You must be really good at taking punches of the academic type. Ha, ha! I know your type is always afraid of bodily punches. Laugh it off.
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The Members of my Philosophy Club, without whose encouragement and assistance this book would not have been written. In every part of our continent, African revolutionaries are either preparing for armed struggle, orare actively engaged in military operations against the forces of reaction and counter-revolution.
The issues are clearer than they have ever been. The succession of military coups which have in recent years taken place in Africa, have exposed the close links between the interests of neo-colonialism and the indigenous bourgeoisie.
These coups have brought into sharp relief the nature of the class struggle in Africa. Foreign monopoly capitalists are in close association withlocal reactionaries, and have made use of officers among the armed forces and police in order to frustrate the purposes of the African Revolution.
It is in consideration of the new situation in Africa that some changes have become necessary in this edition. They occur principally in Chapter Three. More than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Marx and I are ourselves partly to blame for the fact that the younger people sometimes lay more stress on the economic side than is due to it. But when it was a case of presenting a section of history, that is, of a practical application, it was a different matter and there no error was possible.
Unfortunately, however, it happens only too often that people think- they have fully understood a new theory and can apply it without more ado from the moment they have mastered its main principles, and even those not always correctly.
Students from English-speaking territories went to Britain as a matter of course, just as those from French-speaking territories went to France as a matter of course. In this way, the yearning for formal education, which African students could only satisfy at great cost of effort, will, and sacrifice, was hemmed in within the confines of the colonial system.
Recoiling from this strait-jacketing, a number of us tried to study at centres outside the metropolis of our administering power. That is how America came to appeal to me as a Western country which stood refreshingly untainted by territorial colonialism in Africa. To America I therefore went; how and in what circumstances, I have already related in my autobiography, Ghana. Philosophy, in understanding human society, calls for an analysis of facts and events, and an attempt to see how they fit into human life, and so how they make up human experience.
In this way, philosophy, like history, can come to enrich, indeed to define, the experience of man. The ten years which I spent in the United States of America represents a crucial period in the development of my philosophical conscience. It was at the Universities of Lincoln and Pennsylvania that this conscience was first awakened. I was introduced to the great philosophical systems of the past to which the Western universities have given their blessing, arranging and classifying them with the delicate care lavished on museum pieces.
When once these systems were so handled, it was natural that they should be regarded as monuments of human in intellection. And monuments, because they mark achievements at their particular point in history, soon become conservative in the impression which they make on posterity. I was introduced to Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Marx and other immortals, to whom I should like to refer as the university philosophers.
But these titans were expounded in such a way that a student from a colony could easily find his breast agitated by conflicting attitudes. These attitudes can have effects which spread out over a whole society, should such a student finally pursue a political life. A colonial student does not by origin belong to the intellectual history in which the university philosophers are such impressive landmarks.
The colonial student can be so seduced by these attempts to give a philosophical account of the universe, that he surrenders his whole personality to them. When he does this, he loses sight of the fundamental social fact that he is a colonial subject. With single-minded devotion, the colonial student meanders through the intricacies of the philosophical systems. And yet these systems did aim at providing a philosophical account of the world in the circumstances and conditions of their time.
For even philosophical systems are facts of history. This is a result of the academic treatment which they are given. The academic treatment is the result of an attitude to philosophical systems as though there was nothing to them but statements standing in logical relation to one another.
This defective approach to scholarship was suffered by different categories of colonial student. Many of them had been hand-picked and, so to say, carried certificates of worthiness with them. These were considered fit to become enlightened servants of the colonial administration. The process by which this category o student became fit usually started at an early age, for not infrequently they had lost contact early in life with their traditional background.
By reason of their lack of contact with their own roots, they became prone to accept some theory of universalism, provided it was expressed in vague, mellifluous terms. Armed with their universalism, they carried away from their university courses an attitude entirely at variance with the concrete reality of their people and their struggle. When they came across doctrines of a combative nature, like those of Marxism, they reduced them to and abstractions, to common-room subtleties.
A few colonial students gained access to metropolitan universities almost as of right, on account of their social standing. Instead of considering culture as a gift and a pleasure, the intellectual who emerged therefrom now saw it as a personal distinction and privilege. He might have suffered mild persecution at the hands of the colonialists, but hardly ever really in the flesh.
From his wobbly pedestal, he indulged in the history and sociology of his country, and thereby managed to preserve some measure of positive involvement with the national processes.
It must however be obvious that the degree of national consciousness attained by him was not of such an order as to permit his full grasp of the laws of historical development or of the thorough-going nature of the struggle to be waged, if national independence was to be won. Finally, there were the vast numbers of ordinary Africans, who, animated by a lively national consciousness, sought knowledge as an instrumentOf national emancipation and integrity.
This is not to say that these Africans overlooked the purely cultural value of their studies. But in order that their cultural acquisition should be valuable, they needed to be capable of appreciating it as free men.
I was one of this number. It is not only the study of philosophy which can become perverted. The study of history too can become warped. The colonized African student, whose roots in his own society are systematically starved of sustenance, is introduced to Greek and Roman history, the cradle history of modern Europe, and he is encouraged to treat this portion of the story of man together with the subsequent history of Europe as the only worthwhile portion.
This history is anointed with a universalist flavouring which titillates the palate of certain African intellectuals so agreeably that they become alienated from their own immediate society.
For the third category of colonial student it was especially impossible to read the works of Marx and Engels as desiccated abstract philosophies having no bearing on our colonial situation.
During my stay in America the conviction was firmly created in me that a great deal in their thought could assist us in the fight against colonialism. I learnt to see philosophical systems in the context of the social milieu which produced them. I am not saying, however, that this is the only way to look at philosophy. It is of course possible to see the history of philosophy in diverse ways, each way of seeing it being in fact an illumination of the type of problem dealt with in this branch of human thought.
It is possible, for instance, to look upon philosophy as a series of abstract systems. When philosophy is so seen, even moral philosophers, with regrettable coyness, say that their preoccupation has nothing to do with life. The answer to the first question has a number of aspects. It lays down a minimum number of general ideas under which every item in the world can and must be brought.
It does this without naming the items themselves, without furnishing us with a inventory, a roll-call of the items, the objects in the world. It specifies, not particular objects, but the basic types of object. The answer further implies a certain reductionism; for in naming only few basic types as exhausting all objects in the world, it brings every object directly under one of the basic types.
Let me illustrate my meaning with the following example Thales, the earliest known Western philosopher, held that eve thing was water. By this, he did not of course mean that everything was drinkable. That everything was directly water or constructible from water alone as raw material is in fact the heart of his epigram Thales recognized just one basic type of substance.
For another illustration let me use Berkeley, the man according to whose understanding the world consisted of spirits and their ideas. For Berkeley, every item in the world was either itself a spirit or some idea possessed by some spirit.
It must be said in mitigation that neither Berkeley nor Thales robbed the world of a single item or object. The world was still full of athletes and grapes, bishops and apples. But, in both cases, minimal basic types were selected, and everything in the world was said to come under them either directly or by an analysis which reduced them to the basic types.
That is, for Thales, everything was water or could be reduced to water; for Berkeley, everything was a spirit or idea or was reducible to spirit and ideas. In this first answer, philosophers in fact tackle the question of the origin of things. Thales traces this origin to water, Berkeley to spirits and their ideas. In effect, however, they both seek the origins of the varieties of object of the world in something which itself forms part of the world.
There thus arises a supervening need to discourse about the possible -origins of the cosmic raw material. It is thus that the requirement to explain the cosmic raw material comes to raise the second question of philosophy. There are two aspects to its answer. In its first aspect, the explanation offers an account of the origin of the cosmic raw material.
If, as according to Thales, water was all that God needed when, on the eve of creation, he girded up his loins, then first of all, the answer to the second question offers an account of the origin of the cosmic raw material, in the present case, water. In its second aspect, it is an account of the extent of the cosmic raw material. In the urgency of the second question of philosophy can be detected a certain anxiety about the Principle of Sufficient Reason.
According to this principle, everything has an explanation why it is as it is, and not otherwise. Has the cosmic raw material a cause or explanation, or has it not? To deem it not to have one is to enter a plea of exception against the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Now the pressure to withhold a cause from the cosmic raw material — that which is the matrix of the universe, and from which springs everything else which there is or can be — takes its beginning from the fact that whatever cause is proposed for it must be vexed by persistent problems.
Therefore, it must either be part of the basic raw material or be a product of it. If it is part of it, then the basic raw material is being said to be a cause of itself. If the cause is a product of the basic raw material, then an effect is being said paradoxically to cause its own cause!
A circle of a very vicious kind is thus described. Nor indeed is the vicious circle the only tribulation which awaits an affirmative answer. If a cause is suggested for the cosmic raw material, this neurotic insistence on a cause will open up an infinite regress about the cause of the cause of the cosmic material, and so on.
It applies only to transformations of the cosmic raw material, only to its products. To apply the law to the cosmic raw material is to fall into the maw of contradiction; even to say that it is its own cause, is to make a merely formal salutation to the principle, for there can be no scientific or significant difference between a thing being self-caused and its being uncaused.
In this aspect, the question relates to the possible origin of the cosmic raw material; it relates, if you like, to its possible excuse from the Principle of Sufficient Reason.
KWAME NKRUMAH’S CONSCIENCISM: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS
His father did not live with the family, but worked in Half Assini where he pursued his goldsmith business until his death. Kwame Nkrumah was raised by his mother and his extended family, who lived together in traditional fashion, with more distant relatives often visiting. He lived a carefree childhood, spent in the village, in the bush, and on the nearby sea. During his years as a student in the United States, though, he was known as Francis Nwia Kofi Nkrumah, Kofi being the name given to males born on Friday.
Shelves: african , non-fiction , philosophy , politics Consciencism is the philosophy and ideology developed by Kwame Nkrumah for decolonisation. Nkrumah contends that philosophy in its social aspects is an instrument of ideology and an ideology a key to the inward identity of a people, in other words a tool to unite and bring order to society. On philosophy, he asserts that, "the environment affects the content of philosophy and the contend of philosophy seeks to affect the environment. He argues that, African societies have been shaped largely by African tradition and partly by either Western or Islamic or both Western and Islamic influences.