Ibuanyidanda Philosophy or Complementary Reflection, African Philosophy and General Issues in Philosophy

Back to Home Page: http://www.frasouzu.com/ for more essays from a complementary perspective


The Method and Principles of Complementary Reflection in and beyond African Philosophy

by Innocent I. Asouzu

Pages: 533


First published: July-2004 Publisher: Calabar University Press University Press

Republished: 2005 by LIT Verlag Publishers, Münster Germany

ISBN 3-8258-8578-x
For orders contact:

LIT Verlag Publishers in:

Münster, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, London, New York

Book Description: http://www.litverlag.de/isbn/3-8258-8578-x

Questions relating to types of philosophical traditions within African philosophy can be very decisive for any idea of African philosophy. In this strikingly novel approach to African Philosophy, the author explores a complementary philosophical trend that goes back to those he calls anonymous traditional African philosophers.  Based on their thoughts, the author articulates a distinctive variant of the principles, method and imperative of complementarity (Ibu anyi danda) around which he builds his system. He anchors his reflection on such ambient concepts as the joy of being (jide k’ iji), fragmentation, wholeness, future reference and missing link. He shows how through consistent practical application of these concepts the mind can be guided towards the attainment of, what he calls, the experience of transcendent complementary unity of consciousness.


Posted on the internet on July 13, 2007 

Some Reviews and comments about the book “Method and Principles of Complemtary Reflectionthe book:

“In his book, African Philosophy, Theophilius Okere, after arguing that the way to African philosophy is the path of hermeneutics of culture, added that a touch of genius is necessary for African Philosophy to emerge. One can say that Fr. Asouzu’s Method and Principles is such a work of genius. … The book goes well beyond the confines of African philosophy to other topics and themes that are of general human interest….Asouzu’s book thus will be a landmark in the annals of African philosophy writing.”

  Comments by Rev. Prof. J. Obi Oguejiofor, Professor of Philosophy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria and President, Nigerian Philosophical Association (PAN)


“ ...verehrter Kollege, mit wachsendem Interesse und in größerem Umfang, als ich vorgesehen hatte, habe ich Ihr Buch gelesen - und zwar deshalb, weil es meiner Kenntnis nach das ehrlichste, klarsichtigste und ausgewogenste Werk ist, das ich über Afrika bzw. über das afrikanische Denken gelesen habe. Sie vermitteln Verständnis für die Vergangenheit und Gegenwart Afrikas, zeigen die großartigen Seiten der Tradition, verschweigen die Schwächen und Krisenstellen nicht, beschönigen und verdammen nichts. Das bildet einen wohltuenden Kontrast zu den meisten Darstellungen, die mehr oder weniger romantisch verklären und dazu beigetragen haben, daß das Unternehmen "afrikanische Philosophie" hier milde belächelt wird. Ihre Würdigung der traditionellen Philosophie und die Auseinandersetzung mit deren Kritikern halte ich für absolut überzeugend. So hat mir ihr Buch viele offene Fragen beantwortet, vor allem die, die ich afrikanischen Gesprächspartnern immer wieder gestellt habe: Wie ist es zu verstehen, dass Gemeinschaftssinn, Solidarität, Liebenswürdigkeit, Offenheit und Einfühlungsvermögen sich mit Ausbrüchen entsetzlicher Grausamkeit paaren? Warum ist die moralische Substanz im Afrika nach 1960 so schnell und gründlich verfallen? Ihr Hinweis auf die Ambivalenz des Menschlichen als Erklärungsgrund vieler Übel erscheint mir durchaus überzeugend. Das gilt auch für die Idee complementary reflection - als einziger Ausweg. ...Ihr Buch verdiente breite Aufmerksamkeit.“  Prof. Jürgen Hengelbrock (Professor of Philosophy University of Bochum, Germany)


“…revered colleague, I read through your book with growing interest as I had envisaged. I did so because, as far as I know, this is the most honest, clearest and most balanced book I have ever read about Africa and African thinking. You succeeded in giving insight into the past and present situation of Africa. You presented the splendid side of the tradition. You did not withhold her weaknesses and crisis areas. You did not gloss over details and you did not condemn.  The refreshing frankness of your approach contrasts with most accounts that romantically etherealise and are some of the reasons that the undertaking “African Philosophy” is mildly sneered at here. Your assessment of traditional African Philosophy and your critical disagreement with her critics is absolutely convincing. Your book was able to give an answer to many questions that have been puzzling me and with which I have often confronted my African interlocutors. It is the question: how does one reconcile the much-acclaimed African sense for community, solidarity, kindness, openness and sensibility with the waves of  the most horrible forms of brutality? Why did the moral fiber of Africa derail so quickly since after 1960? Your hint at the phenomenon  of ambivalence of human existential situation as an explanatory paradigm is very convincing to me. The same is true for your idea of complementary reflection as the only way out. …Your book deserves the widest publicity.”

Comments by Prof. Jürgen Hengelbrock (Professor of Philosophy, University of Bochum, Germany)


See: Review by Professor Udo Etuk, (Professor of Philosophy, University of Uyo, Nigeria


“Dear Mr. Ogbuanu,


Last week I have started to study the book of I .I. Asouzu, ‘The Method and Principles of Complementary Reflection in and beyond African Philosophy’, which you had given me a couple of months ago.  I am very happy to have and to read this book, and I am very impressed by the intensity and the depth of Asouzu’s reasoning.  A few days ago I have recommended the book to some colleagues, and I have given them your address in case they want to get hold of the book.


It is not an easy job to study this book thoroughly.  It is very rich and multidimensional.  Complementary reflection as a paradigm of thought which is rooted in traditional African societies and practiced by traditional anonymous African philosophers, traditional Igbo society and philosophers in particular, is highly important for intercultural philosophy and for the international philosophical discourse.  It is a convincing idea that all parts of reality, highly different and more similar, form together a whole.  Otherness can be and has to be accepted, but no exclusiveness is tolerable.  It is good to hear that the completion of ‘all missing links of reality’ can give something like the ‘joy of being’.


Of course, this paradigm must be reformulated and brought into dialogue with other philosophical traditions and ways of thought.  It is still not taken for granted in many philosophical circles in the West that such a promising and future-relevant contribution to the philosophical debates of today can be expected from Africa.  We have to work together to change this situation.  Especially a new concept of literacy is needed and a reconstruction of the history of ideas in Africa, according to the suggestions of Asouzu and to his subtle method of investigating philosophical ideas and trends in the past. …In the long run I will write, if time and health will allow it, some complementary essay to Asouzu’s book, departing from the Western tradition of philosophy: ‘Différance (in the sense of Derrida) in and beyond Western philosophy’”.  Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Heinz Kimmerle (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands)





See also : »… anything that exists serves a missing link of reality ...«


zu: Innocent Izuchukwu Asouzu: The Method and Principles of Complementary Reflection in and beyond African Philosophy by Prof. Franz Gmainer-Pranzl