The Egyptian Philosophers: Ancient African Voices from Imhotep to Akhenaten

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9780913543665: The Egyptian Philosophers: Ancient African Voices from Imhotep to Akhenaten
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Traditional Eurocentric thought assumes that Greece was the origin of civilization. This book dispels this and other myths by showing that there is a body of knowledge that preceded Greek philosophy. The author documents how the great pyramids were built in 2800 B.C., 2,100 years before Greek civilization. The popular myth of Hippocrates being the father of medicine is dispelled by the fact that Hippocrates studied the works of Imhotep, the true father of medicine, and mentioned his name in his Hippocratic oath. Eleven famous African scholars who preceded Greek philosophers are profiled: Ptahhotep, Kagemni, Duauf, Amenhotep, Amenemope, Imhotep, Amenemhat, Merikare, Sehotepibre, Khunanup, and Akhenaten. These scholars’ ideas on a variety of topics are discussed, including the emergence of science and reason, the moral order, books and education, and the clash of classes.

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Since the 18th century, Greece has been heralded as the cradle of Western civilization, with Plato, Pythagoras, and Thales touted as the world's first philosophers. But as Temple University scholar Molefi Kete Asante writes in this slim, spectacular book, those men all studied in ancient Egypt and took credit for the concepts created by Imhotep, Ahmenhotep, Akhenaton, and other Egyptian intellectuals, scientists, theologians, and moralists. Asante, the major proponent of the concept of Afrocentricity, draws from a number of primary sources to reveal what he claims to be the true origins of medicine, astronomy, ethics, scientific inquiry, and civics. "The antiquity of African philosophy is unique and stands alone and is older than all other philosophies," Asante writes. "It would be much later, nearly two thousand years, before the Greeks, who were influenced by the Egyptians, would develop their philosophy."

From 2700 to 1290 B.C., the Egyptians were the light of the ancient world. They produced many early medical instruments, designed the world's first step pyramid, and laid the empirical groundwork for scientific reasoning. Akhenaton, the rebel pharaoh, is even cited as "the Father of Monotheism." Asante stresses throughout the book that these developments came from a confluence of African cultures, and not from other parts of the world. "The practice of the African philosophers along the Nile was a practice of maintaining Maat [the principle of truth, order, and justice] in every aspect of life," he writes. "If we could only learn from them the value of harmony, balance, and righteousness, we would be on our way toward a revival of the spirit of human victory." --Eugene Holley Jr.

About the Author:

Molefi Kete Asante is the author of 34 books, including The Afrocentric Idea, Afrocentricity, and Kemet, Afrocentricity and Knowledge. He is the founder of the first African studies program offering a doctorate degree and is credited with coining the term afrocentricity. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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