge.

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