Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
African ontology is the fundamental hermeneutical key that unlocks the meaning of African religious views and practices. Within the discipline of philosophy of religion or theology, the notion of ontology refers to that body of knowledge that deals with the question of being or the nature of reality. What is the fundamental nature of being? Is reality unified or are various beings fundamentally different from one another? This inquiry begins with the most fundamental question of all: Why is there something rather than nothing? In African religion, this is the question of origin. It is addressed within the framework of African cosmology and cosmogony. This entry leaves such a question to creation myths and focuses instead on the essential ontological question (i.e., the nature of being). In African religion, there are a variety of conceptions of being. Water, air, fire, and Earth play a critical role in African creation myths. ...