The idea that African discourse on the self evinces two distinct though related views of personhood (“metaphysical” and “normative”) has gained currency in recent years. Although both views are recognized, the normative view, rather than the metaphysical one, is held by many to be germane to African thought. I discuss an attempt by Ikuenobe to locate the normative view of personhood in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and to thereby glean support for it. I argue that Achebe’s fiction is mute on matters concerning personhood and offers no support whatsoever for the normative view. I further argue that the considerations that occupy Ikuenobe and, more generally, proponents of the normative view have little or nothing to do with personhood, but offer some insight into what these concerns really are, which can help reach a decision as to the relative importance of the two views.


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pp. 46-62
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