Ibuanyidanda and the Question of Being

Innocent I. Asouzu


  1. Introduction
  2. Transcendent Complementary Comprehensive Existential Analysis
  3. Ibuanyidanda and Some Challenges of Ontology
  4. Ontology Beyond a Static-Dynamic Dichotomy
  5. The Principles of Ibuanyidanda as Synthetic-Analytic Transformation

1. Introduction

Any philosophy that has to address some of the contentious issues of today should be able to tell us what diverse peoples of the world do and say; how raw data of experience present themselves to our consciousness. Such a philosophy should also be able to show how we can, in a systematic methodological mode, penetrate the raw data of experience, in view of validating them ultimately, based on clearly worked out principles. Such an understanding of philosophy has to contend with some deep seated biases that see in systematization remnants of human reason seeking dominance. That such biases are not always justified can be explained by the fact that methodological systematic approaches to inquiry are not inherently wrong. What can become very problematic is the mindset with which systems constructed: Where the mindset is hegemonic, the system is bound to be domineering and dogmatizing also. Hence, embracing a methodological systematic procedure in philosophy does not automatically translate to seeking to render philosophical contents absolute. Systematization belongs to the type of rigour needed to seek clarity in sustained philosophical reflection. This type of clarity is hardly attainable where we assume that the only thing that bestows authenticity is liberal relativism. A thorough going liberal relativist stance can lead to absolutism and intolerance. Difficulties of this kind are bound to persist because human consciousness is at all moments exposed to the tension and concealment that mislead us into assuming that there is magic formula for handling such matters. Recourse to unfettered liberal relativism in matters of this kind is hardly a secure option as many seem to assume. On the contrary, any position that exudes the air of liberalism has more work to do in view of shielding itself from some of the attractions of absolutism. This is the case when we do philosophy under such tags as intercultural ibuanyidanda, liberal, complementary, integral, multicultural, trans-cultural, etc. Tags of this kind enshrine the worst types of ambivalence and concealment. Where we fail to be conscious of the dangers they pose, the apparent liberal connotation associated with them is bound to become a great burden.
Hence, all attempts at formulating theories including Ibuanyidanda have an inherent hegemonic absolute dimension that can never be ignored. Tendencies of this kind are things inherent in human consciousness seeking dominance. This is why confronting others from any position that exudes some air of liberation in view of correcting them, must be done in a self-critical manner. Such self-imposed critical stances serve as the type of regulative mechanism that reminds stakeholders of the ceaseless dangers posed by our tension-laden ambivalent experience of reality and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of consealment). Where we are forgetful of these threats, we would immediately imagine that we are immune to some of the flaws we target for criticism. This type of self-imposed critical stance is what is needed in doing philosophy in a systematic methodological mode, failing which systematization assumes a hegemonic absolute character. The alleged weaknesses of systematization notwithstanding, we do away with systematization at a great cost. Without systematization, philosophy risks being deprived of one the most vital tools it relies upon in executing its task. Besides, in the absence of systematization, we risk degrading philosophy to mere formal act devoid of clearly stated message. That such commitments have not always served philosophy well can be seen at the rate most things that go under the name of Ethno-philosophy are turning into ethnographic research procedures; something the empirical descriptive sciences also do, and perhaps even better. The same is also the case where in the name of doing philosophy of culture, most positions are turning to mere sign posts and slogans for cultural dialogues in seeking in seeking an alternative route in the way we do philosophy that is liberal, the decisive question would always remain how to democratize philosophy while upholding the sanctity of its ultimate content.
Here, I explore with ibuanyidanda (complementary reflection) an approach to philosophy that seeks to address creditably the issue of the sanctity of the unity of the subject matter of philosophy, and its normative character, while at the same time being committed to preserving the freedom and autonomy of the individual. That such an approach has to be ontologically constituted derives from the fact that the unity of being and consciousness is constituted ontologically. This orientation is not new. It is the very thing that drives reflection and inquiry; and the very catalyst that energizes the pure and applied sciences themselves; as they seek to unravel the hidden mysteries of nature. This is why, it seems to me, that neither an unfettered relativism not an unmitigated absolutism will serve as well today. By recourse to ibuanyidanda philosophy. I seek to fill that yawning gap created by the tension that suggests that units are irreconcilable opposites. We can hardly address such matters creditably where we do not make room for self-imposed regulative mechanisms needed to reconcile differences. In striving this new path, there is need to view with utmost caution, always, any attempt that creates the impression that system-building, along with all things have to do with ultimate determination, are the types of things we must now avoid. These are the types of assumptions that spur the passion for the resolution of all problems beset on the demands of the moment, obvious of the need to have them related to their ultimate point of determination. Where we proceed in this one dimensional mode, we thereby risk eroding the very foundation needed to hold in check the ambivalence and concealment to which all relative interests are subjected.
For this reason, the question would always be how we can be systematic and yet not hegemonic; and how to strive towards the absolute and yet not claiming absolute powers. In other words, we are seeking credible ways of bridging extremist tendencies. It is doubtful if such is achievable where we refrain from all sorts of commitment, and take solace in liberal relativism. Even if such an approach demands some measure of neutrality, it must be the type that neutralizes. Where being neutral does not neutralize, neutrality loses its dynamic. In this neutralizing type of neutrality subsists the very dynamic that drives the type of dialectic upon which I rest the presuppositions of ibuanyidanda philosophy. It is not an exclusive hegemonic type of dialectic that seeks to render contents absolute and exclusivist. It is not a liberal type of dialectic that takes solace on unfettered relativism. On the contrary, it is a complementary comprehensive type whose method, system and principles consider all existent realities as missing links that serve each other interminably. It is by reason of this character that it has the inherent capacity to neutralize all those extremist forces of divisiveness that can infringe on the unity of being and consciousness. Here, ibuanyidanda seeks to reconcile missing link in a mode that makes coexistence of opposite possible, and by way of transcending all impositions arising from sense impressions; from our tension laden-ambivalent experience and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). Its ultimate objective is to see units harmonized as expression of the experience of transcendent complementary unity of consciousness (onye aghala nwanneya i.e never forget the other or always be mindful of the other). This is that transcendent experience where all missing links assume mutual authenticating character in a way that makes each indispensable in the affirmation of the being of the other. As this relates to the relationship of human beings and communities to each other, this transcendent experience becomes most concrete when stakeholders come to the full realization that madu bu chi ibeya ( human beings are gods or divine realities to each other, it can mean also: the human person is a god or divine reality to his neighbour). It is the same experience that we carry in our encounter with all realities: and by reason of which such encounters assume special transcendent significance. Herein is founded that divinizing touch that connects all missing links in an inescapable transcendent experience that derives from ultimate character of all authentic ibanyidanda acts. It is by reason of this ultimate future referential dimension that it seeks to impact and transform the way we relate to reality, in all its modes of expression, as missing links, in society, culture, politics, morals, education, conflict resolution strategies, sports, music, religion commerce, ecology, etc.
If now a relativist liberal position suggests that there is no generally acceptable definition for philosophy, either as a discipline or an art, does not also need a guide. Definitely philosophy has an ultimate guide that is ontologically constituted; and can be validated in a systematic methodological manner. In the absence of such a guide, we would be left with a position where all imaginable definitions would suffice. Where this happens, all imaginable definitions would become self-constituting as to infringe on the freedom and autonomy of the individual and institutions. The very thing unfettered liberalism fears needed to regulate creditably some of the conflicting views and expectations we encounter in the world, chances of upholding the unity of being and consciousness remains slim, something that guarantees the very life of any philosophy, either or a discipline or as an art. It is the same that gives social structures some sense of order and stability. This is why I insist that any form of guide devised to serve this all important philosophical need has to be ontologically grounded bearing in mind the ultimate constitution of all existent realities that ceaselessly strive towards full authentication. In seeking to address some of these needs, I am committed to the understanding that philosophy is a systematic methodological rational inquiry into the ultimate nature of reality. Besides, philosophy has to be conducted as personal critical sense experience and the constraints arising from our tension-laden ambivalent existential situations and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). This is the ibuanyidanda approach which does not pretend to be identical to the philosophies of any ethnic groups, races or geographical regions of the world. On the other hand, it strives to be as cosmopolitan in outlook as philosophy can be – beyond all forms of ethnocentric reduction. In doing ibuanyidanda (complementary reflection), I seek to draw my inspirations from a wide network of relations, as these are constituted of all actors and factors needed to generate the idea of individual philosophers. It is in this way that I think that true harmony, within the thinking subject itself, and with all existent realities can be achieved. By so doing, I strive to establish the most natural kind of relationship between the inquirer and the totality of reality, beyond all forms of reduction. These are the sorts of things needed to restore the freedom and autonomy of the individual infringed upon by its ambivalent tension-laden situations. Infringements of this type mislead human consciousness into seeking solitary exclusivist and egoistic solutions. The same measure is needed to address credibly the issue of super-maxim of “the nearer the better and the safer” as one of the most severe consequences of human consciousness seeking solutions in the most arbitrary hegemonic form.
Hence, I seek through ibuanyidanda to restore, not only the freedom and autonomy of the individual, but also, that of the collective that can become a victim of collective consciousness. Such a philosophy seeks to sensitize stakeholders, not only concerning the vastness of opportunities accruing from mutual complementation, but also, of demonstrating why a collective response to most problems of the world is something indispensable, Such an understanding of philosophy is in harmony with those ideals for which philosophical reflections are known. To achieve this Herculean challenge, there is need to explore a method with corresponding system and principle needed to address creditably the apparent divide between the ideal and real, between the relative and the absolute, between the one and the many, and most tensions that are posed by opposites. Such a systematic methodological ibuanyidanda approach is always aware why all philosophical answers should remain provisional and open to completion. This is why I seek viable ways of integrating into the method and principles of ibuanyidanda philosophy that dimension of the relative that is an inherent moment of all historical experiences that have an ultimate future related determination. Due to the prominent place I assign to the challenges of our tension-laden ambivalent experience of the world and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment), ibuanyidanda explores ways of containing them through positive pedagogy. It achieves this by way of its noetic propaedeutic which serves equally a therapeutic function. In ibuanyidanda, I operate with the optimism that most human problems can be resolved if we are guided by the right ideals, have the correct tools and are open to new ideas. That such a philosophy should always resist the temptation of absolutistic tendencies in seeking solutions derives from its self-understanding as a philosophy of mutual complementation. This self-understanding is what determines its perspective as it steers the course of method pluralism bearing in mind the heterogeneous constitution of reality. This is the type of method that enables human consciousness to supersede all forms of impositions arising from the type of method monism that sees reality as one unified entry without differentiation. Therefore, to supersede extreme forms of bias and exclusive tendencies ensuing from diversities of methods and world views, there is an urgent need for philosophy to adopt an approach that addresses all aspects of reality in a way that does not polarize them. The same is applicable kin view of superseding the tension we sense deep down our being deriving from our ambivalent existential experiences and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). It is such a complementary comprehensive future related approach that can guarantee the much needed unity of being and consciousness; something that is indispensable in the way we relate to the world generally.

2. Transcendent Complementary Comprehensive Existential Analysis

Ibuanyidanda philosophy or complementary reflection conceptualizes method as disposition. By this I mean the type of disposition needed to approach sense experience (ihe ahu na anya ekwe). And reality generally, with a transcendent complementary comprehensive type of mind-set beyond the impositions arising from mere sensation.1 Method is the type of disposition needed to relate to missing links of reality in a vicarious mutually related mode. Method is the fundamental disposition needed to think and act in an ibuanyidanda mode. It is the capacity to focus on the “ibuanyidandaness” of any given phenomenon or existential condition. In all given instances, method is co-intended and consummated, both formally and materially, in the process of noetic-propaedeutic (pre-education of the mind), where the human subject learns to convert the transcendent categories of unity of consciousness of ibuanyidanda philosophy into practical action. Based on its method, ibuanyidanda seeks to show why judgments concerning given empirical conditions are not necessarily objective statements of fact as they occur in our consciousness, but judgments that can be preconditioned by mechanisms and phenomena that influence the way we perceive reality. Therefore, in dealing with the world, such a method makes it imperative for theoreticians and actors to search always beyond mere sensations (ihe ndi ahu na anya ekwe); and to delve into the phenomena and mechanisms that drive theories and action. Akpan elaborated, very creditably, how the method of ibuanyidanda philosophy can serve as an alternative paradign of explanation and understanding in science.2 Relying on the method of ibuanyidanda, we are immediately conscious of the fact that certain phenomena and mechanisms of non-rational and quasi-rational nature are integral aspects of our experience of reality; such that they can invalidate the apparent incontestable and seemingly rational character of raw data of experience. The method of ibuanyidanda strives to unravel the type of determination to which we are subjected due to the constraining mechanisms and phenomena characteristic of our experience of the world. Its method further strives to show how these challenges can be addressed through the application of the principles of ibuanyidanda philosophy and other allied tools belonging to it. Over and above all, it draws our attention to the fact that the human subject is not completely a victim of these existetial constraints.
On the contrary, we learn from its method that human consciousness can deal with these existential challenges effectively due to certain inmate categories peculiar to it. These are the transcendent categories of unity of consciousness (akara obi or akara mmuo). To these categories belong “absoluteness,” “relativity,” ” historicity,” “fragmentation,” or “world-immanent predetermination,” “universality,” “comprehensiveness,” “unity,” “totality,” and “future reference.” Finally, its method shows why a type of pedagogy is indispensible in our bid to surmount these existential challenges. Such a pedagogy is nothing other than the noetic propaedeutic (pre-education of the mind) of Ibuanyidanda philosophy. This is a type of self-imposed act of use the expression “missing links of reality” I refer to all the units that constitute an entity as these are interminably related to each other in mutual complementary service. Therefore, missing links or reality are, for example, human persons, institutions, communities, the ecosystem, ideas and ideas of ideas, units and the units of units, things and things of things, both spiritual and material, entities and the entities of entities - both animate and inanimate, spiritual and temporal: and all imaginable modes of relations as these can be abstracted and related to each other in a complementary mutually related way in service. It is by reason of its understanding missing links in the mode that the weakest point within any given system deserves all the attention it needs. Where this does not happen, the further existence of the whole system is threatened. For this reason, ibuanyidanda pursues an ontology that understands being as that on account of which anything that exists served a missing link of reality. Existence is therefore, all it takes to have all missing links mutually harmonized.

3. Ibuanyidanda and Some Challenges of Ontology

Since our tension-laden ambivalent existential experience and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment) often mislead us into assuming that life is a struggle involving irreconcilable opposites, ibuanyidanda ontology seeks ways of reconciling the apparent ontological tension between being and its attributes. This type of tension found its way into Metaphysics by certain specifics of Aristotle’s doctrine of being. In his teaching about being, Aristotle handles the relationship between essence (substance) and accidents in a very disharmonious mode. For Aristotle, the idea of being, in the strict sense of the word, has more to do with essence (substance) which can subsist independent of accidents. Accidents, on the other hand, depend on their substances for their existence, and are dispensable; as against substances (essences) that are indispensable. This is why for him: “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”.3 This is nothing other than a bifurcated type of relationship between essences (substances) and their accidents. It is interesting to note that most academic debate within the context of Western history of ideas revolve around the relationship substance(essence) to its accidents. This goes to underscore the importance of this thematic. One can say that this distinction has very has very much helped in shaping the ideological divides dominant in most theories of science, society and interpersonal relationship. Apparently, most extremist and seeming irreconcilable positions derive their momentum from this distinction, be it those between rationalism and empiricism, between essentialism and existentialism, between idealism and realism, etc. If substance (essence) and accidents are as distinct to each other, as Aristotle seems to suggest, then the world is constituted of irreconcilable ontological opposites. But the question is Are essences (substance) and accidents so distinct from each other beyond any form of reconciliation, beyond mediation and harmonization? This can hardly be the case, if we remember that each accident has kits essence that cannot be wished away. In a relationship of this tpe, the distinction between substance and accidents is so slim if we remember essences are hardly thinkable except in relation to their accidents and vice versa. What this shows is that essence and accidents are not totally opposed to each other as one would ordinarily assume based on Aristotle’s bifurcating metaphysics. Where the distinction between substances (essences) and their accidents does not admit of any form of complementation, the idea of being remains, not only unreal but unconceivable. Hence, a pure metaphysics of essence remains unattainable which does not make provision for a way of harmonizing or complementing our idea of essence(substance) and accidents. It is this metaphysics of complementation that is needed to harmonize the artificial tension ensuing from a metaphysics of essence that bifurcates, divides and segregates.
Incidentally, most major text books used in the West to teach teacher of teachers are committed to Aristotle’s orthodoxy in this matter. They are fashioned after a metaphysics of essence which gives the impression that essence (substance) and accidents can never be grasped within the same ontological bracket. This matter can become complicated if we remember the background of Aristotle’s ontology which is greatly inspired by Plato’s elitist folk ideological teaching. This is coupled with the fact that for Aristotle the essence of the human person is reason or rationality itself. In other words, one can say, without equivocation, that this is the very doctrine that constitutes one of the dogmatic foundations of most things people refer to as “Western education”, the spirit of which has been transmitted and internalized unconsciously, for long, in the process of education, socialization and indoctrination. This impact of this mode of conditioning on human consciousness cannot be underestimated. Based on conditioning if this type human consciousness is more liable to error of transposition and picture-type fallacies; most especially the type that can mislead human consciousness to assume that the world is constituted of irreconcilable categories and opposites: some of which are essential and other accidental; some of which are dispensable and others indispensable.
One of the most widely acclaimed distinctions deriving Aristotle’s metaphysics of essence is that between what many consider a “Western static ontology” that has all the benefits of reason, the very essence of Aristotle’s human person, and a “dynamic ontology,” that is anything other than reason-based. Under the constrain of our tension laden ambivalent existential situation and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment), it is not only reason that human consciousness can elevate in this manner to an essential category. Most especially in those contexts where human beings and communities must context with each other for scarce resources, human consciousness has a way of elevating anything that helps it uphold an edge over others to essential categories. In the same measure, they tend to denigrate all things that stand on their way to mere accidental dispensable categories. We can then understand how such factors as achievement, position, gender, sex, colour, nationality, race, clan, ethnicity, language, etc, can easily assume those essential indispensable characteristics based on which human consciousness seeks exclusivists attention. The moment this happens, human consciousness is misled into believing that to b is to live in an exclusivist segregationist type of relationship, a relationship that is sustained by the assumption that substance and accidents are ontologically opposing categories that exist in diverse regions of being. Ibuanyidanda metaphysics is an attempt at reversing some of the most severe implications of such a metaphysics of essence that places essence disproportionately above its accidents. If an essentialist approval to metaphysics affirms that essence can exist independent of its accidents, ibuanyidanda seeks ways of grasping both within a harmonized ontological framework. This is why ibuanyidanda, being is that on account of which anything shat exists serve a missing link of reality. In the same way, ibuanyidanda sees existence as the capacity to be in mutual complementary relationship with all things. It is another way of saying that to be is the capacity to affirm “that I may not be alone” (ka so mu adina). This is why contrary to the classical notion that the negation of being is non-being: ibuanyidanda holds that the negation of being is “to be alone” (da so mu di).
Since human beings often seek to carve out niches for themselves in view of upholding privately motivated interests, they are easily also drawn, quite instinctively, to all the attractions of an exclusivist bifurcating ontology or metaphysics of essence. We find such given, for example, when people assume that in given geographical regions stakeholders are more likely to think and act alike due to a form of ontological predetermination. Besides, many assume that because different cultures are ontologically predetermined, they are bound to solve basic human problems in keeping with certain predetermined ways always. In other words, many assume that in given geographical locations certain groups and individuals are more likely to deploy problem solving techniques in tune with certain modes of ontological predisposition. In this case, certain individuals and groups are more likely to solve problems only in time with scientific-technological predisposition, aesthetic-artistc predisposition, humanistic-emotional predisposition, intuitive-creative predisposition, etc. One of the greatest difficulties assumptions of this type have to contend with is that of overgeneralization, where in our bid to focus on what all have in common we easily forget their specific differences. Problems of differences, and of ontological difference, can hardly be resolved in a very straightforward manner without much difficulties. Whenever we focus on differences in the most straightforward way, we are bound to polarize the world, within any given context, into arbitrary ideological, cognitive and emotional blocks and in tune with privately motivated interests only. These are the type of extreme exclusivist measures our tension-laden ambivalent existential experience and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment) are capable of foisting on our consciousness when our most cherished interests are at stake.
Whichever way we look at it, human history has always demonstrated that the overall development of the individual, groups and communities, the development of skills and civilization, can be sustained reasonably only in a relationship of mutual complementary dependence, in service of all stakeholders beyond all forms of ontological predetermination. This seems to be one of those truths our tension-laden ambivalent experience and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment) always strive to conceal from us. It is that dimension of the ontological truth that the interconnectivity characteristic of globalization today always seeks to make evident. This is the complementary dimension of truth which has an ontological foundation. An important dimension of this ontological truth becomes evident in the fact that all human achievements and failures in commerce, arts, sciences, sports, education, communication, and all those things that make us human can only be thinkable within a context of mutual complementary dependence. Within this context, all missing links of reality – animate, inanimate, spiritual and temporal – are mutually dependent. This foundational ontological truth becomes concealed the moment relativity becomes self-constituting through the enthronement of the ego as the epicenter of all world events; either as individuals, groups, organizations or even as allied nations seeking dominance over others. This is precisely why my use of the expression “phenomenon of concealment,” within the context of ontology, varies basically from the way it finds resonance in Heidegger’s employment of the same expression.4 Since for Heidegger the concealment of being is disclosed in Dasein (human being), this type of disclosure has all it takes to conceal being all the more, if we remember the spirit sustaining Heidegger’s ontology. The exclusivist bifurcating mindset typical of Aristotle’s metaphysics finds resonance in the way Heidegger conceptualizes ontology.5 For Coreth, an ontology that places the human person at the centre has all the weakness of a metaphysics that forecloses inroad into the notion of being: and as such has all it takes to conceal being all the more.6 Paul Tillich who equally uses the expression “phenomenon of concealment” sees the need to supersede this over concentration on the ego due to its inherent capacity to lead to grave errors in the way we judge religious experiences.7 In other words, if adequate measures are not taken to address what is concealed in human consciousness, other than can be made evident in the human person itself, a clearer notion of being can get lost altogether. As a metaphysics geared towards the position of the human person in the cosmos. Heidegger’s metaphysics has to contend with hubris as the very phenomenon that throws the self into self-imposed enclosure misleading it into believing that it is above every other person. Since hubris is a dimension of my translation of this Igbo expression as “phenomenon of concealment” points to the very existential conditions that can invalidate all good intention and the capacity for true judgment, render the capacity for clear and evident knowledge obscure and weaken the will. To salvage the idea of being and human consciousness from all forms of, exclusivist tendencies, impositions and concealments to which it can be subjected, ibuanyidanda philosophy sees the need, therefore, to carry noetic propaedeutic into ontology in view of exploring fully the complementary character of the idea of being beyond all forms of exclusivist tendencies, bifurcation and impositions.

4. Ontology Beyond a Static-Dynamic Dichotomy

Relying on Aristotle’s essence-accidents dichotomy, Placid Tempels, came to an equally inconspicuous conclusion that has very much impacted on the way most research procedures are conducted in matters relating to Africa. In tune with his education, socialization and indoctrination, Tempels claims that the West has almost the exclusive capacity to conceive what he refers to as the transcendent notion of being. He contrasts this transcendent notion of being with the Bantu (African) experience of being. For him, the Bantu can only conceive the accidental notion of being, which he designates as “force.” Thus for Tempels, “We (the West) can conceive the transcendental notion of ‘being’ by separating if from its attribute, ‘Force,’ but the Bantu cannot.”8 Interestingly, even if, the Bantu notion of being is for him non-transcendent fundamentally, he nevertheless admits that there are visible signs of transcendental theistic reference in the life of the Bantu. Here, he observes: “Bantu of the present day have maintained their faith in what were originally theistic elements of their religion, yet we see them today at one and the same time ancestor worshippers, animists, dynamists, totemists and believers in magic.”9
With this observation, Tempels hints at that tendency for human consciousness to oscillate between transcendence and world-immanence, as a dimension of the ambivalent tension to which all human experiences of reality are subjected. Since the Bantu share in this common human experience, the ontological experience of the Bantu is bound to be characterized by ambivalent and subjected to ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). This strife within the individual can help to explain why the Bantu experience can be characterized as being both transcendentally theistic, “and the same time ancestor worshippers, animists, dynamists, totemists, and believers in magic.” Since Tempels fails to identify the underlying phenomenon and mechanisms responsible for this oscillation properly, he assumes that Bantu experience of reality is fundamentally different. On account of this unintended ethnocentric interests, he focuses only on one side of his ambivalent interests which aims at portraying the Bantu as animists whose dynamic ontological experience is different from a static Western ontological experience. The tendency to ender world-immanence absolute and the absolute relative is an experience which all human beings share in common, when they are caught in the constraints of their tension laden experience. It is the same experience we sense when our being oscillates between truth and false hood, between world-immanence and transcendence, between being and non-being, between absolute and relative, etc. In other words, this experience is not restricted to the Bantu. Since this constraining mechanisms and phenomena have the capacity to delimit our experience of the world grossly, they can mislead us into misconceiving facts; and into worst forms of category mistakes. This happens mostly when our most cherished interests are at stake. In other words, Tempels’ observation with regard to the Bantu has its merit, but he does not seem to understand fully the character of the phenomena and mechanisms that are responsible for the Bantu ontological experience. For this reason, Tempels assumes that the Bantu ontological experience is one dimensional without some measure of transcendent reference. Due to his unintended ethnocentric bias, his analysis of Bantu experience of the world suffers a great setback; and his conclusions misleading.
Quite surprisingly, the very things that enter into Tempels’ debased Bantu (African) notion of being, in his “vital force theory,” is what many researchers have elevated to what they designate as the undisputed African “dynamic notion of being” or Africa “dynamic conception of reality.” This is how this static dynamic dichotomy has very much helped in determining the way many relate to issues concerning Africa. Thus for Unah: ”It is this dynamic conception of reality that essentially characterizes African metaphysics.”10 It seems to me that most of those African researchers who indulge in this type of reduction do so out of ethnocentric folk’s ideological motivations. Many seem to think: “if the West has its static notion of being, then Africans deserve a unique notion of being also.” This is why many African researchers are easily carried away by the fact that there is a realm of reality that is the exclusive private domain for Africans. Caught by ethnocentric induced zeal of this kind, many strive to reclaim for Africa, a dynamic notion of being that, unfortunately, carries the connotation of a debased, superstitious, magical ontology. Since Tempels’ conclusion has contributed to the type of exclusivist, bifurcating mindset that accompanies many research matters dealing with Africa, I call its negative impact on matters that are African “the Tempelsian Damage.”
Due to this Tempelsian Damage, many African researchers are most likely to make recourse to notions inspired by a dynamic understanding of being in view of constructing all theories about Africa; notwithstanding some of its most severe implications. Tempels’ vital force theory seems to be the root of reducing what many all African science to an inquiry into the nature and character of dynamic supernatural forces, into spirits, magic, diverse forms of religious phenomena, superstition, witchcraft, ESP, etc. Theories and ideas deriving from this dynamic background are targeted directly against what many understand as a static. Western notion of reality. Whereas, for them, African approaches should concentrate on dynamic forces, those of the West have to concern themselves with theoretical entities of the natural exact and applied sciences. This is why for many, what they understand as African science has to concentrate on matters relating to spirits because according to Momoh: “any work that claims to be on African philosophy, be it by an indigenous or non-African philosopher, is not on African philosophy if it is actually not in harmony and congruence with the spirit of African philosophy” which for him is rooted in the fact that “reality is primarily spiritual.”11 Such are the types of ideas that motivate many in the construction or unique African theories concerning “African science,” “African Philosophy,” “African Ethic,” “African Logic,” “African Epistemology,” African Politics,” “African Democracy,” etc. If dynamism must characterize being, definitely, not in the sense of Placid Tempels who uses this term in a derogatory, bifurcating exclusivist manner in relation to the Bantu (African). In this derogatory way, the distinction between a dynamic and a static ontology remains something artificial.
There is another way the attribute dynamic cam be predicated of being and remain credible. It is in a dynamic complementary harmonized mode. In this mode, being can be grasped in the dynamism of its essentiality as missing links that stay to each other in a relationship of mutual complementary service. This is that understanding of being that does not polarize the relationship between essence (substance) and accidents, but sees it as something given in the service all modes of existence owe each other interminably. A bifurcating ontology that insists on an inherent type of dichotomy between “the static” and “the dynamic” negates ab initio, the fact of this inherent mutual complementary dynamism by reason of which being upholds its unity. Definitely, “static” and “dynamic” are not exclusivist categories that cannot co-exist in a harmonized notion of being. The relationship of static to dynamic is very much reflected in the one between potency and act. To see an inherent moment of divisiveness between static and dynamic, potency and act, being and its attributes is to introduce the type of differentiation that makes a unified notion of being difficult. Hence, to introduce an artificial moment of divisiveness in an ontological relationship that should be naturally harmonized is bound to lead to a distortion of our picture of reality. However, our tension-laden existential situations and (the phenomenon of concealment) almost always suggests to us that such is possible in view of upholding some privately motivated interests. Distortions of this sort can be avoided if we have a method capable of upholding, always, the unity of being and consciousness; and the natural harmony between substance and accidents – being and its attributes. Ibuanyidanda philosophy strives as providing such a method. What this indicated is that the method of Ibuanyidanda must be seen as an integral aspect of its ontology; should we be in a position to salvage, ontology from the type of distortions ensuing from the constraints to which human consciousness is subjected at all given instances.
Whereas ontology is the foundation on which method builds, method provides the context where ontology becomes most evident. Through method, we seek to understand more clearly the idea of being in a harmonized mutually related mode. It is method that reveals to us that being is accessible only in the dynamism of its constitution; and as missing links that stay to each other in mutual complementary service. This knowledge is what is needed to achieve complementary harmony within thinking subjects themselves; and among stakeholders in contentious situations. In other words, ibuanyidanda philosophy, through its method, wishes to show how complete harmony with all existent realities can be attained. Due to this universal outreach of its scope, it seeks to transcend the immediacy, in a complementary comprehensive mode, and to strive towards complete harmony with all existent realities in the process of synthetic-analytic transformation. This mode of transformation is synthetic in the sense that it proceeds from sense experience, as this presents itself to our consciousness. It is analytic, in the sense of trying to analyze, penetrate and transcend the internal workings of human consciousness and data of experience that are consistently challenged by our tension-laden ambivalent existential situation and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). Understanding these challenges and the way they precondition the mind is an integral aspect of noetic propaedeutic designed to salvage the ego from the broken unity occasioned by these constraints.
In all things, Ibuanyidanda philosophy wishes to impact the type of disposition needed to penetrate reality in a mutually complementary related mode beyond concealment, bifurcation and exclusivist reasoning. This is precisely what we mean when ibuanyidanda philosophy claims that method is disposition. It is the predisposition that enables the subject to affirm insightfully that being is that on account of which anything that exists serves a missing link of reality. Hence, for ibuanyidanda to exist or to be is to be in mutual complementary relationship wit all realities – ka so mu adina (that I may not be alone). Reasoning in this way is the type of disposition needed to grasp essence (substance) and accidents within any given framework without bifurcations and exclusivist tendencies. Within such contexts, method becomes evident and graspable in the disposition to explore more meaningful all existent realities as aspects of being seeking full expression in history. In method, the unity of being and consciousness becomes most transparent in the experience of transcendent complementary unity of consciousness – jide ka iji. This is the very experience that constitutes the joy of being – the most authentic complementary experience ever. It is the capacity to abstract being ad still to relate it to its attributes in a complementary mutually related way without bifurcation and exclusivist tendencies. By reason of this abstraction, the method of ibuanyidanda helps in elevating the mind towards transcending the institutions of sense experience as against all those purely experience-based methods of induction. In ibuanyidanda, the mind seeks pure and authentic synthesis in matters relating with missing links of reality. Thus, sustained by the method of ibuanyidanda, the human subject has the capacity to make those proposition, which though deriving from sense experience (ihe ahu na anya ekwe), seek to supersede the type of constraints imposed by the promptings of sense experience (ihe ahu na anya ekwe). How this transition from synthesis to synthetic-analytic experience occurs is the subject of synthetic-analytic transformation of ibuanyidanda philosophy.

5. The Principles of Ibuanyidanda as Synthetic-Analytic Transformation

Often in the construction of theories, many theoreticians inadvertently proceed from the assumption that theories are constituted only of synthetic observational statements designed to reproduce exactly given existential conditions. This is why most experience-based approaches to theory formulation are likely to focus only on given empirical conditions. By following this procedure, they make it difficult for propositions enshrined in theories to reflect the type of universality needed to validate their claims, and thereby uphold their synthetic relevance, there is need to transform the synthetic character of observational statements deriving from raw data of experience. A careful analysis of many theories devised to investigate reality, as we have these in most things dealing with philosophy of culture, immediately reveals that such theories are largely founded on observational statements. In the case of practitioners of African philosophy many of such theories are built on observational statements as: ‘ibu anyi danda’ (no load is insurmountable for danda), umunna bu ike, (the kindred is strength): “I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am.”12 Many believe that statements of this type express the ideas of intimate belongingness for which Africans are known. As such, they assume that viable theories can be constructed based only on those ideals observable in African living which such statements seek to express. This is why many actually go ahead erecting theories on statements of pure synthetic foundation with all the difficulties such present.13 Thereby, most theoreticians proceed from the assumption that propositions expressed in theories can be validated only by reference to given empirical indicators sustaining them.
What this amounts to is the statements enshrined in theories are the exact replicas of given empirical indicators and visible existential conditions which they seek to reproduce. It is based on such assumptions that most major proponents of communalism, in African philosophy, assume that occurrences of indicators pointing to the very idea of intimate belongingness is most likely to yield those ideals and values that constitute the matter of a communalist theory. When theoretician are caught in this sort of questionable assumption, they are unlikely to invest the much needed efforts to rid ideas and empirical indicators around which theories are constructed of their purely synthetic pre-scientific heuristic predilections. This is a sure indication of extreme empirical bias: and worst still of such biases that arise when theoreticians approach their task beclouded by constraints arising from sense experience on data of sense experience. The method of ibuanyidanda philosophy (complementary reflection) strives to overcome biases of this type and those imposed by uncritical reliance on data of sense experience. These are the types of constraints that can diminish the scope and trustworthiness of any theory. Hence, cognizant of the descriptive synthetic root of the expression ibu anyi danda, and all such expressions, there is need to transform them in view of exploring more fully their universal normative connotation. This can be done if they can be validated within a more universal complementary comprehensive framework that makes room for the co-existence of opposite within given contexts. The same is applicable with regard to harmonization of those differences created by the ambivalent character of all human existential situations and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). If now, for example, traditional Igbo philosophers, through the observational statement “Ibu anyi danda (no task is insurmountable for danda),” focus on the mutual dependence and feeling of intimate belongingness observable among communities and groups, I seek, through the concept ibuanyidanda, and the method of ibuanyidanda philosophy, to widen, more universally and analytically, the scope of applicability of what is intended in this observational statement (The difference between the ibu anyi danda [synthetic] and ibuanyidanda [synthetic-analytic] has to be noted very carefully). Whereas the synsthetic expresses “the basic rule of danda” (the super-maxim), its synthetic-analytic variant offers the groundwork for the formulation of the principle that seeks to supersede the restrictions inherent in the super-maxim itself. Hence, the nearest English equivalent of this synthetic analytic concept ibuanyidanda is complementarity. From this is derived the expression complementary reflection (ibuanyidanda philosophy) as the type of reflection needed to approach reality more universally and beyond the impositions of mere sensation and commonsense experience.
As a theory that is universally committed and ontologically founded, ibuanyidanda philosophy (complimentary reflection), formulates the principle of integration. This is the metaphysical variant of its principles and it states: “Anything that exists serves a missing link of reality”.14 In the same way, it formulates the principle of progressive transformation. This is the practical equivalent of its metaphysical principles. The principle of progressive transformation claims that: “All human actions are geared towards the joy of being.” It is thus, an injunction always to act for the joy of being or for attainment of the experience of transcendent complementary unity of consciousness with all existent realities. Acting for the joy of being, by the expression – jide ka iji (keep it up i.e. hold firmly to the joy of being, always seek to retain it, now and in all future cases). Although the expression jide ka iji is rooted in sense experience as a descriptive statement, its entry into the formulation of the principle of progressive transformation legitimizes it at a higher plane. It is for this reason that it has the type of universal connotation ascribable to all acts that constitute integral aspects of the authentic experience of transcendent complementary unity of consciousness. In this form, it transcends particularly as to grasp into the universal. It is only by being constituted in this transcendent mode that the human subject can translate the transcendent categories of unity of consciousness of ibuanyidanda philosophy creditably into action.15 To these transcendent categories, belong “absoluteness,” “relativity.” “historicity,” “fragmentation” or “world-immanent predetermination,” “universality,” “comprehensiveness,” “unity,” “totality,” and “future reference.” Furthermore, the imperative ibuanyidanda philosophy demands. “Allow the limitations of being to be the cause of our joy.” Though this imperative seeks universal applicability, it is not a categorical command. Hence, quite unlike Immanuel Kant’s deontological categorical imperative, it is merely a universal imperative.16 The truth and authenticity criterion of ibuanyidanda philosophy states: “Never elevate a world immanent missing link to an absolute instance.” Its method, its principles, its imperative and its truth and authenticity criterion are the very tools ibuanyidanda relies upon to address the broken unity we often sense in human consciousness; that between being and its attributes, and most especially incidents of broken unity between the subject and the world generally.17 These are the very tools upon which human consciousness relies in view of addressing the constraints imposed by our tension-laden existential experiences and ihe mkpuchi anya (phenomenon of concealment). The effectiveness of these tools is dependent on the measure we take to see that they operate in a complementary concerted mode as to form a transcendent complementary circle.


  1. Asouzu Innocent, Ibuanyidanda: New complimentary ontology beyond world-immanentism, ethnocentric reduction and impositions. Zurich: New Brunswick, 2007, pp. 24-55.
  2. Akpen Chris, “Ambivalence of human existential situation: A veritable index of rational explanation”. American Journal of Social and Management Sciences. Vol. 2. No. 1., March 2011, 1-10.
  3. Aristotle, Metaphysica, Trans. W. D. Ross, M. A. Hon and L.L.D. Edin. Oxford: Oxford Clarendon Press, 1926, p. 5.
  4. Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit. Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1977, p. 173
  5. Asouzu Innocent, Ibuanyidanda: New complimentary ontology beyond world-immanentism, ethnocentric reduction and impositions, p. 51, 174, 202.
  6. Coreth Emerich, metaphysic, eine methodish-systematiische, p. 41
  7. Tillich Paul, Systematiische theologie, Band II. Stuttgart : Evangelische Verlagswerk, 1978, p. 87.
  8. Tempels Placid, Bantu Philosophy. Paris: Presence Africaine, 1959, p. 50.
  9. Tempels Placid, Bantu Philosophy, p.34.
  10. Jim Unah, “The nature of African Metaphysics”, Metaphysics, phenomenology and African philosophy. Lagos: Fadec Publishers, 2004, p.352.
  11. Momoh Campbell, “Nature, Issues and Substance of African Philosophy”. C. S. Momoh (Ed.). Substance of African Philosophy. Auchi: APP Publishers, p. 18.
  12. Mbiti John, African religions and philosophy. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1970, p. 141.
  13. Asouzu Innocent, “Ibuanyidanda: Communalism and theory formulation in African philosophy”. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya. Vol. 3. No. 2. December 2011, p. 9-34.
  14. Asouzu Innocent, Method and Principles, 2004, pp. 273-327.
  15. Asouzu Innocent, Ibuanyidanda: New complimentary ontology beyond world-immanentism, ethnocentric reduction and impositions, pp. 323-332.
  16. Kant Immanuel, The metaphysical foundation of morals: The enduring problems. New York: Holt, 1976, pp. 528-537
  17. Asouzu Innocent, Ibuaru: The heavy burden of philosophy: Beyond African philosophy. Zurich: Litverlag, 2007, pp. 210-221.

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