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Victor U. Emma-Adamah is assistant-director at the Jonathan Edwards Centre Africa of the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. He originates from West Africa, studied in Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Africa, and completed a Masters degree at the University of the Free State (UFS 2014, cum laude, Dean's medal for best MTh thesis). He was recently accepted in the PhD programs of the University of Cambridge and the University of Nottingham to study with John Milbank, among others.

Victor Emma-Adamah was awarded an interdisciplinary grant and pursued research on the West African-born Anton Wilhelm Amo (1703-1756), the first African philosopher in Europe. Amo studied philosophy and law at the University of Halle, Germany, and produced at least three significant philosophical works, including De Jure Maurorum (On the Rights of Africans [1729]), where he examined the extent of freedom or servability of Africans, particularly in Europe. Furthermore, Amo’s work De Humanae Mentis Apatheia (On the Apathy of the Human Mind [1734]), written while he taught at the University of Wittenberg, provides a window into important philosophical debates of the German Enlightenment with specific attention to the Leibniz-Stahl debates — early 18th century discussions between Halle Pietism, Leibnizians/Wolffians around the organismic and/or mechanistic conceptions of the soul and body.

In his master's thesis, Victor presents Amo’s third work, Disputatio philosophica continens ideam distinctam eorum quae competunt vel menti vel corpori nostro vivo et organico (A philosophical disputation: concerning a distinct idea between things that belong either to the mind, or to our living and organic body [1734]), which provides a condensation of the crux of the African philosopher’s engagements with the German Enlightenment debates of his time. Amo’s life and works, then, reveal an intellectual history of 18th century philosophy and theology that is beautifully multifaceted and, even more, suggests an African voice and perspective on the historical and philosophical contexts of the German Enlightenment.

Commencing in 2015, Victor will take up PhD studies at the University of Cambridge, where he hopes to explore the philosophical dimensions of theological discourse relating to the revelation of God and religious experience, within the intellectual contexts of 19th and 20th century modernity. Of particular interest in this regard are the philosophical-theological movements within 20th-century French Roman Catholic thought often described as ressourcement — a harvesting of central philosophical-theological themes, metaphysical considerations, and spiritual praxis from Patristic and Medieval sources for informed, creative, and critical dialogue with modernity. Victor will be engaging the works of such Catholic thinkers as Henri de Lubac (1896-1991) and Maurice Blondel (1861-1949), and this in close conversation with the voices of Radical Orthodoxy of John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, et al — a contemporary movement that is involved in a sort of ressourcement project of its own.


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