1. Philosophy and ultimate questions
The first task in this lecture is to explicate the concept “philosophy”. From the insight thereby derived, I shall proceed to shed light on the expression “philosophy of essence”. Thereafter, I shall expound the concept “ibuanyidanda” and show how a philosophy articulated around this concept can help us avoid some of the difficulties presented by a “philosophy of essence”. The insights derived from these expositions would lead to a new understanding of philosophy as the “science of missing links”. To the question, what is philosophy? - most philosophers are likely to agree with the observation that What Philosophy is and what its value is, is contentious” (Jasper, Einführung in die Philosophie, 9). This observation itself is the foundation of most controversies and disagreements in philosophy, and goes to show the character of philosophy as the apex of all honest concerted efforts at understanding and explaining reality ultimately. A. J. Ayer raises a question, which he answers himself, that would enable us understand better what philosophy, and with it a philosopher is. Thus he asks: “What has the philosopher to contribute? And with what authority? The easiest way to answer this question will be to show philosophy at work in one of its branches, and for this purpose I shall start with metaphysics” (The Central Questions of Philosophy 2), which for him studies “reality as a whole”. Not only Ayer proceeds in this way, but Aristotle, one of the most famous ancient philosophers, seeks to demonstrate what philosophy is by reference to one of its branches, “metaphysics”. Because metaphysics, in the words of Aristotle studies “being qua being” or the ultimate cause of reality, it is “first philosophy”. It is in this sense that metaphysics is “arguably more fundamental” than other branches of philosophy (Carr, Metaphysics, An Introduction 2) and brings out the philosophical temperament more clearly, as the honest attempt to penetrate reality ultimately.
My understanding of philosophy in this lecture shall equally be guided by its affinity with metaphysics, in keeping with the tradition that seeks to penetrate reality ultimately and selflessly. It is within this context that the literal meaning of the word “philosophy” can become clearer. Literarily, the concept “philosophy” is taken from two Greek words “philein” (to love), and ”sophia” (wisdom). Philosophy or to philosophise is then the natural urge to love wisdom. It is not in all cases that this urge to love wisdom leads also to quest for ultimate truth. This is the case when such urge to love wisdom is guided by some mundane considerations other than truth and knowledge for knowledge sake. Hence, the moment the urge to love wisdom becomes self-serving it loses its flavour as philosophy - this is the moment philosophy degenerates to mere ideology. It is in this selfless quest that the philosophers seek to give honest answers or opinions to the question, why there is so much suffering in the world, when the world is sustained by a necessary being, God, that cares infinitely for the world. Similarly, philosophers wish to enlighten dispassionately if life is worth living, and why? In the face of human insufficiency and the limited character of our faculties, the philosopher wonders if we can ever know truth in its entirety or if human existence is condemned to half truths, to uncertainties and falsehood. Philosophy is a practical activity which wonders over, if there is a form of enduring goodness that surpasses the evils and wickedness we experience in this world. If wicked people can be rewarded quite undeservedly, what then is justice? The philosopher dares to ask. In the face of the unsatisfactory nature of leadership styles, the philosopher would like to reflect over the nature of good governance and government in general. In all these cases, the philosopher adduces very good reasons backed by insightful arguments, and in a dispassionate mood, seeks to give answers to both practical and theoretical questions of existence. His desire is always to enlighten selflessly. How do we attain peace, harmony and brotherhood in a world that often tends to violence and segregation? This and many more are such questions that preoccupy a philosophical mind. In seeking to handle these issues, each philosopher, ultimately, strives to enhance human happiness with his questions, reflections and answers about the world. If he wishes to know if God exists or seeks to enlighten on the existence of God, he does this with the sincerity of purpose that seeks to further human happiness and not one that seeks to diminish it. This is why the atheistic philosopher who denies the existence of God does so in the belief that he seeks to enhance and further human happiness, just like the one that affirms God's existence. Hence, philosophers do not see variations in opinion concerning these issues as ends in themselves. This dispassionate striving towards genuine answers, selfless enlightenment and furthering human happiness characterises the nature of philosophy.
One thing should become clear from this exposition, in the sea of opinions that characterise philosophy, pure ideological over-simplifications should never be mistaken for the real philosophical attitude. This is why neither religious fanaticism, ethnic chauvinism nor political extremism, for example, can be pursued under the guise of any philosophy. Their restricting and non-comprehensive outreach diminishes their philosophical significance grossly. Philosophy is an exercise borne from the fundamental love for truth beyond ideologies and attractive packages of pay masters and depraved consciences. As a non-ideological exercise, philosophy is not a slave to authority neither does it despise authority. If there is a master to which it owes allegiance, that master can be called “the truth” which it seeks critically and dispassionately. Hence, even if it thrives within the context of open and democratic discourse, its answers go beyond such discourse, since it has ultimate reality and truth as its guide. Hence, in all philosophical enterprises, it would be fatal to equate the truths embedded in diverse opinions with definite answers. What this means is that, to equate evidence with philosophical answers would be a big mistake. What evidence and opinions do is to give us alternatives, and in some cases, better ways of viewing those questions that puzzle us. In all those instances where very honest attempts are made to elucidate puzzles of existence philosophy is active. In all those cases where we dispassionately, and guided by truth, seek answers without sounding absolutistic, we have the philosophical temperament. In all those cases where we are committed to the openness of the future as a condition of possibility towards seeking apodictic answers into these questions of existence that agitate our minds, this future reference marks us out as realistic. Thus, we find philosophy active across the length and breadth of our daily activities. In the academia, philosophy is active in history, as philosophy of history, in law, as jurisprudence. Political philosophy coves the conceptual questions raised in political science. In the social sciences, philosophy is pursued as philosophy of social science. In the same way, philosophy is active in education, in the humanistic, natural and social sciences etc. Since there is a wide variety of these men and women of goodwill who seek dispassionate honest answers to the puzzles and problems of existence, we are then not surprised if the range of philosophical subject matter is as wide an varied as our world. Thus, we have philosophy of environment, business philosophy, feminist philosophy, philosophy of medicine etc. Thus, as a discipline, “philosophy of something” can always be mounted for specific areas, as the situations and times demand. This is why Solomon holds that “Philosophy is not like any other academic subject; rather it is a critical approach to all subjects” (Solomon, Introducing Philosophy, 11) It is this philosophical spirit that guided the earliest philosophers, who sought to articulate these philosophical questions when they wondered about “the first beginning”, or “origin of everything” (Coreth, Metaphysics 17).
More recently the same question has been reformulated more pointedly by Martin Heidegger who sees the fundamental question of metaphysics to subsist in the questions: “why is there anything at all, rather than nothing” (An Introduction to Metaphysics, 1). The numerous creation myths in our diverse localities are evidences of the agitation in the minds of peoples to grasp into the foundation of reality. This shows how widespread and universal this philosophical concern is. When now Ayer, in reference to Aristotle's opinion on this matter, says that philosophy studies “reality as a whole”, we see how the subject matter of philosophy, as a science, equally constitutes the very object that agitates the minds of anyone who raises philosophical questions. Yet, it has to be noted that merely raising such questions does not automatically elevate a person to the status of a philosopher. Granted that people do not need to be very sophisticated to raise philosophical questions, yet those who merely live out of their fantasies can hardly qualify as philosophers even if fantasy is an essential ingredient of our creative and intuitive existence (Pannenberg, Anthropologie 365-372).
This notwithstanding, philosophy remains an honest concerted effort to understand the fundamental questions of reality, when they strike the mind, as the cases of many ancient philosophers stand to testify. This is why even mythological thinkers, according to Aristotle, qualify as philosophers. (Metaphysica, Book A, 2). One thing should be clear from our exposition of the notion of philosophy that would be constitutive for the articulation of an “Ibuanyidanda philosophy”, as this forms one of the foci of this lecture: Everything about philosophy has to deal with the mind-set or disposition with which we embrace reality. In its diverse modes of articulation philosophy, beyond trying to understand and explain reality, seeks to inculcate the correct type of mind-set or disposition in our relationship with the world. Having now tried to show what philosophy is, let us now proceed to understanding what the expression “philosophy of essence” entails by recourse to Aristotle, one of the greatest philosophers, who worked out some of the basic constituents of a philosophy of essence.
2. Aristotle and the Philosophy of Essence
Aristotle presents some of the core features of “philosophy of essence” in his work “Metaphysics”. Here, the teaching about “essence” or “substance”, as this is contrasted with accidents, plays a dominant role. In his Metaphysics Book C, 2, Aristotle refers to metaphysics as “first philosophy” because for him, it investigates the first principles, the ultimate cause of all things and the foundation of all truths. He refers to it as “the science of substance” which “must be of the nature of Wisdom.” (Metaphysica, Book B, 2) This science that studies “substance or essence” is different from those that study the accidental or fragmentary structures of reality. Within this context Aristotle expounds: “THERE is a science which investigates being as being and the attributes which belong to this in virtue of its own nature. Now this is not the same as any of the so-called special sciences; for none of these others treats universally of being as being.” (Aristotle, Metaphysica Book C 1). For Aristotle, therefore, the focus of metaphysics, as the science that treats universally of being as being, is the study of substance or essence. Even if there are many substances, Aristotle recognises that metaphysics or first philosophy has to do with the unchangeable substance. Thus, he adds: “if there is no substance other than those which are 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.” (Book E, 1).
Thus, metaphysics as the science of being qua being is the study of the unmoved immutable substance, which is the most fundamental constitution of all beings. It is in this capacity that metaphysics concentrates on determining the essential structures of all things. Thus, for Aristotle, all beings are constituted of substance and accidents. (Metaphysica Book A, 2, 6, 8). On their part the substance or essence, belongs to real character of being, because: “if these are not substance, there is no substance and no being at all; for the accidents of these it cannot be right to call beings.” (Book B, 5). For him, it belongs to the character of the wise to know being as being, which is the essence or substance of reality. The reason for this is because: “the wise man knows all things, as far as possible, … secondly, that he who can learn things that are difficult, and not easy for man to know, is wise (sense-perception is common to all, and therefore easy and no mark of Wisdom); again, that he who is more exact and more capable of teaching the causes is wiser, in every branch of knowledge; and that of the sciences, also, that which is desirable on its own account and for the sake of knowing it is more of the nature of Wisdom than that which is desirable on account of its results, and the superior science is more of the nature of Wisdom than the ancillary; for the wise man must not be ordered but must order, and he must not obey another, but the less wise must obey him.” (Aristotle, Metaphysica, Book A, 2 – emphasis mine).
One of the things most striking about his metaphysical teaching is that it is conceptualised with a mindset that sees reality, human interpersonal relationship and science in a polarised, exclusivist, non-complementary mode. When, now I use the expression “philosophy of essence” in this work, this usage shall not be restricted to Aristotle's philosophy as this is clearly articulated in his metaphysics. The expression “philosophy of essence” is rather used here in a broader sense, to designate any attempt to understand and relate to reality after the mindset of Aristotle's metaphysics. It is the attempt to relate to the world in a disjointed, disharmonious, exclusivist, polarising mode as to negate the mutual complementary interrelatedness between all existent realities. It is for this reason that I see “philosophy of essence” quite given in extreme forms of existentialism, idealism, realism, positivism, relativism, absolutism, Afro-centricism, Euro-centricism, rationalism, empiricism etc, that chart a path of philosophical orthodoxy, which seeks to exclude aspects of reality from its consideration. This is precisely how most scientific projects that are beclouded with what I call “unintended ethno-centric commitment”equally qualify as “philosophy of essence” (Asouzu, Ibuar? 25-58).
3. Some Severe Implications of Fidelity to a Philosophy of Essence Dichotomising, polarising conception of reality
Undeniably, Aristotle's philosophy of essence played a major role in shaping the way later generations understood reality and human interpersonal relationship. This is why most later-year philosophers and scientists, who were committed to a philosophy of essence, after the mind-set of Aristotle, had to contend with some of its most severe implications. It is interesting to note, that most contentions in Western philosophy, in diverse guises, revolve around the relationship of substance (essence) to accidents. Besides, most metaphysical text books, used in teaching teachers of teachers for decades, for example, have subscribed to Aristotle's radical distinction between “essence” or “substance” and “accidents”. For this reason, they subscribe largely also to Aristotle's teaching that substance or essence does not need accidents to subsist, whereas accidents need substances on which they inhere.
Going by this teaching, reality or being, in the true sense of the word, belongs to the region of substance or essence. This is why for Aristotle “if these are not substance, there is no substance and no being at all; for the accidents of these it cannot be right to call beings.” (Book B, 5). By implication this would mean that to be is to be essence or substance. This teaching would become, in diverse ways, constitutive for what is generally recognised as Aristotle's enormous influence on the way human interpersonal relationship, science and reality are conceptualised, most especially in the Western history of ideas. Here, we are reminded that at a certain historical epoch: "Aristotle's works, which had been preserved by Arabian scholars, were acclaimed by the Church as criteria of truth which were to be accepted by all Christians just as they accepted the traditional dogma of the Church. Anyone who contradicted Aristotle was to be adjudged guilty of heresy" (Sahakian 103).
This goes a long way in bringing out more clearly the type of influence Copleston had in mind when he observes that Aristotle's metaphysics “had a tremendous influence on the subsequent thought of Europe” (Copleston, A History of Philosophy 30). Hirschberger echoes the same sentiments when he points to the fact that Aristotle's “Metaphysics” is a clear reflection of his “Logic” (Hirschberger 163, 183; 163-208), so that his influence has actually to do with bequeathing, most especially to Europe thinking, the logic of his metaphysical thinking. Generally, fidelity to Aristotle's metaphysics has resulted in the tendency to see reality as something disjointed, bifurcated and polarised; where what is essential or substantial is easily equated with what is superior, whereas what is accidental is equated with what is inferior and inconsequential. Such a dichotomising and polarizing approach is not restricted to the conceptualisation of reality, but is visibly evident in the philosophy of praxis, which insists on “the primacy of practical over theoretical reason, or the primacy of practical over technical reason”. (Schwemmer, Theorie der rationalen Erklärung 25-26).
4. Introduction of undue rivalry in the scientific community
Metaphysics, for Aristotle, as the study of the essential or substantial structure of reality is wisdom per excellence, and in this capacity the very ideal of science. It is for this reason that he considers metaphysics a much more superior science than the other sciences (“ancillary” sciences) that study accidental qualities. This unfortunate distinction between metaphysics and the other sciences would have a tremendous consequence for the way science is understood and scientific debates conducted. It has to be noted that history of ideas in medieval Europe had much to do with liberation of human reason from ecclesiastical dogmatism which was largely dictated by a mindset deeply imbedded in Aristotle's metaphysical orthodoxy. In spite of the critical liberal attitude ushered in by the Renaissance, most of Europe had gone through a radical transformation dictated by Aristotelianism which was imbibed in the process of education, indoctrination and socialisation. This is why even in the face of the new-won liberalism, the scientific community was not spared some of the worst excesses of a philosophy of essence while seeking for solutions (Asouzu, Ibuanyidanda 158-176). The new-won critical attitude notwithstanding, most scientists soon started seeing themselves as rivals and competitors paying allegiance only to the subject matter of their sciences. Here, Aristotle's division of the sciences between a metaphysics that is superior and the other sciences that are inferior added impetus to the acrimony sustaining scientific debates. Thus speaking with one voice based on a unified perception of reality was not considered a priority. On the contrary, each researcher was inclined to see the world in a disjointed, polarized exclusive mode. In the realm of philosophy, for example, instead of philosophers speaking with one voice based on a unified subject matter, most philosophers soon found themselves defending scientific propositions in keeping with the demands of their inclinations and localised interests. Without prejudice to very honest efforts invested in the cross-fertilisation of ideas beyond national boundaries and other mundane considerations, there were visible signs of segmentation of ideas along ethnic, ideological and religious lines. It is in this way that rationalism, for example, became heavily associated with French-Rationalism, empiricism with British-Empiricism and Idealism with German-idealism. We shall have American Pragmatism later on. One of the most severe consequences of this is that scientific debates will soon be degraded to an instrument of folks ideology tussles often quite removed from the genuine concerns of science.
This trend becomes most pronounced and radicalised, later on, in what can be characterised as a reversal of fortune for those sciences that Aristotle degraded to mere ancillary status. Emboldened by what some of its practitioners considered their new-won superior status, and in an attitude that almost bordered on pure irrationalism, logical positivism, which goes by diverse names (logical empiricism, logical positivism etc), with greater intensity, rejected metaphysical knowledge. For the positivists, positive knowledge deals with facts, whereas metaphysics is a “meaningless pursuit” which claims access to knowledge inaccessible to empirical science and one which transcends this. (Kraft, The Vienna Circle 24, 30-33; Ayer, The Impossibility of Metaphysics 36; Carnap, Elimination of Metaphysics through Logical Analysis of Language). Hence, in an eliminative, dismissive attitude towards metaphysical knowledge, positivism describes metaphysics and allied disciplines, such as theology, as grandmothers of all obscurities causing trouble in the house of science (Sauter, Der Wissenschaftsbegriff der Theologie 286). In this point, logical empiricists show their bias and their commitment to a dichotomising exclusivist type of mindset characteristic of a philosophy of essence; but this time the ancillary sciences have suddenly gained so much so in importance as to claim the title of substantial sciences; a title previously reserved for metaphysics. Not only logical positivism even J.S. Mill had earlier on doubted the scientific status of the social sciences (Alan Ryan, Is the Study of Society a Science? 8-9). Here in Nigeria, the disproportionate attention that is accorded the natural sciences speaks volumes of the mindset with which we approach reality. This is all the more the case when our admission quota favours the natural sciences, which by implication are rated higher than other disciplines (Asouzu, Humanistic Education, Technology and National Development). All these are instances where contenders approach reality with a mindset that is polarised and bifurcated. This is precisely why rationalism and empiricism, for example, hardly meet.
With this, there is a radical departure from the understanding that the philosopher and the scientist are truth seekers and that wisdom is lovable. Since a philosophy of essence negates the intrinsic mutual complementary dependence between all existent realities, it easily steers a course of irrationalism. Stegmüller recognises this fact when he calls attention to the fact that in adopting an extremists stand against metaphysics, positivism found its way on the path of irrationalism believing that it can avoid all together the very problems metaphysic poses (Stegmüller, Main Currents in Contemporary Philosophy 10). This type of irrationalism is quite unavoidable for any philosophy of essence that pays undue attention to only one aspect of reality. It is also quite unavoidable for
anyone who seeks to define existence as the capacity to be alone in total negation of all the other units that constitute the whole.
There are two major things we can learn from these historical facts and rivalry, most especially as this relates to the reversal of fortune between metaphysics and the other sciences. First, in changed asymmetrical situations of power imbalance those who have the advantage of power tend to lord it over those they perceive as weak, unwise and inconsequential; just as it is the prerogative of the wise to order and not to be ordered. Second, those things we designate as accidental can always be redefined in keeping with the interests guiding human beings in society to appear substantial and vice versa. Thus, knowingly or unknowingly, Aristotle elevates the human innate urge to put one's interests first, at the cost of the interests of other stakeholders, to a folks ideological metaphysical teaching. He, thereby, underrated and even ignored the fact that, in asymmetrical situations of power imbalance those who have the advantage of power tend to interpret this in keeping with their most cherished interests and use the means at their disposal to secure their interests first in keeping with the promptings of our fundamental primitive instinct of self-preservation.
5. Evoking an artificial conflict between the subject matter of the sciences
Going by Aristotle's approach, it would seem as if there is real opposition between the subject matter of diverse sciences. This must not be the case, because metaphysical problems are very relevant to natural sciences, just as the problems of the real world are an integral aspect of metaphysics. Since all sciences claim to do service to humanity and the world in general, they are humanistic in orientation and must be concerned with the human problems. And here, clear-cut empirical or metaphysical answers do not suffice. It is quite unfortunate, as logical empiricism has shown, that many do not consider it worthwhile to aspire towards understanding the ultimate constitution of reality as being. If one remembers that being, so ideally constituted, remains the very motor that drives reality, no selfrespecting scientist would be content with giving us half truths by focusing only on those realities that are directly accessible to experience (Asouzu, African Metaphysics and Challenges of Science). What this means is that to assign primacy to those sciences that study being over those that study its attributes is an unfortunate undertaking, if we remember that all sciences, no matter their methods, have the ultimate end to serve nature in all its ramifications. Thus the division of labour among the sciences as this is based on Aristotle's metaphysics of essence is an unfortunate division, which unnecessarily polarises the sciences, and their practitioners. Based on this unfortunate division, many natural scientists pretend that questions that go beyond the realm of the cognitive empirical are outside the range of their investigation and responsibility.
Scientists always strive, to the best of their ability, to tell us the whole truth. What this shows is that scientists, in principle, do not seek partial grasp, but full grasp of their subject matters and by so doing they demonstrate that the ideal of science is and remains to tell us the truth and if possible the whole truth, about the world. Visible sign of commitment to truth subsists in commitment to both the metaphysical and empirical dimensions of reality, as these constitute a whole. What this implies is that any science that seeks to polarise reality, by commitment only to one aspect of it, always runs the risk of abdicating its responsibilities. As this matter relates specifically to philosophy, Eze claims that it is the "modest dream of philosophy to speak the truth (even if, as the case may arise, such truth needs be spoken to power)" (Eze, In Search of Reason's Traces 40). This dream is not restricted to philosophy alone, but to all sciences that seek to remain humanistic. Yet, the difficulty arises on how this truth has to be spoken to power. Here, philosophy, as the science that seeks to penetrate ultimate reality has much role to play. However, it cannot play this role convincingly if in its eagerness to speak the truth it usurps power by sounding absolutistic, as the case of Aristotle shows who idealises metaphysics beyond all conceivable limits. In other words, all sciences must pursue the type of wisdom that never divides and never polarises in their search for truth. It is in this way that they can demonstrate that the wisdom they seek is the type that units and not one that divides. It is in this way that their truth claims must be such that reconciles the essential with the accidental, the relative with the absolute. Where, on the other hand, they seek to speak the truth as the arrogant wisdom that knows all things and commands all things, chances are that they would invariably tend to impose such truths, dogmatically and arbitrarily, on those they consider unwise.
6. Enhancement of “unintended ethnocentric” commitment
Consistent commitment to a philosophy of essence enhances what I call “unintended ethnocentric commitment” (Asouzu, Ibuaru 25-63) both in inquiry and human interpersonal relationship. This phenomenon ensues the moment actors seek to encounter the world with a polarised mindset. Unintended ethnocentric commitment is unfortunately quite widespread today even within the academia. I consider its impact more severe than that of the much discussed “value-oriented bias” in inquiry. One of the major reasons for this is because we are dealing here directly with the impact of clannish and ethnic mentalities on inquiry, and as these have the capacity to complicate coexistence of peoples in a world of globalisation. I have tried to work out the major features of this phenomenon by reference to the conceited way many so-called Western philosophers and scientists relate to those they identify as non-Western philosophers and scientists (Asouzu, Ibuaru 25-192). I call the phenomenon an “unintended intrusion” “because there is every indication that in spite of the declared goodwill of many researchers and thinkers to steer the course of scientific objectivity in their philosophical endeavours, there are often worrisome traces of unintended ethnocentric commitment in their minds and thinking. These are some of those biases arising from our value commitments; most especially because of the excessive importance we attach to matters that concern us most, and matters relating to our ethnic and tribal affiliations. In most cases, in doing philosophy, we often wish to uphold and defend our ethnic and tribal identities and values no matter how hard we try to steer an objective course” (Asouzu, Ibuanyidanda 13). We see this phenomenon very pronounced in the so-called “Black Athena” debate which has polarised and is tearing apart academic debates in USA (Asouzu, Ibuanyidanda 110-112). The same thing holds true for the debates surrounding the so-called, “the Philosophy of Stolen Legacy” and “Copy-Cat Philosophy” (Asouzu, Ibuaru, 30, 36, 287-292). Here, scientific combatants waste precious time and energy contradicting each other and adducing evidence to demonstrate the indemonstrable concerning the origin of philosophy. Worst still is when they accuse each other of theft. Here, they forget that all ideas, just like all human values, originate in mutual complementary dependence of all stakeholders. This issue of “unintended ethnocentric commitment” is quite widespread also in the way African philosophy is conducted. This is most especially evident in the ethnocentric–induced style of philosophising, where many African philosophers endeavour to reclaim uncritically their cultural patrimonies in the name of philosophy. This type of philosophising is evident in the works of Tempels, Kagame, Okere, Ramose, Iroegbu, and the self-proclaimed ethnophilosopher, Nwala (Asouzu, Ibuanyidanda 176-227, Ibuaru 36-101).
7. Knowledge at the service of ideology and the paradox of irrationalism of reason
Aristotle's commitment to a philosophy of essence made it difficult for him to present, convincingly, metaphysics, which he calls “first philosophy”, as the very ideal of wisdom. If now for him “the wise man must not be ordered but must order, he must not obey another, but the less wise must obey” - a position quite in tune with Plato's elitist idealism (Boyd William, Plato's Republic for Today 95-110), then, acquisition of wisdom entails, among other things, all the processes needed to use knowledge as an instrument of subjugation. If it is the prerogative of wisdom to command and bring the less wise to obedience and subjugation, then Aristotle's wisdom has the unavoidable connotation of arrogant placement of knowledge at the service of power and ideology. Worst still is the fact that it is not in the character of such knowledge or wisdom to compromise or complement. On the contrary, Aristotle's wisdom is not bound to obey the less wise; it is the less wise who is bound to obey the wise whose prerogative it is to command and not to obey. This understanding of wisdom or knowledge is clearly echoed in the maxim “knowledge is power”; a saying attributed to Francis Bacon and one which stops at nothing in misusing knowledge as a veritable expansionist instrument of conquest, subjugation and domination. Many associate this doctrine with what is referred to as the triumph of “Western rationality”. Many see this doctrine clearly reflected in Aristotle's political philosophy, when he, according to Dallmayr opines that ”barbarians should be governed by the Greeks”; a conviction which according to Dallmayr “furnished welcome support to his Macedonian pupil Alexander when he embarked on his far-flung military conquest and imperial ventures” (Dallmayr, Empire or Cosmopolis? 53). For Dallmayr “the main justification for this claim was the Greeks' (supposed) greater rationality and self-control as compared with the barbarians” (Empire or Cosmopolise 53). As this relates to contemporary world politics, Dallmayr sees the same Aristotelian mentality being fostered by most Western powers as they seek to be in control of most things strategic, and most especially nuclear weapons, under the supposition that they alone have the higher rationality and needed self-control to use them properly. Here, Aristotle is
sometimes described by Westerners as “the master of all who know” (Asante, The Afroentric Idea 8), so that Richard Tarnas' book “The Passion of the Western Mind”, which seeks a deep affinity between Aristotle and what is celebrated as “Western rationality”, became an instant bestseller, the moment it hit the bookstands. (Tarnas, 55). This notwithstanding, any attempt to monopolise reason by any person or groups of individuals leads invariably to the paradox of irrationalism of reason, where in our eagerness to claim reason for ourselves alone we negate the fact that reason is a universal attribute of all beings that are rational. Commitment to a philosophy of essence easily induces to paradoxes and contradictions of this type. If philosophy must remain love of wisdom and truth, it must strive beyond all paradoxes and contradictions. In this case, it must be a philosophy of complementation and not one of rejection and exclusiveness. Here, philosophy has the duty to demolish all forms of ideology and ethno-centric inspired understanding of the world that negate the idea of mutual complementary relationship between all existent realities.
8. Fundamental Existential Challenges of Philosophy Tension-laden human existential situations
It is necessary to emphasise that the tendency for human beings to relapse to extreme, exclusivist polarising measures in seeking solutions to problems is not something peculiar to a philosophy of essence, which merely served as model for all tendencies to relate to the world with a mindset that is exclusivist and divisionary. If all matters of philosophy have to deal with the type disposition or mind-set with which we embrace reality, then all types of philosophies are subject to the same criterion of legitimisation. Here, any undertaking that steers the course of philosophical orthodoxy and claims to be wisdom, has to fulfil the minimum criterion of abdicating a non-conciliatory bifurcating, divisive absolutistic type of mindset.
Unfortunately, this criterion has to contend with one of the most severe challenges to which our existence as human beings is subjected. This challenge subsists in the fact that the tendency to see the world in a polarised, exclusivist, non-conciliatory mode is something deeply entrenched in our being and consciousness. Fundamentally, human beings tend to secure their interests first, in the course of which they tend to negate the interests of others, due to the challenges of our primitive instinct of self preservation, which we share with other lower creatures. They devise all thinkable strategies to secure their interests first. However behind most of these strategies is a maxim that impels their actions and convictions. Generally, human beings act after what I call the super maxim, which states: “The nearer the better and the safer”. In keeping with this super-maxim, we assume in our actions that those persons and things nearest to us are better and safer by reason of their belonging to us intimately i.e. because they are nearest to us; these are our kith and kin, members of our community, our clan, members of our extended family system, members of our race, tribe, sex, religion, those from out local governments, our states, our churches, those who share some sort of intimate affinity with us, etc. (Asouzu, Method and Principles, (2005 edition) 78, (2004 edition) 69; Asouzu, Ibuanyidanda, 317-323; Asouzu). In seeking to preserve their interests first at the cost of other stakeholders human beings, at the same time, devise measures to negate the interests of those others they adjudge a threat to their most cherished interests and for this reason they become exclusivist and intolerant. The impact of this primitive drive on our being is all the more enhanced due to the fact that all human existential situations are ambivalent and tension-laden. For these reasons, our being is fundamentally bi-polar structured. This is most evident in our capacity to affirm and to negate, to preserve and to devastate, to construct and to destroy, to say yes and to say no, all at the same time. Authentic existence, from which authentic philosophising springs, entails therefore the capacity to equilibrate the tension arising from the inner recesses of our being in a way that guarantees mutual coexistence of all units within the framework of the whole. Regrettably, again, steering a course of mutual complementation and harmony is not always an easy task, since all human existential situations in addition to being ambivalent have an inherent dimension of what we call in Igbo language ihe mkpuchi anya (the phenomenon of concealment): Literally this translates to: “the thing that covers the eyes” or “the thing that impairs vision”. If the ambivalence points at the double capacity of our interests and the world in general, the phenomenon of concealment (ihe mkpuchi anya) points at our ability to mismanage this ambivalence. In all existential situations, actors are constantly exposed to the dangers of error of judgement in their relationship to the world, due to this ambivalence and ihe mkpuchi anya. We encounter an instance of such an error of judgement when, in our encounter with the world, we usually believe that “the nearer the better and the safer” and adopt this as a general principle that guides our action. Generally and naturally, we perceive and adjudge those nearest to us better and safer, but this must not always be the case since those nearest to us are not always the safest and best. (Asouzu, The Challenges of Super-maxim to Judgment and Actions, xix). It is due to our disposition to commit errors of judgment of this kind, that actors also have the innate tendency to resolve conflicts in a one dimensional absolute mode and by recourse to extreme and polarising measures. Even if ihe mkpuchi anya is an existential condition that impacts on the individual, it can evoke a depraved exclusivist, non-conciliatory collective consciousness, when concerned individuals unite in pursuing certain interests they cherish most.
9. The act of existing (I di) misunderstood as the capacity to be alone (ka s?m? di)
Grappling successfully with the challenges posed by our tension laden ambivalent existential situations and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment) can be decisive for the type of philosophy and science we pursue, the type of society and human interpersonal relationship we are capable of building. One of the most adverse effects of the challenge arising from the phenomenon of concealment (ihe mkpuchi anya), is its capacity to becloud our intellect. It is another way of saying that this phenomenon has the capacity to twist our consciousness and induces us to perceive and interpret reality always depravedly. In this case, it induces us to always interpret situations only to our advantage and ignore out rightly the interests of other stakeholders and some of the most severe consequences ensuing from our actions. When this happens, we tend to perceive reality in a disharmonious, exclusivist, polarising mode and tend also to interpret the act of existing (I di) or to be, most selfishly, as the capacity to be alone (ka s? m? di). For this reason, human coexistence is easily perceived as a ceaseless struggle between irreconcilable opposites. It is in this way that ihe mkpuchi anya can intensify the feeling that we can live alone without the help of those we identify as inconsequential and dispensable. Such feelings are all the more intensified the moment the ego perceives itself as better than others due to certain momentary advantages bestowed by circumstances, such as position, technological achievements, learning, power, affluence, sex, religious and political affiliations and all those conditions that can make us feel superior over others. Due to this feeling of superiority over others, the ego is immediately misled to believe that it is also very wise, very crafty and capable. Besides, the ego starts to see itself as the absolute architect of its own achievements. Such an existential condition induces the feeling of omnipotence and omniscience. This is the moment the ego also starts having the feeling of absolute certainty, absolute security and invincibility. Since the ego believes that it can achieve everything alone, it also seeks absolute privileges over other stakeholders whom it perceives as inessential, inconsequential and dispensable. Because the phenomenon of concealment makes us believe that we are completely different from other stakeholders, we equally believe that we can act quite unrestrainedly. This is equivalent to the ego elevating itself to an absolute exclusivist subsisting essence capable of existing without other stakeholders; quite reminiscent of Aristotle's essence or substance that does not need the accidents to subsist. We can then understand, why in asymmetrical situations of power imbalance, those who have the advantage of power often consider themselves substantial, untouchables and also seek to lord it over those they identify as weak, unwise, accidental and inconsequential.
10. The paradox of human existential situations
Since our tension-laden existential situations becloud our reasoning and twist our consciousness, they easily also magnify and exaggerate our needs, build unfounded fears in us, make us unimaginative and conceal our responsibilities from us. Once caught in this disposition or mindset, actors in seeking to secure and preserve their interests easily resort to very extreme and often very irrational means thinking that these are the most viable ways of upholding their most cherished interest. So blinded, in their eagerness to uphold their interests by recourse to very questionable and often irrational means, they often also succeed in putting the social order on its head, and this notwithstanding, they persist in their actions thinking that they are acting wisely. When now the social order has been destabilised and tensions arise, due to the irrational means actors adopt in seeking solutions to their problems, they start raising alarm and start complaining about the precariousness of the situation. In making such complaints and raising an alarm, they easily forget, because beclouded by ihe mkpuchi anya, that precisely those extreme irrational measures they consider most appropriate are the very causes of the problems they are complaining about.
Here, we see how due to the impact of the phenomenon of ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment), it is not always immediately evident to us that we can be the very cause of those very problems that are weighing us down. In such situations, it is not always clear to us that precisely our personal anti-social acts are the very causes of the problems we are complaining about. Taking Nigeria as a typical example, we are faced with a situation, where, precisely, those things we condemn and abhor, those things which almost everyone says is wrong, is what almost everyone persists in doing, and at the same time complaining about their consequences. This is a paradox and the tragedy of human ambivalent existential situation, as this is complicated by ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). It is a form of corruption of the mind, which hardly gives the victim any chances, and which can force even the strongest and keenest to their knees. Here, we see how in spite of our knowledge about a given condition that is precarious, we can hardly undertake something tangible to address it. We complain about it, but find it irresistible to do what we condemn as wrong. This notwithstanding, we hardly believe that we are the cause of the problem and this is why we complain to anyone who cares to listen. As this relates to individuals and to collective group consciousness, we always seek to rationalise the situation by looking for excuses and scapegoats. In looking towards the outside, we demonstrate a culpable ignorance that can only be understood be reference to the character of the phenomena that hold us down. This is a typical case where one can be the cause of one's problems in full insight and can still not have the capacity to take responsibility for one's action. This is the paradox.
Here in Nigeria today almost everyone is an untrained expert in almost all problems of our nation. Who does not feel overqualified to take one leadership position or the other, when the need arises? Which of us does not know the best theories and solutions to some of our most teething problems? Put up a debate today on how best to manage our overhaul-worthy lives and institutions, you will be surprised by the calibre of enlightened input you will get. But most actions which we perform contrary to demands of common sense put a big question mark on our claims to expertise, and to our sincerity of purpose, and, unfortunately also, on our sanity. It is a typical situation where one seeks to deceive oneself, tells oneself a lie and thinks that this is the best and wisest existential strategy; over and above all one thinks that one is very smart and crafty.
The global scene is not even better: the world speaks against hunger and inequalities, but those who have the advantage of power use this to make life unbearable for the weak and underprivileged. The world speaks out against violation of human rights, condemns extremism, condemns dictatorship, but those who think that it is the prerogative of the wise to order and to command, put mechanisms in place to uphold their supremacy and primacy at the risk of sounding contradictory. The world has expert theories about economic discrimination and exploitation; about asymmetry in labour and employment conditions and opportunities, about freedom of movement and immigration, but very stiff legislations and anti-immigration and labour laws are again put in place to protect what many perceive as their privileged interests and in the event they undermine the very ideals they seek to protect.
In our eagerness to explore our freedom to the fullest, we embark precisely on those measures that put our lives in perpetual dangers of extinction. Since the ambivalence of our existential situations enhances our optimism, and the phenomenon of concealment (ihe mkpuchi anya) makes us blind concerning our limitations, we easily operate with false hopes believing that all problems can be solved given the time and requisite technology. Here, we may be wrong, because, in most cases precisely those measures we employ to uphold our interests at all cost are the very measures that rebound and threaten our right to exist. Looking at these widespread existential paradox, it becomes very clear that hardly any human problem is a localised problem. Those who think that the problems of corruption, nepotism, graft, laziness, injustice, violence, greed, embezzlement, bribery, tribalism, wastefulness, recklessness, insincerity, negligence, 419, religious fanaticism, clannish mentality, racism, cronyism, scientism, terrorism, plundering of national wealth, insatiable appetite for material possession, and all forms of irrational extreme tendencies are typical problems of any region of the world must think again.
These are universal human problem that have to deal with the structure of human consciousness which always seeks its autonomy outside the foundation of its unity. They are universal human problems, just as the phenomenon of excessive self-interest is a human problem beyond races, nations and religions. Where we are not able to manage our tension-laden existential situations well, we are likely also to develop a divisive exclusivist type of mindset which evokes those problems we abhor. With this we can clearly see the psycho-pathological dimension of the problem of any philosophy that makes recourse to extreme measures in addressing the world and reality in general. This is why most difficulties raised by a philosophy of essence can be addressed adequately within the context of a philosophy of the mind putting into consideration the fact that philosophy is all about inculcating the correct type of mindset and disposition. How to come to grips with this falls within the domain of the pedagogical and psycho-therapeutic function of ibuanyidanda philosophy. We can now understand why the problems associated with Aristotle's philosophy of essence are universal human problems that have to deal with human inability to come to terms with the demands of our tension-laden existential situations. For this reason, any of us can be confronted with the same problems anytime and anywhere, either as victims or as perpetrators.
11. Addressing the Subject-object Tension And Dichotomy Ibuanyidanda and the Philosophy of Essence
If by recourse to a philosophy of essence the human consciousness easily becomes a victim of its tension-laden ambivalent situations and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment), the question then arises: How can actors relate to the world in view of overcoming the divide and tension generate in human consciousness. To answer this question adequately entails looking for a strategy for addressing the major shortcomings of a philosophy of essence while retaining its benefits.
To start with, there is need to recognises the fact that the ultimate idea of being is very constitutive in our understanding of reality and in our relationship to the world. It is the very idea that drives science and society (Asouzu, African Metaphysics and Challenges of Science). In this point Aristotle is right when he points at the fundamental, enduring and ultimate character of the notion of being. However in seeking to arrive at this ultimate enduring idea of being, all the means needed to attain it must remain harmonised with the ideal it enshrines. This is where Aristotle's approach calls for an overhaul. If for Aristotle metaphysics which ”treats universally of being as being, is the study of substance or essence” it cannot do this successfully if essence and accidents are conceptualised as if they are situated at diverse regions of being.
In other words, in doing philosophy or metaphysics, there must be the possibility to relate being to its attributes in the most natural way, and such that makes it possible for us to uphold a harmonised idea of reality. Furthermore, it is only by recourse to such a harmonised idea of being that our idea of science and human interpersonal relationship can remain complete and harmonised. This can be achieved if there is a way to relate essence (substance) and accidents, ends and means, practical reason and theoretical, practical reason and technical, such that in their realisation they are mutually harmonized (Asouzu, Eine Analyse und kritische Bewertung; Kritische Betrachtung der konstruktiven Wissenschaftstheorie 106-111). Any philosophy that can help us achieve this must help the ego perceive reality, and the world in general, in a complementary mutually harmonised way. Besides, the method of such a philosophy should be adequate towards penetrating and understand the internal workings of the human consciousness in view of addressing the tension thereby generated. This is important because such tension is the major cause of the subject-object divide and dichotomy. Such is the character of Ibuanyidanda philosophy. We can then say that Ibuanyidanda philosophy is a transcendent complementary comprehensive systematic inquiry into the structure and dynamics of human consciousness as to determine the reason for the subject object tension and dichotomy by reason of which the ego always seeks its autonomy outside the foundation of its unity. It is an attempt at addressing this tension with a view to providing workable solutions towards its containment in a complementary comprehensive mutually harmonised fashion.
Contrary to a philosophy of essence which derives from a metaphysics that polarisation and absolutises aspects of reality, the major task of an ibuanyidanda philosophy is to show how a systematic non-absolutistic metaphysics is possible; it is an attempt at showing how the ego can relate to reality in a mutually harmonised non-absolutistic mode. As this relates to the legitimising role of philosophy as the ideal of science, Ibuanyidanda philosophy wishes to show how the propositions or statements of any given science, intended for human interpersonal relationship, can be validated, both to the inside and the outside, without falling into the three fold trilemma of infinite regress, of circularity, and of arbitrariness (Hans Albert, Traktat über kritische Vernunft 11-15). Since all sciences claim to foster human happiness, ibuanyidanda philosophy wishes to show how this task of legitimisation is a responsibility mutually shared by all the sciences and not one that is reserved specifically to philosophy. With this, ibuanyidanda philosophy shows that there can be real convergence in the subject matters of diverse sciences, contrary to insinuations of a philosophy of essence for which the subject matters of the diverse sciences are at odds with each other. Hence, ibuanyidanda philosophy wishes to demonstrate how unified statements about being and the world in general can be possible, within an integrated systematic framework, and one that allows freedom of expression and which considers all things adequately, the fragmentation of their historicity notwithstanding. Generally, ibuanyidanda philosophy wishes to show how philosophy, as wisdom, can play its legitimising role, both theoretically and practically, such that relapse to extreme measures in addressing reality and human interpersonal relationship can be curtailed and if possible eliminated.
If now a philosophy of essence polarises reality, ibuanyidanda philosophy explores a method and principles for coalescing the real and the ideal, the essential and accidental into a system of mutual complementing units. It is a challenge to show how philosophy can be relevant to all units constituting a whole, such that the essential and accidental, the necessary and contingent, the universal and the particular, the absolute and relative, the conservative and the progressive, the constructive and the deconstructive; both the consequential and inconsequential, both the essential and inessential, both the real and the ideal, both the transcendental and world-immanent, can more easily be grappled with within the same framework. When ibuanyidanda philosophy performs this task, it immediately portrays itself as that undertaking that seeks to penetrate and explore the idea of being, complementarily, in the dynamism of its immediacy and considers all things that exist as missing links of reality.
12. Philosophy the science of missing links of reality
Ontology means the study of being, just as biology means the study of living organisms. The designation “ontology” is used to bring out more properly the subject matter of metaphysics. If Aristotle-based metaphysics or ontology seeks an unmediated access into the notion of being in its essentiality, Ibuanyidanda ontology attempts to penetrate and grasp being, and with it ultimate reality through mediation or via the instrumentality of mutual relations. It is for this reason that while a philosophy of essence in approaching reality seeks to divide and polarise it, Ibuanyidanda ontology seeks to harmonise, complement, and unify the same.
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 “complemenatrity”. Danda are ants that have the capacity, in mutual dependence and interdependence, to carry loads that appear bigger and heavier than themselves. What this implies is that they can surmount very difficult challenges when they are mutually dependent on each other in the complementation of their efforts. Hence, traditional Igbo philosophers insist that: ibu anyi danda (no task is insurmountable for danda). It is from this synthetic idea “ibu anyi danda” that served a heuristic pre-scientific function within the context of traditional Igbo experience that the synthetic-analytic concept “Ibuanyidanda” is derived through abstraction. (Asouzu Ibuanyidanda 11).
It is precisely this idea of mutual dependence and interdependence in complementarity, that is negated by any philosophy of essence. Within an Aristotelian context, reality can be represented ideally by recourse to the concept of essence or substance which does not need its accidents to subsist. For this classical idea of being, therefore, the notion of being is indefinable since it is only being that subsists and endures (Van Steenberghen, Fernand. Ontology 23; Dougherty, Kenneth. Metaphysics 35). In other words, there is no intermediary between being and its negation. This is why within this context the negation of being is nothingness. Due to its Aristotelian fidelity this classical notion of being shows its glaring disjunctive and exclusivist flavour. (Joseph, H.W.B. An Introduction to Logic 181-182; Stebbing, L.S. A Modern Introduction To Logic, 69-78). In Ibuanyidanda philosophy, I see it otherwise. Hence, I dare define the idea of being; here I claim that being is that on account of which anything that exists serves a missing link of reality. In other words, within an Ibuanyidanda context reality presents itself to us as missing links of reality within whose framework the idea of being reveals itself and is defined. I designate as “missing links”: “diverse units that make up an entity within the framework of the whole and as they are complementarily related. They are all the imaginable, fragments, units, components, and combinations that enter into our understanding of any aspect of our world. They are also all the units and combinations necessary in the
conceptualisation of an entity or of the whole. Thus missing links are, for example, thoughts and the thoughts of thoughts. They are diverse modes of manifestation of being in history. They are categories and the categories of categories. They are the units and the units of units, entities and the entities of entities, things and the things of things. They are ideas and the ideas of ideas, etc. as these can possibly be abstracted and related to each other as conditions of possibility of their perfectibility in a harmonious systemic manner” (Asouzu, Method and Principles (2005 edition), 285-286; (2004 edition), 277-278; Asouzu, Progress in Metaphysics: The Phenomenon of “Missing Link” 82-91) For Ibuanyidanda philosophy, therefore, to be is to be in mutual complementary relationship (ka s? m? adina) and its negation is to be alone (ka s? m? di) and not nothingness. This is why it is a tragedy to locate the essence of existence in the capacity to be alone (ka s? m? di); in the capacity to act outside of the framework provided by all missing links of reality. In this sense, the act of being and with it existence, is all it takes to affirm that anything that exists serves a missing link of reality towards the joy of being. With this, ibuanyidanda wishes to supersede that approach to reality were the idea of being can be equated to being alone ((ka s? m? di). By this, I affirm that being is dynamic in a complementary sense and not dynamic in a world immanent predeterministic sense. It is very important to remark that commitment to this repugnant idea of being in the dynamism of its world immanent predeterministic concomitancy is very widespread in African philosophy today, due to devastating influence of what I call the “Tempelsian Damage” among many African philosophers. (Ibuaru 74-101).
The major task of any philosophy subsists therefore in the harmonization of our perception of reality in the face of a world that presents itself as varied and fragmented. This task can be accomplished within the context of a philosophy whose goal is to harmonise and complement reality instead of one that seeks to divide, polarise and bifurcate it. It is within such a context, that we say that philosophy is the science of missing links of reality as against a philosophy of essence for which philosophy, as wisdom is a science of pure essences. We can then understand why an ibuanyidanda philosophy is the very limit of a pure empiricist-based and pure rationalist based truth claims. By so doing an ibuanyidanda epistemology challenges the validity of a pure empiricist or a purely rationalist based epistemology, as these form the foundation on which the ideological tension that overheats and overshadows scientific debates is located. Here, we aver that all matters of knowledge both in their genesis and further development are complementary (Ibuar 242-255).
One can then understand our contention that in the genesis and perfectibility of our ideas, members of the human family are interminably in a relationship of mutual dependence and interdependence in complementarity. It is for this reason that we aver that the debate concerning the origin of philosophy, and with it the “Black Athena” debate, that have polarised the Eurocentric and Afrocentric camps are ethno-centric induced excesses far removed from genuine concerns of science (Asouzu, Ibuanyidanda 110-114, Ibuaru, 287-292). The same can be said of much of the debates based on a positivist induced rationality that seeks to do away with a metaphysical knowledge. Contrary to the pretension of these opposing camps, Ibuanyidanda, as a philosophy of mutual complementation, is of the view that Philosophy originated neither in Greece nor in Egypt. As wisdom, it is an exercise in mutual dependence of all missing links in their complementary interrelatedness. Hence, all cultures, peoples, races, tribes, sexes, languages, nations, religions, political affiliations etc. are in mutual complementary indebtedness to each other, in their privileges and responsibilities. For this reason, Ibuanyidanda philosophy avers that all forms of ideas and modes of knowledge, in their excogitation, in their acquisition, execution and further development are complementary. Ibuanyidanda thus pursues an idea of mutual indebtedness and interdependence in complementarity in a way that makes the issue of who takes the credit, for example in a production line, more manageable. Just as a philosophy of essence that considers being indefinable has as its subject matter all things that exist in so far as they are pure essences or being as being without qualification, ibuanyidanda philosophy likewise has as its subject matter all things that exist, but insofar as they serve each other interminably as missing links of reality. If now the strategy of a philosophy of essence leads to divisiveness in human interpersonal relationship, this is a sure indication that its claim to be wisdom is one where theory and praxis are at variance with each other. For this reason, Ibuanyidanda philosophy sees as one of its primary functions the need to restore the broken unity between theory and praxis.
13. Harmonization of theory and praxis
A philosophy of essence targets human action due to the impact theories have on action. To revise the exclusivist, hegemonic impact arising from a philosophy of essence on human action entails pursuing a philosophy of complementation that is valid both as a theoretical and as a practical philosophy. In Ibuanyidanda philosophy we have such a philosophy which seeks to harmonise theory and praxis through its principles, imperative and what I designate as the “truth and authenticity criterion”. (Asouzu, Method and Principles, (2005) edition, 281-285; (2004 edition) 273-277). I call the metaphysical variant of the Ibuanyidanda principle, the principle of integration. This principle claims: “Anything that exists serves a missing link of reality”. The principle of progressive transformation serves as the practical variant of this principle. It states: ”All human actions are geared towards the joy of being”. The imperative of ibuanyidanda philosophy states: “Allow the limitations of being to be the cause of your joy”. Whereas the truth and authenticity criterion states: ”never elevate any world immanent missing link to an absolute instance”. What is striking about the principles and imperative of Ibuanyidanda philosophy and its truth and authenticity criterion is that they lay much emphasis on human insufficiency, while bearing in mind human determination to absoluteness and comprehensiveness in his future reference. Thus, Ibuanyidanda philosophy seeks to show how the essential and accidental, how being and its various modes of expression form an integrated complementary whole. Here, we wish to show how being becomes manifest as the authentic mutual joyous experience that unifies all missing links in the service they render to each other. This is the joy of being, which becomes accessibly as the experience enshrined in the affirmation sustaining all authentically well executed tasks, when we say in Igbo jide k' iji. Thus, in the affirmation, jide k' iji we allude to the mutual unifying experience of transcendent complementary unity of consciousness arising from the forms of the mind (akara obi/akara mm?? or transcendent categories of unity of consciousness) which enable actors to be committed to the insight that anything that exists serves a missing link of reality. This transcendent experience remains the ultimate end of all complementary or ibuanyidanda actions and offers the possibility of experiencing being truly and concretely. It becomes most evident in concrete encounter with the opposite other as human subjects who share similar experiences and interests with each other.
14. Restoration of True Personal Autonomy Noetic propaedeutic: The pedagogical and psycho-therapeutic dimensions of ibuanyidanda philosophy
Fortunately, there are attempts at giving philosophy a more human face far removed from some of the excesses of a philosophy of essence. For some, this can be accomplished through the rejection of what has come to be known as dogmatic system-building type of philosophy which for many signifies commitment to a stringent polarising philosophical orthodoxy. This shows how averse many have become to a philosophy of essence. However, ibuanyidanda does not see the solution in abandoning or rejecting system building altogether, since for it the problem subsists in the type of mindset with which systems are built (Asouzu, Ibuanyidanda 46-55). Determined to avoid some of the excesses of a philosophy of essence, many seek to steer a course of a more liberal democratic philosophy of culture that unifies. How successful such approaches can become depends on how adequate their methods are towards addressing the conflict arising from the structure of human consciousness. Here, many believe that the subject-object tension and divide and most especially the chasm existing between being and its attributes can be bridged very easily by recourse to various methods of discourse and dialogue. In this connection, Wilhelm Kamlah and Paul Lorenzen (Kamlah/Lorenzen Logische Propädeutik), spoke of the need for a logical propaedeutic as a precondition for all modes of rational discourse. Kamlah and Schwemmer (Kamlah, Philosophische Anthropologie; Schwemmer. Theorie der rationalen Erklärung), in their constructivism, envisaged a logical, linguistic propaedeutic of a constructive type, as a precondition for rational discourse concerning goals and norms of action in the “cultural sciences”. Having similar intentions of overcoming a philosophy of divisiveness and polarisation, , intercultural philosophy (Ibuanyidanda, 28-43) pursues a cultural philosophy that seeks to unify diverse cultures through its methods of dialogue and polylogue. Both constructive philosophy of science and intercultural philosophy share the similarity that they see the need for a conducive condition to be created for the success of any form of discourse or dialogue as means of addressing the issues relating to subject-object divide and tension. Whereas constructivism locates such a condition in following methodologically pre-constructed logical and semantic rules, intercultural philosophy, on its side, locates this in following rules guiding dialogue or polylogue. By following this route, they forget that all human existential situations are ambivalent and have the inherent dimension of ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). Where these challenging existential conditions are not first addressed, chances are that they have the capacity to render all pre-constructed rules ineffective. Besides, offering preconditions for the success of discourse, constructive philosophers of science, on their side, are firmly committed to the distinction between the primacy of the practical over theoretical or technical reason; a position quit in consonance with Aristotle's philosophy of essence and division. Generally, one can say that most recent attempts by some major European philosophers to steer a course quite removed from a philosophy of essence has to be greeted with joy. However if one comes to think of it that most of them are still caught in the web of unintended ethno-centric commitment in the way they do science and philosophy, there is every reason then to conclude that they still have a lot of work to do (Ibuaru 25-36). In other words, it is not always easy to renounce a non-conciliatory, conceited, polarising and discriminative type of mindset acquired through long years of education, socialisation and indoctrination (Ibuanyidanda, 24-70). Since for Ibuanyidanda philosophy the problem has to do with the mind-set with which one relates to the world, there is need to probe first into the conditions needed for the mind to perform its functions well. With this, we see why I contend that all matters of philosophy have to do with the mind or with the disposition with which we relate to the world. Where the correct disposition is not given, philosophy can hardly remain that dispassionate self-less wisdom that it is.
It is for this reason that Ibuanyidanda philosophy insists on a noetic propaedeutic or the pre-pedagogy of the mind or human reason itself as the condition of possibility for all rational and ethical discourses, and for authentic human action (Asouzu, Ibuanyidanda 80-85). With its noetic propaedeutic, ibuanyidanda philosophy pursues the preconditions for authentic rational human actions and statements seeking validity within frameworks of mutual interaction. Where the mind is healthy chances are that it can enable interlocutors and actors carry out healthy and successful interaction. With this, we arrive at the pedagogical and psycho-therapeutic dimension of ibuanyidanda philosophy by reason of which it seeks to address the subject-object tension and divide inherent in human consciousness in view of containing these. By noetic propaedeutic, I mean a pre-education of the mind, and human reason with a view to overcoming the broken unity in human consciousness caused by the challenges of the tension-laden human ambivalent existential situations and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). Through such a rigorous propaedeutic, actors are enabled to define their interests within the ambit of all missing links and to know reality in its true and authentic constitution. Thus, the major task of a noetic propaedeutic is to help the ego eliminate this broken unity and to help restore the subject to true self such that it can affirm insightfully that to be is to be in mutual complementary relationship with all missing links of reality ((ka s? m? adina). It is the moment actors succeed in affirming their being in this way, that we can say that they are living in the true sense of the word. It is the moment actors succeed in affirming their being within the framework of all missing links that it becomes evident to them also that to be is not to be alone (ka s? m? di). On the contrary, they become conscious of the fact that to be entails all the processes needed to overcome the demands of uche/obi ak?l?, uche agh?gh? or uche ka s? m? di (negative wisdom or intelligence, hegemonic or exclusivist type of mindset), which is the seat of all negative acts and exclusivist tendencies. It is by reason of the same insight that they strive always to act from the promptings of a complementary comprehensive type of mindset (obi/uche ka s? m? adina). Where such transformations take place, actors would come to recognise authentic existence as the capacity to gain full self-knowledge in the process of which the challenges arising from ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment) and human ambivalent situations are contained (Asouzu, Ibuanyidanda 313-327).
15. Recourse to the transcendent categories of unity of consciousness (akara obi/akara mm??)
Overcoming this existential tension and the phenomenon of concealment (ihe mkpuchi anya), entails a return of the subject to the inner recesses of its being and consciousness, in view of exploring some of the latent potentialities thereby imbedded and which are needed to equilibrate this tension. To start with, although the tension generated by human ambivalent situations and the phenomenon of concealment (ihe mkpuchi anya) can limit our capacities, impair our perception of our existential conditions, limit the freedom and autonomy of the individual, nevertheless, the ego is not completely condemned to its existential conditions. On the contrary, the ego has inexhaustible innate potentialities to change its situations for good. This follows from the fact that the human person, in the double capacity of his existence, is a being imbued with mechanisms that guarantee his happiness, his predicaments notwithstanding. These mechanisms are what we call in Igbo language “akara obi/akara mm??” or the transcendent categories of unity of consciousness. They are transcendent because they help the mind go beyond challenged existential conditions. In other words, they are not transcendental categories, even if they share in the dimension of transcendentality (Asouzu, Method and Principles (2005 edition), 142; (2004 edition), 132). These transcendent categories include: “absoluteness”, “relativity”, “historicity” “fragmentation” or 'world-immanent predetermination”, “universality”, “comprehensiveness”, “unity”, “totality”, and “future reference”. They indicate the innate capacity of the mind to always act from the impetus deriving from these categories. The mind or intellect shares these categories with all missing links of reality, which in their relativity are determined to absoluteness. As human subject, even if these categories are innate to our being, they can be rendered ineffective, still, due to the challenges of human ambivalent situation and ihe mkpuchi anya. How we relate to these categories in our active engagements with other missing links goes a long way in determining the character of our being, the type of society we build, the type of philosophy and science we practice and the type and quality of actions we perform.
It is the function of philosophy to bring to the fore the legitimising role these categories play in our encounter with the world in general. It is in fulfilling this function, that Ibuanyidanda philosophy accomplishes its pedagogical and psycho-therapeutic functions. In performing this function, it portrays its positive understanding of the nature of the human person and the world in general, their predicaments notwithstanding. In other words, their insufficiency notwithstanding, the human person and all missing links of reality are destined for higher levels of legitimisation. This is precisely why in other to uphold their authenticity, actors have to encounter all missing links in full awareness of their relativity, historicity and fragmentation, while, at the same time bearing in mind their ultimate determination to absoluteness, universality, comprehensiveness, unity, totality, and future reference. First and foremost, it is in their relativity that missing links, in their world immanent predetermination, show themselves for what they are in the ambivalence of their expression. It is within this context that the phenomenon of ihe mkpuchi anya beclouds our senses and impairs our imagination in our relationship with the world. In their relativity, missing links are fragile and insufficient, but ultimately, they are determined to comprehensiveness, absoluteness, unity, universality and totality in future reference. It is on account of this bipolar determination that human beings are subjected to tension, in the first place.
For this reason, it would be a big mistake to encounter missing links only at one pole of their determination and worst still merely as relative world immanent subjects and objects. To explore the full potentialities of their being, actors have to encounter them not only as beings that are relative, but more so as ones determined to absoluteness, for example. Where actors methodically and consciously try to encounter the world in relativity and fragmentation, as aspects of authentic existence, while bearing in mind the absolute reference of the world all at the same time, they have the possibility of seeing themselves as mere mortals and the world in general as transient. With this, the danger of absolutistic ambitions and absolutisation of the ego and of world immanent missing links can be greatly curtailed. The same is applicable to the tendency to polarise missing links which remain harmonised in consciousness due to the fact that they are presented to us not as purely fragmented subject or objects but as beings that are also destined to absoluteness. This is why in the imperative of ibuanyidanda we demand: In all tension-laden existential situations allow the limitations of being to be the cause of your joy. That is to say, beyond their insufficiency, missing links are destined towards a higher level of legitimisation on account of which they constitute necessary dimensions of our happiness. In other words, the challenges of our world, in its world-immanent pre-determination, notwithstanding, the world always has a positive role to play in the determination of our happiness. For this reason, adverse existential conditions or existential challenges must not be reasons for human being to indulge in deviant acts; on the contrary, the world in its insufficiency and fragmentation, even as a world that is vigorously challenged, has all it takes to uplift our being to the most exalted transcendent experience. Acting for the joy of being presupposes, therefore, encountering and grasping missing links, not only, from the fragmentation of their expression, but more so, in full awareness of the absoluteness, unity, totality, universality, comprehensiveness and future reference of their determination and constitution. In other words, in all tension-laden existential situations, the joy of being can be guaranteed if in our actions we encounter world immanent missing links, not only as fragmentary and relative entities only, but as entities destined for totality, universality, comprehensiveness and absoluteness in future reference. The openness of the future shows the capacity for all missing links to evoke new, and quite surprising experiences. In other words, it is an openness that holds possibilities for missing links in view of perfectibility, of full positive transcendence, of positive self-affirmation, of positive self-transformation and positive self-actualisation, the relativity inherent in their being notwithstanding. Without this future reference, world immanence would be self-constituting and such that attempts by missing links to exceed their relativity and fragmentation would always be self-defeating. It is in view of the future orientedness, which they bring towards each other, that they realize that there are viable alternatives in the face of difficulties and deadlocks. It is on account of this future reference, inherent in missing links, that they can put their freedom into positive use and are vicariously ready to grant the same freedom to others. It is on account of our acceptance of this future direction of our being that we dare ask philosophical questions and seek answers dispassionately and veritably. Where this future orientation is lacking, the temptation to elevate the ego to its own law giver, oblivious of its ceaseless need for validation is always given. It is on account of this character of our being that we have the capacity to become insightful of our mistakes and excesses, and for this reason seek amend and forgiveness. By token of this insight, we amass the courage to accept responsibility for our actions, most especially as this relates to our failings that are integral parts of the tension that threatens our being and all missing links of reality. To attain this level of insight, the subject needs to be committed to the mechanisms needed to attain full personal autonomy.
16. Full personal autonomy through “ima-onwe-onye” (being-in-control)
Restoration of full personal autonomy is effected by the subject in the act of ima-onwe-onye (being-in-control), as we call it in Igbo language. This is the highest form of self-consciousness through which the thinking and acting subject comes to authentic personal insight into the fact that to be is the capacity to be in control of our tension-laden existential situations and the phenomenon of ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). In the act of ima-onwe-onye- the ego experiences itself therefore as a being-in-control (onye-ma-onwe-ya). As the processes needed to translate the transcendent categories of unity of consciousness into act of pure self-consciousness, the act of ima-onwe-onye is referred to as the act of existential conversion; this is nothing other than the translation of the transcendent categories of unity of consciousness into lived experience. It is ima-onwe-onye or being-in-control in action. It is in the act of existential conversion that an acting and a thinking subject is enraptured and such that finds expression in the experience of transcendent complementary unity of consciousness with all missing links.
When this transcendent complementary experience finds expression in practical acts, actors in all existential situations seek to put into practice the demands of these transcendent categories as expression of the demands of the principles and imperative of complementary reflection. It is through this act of authentic self-consciousness (ima-onwe-onye), that the human subject shows the high level of freedom and insight that characterizes its being as opposed to the form of determination characteristic of those beings that do not have the capacity to grasp and interpret this tension meaningfully. In the act of ima-onwe-onye or being-in-control, we seek to experience this tension meaningfully and interpret it as an integral part of our historicity and fragmentation which cannot be wished away just because we are rational and wise. It is in this form of meaningful, self-conscious management of this tension that we show the type of human beings we actually are, the type of science and philosophy we are capable of practicing and the type of society and human interpersonal relationship we are capable of entering into. In the complementary transcendent act of ima-onwe-onye, actors come to full realisation that to be and to exist translate to being-incontrol of all tension-laden existential situations in the evident insight that anything that exists serves a missing link of reality (ka s? m? adina) and in total rejection of anti-ibuanyidanda mind-set ka s? m? di (that I may be alone).
This anti-ibuanyidanda mindset is the same uche/obi ak?l?, uche agh?gh? or uche ka s? m? di (negative wisdom or intelligence, hegemonic or exclusivist type of mindset) that is at the foundation of a philosophy of essence; a mindset whose prerogative is to command, to dominate, to subjugate, to absolutise and to polarise. Actors attain the highest level of this transcendent complementary act of ima-onwe-onye (authentic self consciousness) in the realisation that consistent self-interest is anti-self-interest. Here, actor come to the full insight that excessive acts of selfishness is contradictory and always boomerang on the actor. This is what I refer to as “ontological boomerang effect” (Asouzu, Ibuanyidanda 391-400). This is the moment also the limited character of the super-maxim of “the nearer the better and the safer” is exposed and the validating character of principles and laws enhanced in our consciousness.
One can, therefore, say that in the act of ima-onwe-onye, the contradictions and paradoxes enshrined in the ambivalence of all human existential situations and intensified by ihe mkpuchi anya are presented to our consciousness very lucidly and the intricate consequences of the bipolar character of our instinct of self-preservation become equally very clear to the mind. Besides, actors start to understand better the impact of excessive selfishness, and all anti-social acts on the common good. These processes lead ultimately to the unmasking of the phenomenon of concealment or ihe mkpuchi anya such that actors start to see clearly and distinctly what is demanded and expected of them as rational creatures destined for higher levels of legitimisation. When this happens, we say that any actor acting in full self-consciousness as being-in-control (onye-ma-onwe-ya) and under the guidance of the transcendent categories of unity of consciousness can nevererr culpably.
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