The Hatata Inquiries

African Philosophy from the 1600s: De Gruyter publishes a new translation of Zera Yacob and Walda Heywat, «The Hatata Inquiries: Two Texts of Seventeenth-Century African Philosophy from Ethiopia about Reason, the Creator, and Our Ethical Responsibilities»

New book: On November 6, 2023 De Gruyter publishes the first critical translation of the Hatätas, written by Zera Yaqob and Walda Heywat, into English. The volume is edited by Ralph Lee, Mehari Worku and Wendy Laura Belcher in collaboration with Jeremy R. Brown. Translated by: Ralph Lee, Mehari Zemelak Worku and Wendy Laura Belcher. Preface by: Dag Herbjørnsrud.

UPDATE: All info here:

Info from the publisher on The Hatata Inquiries: Two Texts of Seventeenth-Century African Philosophy from Ethiopia about Reason, the Creator, and Our Ethical Responsibilities:

«The Hatata Inquiries are two extraordinary texts of African philosophy composed in Ethiopia in the 1600s. Written in the ancient African language of Geʿez (Classical Ethiopic), these explorations of meaning and reason are deeply considered works of rhetoric. They advocate for women’s rights and rail against slavery. They offer ontological proofs for God and question biblical commands while delighting in the language of Psalms. They advise on right living. They put reason above belief, desire above asceticism, love above sectarianism, and the natural world above the human. They explore the nature of being as well as the nature of knowledge, the human, ethics, and the human relation with the divine. They are remarkable examples of something many assume doesn’t exist: early written African thought.

This accessible English translation of the Hatata Inquiries, along with extensive footnotes documenting the cultural and historical context and the work’s many textual allusions, enables all to read it and scholars to teach with it. The Hatata Inquiries are essential to understanding the global history of philosophy, being among the early works of rational philosophy.»

About the Eds: Ralph Lee, Oxford Center for Mission Studies; Mehari Zemelak Worku, Catholic Univ. of America; Wendy Laura Belcher, Princeton Univ.» Preface by Dag Herbjørnsrud, Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas,

More info:

Read Herbjørnsrud’s Aeon essay «The African Enlightenment» (Dec. 2017) about the Hatätas:

The Hatata Inquiries

UPDATE: A recording of the book launch (Dec 6 2023):

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