30. Dualist Personality: Anton Wilhelm Amo

Posted on 9 June 2019

Anton Wilhelm Amo, brought to Germany from his native Ghana, defends a rigorous dualism of mind and body. Was this philosophy connected to his African origins?

Further Reading

• S. Menn and J.E.H. Smith (trans), Anton Wilhelm Amo's Philosophical Dissertations on Mind and Body (Oxford: 2020).


• W.E. Abraham, “The Life and Times of Anton Wilhelm Amo, the First African (Black) Philosopher in Europe,” in M.K. Asanta and A.S. Abarry (eds), African Intellectual Heritage: a Book of Sources (Philadelphia: 1996), 424-40.

• B. Brentjes, Anton Wilhelm Amo: der schwarze Philosoph in Halle (Leipzig: 1976).

• O. Ette, Anton Wilhelm Amo: philosophieren ohne festen Wohnsitz. Eine Philosophie der Aufklärung zwischen Europa und Afrika (Berlin: 2014).

• P.J. Hountondji, African Philosophy: Myth and Reality (Bloomington: 1996), ch.5.

• C. Jeffers, “Rights, Race, and the Beginnings of Modern Africana Philosophy,” in P.C. Taylor, L.M. Alcoff, and L. Anderson (eds), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race (New York: 2017), 127-39.

• D.N.A. Kpobi, Mission in Chains: the Life, Theology and Ministry of the Ex-Slave Jacobus E.J. Capitein (1717-1747) with a Translation of his Major Publications (Zoetermeer: 1993).

• C. Levecq, "Jacobus Capitein: Dutch Calvinist and Black Cosmopolitan," Research in African Literatures 44 (2013): 146-66.

• J.E. Mabe, Anton Wilhelm Amo: the Intercultural Background of his Philosophy (Nordhausen: 2014). 

• S. Mougnol, Amo Afer: un Noir, professeur d'université en Allemagne au XVIIIe siècle (Paris: 2010).

• C. Meyns, "Anton Wilhelm Amo's Philosophy of Mind," Philosophy Compass 14 (2019), 1-13.

• G. Parker (trans.), The Agony of Asar: a Thesis on Slavery by the Former Slave Jacobus Elisa Johannes Capitein (1717-1747) (Princeton: 1998).

• J.E.H. Smith, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference (Princeton: 2015).

• Y. Somet, Anthony William Amo: sa vie et son ouevre (Le Plessis-Trévise: 2016).

• P. West, "Mind-Body Commerce: Occasional Causation and Mental Representation in Anton Wilhelm Amo," Philosophy Compass 17 (2022): open access.

APA blog post by Dwight Lewis providing introduction to Amo

Our thanks to Justin Smith for making available to us draft translations of Amo’s works and a useful introduction to the texts.


Meyer 9 June 2019

Dear Chike, dear Peter,

thank you so much for your work on the Africana series so far! The curiosity, openness and intellectual energy which you are bringing to the table here are simply amazing and you are creating such a valuable ressource for all those who (like me) are trying to get into this subject which is still a bit difficult to do in a university setting! Your guests have been formidable and the very self-conscious metaphilosophical reflections of so great an importance for anybody who is actually caring for what exactly he/she is actually doing when she's doing philosophy. Moreover: Eventhough those questions (What is Philosophy, What should be interesting to a historian of philosophy) are also adressed in the regular series, they are here, more so than in the regular series, explicitly attached to the question of the cultural power and privileges attached to the label "philosophy". Obviously this is something those who question the philosophical value of an Africana series should bear in mind.

So again: Thank you, this is great! 

Peter Adamson 9 June 2019

In reply to by Meyer

Thanks so much for the positive feedback! That sound you hear is us cutting this comment out to hang above our desks as inspiration.

Chike Jeffers 11 June 2019

In reply to by Meyer

I echo Peter - this comment is much appreciated for the way it recognizes what we are striving to accomplish.

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