African philosophy, philosophy


Events of last week, had me feeling nostalgic about my days in the philosophy department. These events are actually the catalysts for this little reflection on the nature and role of Philosophy in the face of our contemporary world.  In the first place, philosophers are not merely the sort of people who impersonally work with a set of select tools in the quiet seclusion of their minds or classrooms. They are humans whose tools consist of their languages and whose work shops are chiefly their minds. They are known for distancing their passion from their position so as to enable them stand out as gadflies of the society. To use the words of one of my lecturers in those good old days, “philosophers are constructors of a world”. They are not just mere lovers of wisdom as the etymology makes us understand. How is this construction of the world possible? This can be achieved by challenging erroneous beliefs and assumptions. No position is sacrosanct in philosophy except it is truth itself . the philosopher must not necessarily be a scholar. Even though, being one gives him an edge over others and thus, more responsibility. The philosopher does not usually see things from the usual lenses. He is always in the maze of critical questionings, deconstructions and reconstructions. This is to avoid undue absolutism and dogmatism. This is why, the philosopher is in a better position to give honest answers or opinions to the questions, why is there so much suffering in a world sustained by a necessary Being?, why is life worth living? Can we know the truth in its entirety? In the face of the unsatisfactory nature of leadership, we expect philosophers to reflect over the nature of good government and governance in general. In all these, we see that philosophy is not just an abstract activity but a very practical one. To acquire this  “philosophical temperament”, we must avoid pure ideological exercises in the form of religious fanaticism, ethnic chauvinism, political extremism and the likes. These are enemies of the philosophical attitude.  Of course we know that philosophy thrives across the length and breadth of our daily activities. It is active in history as philosophy of history, in law as jurisprudence, in politics as political philosophy, the list continues. When Ayer says philosophy studies reality as a whole, we see that the subject matter of philosophy agitates the mind of one who raises the philosophical question. For philosophy to be properly done, we must approach it with the proper mindset. A mindset that is not hegemonic or exclusivit but rather one that is complementary(to borrow the word of prof Asouzu). Complementary here implies that, every link of reality is very Important. This leads to mutual dependence that is very absent in philosophy today. It does seem that our philosophy is lacking a more humane face that is attuned to the problems of our time. The Epicurean Metaphysics captures it vividly, “empty is the argument of the philosopher by which no soul is healed”. We tend to hold on to the subject-object divide in philosophy. Rejecting this does not negate the systematic thinking we ascribe to ourselves. Diversity is strength. This is what philosophers in a postmodern era must realize. Our thinking and being is enriched when we learn from one another and complement one another. Thus, wither philosophy is a clarion call on all lovers of wisdom to expunge and exorcise if necessary all the ghosts that keep on reappearing in the philosophical enterprise to hinder progress. These Ghosts are present in all cultures that form the seeds of philosophy. We must not let them thrive in their thought trajectories. The philosopher must seek to reclaim his true autonomy. This is one of the arduous task  facing Philosophy.  GOD BLESS THE PHILOSOPHICAL ENTERPRISE! 


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