Sufism and Ifa: Ways of Knowing in Two West African Intellectual Traditions

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Sufism and Ifa: Ways of Knowing in Two West African Intellectual Traditions

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Title: Sufism and Ifa: Ways of Knowing in Two West African Intellectual Traditions
Author: Ogunnaike, Oludamini
Citation: Ogunnaike, Oludamini. 2015. Sufism and Ifa: Ways of Knowing in Two West African Intellectual Traditions. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
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Abstract: This dissertation examines and compares the epistemologies of two of the most popular West African intellectual traditions: Tijani Sufism and Ifa. Employing theories native to the traditions themselves and contemporary oral and textual sources, I examine how these traditions answer the questions: What is knowledge? How is it acquired? And How is it verified? Or more simply, “What do you know?,” “How did you come to know it?,” and “How do you know that you know?” After analyzing each tradition separately, and on its own terms, I compare them to each other and to certain contemporary, Western theories.
Despite having relatively limited historical contact, I conclude that the epistemologies of both traditions are based on forms of self-knowledge in which the knowing subject and known object are one. As a result, ritual practices that transform the knowing subject are key to cultivating these modes of knowledge. Therefore I argue that like the philosophical traditions of Greek antiquity, the intellectual or philosophical dimensions of Tijani Sufism and Ifa must be understood and should be studied as a part of a larger project of ritual self-transformation designed to cultivate an ideal mode of being, or way of life, which is also an ideal mode of knowing. I further assert that both traditions offer distinct and compelling perspectives on, and approaches to, metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, psychology, and ritual practice, which I suggest and begin to develop through comparison.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:23845406
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