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

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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, 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!