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H. Odera Oruka
Practical Philosophy: In Search of an Ethical Minimum

Nairobi 1997


Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers,
309 pages
ISBN 9966-46-704-1

East African Educational Publishers Ltd.
Brick Court
Mpaka Road /
Woodvale Grove
P.O. Box 45314

  Practical Philosophy is Henry Odera Oruka's final book. Edited by Oruka himself, before his untimely death in 1995, this broad collection of essays, lectures and articles represents his research interests and his work from the early 1970's to the 1990's. His project of an alternative practical philosophy rests on four pillars that represent four principal interests of his work. These interests, which are also interwoven and interdependent, are divided into the book's four representative sections: 1) truth, 2) values, ideology and practice, 3) African philosophy and a conception of culture, 4) philosophy, ethics and environment.
  Based in the African context, Oruka understands his practical philosophy as a theory of equality. It places certain minimum standards of living, to which every human being has an equal right, at the centre of its interest, over and above improvements for individuals. Unlike many philosophers so far, he thus takes seriously the urgent philosophical task of addressing humanity as a global community based on equality. Working out some fundamental ethical principles, Oruka addresses ecological questions, as well as the problems of human rights within an African context. Through this book, an ethically committed African thinker expresses himself clearly and frankly on the topic of oppression and the abuses of power occuring in a number of independent countries in Africa. Again, this is something necessary but rarely seen.

Kai Kresse, London

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