I Am Because We Are

Readings in Black Philosophy


This anthology of writings by prominent black thinkers from antiquity to the present makes the case for a central tradition of black philosophy, rooted in Africa and distinct from the intellectual heritage of the West. The work is divided geographically, and to some extent historically, into three parts--Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. Readings range from the Egyptian Teachings of Ptahhotep to essays on negritude by Léopold Sédar Senghor and Wole Soyinka to proposals for the transformation of Western ideas and values by bell hooks, Cornel West, and Molefi Kete Asante.

The editors argue that despite their remarkable diversity of origin, style, and method, these writings constitute a tradition because they share a fundamental philosophical preoccupation with the meaning of individual life in community. It is a tradition that foregrounds social and ethical issues and sees the philosopher as mediator--between individual and society, between colonizer and colonized, and between different cultures.

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