African philosophy, Nigeria, philosophy, politics, psychology, religion, Uncategorized, Western philosophy

DANGERS OF THE PREVALENT CULTURE OF MEDIOCRITY

 

A PRELUDE

In the year 2004, Barrack Obama, former President of the United States of America gave a famous speech at the democratic Convention in Massachusetts. He said, “Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers, who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well I say to them tonight, there are not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.” The politics of Anything Goes as stated by Obama is the root cause of mediocrity not just in the American politics but in the life of the Nigerian youths. The phrase “anything goes” was used by the late Austrian-American Philosopher of Science Paul Feyerband to challenge the rigid truth claims and strict Methodism of classical Positivism and Scientism. Feyerabend held that an idealized view of science, which elevates science into the level of a semi-god, will turn it into a monster and fail to serve humanity’s best interest. Instead, he offered a theoretical anarchism of anything goes. The anarchism of anything goes can be taken up as a liberating call. It can equip us with the tools with which to challenge the hegemony of absolutist ideologies. But if not watched carefully, it can descend into frivolity and irresponsibility. Amidst our contemporary world, the phrase “anything goes” is now used to define the attitude of disregarding any standards by which we do things. It refers to the acceptance of mediocrity as a standard of normalcy.

This is a malaise of the late modernity that has permeated everything from the arts, sciences, education, religion and politics. It has been presented as a necessity of life as if doing things properly is an expensive and luxurious thing. This is a world where the young do not want to demand more nor try harder and are satisfied with the minimum. This is quite degrading and dehumanizing to see man with an imprint of perfection reduce himself to a mediocre being.

THE CHARACTER OF MEDIOCRITY (PORING INTO ITS MEANING AND DESCRIPTION).

Mediocrity is often defined as the state of being mediocre, having only an average degree of quality or skills and no better than the standard. Mediocrity can also be adjectival where the person who exhibits these qualities above is addressed as a mediocrity (Plural Mediocrities). Its etymology can be traced from the Latin “Medio” (middle or average). In order to understand mediocrity’s true disposition, one must also be able to recognize its defining traits. They include; apathy, indifference, doubt, pervasiveness, insecurity, superficiality, fear, timidity, laziness. At first glance, mediocrity is calm but that calm exterior can belie panic. Mediocrity panics when placed under pressure for it know, it is being dishonest. But rather than engage with any immediate expectation of it and putting in the required work and efforts, it simply detaches. This is how it abandons responsibility and stays calm without being perturbed at its present state.

One thing is striking about mediocrity, a great many dictionaries present it as an antonym for excellence. Yet, there is a common understanding that is gaining strength which is, to be mediocre is to fall between the two worlds of excellence and failure and this is not bad for those who hold on to this. As the French Essayist, Joseph Joubert said “Mediocrity is excellent to the eyes of mediocre people”.

CAUSES OF MEDIOCRITY

  1. LACK OF EXPOSURE TO BIGGER AND GREAT CHALLENGES OTHER THAN WHAT ONE KNOWS ALREADY. This could be in the field of academics or sports. This usually leads to settling for less by the youths instead of aiming higher.
  2. LAZINESS- this is the inability to work harder and pursue excellence.
  3. PROCASTINATION- being slow or late about doing something that should be done. This often steals precious time from us. One who is consistent in this will find it difficult to go just beyond the average.
  4. FEAR OF SUCCESS- This occurs in those who persistently tell themselves that they have been marked for failure and cannot perform well in any life fields.
  5. FEAR OF FAILURE- This is quite the opposite and it is also dangerous because one who is afraid of failure or afraid of making mistakes cannot go further. He/she is always struck in the present and cannot go beyond it to greater heights.
  6. WANTING TO BE LIKE OTHERS- Each of us is unique and has his or her distinct potentialities which God has endowed us with. Inasmuch as it is not bad to aspire to great heights following the footsteps of others. But then, it becomes bad when we do this to the extent of losing our personality. When we do this, we become a Second Best. This could pose a very bad threat.

 

THE OCEAN OF MEDIOCRITY VIS A VIS OUR CONTEMPORARY YOUTHS.

That today’s youths are the future we hope for is certainly something that is quite undisputed. In as much as this is true, we (both young and old) must strive to ensure that the future of the youths can be something that we can be really proud of. At the root of what can hamper the smooth progress and success of today’s youths is the craze and mad rush to embrace mediocrity. It has become a social danger and a cankerworm that we all must deal with, if we must smell development. One funny thing is that the youths of today are born in a mediocre culture which makes it a little difficult though, not impossible for them to extricate themselves from this mental slavery. An instance is a country like Nigeria where mediocrity is celebrated and unrebuked underachievement seems to be the order of the day. A governor ends up building a single road during his tenure and he is revered as the next messiah. An author writes a book with no quality and form and yet, he gets sponsored to represent Nigerian Literature overseas. One with no qualities of being elected or with any credentials gets promoted faster than others. There is a serious room for ordinariness and a very near absence of professionalism and exceptionalism in our personal and public life. There is no way a nation can grow as long as it continues in this mindless celebration of mediocrity.

Our institutions of learning where future minds are trained is nothing to write home about. When was the last time we had any ground breaking or revolutionary research in any of our institutions of learning? What known innovation can we boast of? Normally, a university is supposed to foster critical and mature thinking, encourage enterprising dialogue and spur research ideas and initiatives. The best and sharpest intellects are supposed to gather at universities and influence national conversations and ideas. Not just the universities alone, all institutions of learning are supposed to seize the day and take good advantage of the youths. However the reverse seems to be the case. The quest for healthy competition in various fields is fasting eroding us even in the area of the virtues and the good life.

It is a fact that Nigeria is bedeviled with economic, political and religious problems. These problems stare us in the face daily. However, we should not be running around for solutions to these problems giving the number of graduates we produce every year in different fields. By now, insightful solutions should have been proffered to the issues that constantly stares us in the face. Going down memory lane some 600 years ago in the 15th century, doctors at universities in Timbuktu in the present day Mali were performing eye surgeons, removing cataracts. This was as far back as the 15th century. At the dawn of the 21st century, what efforts have been put in place to build and improve on the already existing foundation?

I wouldn’t know the number of youths today that form clubs and societies that encourages mediocrity and eschews independent thinking. The interest of today’s youths lies in the fascination from the internet and the entertainment sectors. Although,the internet when channeled to positive areas can be used to achieve great things in the future. It can be an avenue to develop one’s talents and potentials in the field that one so desires. Sadly today, the internet has been turned by many into an area where pornography and fraud take place.

Furthermore, even those with no opportunity to attend formal education find it difficult to fan into flame the natural gifts and potentials God has endowed them with. The quest to perfect oneself even in the artistic skills is eroding us. What we have today is the get rich quick syndrome that has pervaded the minds of the youths. There is a dare need for a change of attitude and mentality. Bob marley in his freedom somg talks about “Emancipating oneself from mental slavery”. Unless a radical change takes place where mediocrity and its attributes are shunned, then the future will certainly remain bleak for all of us.

 

RESISTING THE CULTURE OF MEDIOCRITY AND CHAMPIONING EXCELLENCE (PANACEAS AND CONCLUSION)

As I gradually conclude this piece, it is good to note that, mediocrity cannot be destroyed. It can only be resisted. What is necessary is one’s attitude towards it. It is one’s attitude that determines its strength and if it is to be countered, one must not neglect his attitudes. By resisting mediocrity one is invariably saying yes to excellence in any field he finds himself. Excellence is resilient. It is determined. It feeds on aspiration and hope and its strength lies in a powerful instinct which relentlessly drives it not only to compete with brilliance but to surpass it. Excellence can only survive through the aid of excellence but this is not so with mediocrity. It can survive just anywhere. This is why one has to be vigilant and focused on rooting out those things that will sprout the growth of mediocrity.

It is quite an arduous task. To make this move involves overcoming a massive inertia. It requires absolute commitment and a relentless drive to lift expectations. When we (especially the youths) begin this mind revolution, we can be rest assured that we can begin to compete favourably as world citizens with our peers outside the shores of Nigeria and of course our society will be greatly improved.

 

STANLEY C. IJEOMA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

African philosophy, american election, american politics, Atheism, New atheism, New Year, Nigeria, philosophy, politics, psychology, religion, science, science fiction movies, Uncategorized, Western philosophy

THANK YOU FR ARISTOTLE BUT PHILOSOPHY MUST TRANSCEND

PRELUDE
The man dies, but his legacy and spirit still hovers and lives on. It’s been thousands of years since the birth and death of Aristotle, the wise man of Stagira. Yet, it is not an over statement to say that, his works still hold strong grips not only in the intellectual world but also in other strata of education. In philosophy all other philosophical works are seen as “Footnotes to his works” as a result of his huge impact in the branches of Philosophy. While I laud and doff my cap for this great ancestor, I dare to say that time is already late for philosophy especially that of the West which is heavily influenced by Aristotle to take up their mats and start walking. If philosophy must remain progressive and critical which is due to its nature, she must scrutinize all systems and traditions. None is sacrosanct. Nonetheless, since the death of Aristotle, everything about his teachings seems to be swallowed hook, line and sinker. The West seem to give a blind eye to the severe dangers and polarities posed by some of his teachings especially his metaphysics heavily ladened with his Philosophy of essence. It is my intention in this work somewhat to say that a greater cause of the polarity and dichotomizing tendencies that we see today in western philosophy and her allies have their roots in Aristotle’s philosophy of essence. While I applaud still his laudable contributions, I think it is high time his disciples accept his teachings while putting on their critical lenses.
MUCH ADO ABOUT ARISTOTLE’S PHILOSOPHY OF ESSENCE
One sees in the work of Aristotle especially his “Metaphysics”, the basic teachings about the Philosophy of essence . Looking at his metaphysics Book C, 2 Aristotle refers to Metaphysics as “First Philosophy”, because for him, it investigates the first principles, the ultimate causes of all things and the foundation of truths. The main focus of Metaphysics for Aristotle is the study of substance or essence. This means that, even if there are many substances, Aristotle recognizes that metaphysics or first Philosophy has to do with the unchangeable substance. In his words:
If there is no substance other than those which were formed by nature, natural science will be the first science; but if there is an immovable substance, the science of this must be prior and must be first Philosophy and universal in this way, because it is first. And, it will belong to this to consider being qua- being both what it is and the attributes which belong to it qua being
He goes on further to make an important distinction. The distinction between the wise and the unwise. Aristotle held strongly that it belongs to the character of the wise to know being as being which is the essence of reality. His reasons which he stated in his above cited works are because; the wise man knows all things as far as possible. Secondly, the wise man can learn things that are difficult and not easy for the unwise to know. He sums it up by saying that, the wise man must not be ordered but must order, he must not be subject to obedience but should subject others to obey. We shall see the great implications of this in our next section.
ONTOLOGICAL AND EXISTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES OF LONG YEARS OF ADHERENCE TO ARISTOTLE’S PHILOSOPHY OF ESSENCE.
The first question in this sub-section is, what is actually wrong with Aristotle’s philosophy of essence nay his metaphysic? Well, one can say that, his metaphysics is built under a mindset that has sees reality, human inter-personal relationship and science in a polarized, exclusivist and non-complementary mode this is largely seen in his dual conception of reality into substance and accidents, being and non-being which has become widespread even to inter-human relationships.
The first consequence (Ontological) of an attachment to Aristotle’s metaphysics is a polarized conception of reality. As a result of long years of faithfulness and subscription to the thoughts and ideas of this great man by the western counterparts, we see them quickly believing without much criticism that, substance or essence does not need accidents to subsist whereas accidents need substances on which they inhere. This will serve as one of the major loop holes inherent in western philosophy and thoughts. After all, the likes of Coppleston so much believed that, Aristotle’s Metaphysics had a tremendous influence on the subsequent thought of Europe
What one must note here is that, substance and accidents constitute what makes reality whole and complete. Were we to commit ourselves to the assumption that the substance is the very thing that makes a thing what it is, then we shall find ourselves in a very paradoxical situation where we might have to consider the dimension of accidents as a dispensable aspect of being in history.
In reality, we know that there are accidents that the mind can artificially isolate for such individual consideration. This is the case with almost all accidents such as beauty, age, sex colour, tribe e.t.c the mind can isolate these accidents, theoretically for independent consideration based on their goodness in itself. Besides, there is an unanswered question by the top disciples of Aristotle, if the existence of accidents is dependent on the existence of substances, how do we know substances except by conceptualizing them? If we conceptualize them, then their existence is dependent on all the possible relations that enter into their emergence in the process of cognition, this is applicable to the essence of God that can be conceptualized analogously.
When now, Aristotle makes the conceptualization of accidents dependent on substances, then accidents pure and simple would either have no existence or where they do exist as pure abstract discrete quantities or qualities would not have or require any essence. This means that, either substances alone exist or accidents would become our substances. If we accept this view, then Aristotle’s whole doctrine of pluralistic realism would have a very serious question mark. The solution to this age long error is that, for there to be things in the way we know them, we must talk about the serious linkage between substances and their accidents. A mutual complementary relationship must exist between these two where both substance and accidents need each other and serve each other in their being.
On the existential plane, we see that the character of accidents as conceived by Aristotle are so mistaken that they have turned into cases of tensions and conflicts in the wider society. Are we thus surprised that such issues as race, tribe, nationality, skin colour and so on play decisive roles and get extraordinary meanings in our lives and in our dealings with others? Today as well as in the past, people are crying out as to how strangers and foreigners are treated and forced to play roles that are inhuman because of their status. The so called craze for women emancipation and liberation all stems from the age long distinction and undue emphasis placed between substance and accidents.
Asouzu is right in affirming that, Aristotle’s ontology “has an inherent moment of bifurcation which can always be turned one way or the other to achieve desired ideological gains”. The wise and the unwise, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor can co-exist only if the requisite mindset is acquired so as to make this possible. If philosophy must remain love of wisdom and truth (or as some contemporary scholars will refer to it as construction of knowledge) then, we must transcend the confines of the Aristoltelian world filled with so many paradoxes and contradictions. In this case, I think of a philosophy of complementation and not one of rejection and exclusiveness.
TRANSCENDING THE LEGACIES OF FR ARISTOTLE THROUGH FR ASOUZU’S IBUANYIDANDA PHILOSOPHY
Philosophy in our contemporary times is in dire need of a harmonized idea of being so as to make our idea of science and inter-human relationship meaningful. This can be achieved if there is a way to relate essence ( Substance) and accidents, ends and means, practical reason and theoretical reason such that their realization can be mutually harmonized. Doing this, we go a long way to end the subject-object divide often experienced in philosophy. This is the task of Ibuanyidanda Philosophy.
The concept Ibuanyidanda draws its inspiration from the teachings of traditional Igbo Philosophers of the complementary system of thought. The closest English equivalent to the word “Ibuanyidanda” is Complementarity. Danda are the species of ants that have the capcity to carry out loads that are naturally bigger than they are as a result of the mutual dependence and interdependence that exist between the two. Traditional Igbos thus say Ibuanyidanda( this means that no task is insurmountable for danda).
Applying this to philosophy, Asouzu makes us understand that the mutual dependence that exists in complementarity as exemplified by the ants is strongly negated by Aristotle’s philosophy of essence which we have seen above. To remind us, we stated earlier that Aristotle understands reality through the concept of essence or substance which does not need any accident to subsist. Fidelity to this Aristotlelian mindset has bred strong exclusivity and polarity. Under the lens of Ibuanyidanda, being is re-defined and given a new meaning. Being is that “on account of which anything that exists serves a missing link of reality” missing links are diverse entities within the framework of a whole and as they are complementarily related. They are all the important units that make up the whole; substances and their accidents inclusive. Here, nothing is left out and nothing is more important than the other.
With this in mind Fr Asouzu as against Fr Aristotle sees existence as, to be in a complementary relationship (ka so mu adina) as opposed to being alone (ka so mu di). Having discovered further that the problem we have stem from the mindset with which philosophy has been practiced all these years, fr Asouzu advocates for a Noetic Propadeutic or a pre-pedagogy of the mind so as to enable individuals acquire a complementary action through complementary education to further overcome the subject-object dichotomy. Complementarism having gained wide acclaim in academic circles has gone a long way in resolving the excesses from the philosophy of Aristotle by advocating for a mutual understanding and harmonization of reality.
CONCLUSION
Philosophy is always in constant need of overhaul. What I have done above is not in any way to denigrate the efforts of one of our greatest ancestors in the field of Philosophy. I tend rather to see it as the Ponty’s view of riding on the shoulders of giants so as to give clarity and objectivity to philosophical thoughts. The Aristotleian metaphysics which both western and African scholars hold today with closeed fists must be reformulated or totally abandoned so as to give way for novel approaches (not just that of Asouzu) to redress the metaphysical cum existential issues bordering the philosophical milieu. The journey and efforts has just begun and we must not rest on our oars. Scholars both western and African must not be afraid to truly allow the Soul of Aristotelian Metaphysics to “rest in peace”. Mediocrity and all forms of uncomplimentary approach to reality must be shunned for progress to be made. The challenge is for Philosophy today to go for a Study of the Totality of reality which will steer the wheel of progress and development. This will be a sign of our commitment to scholarship and also our ability to put into practice the critical part of our philosophy.

African philosophy, Atheism, New atheism, New Year, Nigeria, philosophy, politics, psychology, religion, science, Western philosophy

DE-EGOTIZING THE SELF IN ORDER TO RESURRECT THE I

In each one of us, lies two selves; an Ego and an I. one dominates the self. some are pretty dominated by the Ego while some are dominated by the I. The both are not lived out simultaneously. Fulton Sheen in one of his great works “Lift up your heart” states that, one who attempts to live both the life of the Ego and the I suffers remorse, anxiety, and inner disatisfaction. i shall briefly look at instances of an Ego-dominated life and an I- dominated life. firstly, the Ego is usually the self- centered, selfish and sensous part of man. a life dominated by the Ego finds it difficult to see his own faults but easily sees the faults of others. This type of lifestyle often clings tenaciously to sin and evil habits and calls it being rational. it seeks to be loved but does not love in return, it professes God vibrantly but deep down within the soul, it lacks the conviction that there is even a God. This is so because, deep down within it, being deeply committed to the christian principles might entail giving up our bad habits. Here, cases of Pseudo-Religion is very ramapant in a milieu like ours with so many churches. These are some of the ttemptatons we fall into when the Ego reigns supreme.This is why the caption talks about DE-EGOTIZING the self which means, ridding ourselves or doing away with every practices that are Ego inclined so as to embrace another lifestyle; the life of the I.
The I on the other hand is the true self that trascends the wordly life of the Ego because of the possession of freedom. The I is the man capable of returning to itself. I think of the I in relation to the famous statements of Socrates “Man Know Thyself”, “an unexamined life is not worth leaving” .This is the man who is capable of self knowledge and undertaking self-examination. An I-centered life understands freedom as responsibility under the law; where one has the right to do what one OUGHT to do. Gradually, one begins to act under the inspiration of God. His thoughts, desires, motivations and actions are no more on the sensate but on the heavenly. it is at this point that one is aware of the sense of sin and falling away from the grace of God. An I- centered life becomes more sensitive to the needs of the Other and does not consider others better than himself.
Amongst the pertinent questions we must ask oursleves at the threshold of the New Year is, do we still continue to live a licentious and Ego-centerd life as we did in the previous year? our country is in dire need of those who will bury the Ego so as to resurrect the I, our Churches are in dire need of those who are willing to live an I life; those ready to worship God in words and deeds.
In our world today marked by scientific and technological mastrey, one sees technology gradually pushing away the sense of sin, guilt and shame that makes us images of God. Little wonder then, Neo-Atheism and all forms of escapism are taking deep roots in the hearts of various peoples today. there is some comfort in believing that the Church and the Word of God are outdated in our private and individual lives. 2017 is a time to rethink again. Man remains ever capable of transcending to that Higher life which God has called us; the life of Holiness, the life of Grace, the life of the I.
MERRY NEW 2017

African philosophy, Nigeria, philosophy, politics

QUESTIONING THE CIVILITY OF THE CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN MIND AMIDST THE PARADOX OF ENCRYPTED PHENOMENA

I quite agree with Albert Einstein that, it is important that one never ceases to raise questions. it is in this line that I ask, to what extent can a mind ( African or not) be called civil? what actually are the signs of the civilization of a mind? (in our case here, the African mind) is it the mere liberation from the so called colonial shackles, building of sophisticated houses, riding the most expensive cars, acquisition of certificates and various degrees, holding of prestigious religious and political offices, use of the latest scientific and technological gadgets? I dare say NO! while the above mentioned are not bad in themselves, I tend to see them as secondary evidences of a civilized mind. Our ancestors were without these, but I think to an extent, their conducts are very closer to civility than the ones we display today. With the events happening in our African world, one who critically observes can say that, most African minds are still far away from the door of civilization despite the perceived show of enlightenment. There are many examples and cases of this but in this write-up, we shall how the case of Encrypted Phenomena has put a huge question mark on the externalities we show under the guise of civility. The neologism, Encrypted Phenomena is a coinage of Prof Innocent Asouzu. He describes encrypted phenomena as, those things that appear mysterious to us due to the paucity of our knowledge. Here, the mysteries disappear the moment the knowledge or information that is lacking is made available. Here the ignorant are usually exploited and are victims of selfish interests. Uncritical thinking arising from indoctrination and socialization looms here. Hence to be free from these, we can talk about de-crypting the encrypted or decoding the encrypted phenomena. One striking thing about the encrypted phenomena is that, it is practiced greatly in Africa by Africans and to Africans. So many people in the African milieu are being exploited daily under the guise of these phenomena. How do we explain the fact that despite the positive wind of enlightenment, we still hold back to the negative and deceptive ways of acting? Today for instance, so many are aware that wealth can be made through the rules of market economies yet we still continue to engage in practices like, money doubling, ritual killings just to make money. where then lies our rationality and enlightenment? the pillars of honest savings, hard work and honest investments which Africans were known for are gradually fading away before our very eyes. Religion on the other hand has been greatly exploited to the last. it is no longer seen as a genuine encounter with the Divine. What we have in the so called religious houses are simply the use of the name of God to exploit and deceive poor and innocent minds. Religion sadly has fallen into the category of encrypted phenomena used where man is served and worshipped in the name of God. We must know that, wearing the garment of civility when one cannot transcend this base and crooked form of thinking is useless. it is simply ironical or pseudo-civility so to say. True civility entails the capacity to see the Other not just as a negation or an object used to attain advancement and selfish interest but as a being that has rights, dignity and aspirations as we have. Emmanuel Levinas captures this thought when he talks of a face-face encounter. when this happens, then we can realize that such values as honesty, hard work, respect for life, worship of God in spirit and in truth will fall into place. Besides, these were hallmarks of the traditional African societies. unless this approach is taken, the Door of Civility might remain locked up from us for a long time to come.

African philosophy, Nigeria, philosophy, Western philosophy

OVERHAULING AFRICAN PHILOSOPHY: CHALLENGES AND PANACEAS

African philosophy is gradually gaining recognition as a discipline both within its milieu and the universal arena. But then, as this takes place, certain pressing challenges still awaits it because she is yet to put in her best in the universal philosophical discourse. These challenges portray African philosophy as moving back wards and in serious need of an external aid as scholars like Makinde seem to assume. In certain parts of the world, the question of the existence of African philosophy is still in doubt whereas in some areas, African philosophy is merely exotic and devoid of critical reasoning. This has put African scholars to reflect deeply on the often asked question, can the Black Man think? To an extent, I share the view that Africans and scholars alike are to be blamed for this. We are not at our best in our bid to promote African philosophy. While I deeply acknowledge the sincere efforts of some scholars in some quarters, I still believe that we need to do more. As the day goes by, little efforts are being made by scholars to articulate African knowledge in a systematic way so as to make our philosophy challenging and to promote lasting intellectual curiosity beyond mere world views. What is usually the case in African philosophy today is the mere recitation of world views that do not resonate in the universal. What is more? We have in our time a gradual decrease in the reading culture. Few tend to cultivate the habit of deep critical reading that goes beyond what we see in newspapers and novel.  It does seem that with the excitement generated by the debate about the existence or non existence of African philosophy, we seem to be marking time to use the words of Prof Innocent Asouzu.  At this time, one is not mistaken by asking, where are our trained philosophers who study in various prestigious universities in and around the globe? How much do the give to African philosophy after their degrees? Is the bank of African philosophy enriched enough by their wisdom? I come back again to the need for system building because, it is one of the greatest trials facing African philosophy. If our  scholars can actually begin to systematize their thoughts as they philosophize from their African Ambient, then we can say that we are on our way to progress. To forestall retrogression and lack of creativity in African philosophy, we must change strategy. Here we must study not only Western philosophies and their methodologies but also works and systems of African philosophers. The study of regional philosophy must be promoted in our institutions of learning. We can’t loose our own. (Nkemefuna). All forms of sheepish and slavish attachments to Western philosophical thoughts and paradigms must be discouraged as this can kill creativity in African philosophy. Africans must take pride in studying and internalizing the ideas of African philosophers as part of the wealth of our intellectual heritage. It is often surprising how one can search for the works of fellow Africans in African libraries, universities and not easily find them as we find that of our European counterparts. On the other hand, for the work of total and comprehensive solution to be achieved, African philosophy must engage in critical reflections that will solve the pressing human problem both in and around African philosophy. This is quite a daunting task but without it, all our arguments will be meaningless. It is by aiding in solving both the existential and perennial problems of man in a systematic way that the voice of African philosophy can truly resonate beyond ethnocentric and exotic world views that it is usually styled with. Indeed now is the finest moment for African philosophy to stop marking  time and move to the next level. This is our chance…         Have a blissful week! 

African philosophy, philosophy

WHITHER 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!