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GSSC Seminar Series
07 November 2023


Advancing Ethical Thought through Ala Earth Environmental Ethics

Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi (University of Abuja)




Many theories of ethics appeal to human nature and seek to advance, illustrate and consolidate their views through a reading of the human nature. But human nature itself has come under debate and there is what qualifies to be called a constant changing reading of human nature through what could amount to technologisation of the human idea. But what might it look like if ethical theories were to be sourced from the notion of the earth? In this presentation I aim to advance this view. I locate and address the notion or idea of the good is available in, for, with and through the notion of the earth as can be found in Ala earth goddess in Igbo/African thought and the theoretical potential it has for wider advancement of ethics. I will do this through (i) an expository presentation of Ala; (ii) an articulation of the moral and political dimensions of Ala; and (iii) the metaphysical dimension of Ala and the ethical thoughts implicated. Finally I illustrate my claim through the idea of earth justice implicated in Ala. I apply (i), (ii) and (iii) to illustrate how the earth provides a paradigm for wider ethical thoughts and its plausible cross-cultural potential. The method applied is an extant review of literatures on ethics, earth, oral sources on Ala and critical synthesis of the views achieved.

Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi is a Professor of Philosophy at University of Abuja (since 2011) and founder, Centre for Critical Thinking and Resourceful Research in Africa ( devoted to African Self-understanding. He has 30 years teaching and research experience in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and The Gambia. Formerly, Visiting Scholar, University of South Africa (2005); Visiting Associate Professor, Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo-Zimbabwe (2014); Fellow: Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities (IASH), University of Edinburgh (2021); Visiting Scholar, Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge (2023), he has 60 academic publications. He is published in South African Journal of PhilosophyReligionsTheoriaSouthern Journal of PhilosophyAfrican and Asian Studies and Revista de Estudios Africanos. His research seeks to uncover, discover and recover the relevance and autonomy of African thought scheme and he brings this to engage issues of environment; humour, ethics and modernity.