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Conversations on African philosophy of mind, consciousness and artificial intelligence
Attoe A., Segun S., Nweke V., Ezugwu U., Chimakonam J., Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland, 2023. 209 pp. Type: Book (3031361628)
Date Reviewed: Jun 3 2024

Conversations on African philosophy of mind, consciousness and artificial intelligence, edited by Aribiah David Attoe et al., is a work that plunges into the often-underexplored intersections of African philosophical thought, mind-body relations, consciousness, and the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence (AI). This volume holds a unique position in the realm of African philosophical literature, boldly venturing into areas that have been largely overlooked, effectively bridging the gap in the discourse.

The book commences with a thought-provoking introduction, laying the foundation for an extensive exploration of African perspectives on intricate philosophical and technological themes. The introduction masterfully underscores the distinct contribution of African philosophy to the global dialogue, particularly in light of the swift advancements in AI technologies.

The first part, aptly titled “Conversations on Mind, Body and Consciousness,” serves as a platform for a series of chapters that delve deeply into the multifaceted facets of African philosophy, particularly concerning the domains of mind and consciousness. James Tartaglia’s chapter, “Gyekye and Contemporary Idealism,” offers a comprehensive and insightful examination of Kwame Gyekye’s seminal contributions to idealism. Oladele Abiodun Balogun, in “A Central State Materialistic Interpretation of the Yoruba Concept of Person: A Critique,” delivers a discerning critique of the Yoruba concept of personhood, challenging prevalent materialistic interpretations and raising pivotal questions.

Ada Agada’s chapter, “Between Sense-Phenomenalism, Equi-phenomenalism, Quasi-physicalism, and Proto-panpsychism,” embarks on a journey through various philosophical stances, shedding light on the intricate and nuanced nature of African philosophical thought. This chapter skillfully navigates the landscape of thought, unveiling the diversity and complexity inherent in African philosophical perspectives. The intellectual richness of this section extends further with Clarton Fambisai Mangadza’s “An Alternative Response to the Knowledge Argument” and Maduka Enyimba’s “Epistemological Implications of Chimakonam’s Theory of Sense-Phenomenalism.” These chapters contribute significantly to the discourse on knowledge, perception, and understanding from a distinctly African vantage point. The philosophical inquiries presented in these chapters open up new avenues for exploration and reflection.

Patrick Giddy’s “Traditional African Philosophy of Mind and World: Facilitating a Dialogue” stands out as a pivotal bridge between traditional African thought and contemporary philosophical discussions. Giddy’s work facilitates a meaningful and enriching dialogue between distinct intellectual traditions, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities inherent in African philosophical perspectives.

The second part of the book, “Conversations on Africa and Some Major Themes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” shifts the spotlight toward the far-reaching implications of AI and technology. Ojochogwu S. Abdul’s chapter, “Transhumanism, Singularity and the Meaning of Life: An Afrofuturist Perspective,” offers a forward-looking and visionary exploration of African philosophy in the context of transhumanism and the singularity concept. Abdul’s chapter pushes the boundaries of thought, presenting an Afrofuturist perspective that enriches the discourse.

Aribiah David Attoe and Amara Esther Chimakonam’s chapter, “Transhumanism, Immortality and the Question of Life’s Meaning,” delves even deeper into the philosophical foundations of life’s meaning within the framework of advanced technology. Their insightful analysis provokes contemplation on the profound implications of technological advancements on the fundamental questions of human existence.

Thaddeus Metz’s “African Reasons Why Artificial Intelligence Should Not Maximize Utility” and Diana Ekor Ofana’s “Can AI Attain Personhood in African Thought?” scrutinize the ethical considerations and challenges of AI from an African perspective. These chapters critically examine the ethical dimensions of AI technologies and offer valuable insights into the ways in which AI aligns with African philosophical concepts of personhood and community.

C. S. Wareham’s “Artificial Intelligence and African Conceptions of Personhood” further enriches the discussion by exploring AI through the lens of African philosophical concepts of personhood. This chapter emphasizes the necessity of considering AI within the broader context of African philosophical thought, shedding light on the intricacies of personhood in the age of AI.

The book concludes with the thought-provoking chapter “Applying a Principle of Explicability to AI Research in Africa: Should We Do It?,” by Mary Carman and Benjamin Rosman. This chapter delves into the ethical development of AI, highlighting the importance of aligning AI research with African values and interests. It not only addresses the ethical imperatives but also grapples with the computational challenges inherent in machine learning research, emphasizing the need for AI development that is both ethically sound and culturally sensitive.

The diverse range of topics covered in this book makes it an essential read for professionals in African philosophy, AI ethics, and philosophy of mind, as well as students in these fields. The editors and contributors have done a remarkable job in bringing together diverse perspectives, highlighting the richness of African philosophical thought and its relevance in the modern technological world. This volume serves as a testament to the vibrancy and significance of African philosophy in the global intellectual landscape, shedding light on pressing issues at the intersection of philosophy, consciousness, and AI.

Reviewer:  Goran Trajkovski Review #: CR147774
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