by Barry Hallen
In 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? 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.
About the Author:
Barry Hallen 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.
Barry Hallen has taught philosophy at the University of Ile-Ife in Nigeria. He is a Fellow at the W. E. B. Du
Bois 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.
Paperback: 224 pages