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Philosophy in a Developing Country

  • Udo Etuk (a1)


Philosophy as an academic programme is very young in higher institutions of learning in Nigeria. Third World developing countries usually have concerns other than the teaching of philosophy on their agenda when trying to disburse their meagre resources for the educational sector. They would want to clothe, feed, house and provide medical care for their teeming populations first, and then people who want to T philosophize can do so. So their priority in the area of education is not I for people who will split hairs over words and concepts and theorise about lofty ideals—the popular image of the philosopher—but for the training of agriculturalists, technicians, doctors, engineers and others who can contribute much more tangibly to the development process. For this reason, many people regard a department of philosophy in a university as a luxury item which developing countries can ill afford. For this reason too, the philosophy department, usually the latest arrival in its faculty, is added as an appendix and is the first to be eyed when a scraping becomes necessary in the face of reduced subvention to the institution.



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1 Mazrui, Ali A.,‘The African University as a Multinational Corporation: Problems of Penetration and Dependency’, Education and Colonialism, Philip G.Altback and Gail Kelly (eds) (New York: Longman, 1978), 331-354.

2 See Novack, George, An Introduction to the Logic of Marxism (New York: Pathfinder, 1978), esp. Ch. 2.

3 Ruch, Ernest A., ‘African Attitudes to Knowledge’, Mohlomi, Journal of Southern African Historical Studies 1, (1976), 20ff.; cf. L. S. Senghor who types Negroes as ‘Fluctuants’ for whom ‘the object is much more felt than thought; more imagined than defined; more assimilated than analysed … ‘, The Foundations of Africanite or ‘Nigritude’ and Arabite’ (Paris: Présence Africaine, 1967), 39.

4 See Hountondjil, Paulin J., African Philosophy: Myth and Reality, trans. Henri Evans (London: Hutchinson University Library for Africa1, 1983), 64–66; Bodunrin, P. O., ‘The Question of African Philosophy’, Philosophy 56 (1981), 161179.

5 Wiredu, Kwasi, Philosophy and an African Culture (Cambridge University Press, 1980), 33.

6 Paulin Hountondji, op. cit., 47.

7 Dewey, John, Reconstruction in Philosophy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957), 19.

8 Kwame Nkrumah, Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for f Decolonisation (London: Heinemann, 1964), 5.

9 Popper, Karl, ‘How I See Philosophy’, The Owl of Minerva, Charles, Bontempo and S., Jack Odell (eds) (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975), 47.

10 Hook, Sidney, Philosophy and Public Policy (Carbondale: Southern. Illinois University Press, 1980), 5.

11 See the manual The Role of Philosophy Programs in Higher Education (American Philosophical Association, 1980).

12 Ibid., 30, 32.

13 Kwasi Wiredu, op. cit., 15.

14 In one institution a recent proposal was made to have the Philosophy Department teach Ethics as a required course to all undergraduate students. The Department understandably baulked at undertaking such a task.

15 Sidney Hook, op. cit., 8.

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Philosophy in a Developing Country

  • Udo Etuk (a1)


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