The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful : Discourse about Values in Yoruba Culture

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The Good, the Bad, and the BeautifulDiscourse about Values in Yoruba CultureBarry HallenReveals everyday language as the key to understanding morals and ethics in Yoruba culture."This contrasts with any suggestion that in Yoruba or, more generally, African society, moral thinking manifests nothing much more than a supine acquiescence in long established communal values.... Hallen renders a great service to African philosophy." -Kwasi WireduIn Yoruba culture, morality and moral values are intimately linked to aesthetics. The purest expression of beauty, at least for human beings, is to possess good moral character. But how is moral character judged? How do actions, and especially words, reveal good moral character in a culture that is still significantly based on oral tradition? In this original and intimate look at Yoruba culture, Barry Hallen asks the Yoruba onisegun-the wisest and most accomplished herbalists or traditional healers, individuals justly reputed to be well versed in Yoruba thought and expression-what it means to be good and beautiful. Posed as an outsider wanting to gain understanding of how to speak Yoruba correctly, Hallen engages the onisegun and has them explain the subtleties and intricacies of Yoruba language use and the philosophy behind particular word choices. Their instructions reveal a striking and profound depiction of Yoruba aesthetic and ethical thought. The detailed interpretations of everyday language that Hallen supplies challenge prevailing Western views that African thought is nothing more than acquiescence to long-established religious or communal values. The philosophy of ordinary language reveals that moral reflection is indeed individual and that evaluations of action and character take place on the basis of clearly and logically delineated criteria. With the onisegun as his guides, Hallen identifies the priorities of Yoruba philosophy and culture through everyday expression and shows that there are rational pathways to both truth and beauty.Barry Hallen has taught philosophy at the Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife) in Nigeria. He is a Fellow at the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Morehouse College. He is coauthor (with J. Olubi Sodipo) of Knowledge, Belief, and Witchcraft: Analytic Experiments in African Philosophy.ContentsOrdinary Language and African PhilosophyMoral EpistemologyMe, My Self, and My DestinyThe Good and the BadThe BeautifulRationality, Individuality, Secularity, and the ProverbialAppendix of Yoruba-Language QuotationsGlossary of Yoruba Termsshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 156 x 235.7 x 18mm | 398.12g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 1 bibliog., 1 index
  • 0253214165
  • 9780253214164
  • 1,998,785

About Barry Hallen

Barry Hallen has taught philosophy at the University of Ile-Ife in Nigeria. He is a Fellow at the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Morehouse College. He is co-author (with J. Olubi Sodipo) of Knowledge, Belief, and Witchcraft: Analytic Experiments in African Philosophy.show more

Table of contents

Preliminary Table of Contents: AcknowledgmentsA Note on Translation1. Ordinary Language and African Philosophy2. Moral Epistemology3. Me, My Self, and My Destiny4. The Good and the Bad5. The Beautiful6. Rationality, Individuality, Secularity, and the ProverbialAppendix of Yoruba-Language QuotationsGlossary of Yoruba TermsBibliographyIndexshow more

Review quote

"... an accurate portrayal of the conceptual nature of ordinary discourse about moral and aesthetic values in the Yoruba language ... Hallen renders a great service to African philosophy." --Kwasi Wiredushow more

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