AFRICAN COMMUNALISM: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS

April 7, 2017

Author: Nwafor Ikechukwu Matthew
Department: Philosophy
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

It is a common factor among many an African writer to associate Africanness with communalism implying that what makes one a bonafide African is one’s communalistic life pattern. This view often purports that communalism is peculiar to the African people in exclusion of others. But the view of Aristotle that man is a social being with that of John Donne that “No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main,” points to the indubitable fact that man is naturally a communitarian being who seeks relationship and interaction with others both of his species and beyond. Man cannot but be in relationship because this constitutes his nature. If it is the case that all men are naturally endowed with the longing to be with, and relate with the other, the common ensuing question would be: why should only a particular collection of human beings be associated with what is the attribute of all? Why should communalism be so used in relation to Africans that it becomes definitive of them to the exclusion of all others? Would this position not be tantamount to concluding that only Africans are the real human beings since we had already seen that communalism is a notion that is of the essence of all human persons? The more acceptable fact that is crystal clear is that communalism is an experience that has versions hence the idea of Chinese communalism, Indian communalism, European communalism, our chief concerned African communalism and so on. What this fact indicates is that communalism cannot be of the essence of a special people with the exception of the others. A much better construal of communalism in relation to the Africans should be that which presents the experience as lived in a much fuller way by them. This cannot be taken to mean that communalism is essentially African in the same manner as to imply the extrication of other races from this albeit general human reality. African communalism is of degree (high degree) and not of essence. The high degree is because of the way communalism is deep-rooted in African culture following the African circumstances and environment that gave it a fertile ground. This research uses the method of philosophical analysis to investigate the true nature of the concept of African communalism. It maintains that though communalism is deep-rooted in the traditional African way of life, it is not an African “thing”. It is merely the African further step in improving on what is natural in all human persons. Because of this, it is not sufficient to define an African person whose personhood should be determined fundamentally by those natural factors like geographical location and hereditary. African communalism only complements them the same way nurture complements nature in the definition of a person. The work therefore advocates an integration of only the relevant aspects of this African traditional way of life to the modern African pattern of living.

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MONTESQUIEU’S THEORY OF SEPARATION OF POWERS: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS

April 7, 2017

Author: Anumiri Obinna Justin
Department: Philosophy
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

Experience has shown that absolute power corrupts and gives rise to various kinds of autocratic tendencies. Baron de Montesquieu, a French Philosopher posited the theory of Separation of powers as a panacea to power abuse and arbitrariness in government. This theory subscribes to the idea that the three governmental powers should be invested on three different arms of government, namely, executive, legislative and judicial arms of government. In his L’Esprit Des Lois (The Spirit of
Laws), Montesquieu concludes that liberty would be lost and tyranny would reign supreme if the three governmental powers are not separated and wielded by three different personnel. The philosophical method of analysis is used in this research work to examine the theory of separation of power. Using this method to examine the application of this theory of separation of power, it will become glaringly clear that Montesquieu’s objective for advocating for it has not been completely realized in the countries that have developed constitutions predicated on this theory. There is still struggle for dominance, power abuse and power tussle among the three power holders. This research work suggests ways such as involvement of the citizens, use of referendum, plebiscite, commitment to the rule of laws and common interest in which power abuse among the three power holders can be stopped. Religion is also posited as an effective tool for checkmating the abuse of power.

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THE CONCEPT OF SOVEREIGNTY IN JOHN AUSTIN: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS

April 7, 2017

Author: Chukwuanih Joel Joseph
Department: Philosophy
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

Sovereignty is the supreme, absolute, and power by which any independent state is governed. It is the attribute of the state, characterizing the possession by it of all the possible powers of independent statehood, including constitutional and legislative supremacy, which entitle its government to make and implement its own decisions in domestic affairs and in the conduct of international relations, without the prior consent or permission of an outside power. Sovereignty has assumed many different guises. It has frequently changed its content, its laws and even its functions during the modern period. Sovereignty is regarded as the self- sufficient source of political power from which all specific political powers are derived, the international independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign dictation. According to John Austin, a state is sovereign when it has a body within it which effectively commands the rest of the society and which is not effectively commanded by any outside force. The concept of sovereignty as one of the essential characteristics of nation-states have been problematic as scholars have divergent views on sovereignty based on its elements-absolutism, indivisibility, permanency, inalienable, universalibility and exclusivity. The proponents of the sovereignty argue that it helps to ensure equality and non-interference in state affairs by any external influence. The critics observed that absolutism and indivisibility always lead to tyranny and undermines international relations. Hence, the inevitable questions; should the concept of sovereignty be discarded? Where is the location of sovereignty? Can sovereignty be delegated? The above questions beg for answers. However, in this study, the method of historical and philosophical analysis is used in order to ensure thorough investigation. Therefore, some of the findings show that sovereignty as an essential element of state re-enforce and sustain equality of states as global actors through mutual cooperation in international community and legal independence, which empower them not be under any form of legal subordination within or outside their territories.

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FREEDOM IN JEAN PAUL SARTRE: THE CHALLENGE OF RESPONSIBILITY IN NIGERIA’S DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE

April 7, 2017

Author: Ofoegbu Ugochukwu Johnson
Department: Philosophy
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

The concept of freedom and responsibility is central to Sartre’s system as a whole. They are dominant themes in his political works. Although Sartre’s view of freedom changed substantially throughout his lifetime. Scholars disagree whether there is a fundamental continuity or a radical break between Sartre’s early view of freedom and his late view of freedom. There is a strong consensus, though, after World War II Sartre shifted to a material view of freedom, in contrast to the ontological view of his early period. According to the arguments of Being and Nothingness, human freedom consists in the ability of consciousness to transcend its material situation. Freedom and responsibility are worth considering in political thought because it is a doctrine of action which pushes man to rediscover himself. On responsibility Sartre says that we are completely responsible for the circle of meanings (the world) which surrounds us and that we must acknowledge this responsibility by choosing to live anguish it entails or by fleeing this dreadful condition through bad faith. These are the standard themes which established Sartre’s reputation among existentialists in the immediate postwar years. In this dissertation, our major thrust is to expose amongst other things Sartre’s freedom and responsibility, anguish, despair, the absurdity of human existence, oppression, existence precedes essence, engagement, historical development of freedom and responsibility, influence to foundation of Sartrean freedom and responsibility, freedom the challenge of responsibility in Nigeria’s governance then evaluation and conclusion. Using the methods of hermeneutics and analysis, we submit that man is free to some extent and that he is responsible for his actions in as much as he is not impaired in any form. Nations are built by role model men and women who understand the urstuff of their ontological freedom and the inherent responsibility there-in, and sustained by institutions that promote good governance hence the realization of socio-economic development. Governance is a product of human intellect or will and vision and the institutions that hold their common efforts. It follows then, we must rediscover these resources in us, in our freedom to act, and the responsibility that emanates from our actions if we are to evolve a functional and functioning governance in Nigerian polity. That absolute freedom on the ontological level is realizable and possible but ontically impossible. It is ontologically possible because, as soon as a person exists, the person is free. We also brought out the imperatives of freedom which makes responsibility inevitable in governance. We outlined a road map for those in governance in the application of freedom and responsibility. Since existence is freedom, man ontologically is absolutely free. However, paradoxes noticed in and around human person ontically make absolute freedom impossible.

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JEREMY BENTHAM’S CONCEPT OF PUNISHMENT: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS

April 6, 2017

Author: Agbanero Isidore
Department: Philosophy
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

Punishment is the imposition of pain on someone for crime or misconduct. Its administration has become highly controversial in the contemporary society. Some scholars of political philosophy argue against punishment saying that it is unpleasant, often painful and restricts the autonomy of individuals. However, scholars with divergent views maintain that the administration of punishment helps to control individuals’ actions, restore order and ensure peaceful human co-existence in the society. Jeremy Bentham is one of the scholars who believe that punishment has a positive impact on the society. He argues that the proper aim of punishment is to prevent greater harm, promote happiness and prevent pain. The role of law makers and government according to Bentham is the argumentation of individuals’ happiness through the punishment of wrongs and reward for benevolence. Nevertheless, in this contemporary time, punishment has not reduced the rate of crime among some countries that adopt Bentham’s principle of punishment owing to wrong application. Hence crime increases by the day. Using the method of analysis, this thesis examines the relevance of Bentham’s concept of punishment on crime control. It also evaluates how this could be used to create a peaceful human co-existence. This work concludes that it is still possible for the act of punishment to prevent greater harm and reduce crime that plagues human society. For punishment to achieve its purpose, this research work suggests that an elaborate and clear sentencing guideline should be provided for judges to reference when determining the guilt of the accused and suitable punishment for the crime committed. It is also believed that crime and corruption will reduce in the society if all criminal offences and corrupt practices are punished regardless of who committed it.

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