“What a Man Does Not Know Is Greater than He”: Analyzing Noos, Thymos and Akrasia in Achebe’s Arrow of God

  •  Samrand Avestan    
  •  Owen G. Mordaunt    


This paper is an exposition of how Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God (1964) is engaged with philosophical concepts of thymos, noos, eros, and akrasia. The focus of this study is principally on Ezeulu’s thymos. To achieve this end, Francis Fukuyama’s notion of thymos or “desire for recognition” has been considered to provide a more tangible description of the term. This study explores that when a person’s body formation is mostly dominated by thymos, which has run out of control, the result is akrasia. Subsequently, it will be discussed that Ezeulu’s akrasia or “weakness in will” is the result of his ambivalent quest for self-worth. This article also seeks to examine the ways in which Ezeulu, the Chief Priest of Ulu, struggles to maintain his dignity to remain Umuaro’s cynosure. Ezeulu’s old age, his poor eyesight, his conflicts with his people, his insistence on revenge, and his desire for higher values provide some of the major sources of akrasia. By applying these aforementioned philosophical concepts to this novel, it is hoped that this article will contribute to a new conceptualization in terms of psychic disposition in Achebe’s Arrow of God.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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