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Anton Wilhelm Amo

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Anton Wilhelm Amo (c. 1703 – after 1753), was a philosopher from West Africa.

Anton-Wilhelm Amo: Monument by G. Geyer in Halle/Saale

Biography

Amo was born around 1703 in a village named Nkubeam near the town of Axim (today Ghana). In 1707, he was enslaved and sent to Europe by the Dutch East India Company. In the same year, he was given as a present to Anthony Ulrich, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.

Amo was baptised in 1708 and received the German Christian names “Anton Wilhelm”. The Duke realised Amo’s outstanding intelligence and sent to the University of Halle in 1727. It is uncertain, if Amo had visited the University of Helmstedt before, as many authors claim.

He studied law and history. In 1729, he published his doctoral thesis “De jure Maurorum in Europa” (about the rights of the Moors in Europe), which is not preserved. At the University of Wittenberg, he studied medicine and philosophy and published his doctoral thesis in philosophy in 1734.

From 1736 on, he worked as a lecturer for philosophy at the University of Halle, then from 1739 at the University of Jena.

Amo fell in love with a lecturer’s cousin, Anna Dorothea Gnüge. Later, Anna married the prospective pastor Lange. This couple caused a lot of problems for Amo. In 1746, they published a satirical poem about a “hairy, smart-alecky goatface” trying to kiss a girl. It was obvious for everyone that their mockery aimed at Amo. They also publish an article in “Wöchentliche Hallische Anzeigen” from October 1747 describing “Mr. Amo, an erudite moor, courting a beautiful brunette”.

It is unknown, when Amo left Europe. In 1753, David henrij Gallandat, a ship’s doctor reported to have met the philosopher near Axim. This is the last mention of him.

Works

  • Dissertatio inauguralis de iure maurorum in Europa (doctoral thesis), 1729 '
  • Dissertatio inauguralis de humanae mentis apatheia, Wittenberg, 1734
  • Tractatus de arte sobrie et accurate philosophandi, 1738
  • Disputatio philosphica continens ideam distinctam eorum quae competunt vel menti vel corpori nostro vivo et organico.

(this section is from the German Wikipedia)

Translations and Abstracts of his works

  • Anton Wilhelm Amo Antonius Gvilielmus Amo Afer of Axim in Ghana: Translation of his Works (1968: Halle, Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg)
  • extract from On the Απαθεια of the Human Mind in Safro Kwame [ed.] Readings in African Philosophy: An Akan Collection (1995: University Press of America) ISBN 0-8191-9911-7

(this section is from the English Wikipedia)