Why do African universities teach Kant as a “moral philosopher?”

Immanuel Kant as a moral philosopher? Please tell me this is a joke. What moral precepts did he contribute to the molding of the African personality, consciousness and existence? Would you label someone who called you an ox, who said you should be driven apart with thrashings a moral philosopher?  Yet this is what Kant said of Black Africans.

Worst still, would you take someone seriously if he wrote voluminously about how married couples should relate to each other when in fact he himself never had the courage to marry? Kant may be a giant in European philosophy, fair enough why shouldn’t he be, but to teach one concept and live the other is unethical.

One enters the department of philosophy in a typical African university and they are teaching Kant, Hegel, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Descartes etc. The irony in all this epistemological blunders is that there are probably more sages in Africa than there are elsewhere. Why not primarily teach the aphorisms of African sages as African philosophy. Wouldn’t that be more plausible and logical and even meritorious to Africa?

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Intellectualism and Pseudo-Intellectualism

I looked up the definition of ‘intellectual’ after I was labelled by some co-bloggers as indulging in ‘false intellectualism.’ I didn’t know what that phrase meant, neither did I think anyone could successfully pretended to be intelligent or clever without ultimately making a fool out of himself. Intelligence is inborn – arising from the genes, so it’s either one knows something based one’s experience or one simply does not know. Moreover, I don’t blog to prove anything to anyone, truth is self evident. I just blog because I love to share my thoughts and ideas.

The dictionary came up with the following definitions:

Intellectual: Of or associated with or requiring the use of the mind. 

Intellectual: Possessing or showing intellect or mental capacity, especially to a high degree.

Intellectual: Appealing to or using the intellect or a person who uses the mind creatively.

Intellectualism (philosophy): The doctrine that knowledge is acquired by reason alone without resort to experience

Of the last definition which could easily pass for truth, I nonetheless disagree with that philosophical doctrine. I believe all knowledge is derived from sensory perception and therefore from experience. But it is the intellect that discloses the true meaning of an experience and sends the message to the individual. Without the experience or stimuli, there will be no message. Even with much experience, the message could be weak.

If someone writes a good essay or a poem or an article, is he not using his or her  mind creatively? Is that not an intellectual activity. So what at all do they mean by pseudo-intellectualism? Do we need to acquire PhDs in order to confer intellectualism on ourselves, because I know people who have acquired doctorates but apart from their dissertation, they have not written even a pamphlet. They simply sit in lousy offices and enforce unexplainable rules. Being an intellectual is not something that is inherited through degrees. One is born with it and it’s exhibited from childhood and probably only validated through high academic qualifications. Even then the biggest problems of this world were solved and are continuously being solved by people who did not even have any definitive education. That’s probably why the Academia is now, more than ever, admittable of people who can demonstrate practical knowledge of a field but without necessary certification. Misdirected education is a waste of time but it also doesn’t mean dropping out of college and putting the cart before the horse. That is regrettable.

Maybe my critics will label me differently once I complete my masters degree and inform them to that effect. But…wait a minute! maybe it’s not about my education. People who call me pseud-intellectual may actually be doing so because I am a black African living in the jungles of Africa – I am not supposed to discern much or speak with an intellectual or rational voice. Is that right? Well, here is the good thing: I am quite impervious to criticisms – in fact I welcome them.

Some Notes On Education, Literacy, Intelligence And Wisdom

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In ancient times, one goes to school or to put it properly, one enrolls in the lyceum in order to acquire a philosophy of life – in other words to prolong his life. Today people go to school in order to get fat salary and waste it on personal vanities. Dear reader I intend to keep this post short, keep in mind also, that, the definitions here are entirely mine, you will not find them in any dictionary:

  • Education means one has formally gone through an institution of training of some sought, for a specified period and at completion, he or she was handed a piece of paper which spelt out what he could do or could not do.
  • Literacy refers to the replacement of old ideas or thoughts with new efficient ones especially through reading or observation.
  • Intelligence simply means to profit or gain knowledge from experience.
  • Wisdom means to live in a way that ultimately brings happiness and deep fulfillment to oneself. Wisdom manifests in old age.

Now you will notice that all these are distinct attributes and it is possible to posses one of this attributes without having the other. In this our era there are more morons (for want of a better word) than there ever was in the history of the world. Many in the elementary schools are taught that moral values are relative, that it is better to lie than to admit one’s ignorance, that intelligence is how convincingly deceptive one is and wisdom is how beefed up one’s bank account is. And subsequently, the number of fleshly desires one can fulfill. They forget that, in a highly competitive world, an attempt to fulfill every desire could pose great danger to the individual. The whole world has derailed and gone mad. Failure of leadership coupled with failure of the entire educational system has brought nothing but misery to humanity. If we have to make the world a better place, if we have to teach our children the purpose of life, we would have to begin in the mind. It is good to nourish oneself with bread but that bread will pass out the next day. True wisdom is retained for ever and that is what one must seek. Ironically, it is free. The only thing it requires is time.