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.

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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

Atheism, New atheism, philosophy, religion, science, science fiction movies

BETWEEN THE TRANSFER OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON:THOUGHTS ABOUT THE SELFLESS SCIENCE FICTION.                

I had a little spare time Last week. Some period away from the stress of my place of work. Thus, I decided to engage in one of my past times (watching movies). It was one of the famous movies making grounds in Neuro science and philosophy because of its seeming novel scientific insights. It is titled SELFLESS. An American science fiction thriller produced last year. The film was written by David and Alex Pastor and directed by Tarsem Singh. In the movie, we see Damian a business tycoon who was diagnosed with a terminal illness but discovers a radical novel medical procedure called SHEDDING which gives room for the transfer of consciousness to an artificially grown healthy body. Interestingly, Damian decides to undergo this procedure and fakes his death. His body was successfully transferred into a new body and drugs were given to him to prevent hallucinations which he claims are side effects of the procedure. After some time, Damian begins a new life in New Orleans under the name Edward Kidner and the story continues. My interest here is not to unravel the whole plot of the story, mine is more of a reflection and also to draw our attention to the rising issue in science, the possibility of the transfer of consciousness to the human person and its devastating effects to the future of man. Is it right for shedding to take place under any guise even in the case of death as we have in our selfless movie?  Living in a techno-scientific world, man is faced with the nagging tendency of making technology the be all and end all of our existence. As we move towards a De-Godment(doing away with God) and a relativization of morals, everything gradually becomes permissible. This earthly existence is now held tenaciously and vain efforts are made to enthrone immortality to an ever frail mortal nature. It is within this spectrum that we can understand the efforts made to promote scientific novelties like Shedding while depersonalizing the human dignity. While the movie makes it seem like it is very easy to swap memories between two people, one should be aware of the severe difficulties involved According to Wolfgang Fink a Neuro Scientist, “the reason why the selfless-style body procedure is not possible is because, everyone has a different brain. Here one would have to transfer not just memories but the same generating process”. Besides what about the dangers and unknown side effects of such procedures? Surely a human consciousness in an artificial body calls into serious question his humanity and dignity. He or she is more like a walking robot. What’s more, there is no assurance that the so called artificial body can live longer. It will get to die one day. Thus, why the unbridled quest for immortality? It all boils down to the fact that we are gradually loosing the sense of the absolute value of the human person. A bizarre world indeed!  Technology and science should not blind and enslave men despite its positive effects. We do not live for the sake of technology. We cannot loose our humanity because of science. Science must be subject to right reason. A future that shedding or the transfer of consciousness will take place spells doom for the human race. The sacredness and inviolability of the body must be respected and should not be sacrificed on the altar of science and technology.  A BLISSFUL WEEK TO ALL OF US! 

Atheism, New atheism, philosophy, psychology, religion

THUS SAYS THE NEW ATHEISM… 

A good number of us are well acquainted with the etymology of atheism. An origin which comes from the Greek “atheos” (without God or gods). It is often addressed to those who reject any belief in God, gods or any form of supreme being. Beginning from the age of enlightenment down to the French Revolution and to our day, the concept of atheism has consistently reared its ugly head. One interesting fact though unadmitted by atheist is that, if God had not existed, there would not have been so much fight and struggle to prove his non-existence. But then, one pressing question remains for the atheist, does believing in God take away our true freedom? Why are they so bent on proving his non existence as if his existence depersonalizes our being. Die hard atheists like Satre thinks otherwise when he says “man is free but his freedom does not look like the glorious liberty of the enlightenment. It is no longer the gift of God. Once again, man stands alone in the universe.” Now, if we fast forward time from the period of enlightenment, we see that the idea and concept of atheism has gradually shifted from just rejecting any belief in God down to the non-tolerance of religion and the countering of religion through the use of the so called rational arguments. This is what is called in some quarters as The New Atheism. A movement commonly associated with the likes of Sam Harris, Daniel Denett, Richard Dawkins , Christopher Hitchens and other disciples of the New Atheist bent. The new atheists I must say are emerging with a more fierce and dangerous approach than it has been in former times. There is what is known today as the politics of new atheism where campaigns are made to reduce the influence of religion in the public sphere and efforts are made to project the idea of God as a delusion to use the words of Dawkins. Perhaps, Watson was right in saying that, the modern man has seen a theological understanding of the humankind being replaced by a psychological nature. What this movement is quickly forgetting is that, the experience of God is real and can be tried. If it were an illusion or delusion , it would not inspire the sacrifice, the purity of morals, the humility, the sublimity of learning that it has inspired for the past 21 centuries. I return again to the questioning mode, what really makes us afraid of God? If he is love, should we not embrace him? This is why Atheism is of the will. It gives room for the permissibility of actions and inactions. It is under this ambience that one can fully understand the new atheist who are bent on destroying God and refusing anything that might put God in action. I was in a recent chat with someone on the internet who made the following statement about God that captures the spirit of the new atheism, he says “I don’t believe in God. God is just a kind of phrase” phraseology is exactly what today’s atheists want God to be. A roless God amidst men. One interesting and puzzling fact amidst these is that God being a relentless lover continues to be in search of the souls of even the worst of Atheists. We may not be surprised to see in heaven the likes of Henry Bergson. Despite the fact of turning God into an endless becoming, he later sought the assistance of a priest before breathing his Last. This points to the fact that we can never exhaust the possibilities of choice. We are free. My final word to this movement is that, there is no escaping God, we cannot keep him out of our lives. We can only greet him with hate instead of love. His pervasive presence will continue to be felt by all. For Godlessness is nothing unless one admits a God. Happy new week!  God loves us!!