distinctive feature of philosophy. These questions are questions about human life, about knowledge and truth, good and bad, right and wrong, mind and matter; about human nature and the universe, we inhabit. Any thought about these questions counts as philosophy. Thus philosophy is likely to be found in every human society, past and present- wherever there are people struggling to live and make sense of their lives. Hence, 2
Ethiopia is not an exception to this. It is an obvious foolishness to consider Ethiopia as a country where there is/was no a single thinker.
Ethiopian philosophy is expressed in oral and written literatures 2 both playing a significant and an inspiring role for the ...view middle of the document...
The paper has three parts. The first part deals with the need for proving the existence of God. The second part deals with the nature of the argument that Zar'a Ya'eqob used to prove the existence of God. The last part has attempted to examine whether the proof is based on rational reflection.
1. Zar'a Ya'eqob's Argument for the Existence of God.
From what we have seen so far, one can easily understand the fact that Ethiopia has left its imprint on works of philosophy, both in the Aksumite and Medieval periods. Nonetheless, with the exception of the Treatise of Zar'a Ya'eqob, it still remains that none of the philosophical works in Ethiopia shows any trace of a critical frame of mind that characterizes modern thought. The work of Zar'a Ya'eqob differs from all Ethiopian philosophies of both the Aksumite and Medieval periods in that it employed abstract thought. It is the fruit of Zar'a Ya'eqob's own reflective, inquisitive and critical mind. Zar'a Ya'eqob has put his life history in the Treatise. He was born near Aksum, in northern Ethiopia, in 1599.4 He pursued his studies in the traditional Ethiopian schools until he reached their highest expression in qene, the oral culture which helped him to develop critical mental reflections.5
The work of Zar'a Ya'eqob is an absolutely original work.6 It is the fruit of his own deep and sustained personal reflection. Unlike the Pre-existing Ethiopian literatures, the Treatise of Zar'a Ya'eqob is neither a translation nor an adaptation from foreign sources. By the same token, contrary to these early literatures (the ones that I have listed earlier on) that had an influence from Greek via Egypt, we do not find an explicit or even implicit quotations of or references to a Greek source in the Treatise of Zar'a Ya'eqob.7 It is based on his own critical, reflective and rationalistic approach that he proved the existence of God.
1.1 What is the need for proving the Existence of God?
The mysterious nature of life in this world had attracted Zar'a Ya'eqob's attention. He has observed the fact that some persons born of the same parents and brought up with almost the same amount of care and affection are latter found to differ, in some cases very widely, in respect of their mental equipment, moral dispositions and the general conditions of living. Some are born with silver spoons in their mouths, while some others are found abandoned on roads or thrown in rivers. Some are born blind or crippled, while some others are almost beautiful and blessed in their lives. Some are rendered orphans immediately after their births and have to pass the rest of their lives by begging in the streets and sleeping on pavements of the roads. Some roll in wealth yet has to pass most part of their lives in hospitals. Some are born lucky
being almost complete strangers to those bitter strives and struggles, trials and tribulations of life under which other are born and die.8 Zar'a Ya'eqob has observed that some people prosper...