Rationality and Consensus in Kwasi Wiredu’s Traditional African Polities

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  • 1 University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg
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Abstract

The disagreement over what was responsible for arriving at consensual positions, in traditional African polities, is best captured in the classic debate between Kwasi Wiredu and Emmanuel Eze. The former holds that rational persuasion was the sole informant of decision-making while the latter argues that non-rational factors played a crucial role in securing a consensual decision. If Wiredu is correct then consensus could work in modern society as it can be argued that it does not rely on traditionalistic scaffoldings. If, on the other hand, Eze is correct, then consensus cannot work in modern largely urbanised Africa as its traditional underpinnings have largely disappeared. While Emmanuel Ani’s intervention in this debate is welcome for its earnest search for a system that could work, his support for Eze is not bold enough to undermine Wiredu’s rationalistic orientation in consensus.

Contributor Notes

Bernard Matolino is a senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg. He is author of Personhood in African Philosophy.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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