PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS ISSN 2043-0728
Issue number 183 28th February 2014
Edited by Erwin Laya, MAT
I. 'What Is the Place of Death in the Human Predicament?' by Max Malikow
II. 'The Social and Educative Role of Logic' by Yongho N. Nichodemus
III. 'The Bangsamoro Struggle and How Peace is to be Achieved: A Reflection' by Stephanie A. Sabarita
The universal experience of human persons throughout the ages is that knowledge of reality seems to be limitless and unending. In a word, the more the person learns, the more there is to learn.
In this current issue of Philosophy Pathways, three Pathways contributors will be sharing their reflections and views about the continuous theme on death, education, and sustainable peace.
Death is a philosophic theme of a very special kind; this being so, to philosophize or to meditate on the whole of existence, is basically nothing more than to ponder death. This prompted Arthur Schopenhauer to say that death is the inspired genius of philosophy without which there would scarcely be any philosophy. It is for this reason that there have been so many conceptions and theories of death formulated by various thinkers throughout the ages. This is the object of reflection that Max Malikow will be sharing in this issue.
Critical thinking is what education is all about. In the academic institutions, students are challenged to question, examine, and evaluate ideas and information. There is a higher expectation than only absorbing information and acquiring knowledge. Students are expected to carefully and personally understand what they see, hear, and read. In short, the main goal of education is not only to teach students what to thinkbut how to think, that is, how to effectively deal with problems, analyze issues and make decisions. In line with this, a scholar from the University of Yaounde 1, Dr. Yongho Nichodemus, gives his brief analysis about the role of Logic in our social and educational system.
Stephanie Sabarita, a student from Brokenshire College of Davao, Philippines, focuses her reflection on identifying the root cause of Mindanao conflict. She reflects that most of the conflicts in Mindanao have been associated with the pursuit of their own expression of ideals. It is the struggle of the Lumads or tribal peoples for the recognition of their ancestral domains; the Muslim Filipinos' assertion of their right to self-determination or self-rule against colonial domination since Spanish rule; and the Christian settlers also claim their right for land ownership. At the end of her reflection, she emphasizes that peace is possible if the basic rights of the tri-peoples are respected.
Erwin B. Laya, MAT
About the Editor: https:---
I. 'WHAT IS THE PLACE OF DEATH IN THE HUMAN PREDICAMENT?' BY MAX MALIKOW
Life is not lost by dying! Life is lost Minute by minute,
day by dragging day, In all the thousand, small, uncaring
-- Stephen Vincent Benet
I'm not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when
it happens to me.
-- Woody Allen
Death is 'the permanent cessation of all bodily processes' (American Heritage Dictionary, 1973, 339). It does not exist on a continuum. Just as it is impossible to be 'a little bit pregnant,' it is impossible to be 'a little bit dead.' 'Temporarily dead' is as oxymoronic as 'mostly dead.' (This negates Miracle Max's diagnosis of Wesley in 'The Princess Bride.') In this essay death as a part of the human predicament is considered in terms of two questions: (1) Why is death often considered an unfortunate part of the human condition? (2) How might the inevitability of death be favorably viewed?
Death as an Unfortunate Inevitability
In his treatise on death, Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death, psychiatrist and philosopher Irvin Yalom posits:
Self-awareness is a supreme gift, a treasure as precious as
life. This is what makes us human. But it comes with a
costly price: the wound of mortality. Our existence is
forever shadowed by the knowledge that we will grow,
blossom, and inevitability, diminish and die (2008, 1).
The philosopher Thomas Nagel wonders why the thought of death generates anxiety for so many people:
...if death is the unequivocal and permanent end of our
existence, the question arises whether it is a bad thing to
die... most of us would not regard the temporary suspension
of life, even for substantial intervals, as in itself a
misfortune. If it ever happens that people could be frozen
without reduction of conscious lifespan, it will be
inappropriate to pity those who are temporarily out of
circulation... none of us existed before we were born (or
conceived), but few regard that as a misfortune
(1997, 25, 27).
Like Nagel, Sigmund Freud questioned why death should be a disturbing reality. In his essay, On Transience, he that admitted the sadness experienced at the death of a loved one or contemplation of our own end is an enigma:
Mourning over the loss of something we have loved or
admired seems so natural to the layman that he regards it
as self-evident. But to psychologists, mourning is a great
riddle, one of those phenomena which cannot themselves be
explained but to which other obscurities can be traced
back. We possess, as it seems, a certain amount of capacity
for love -- what we call libido -- which in the earlier stages
of development is directed toward our own ego... But why it
is that this detachment of libido from its objects should
be a painful process is a mystery to us and we have not
hitherto been able to frame any hypothesis to account for
it (2008, 12).
Perhaps it is the uncertainty of that which follows life that makes death foreboding. Few have expressed this fearful apprehension as eloquently as Shakespeare's Prince Hamlet:
But that the dread of something after death, The
undiscovered Country, from whose bourn No traveller
returns, Puzzles the will And makes us bear those ills we
have, Than fly to others that we know not of (Act III,
In contrast to Hamlet, Epicurus expressed certainty that there is no existence after life and therefore nothing to fear: 'Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist' (2013). The Stoic philosopher Epictetus placed death in the category of things that do not emanate from our own actions; even a person who commits suicide would have died eventually. Since death is outside of our control it should not be a source of rumination. He further believed that death itself is not terrifying; the terror comes from how we choose to think about it:
Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and
notions which they form concerning things. Death, for
instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so
to Socrates. But the terror consists of our notions of
death that is terrible (135 A.C.E., 5).
Philosopher and theologian David Elton Trueblood pointed that death is tragic only when it concludes a life that has not been lived well. 'It is surely not so bad to die, providing one has really lived before he dies. Life need not be long to be good, for indeed it cannot be long. The tragedy is not that all die, but that so many fail to really live (1951, 164).
Death as a Favorable Inevitability
In his commencement address at Stanford University, entrepreneur and inventor Steve Jobs, designated death as 'very likely the single best invention of life' (2005). He spoke favorably of death with this assessment:
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the single most
important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the
big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all
external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment
or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of
death, leaving only what is truly important... No one
wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't
want to die to get there... Your time is limited, so
don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped
by dogma -- which is living with the results of someone
else's thinking... have the courage to follow your own
heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you
truly want to become. Everything else is secondary (2005).
Viktor Frankl also viewed death as potentially advantageous. He encouraged redeeming and optimizing life's three unavoidable tragedies -- pain, guilt, and death:
The third aspect of the tragic triad concerns death. But it
concerns life as well, for at any time each of the moments
of which life consists is dying, and that moment will never
recur. And yet is not this transitoriness a reminder that
challenges us to make the best possible use of each moment
of our lives? It certainly is, and hence my imperative:
Live as if you were living for the second time and acted as
wrongly the first time as you are about to act now (1959,
Yalom believes the awareness of death is one of four life issues that contribute to efficiency and effectiveness in psychotherapy. (The other three are free will and responsibility, the meaning of life, and self-disclosure.) He insists that death should be confronted like any other fear. Beyond that, it should be scrutinized and in so doing it 'may serve as an awakening experience, a profoundly useful catalyst for major life changes (2008, 30).
For those who view life unfavorably, death provides welcome relief. In Cormac McCarthy's emotionally provocative play, The Sunset Limited, a nihilistic college professor, in a debate with a devout ex-convict, expresses his fervent desire to commit suicide:
Show me a religion that prepares one for death. For
nothingness. There's a church I might enter. Yours prepares
one only for more life. If you could banish the fear of
death from men's hearts they wouldn't live a day (2011).
With less intensity, but no less conviction, Shakespeare's Macbeth characterizes life as tedious and devoid of meaning:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player.
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. (Act V, scene 5)
For some, like David Benatar, death is a desirable state although inferior to never existing at all. The introduction of his book, Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence, includes this assertion:
Each one of us was harmed by being brought into existence.
That harm is not negligible, because the quality of even
the best of lives is very bad -- and considerably worse
than most people recognize it to be. Although it is
obviously too late to prevent our own existence, it is not
too late to prevent the existence of future possible
people. Creating new people is thus morally problematic
Antinatalism, the philosophical position that places a negative value on birth, did not originate with Benatar. Twenty-five centuries earlier Sophocles opined, 'Never to have been born is best. But if we see the light, the next best is quickly returning whence we came' (1996). The nineteenth century German poet, Heinrich Heine, expressed an antinatalistic thought in 'Death and His Brother Sleep (Morphine):'
Sleep is good, death is better, but of course, The best
would be never to have been at all (2013).
Even noteworthy biblical figures expressed a preference for never having been. The 'weeping prophet' Jeremiah lamented, 'Cursed be the day on which I was born: let not the day on which my mother bore me be blessed' (Jeremiah 20:14). Another man of exemplary faith, Job, deplored his entrance into the world: 'May the day of my birth perish and the night it was said, 'A boy is born!' That day, may it turn to darkness; may God not care about it; may no light shine upon it' (Job 3:3-4).
There are six possible responses to the question: What is the afterlife state of human beings? One is agnosticism, that is, to be without knowledge of 'the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns' (Hamlet, Act III, scene 1). The second is annihilation -- to be reduced to nonexistence. Socrates spoke of this as one of two afterlife possibilities in the Apology when he said, 'either the dead man wholly ceases to be and loses all consciousness, or, as we are told, it is a change and a migration of the soul to another place' (2012, 23). The story of the rich and the beggar, Lazarus, told by Jesus, provides the third afterlife possibility. At death, the rich man, who lived a life of self-absorbed indulgence, finds himself in hell; Lazarus is nestled in a place of comfort (Luke 16:19-31). This story conveys there is post-life judgment followed by reward or punishment.
A fourth possibility is universalism -- the belief that there is a heaven from which no one is excluded. This view maintains a benevolent God would not allow for a condition of eternal torment. Transmigration of the soul, often referred to as reincarnation, is the fifth belief and commonly associated with Hinduism and Buddhism.
The sixth afterlife belief is there is no afterlife because there is no death. The First Church of Christ Science (a.k.a. Christian Science) teaches that death is an illusion -- a misperception of reality. This abstruse doctrine requires an explanation. The Church's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, formalized the following ontological statement shortly after the Church's inception:
Spirit is immortal truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is
the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal.
Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness.
Therefore, man is not material; he is spiritual (1994, 21).
Macbeth characterized life as a 'walking shadow' (Shakespeare, Act V, scene 5). Eddy pronounced it a dream. She taught that just the experiences in a dream are not real, neither are the experiences of what seems to be material life. 'Life in matter is a dream: sin, sickness, and death are this dream' (Eddy, 2009, 9). She believed a person who seems to die actually attains to another level of consciousness, a level that is inaccessible to those who have not so attained. Heaven is not a place; rather it is the blissful realization of oneness with God. Hell is not a location, but the anguished state of mind that believes sin, sickness, and death are real.
The German philosopher Martin Heidegger taught that death gives meaning to life. He believed without an awareness of death time would be nothing more than the movement of hands on a clock and turning over of a calendar's pages. Like Frankl and Jobs, Heidegger believed living under an unknowable, inescapable deadline elevates time from worthless to valuable. Consciousness of death does more than enhance the value of time. It is a sine qua non for time is to have any meaning or value at all.
Except for agnosticism, whatever a person believes about the afterlife is embraced by faith. Reportedly, Steve Jobs last words were, 'Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow' (Washington Post, 10/31/2011). There isn't a single living human being who can state with certainty what Steve Jobs saw in his last moment of life. Until each of us arrives at that moment we would do well to live well. 'The greatest dignity to be found in death is the dignity of the life that preceded it. This is a form of hope we can all achieve, and it is the most abiding of all. Hope resides in what our lives have been' (Nuland, 1993, 242).
American Heritage Dictionary. (1973). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Benatar, D. (2006). Better never to have been: The harm of coming into existence. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Eddy, M. (1994). Science and health with key to the scriptures. Boston: Christian Science Board of Directors.
_______. (2009). Christian health. Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society.
Epictetus. (2013). Recovered from brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/e/epictetus on 05/15/2013.
Epicurus. (2013). Recovered from brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/e/epicurus on 05/15/2013.
Frankl, V. (1959). Man's search for meaning. New York: Washington Square Press.
Freud, S. (2008). On transience. Translated by J. Strachey. New York: Riverhead Books.
Heine, H. 'Death and his brother sleep.' lines 15-16. Morphine. Recovered from PoemHunter.com on 05/15/2013.
Jobs, S. (2005). Stanford News. 06/12/2005.
______. The Washington Post. 10/31/2011.
McCarthy, C. (2011). The sunset limited. HBO Movies.
Nagel, T. (1997). 'Death.' The grim reader. Spiegel, M and Tristman, R., editors. New York: Anchor Books.
Nuland, S. (1993). How we die: Reflections on death's final chapter. New York: Random House.
Shakespeare, W. (2013). The complete works of William Shakespeare, seventh edition. Bevington, D., Editor. London, UK: Longman Publishing.
Socrates. Fifty readings in philosophy, fourth edition. Abel, D., editor. New York: McGraw -- Hill.
Sophocles. Oedipus at colonus. Lines 1224-31. Greene, D., editor and translator. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Trueblood, D. (1951). The life we prize. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers.
Yalom, I. Staring at the sun: Overcoming the terror of death. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Wiley Publishing.
(c) Max Malikow 2014
II. 'THE SOCIAL AND EDUCATIVE ROLE OF LOGIC' BY YONGHO N. NICHODEMUS
This article is a brief analysis of the place of Logic in our social and educational system. It examines function of Logic as tool in the molding of the mind to reason clearly, critically, correctly, and comprehensively. Thus it could help to cure the deficiency diseases of the mind such as the intellectual inability to question and analyze critically some established truths; a prerequisite to proper development. The paper also looks at the importance of argumentation in the light of the current ontological state of our political situation, especially the use of false reasoning to establish certain serious truths and falsehoods. The question of the role of logic in the educational process is also discussed. We need critical minds that can gather facts, analyze them, draw conclusion from them and then test the latter. Our present political, economic and cultural states need questioning minds which can effectively be developed by logic.
Logic has varied appeals to different people. To most people the study of logic is drudgery, especially those who are allergic to order and symbols or rules. It is simply hated by some persons because they do not want to be logical, since this entails cultivating the mind discipline of order, coherence and consistency, being critical and above all intellectual freedom. A study of logic restraints mental lethargy, a state which appeals to most persons, and is the cause of many unpleasant social consequences.
The right thing is difficult to find and to do. To develop the spirit or love for the truth and the hatred of error are equally hard to attain. But if it is the thing that is needed, it should be encouraged. Logic is one of the vital subjects in the education of the person's mental life, especially when we consider the fact that man is essentially a rational person. Moreso, if a man must maintain that status, and not allow himself to degenerate, logic is an indispensable discipline. However, to these persons who treasure erroneous reasoning and use, logic is bitter enemy.
Whatever the attitude to it, logic is a very important subject in the development of a valuable school curriculum. To emphasis the value of the subject, Prof. A. A. Luce says: 'Logic is a court of appeal in the background; No man can willingly and persistently defy a clear verdict by logic. Whoever sets out to break logic, as has been said, logic will break him. Logic is in the air we breathe!'
No one can ignore logic without having the consequences of such an act. Francis Bacon (1561-1629) a pioneer writer in logic, in his work Novum Organum compared logic to athletics: 'a kind of athletic art to strengthen the sinews of the understanding.' Athletics strengthens the muscles of the body; logic, on the other hand develops the understanding of man; it heightens the rate of the functioning of the mental powers or the intellect. Furthermore, to express the importance of Logic, John Locke (1632-1714) an English philosopher sees its naturalness when he states: 'God has not been so sparing to man to make them barely two legged creatures, and left it to Aristotle to make them rational. It is a native faculty to perceive the coherence or incoherence of ideas.'
But, like all natural gifts to man, if they are not developed, they are useless to him. The lack of logic show itself in the deficiency diseases of the mind -- vagueness, woolliness, of expression, and feeble grip of the matter in the mind and the havoc these may cause in the social functions of our society.
Logic as an Educative Tool
But, after all, what is this subject, logic? As a tool, its immediate effect is found in this descriptive definition: it is that discipline that develops in one the ability to reason clearly, critically, correctly, and comprehensively. The deficiency diseases of the mind indicate that the mind lacks these intellectual abilities which are inculcated by logic.
Personal and social activities may come to a halt as a consequence of a deliberate or inadvertent creation of ambiguity and erroneous reasoning or expressing of things. Everyday discussions, political campaigns, articles, essays, debates, and so on contain colorful language that conceals traps of ambiguity, erroneous reasoning and dangerous seeds of conflict or misunderstanding. Unfortunately, most theories, principles, and laws, contain elements of value -- judgment which can be deciphered only by the clear statement or terms used. Many conferences have been held; much human effort, both in man -- hours and money, have been wasted simply because men have not thought it important 'to define their terms.'
Sometimes, some scholars and authorities create this situation so as to exploit it later. A people who violate the calling of logic will certainly fall prey to this nasty and hazardous trick. For example, where an authority clouds the meaning of expressions or items, he perpetuates, at that level, falsehood.
The law of truth entails simplicity, that is 'it expresses the relation that should exist between the state of mind and the outward expression of it. In our dealings with others, it means the exclusion of all duplicity, affection, airs of superiority and the like; it means sincerity, humility and truth.' Ambiguity, especially if it is deliberate, is synonymous to falsehood -- that is expression or meaning that does not 'correspond to what that thing is in itself.'. The late Prof. Bernard Fonlon's words: 'there should be conformity between expression and thought, thought and thing.' The classification, the simplification of thought is important ingredients to the law of truth.
We are accustomed to pointless discussions in our society. We are frequently exposed to gibbering in drinking places, on paper, on radio, and on television and even conferences. Logic is not interested in such disputation, but with the argumentation that seeks the truth. It is interested in argumentation, not 'in argument for the sake of arguing -- being argumentative.' Logic predisposes us to distinguish between disputation that is aimed at diverting the mind from the truth such as false propaganda, demagogy and baseless political gimmickry.
Proper dedication to the doctrines or principles of argumentation should be the target of good arguers. Thus logic is an important instrument in the education of the minds, especially of our young minds.
Educative Role of Argumentation
It is particularly relevant today to understand the role of argumentation in our society. We are exposed to so much data, and snap, hasty, non sequitur conclusions, that the citizens should be on the watch out not to be deceived into actions. It is a serious matter in the life of an exploited people to have these types of arguments from its leaders which play an educative and social role. Some samples of the arguments are:
'Government has built schools, hospitals, roads, and given scholarships, therefore, it is a good government.' To accept such an argument is to act illogically or uncritically. Schools could be built for example, without teachers, and equipment, hospitals could exist without trained doctors, nurses, equipment and drugs, roads could be built without maintenance, and scholarships could be given without being disbursed.
'Pay your taxes because in the U.S.A. no one is accepted for the presidency if he has not paid his taxes.' Improper use of analogy.
'If the constitution has empowered me to exercise my constitutional rights as the people's president, then they have no right to question my actions.'
'The Francophone brought development to the Anglophones so they should be no complain about the Francophone's activities.'
'Parliamentarians represent the people in parliament, so all the people are represented.' The error in this argument is called the fallacy of division. The twenty parliamentarians of the North West Province, for example, hardly represent the people of the Province.
We should indeed watch for the errors among us because as mentioned above, they may be 'systematized into a form of knowledge.' They may soon constitute a body of knowledge for a people, a state and even a nation. The world is a witness to the atrocities of the Nazi regime in Germany on the Jews; all caused by the errors of Nietzschean philosophy and its application on the Jews. This philosophy saw the Jews as a parasitic race; hence, they should be exterminated. The French expansionist and assimilationist policies in Cameroon see the Anglophone as that which has to be occupied and ingested. The Francophone is an elitist and civilizing culture, the English culture among the Anglophone is an obstacle to the expansion of Francophone. -- Yet, it is a good alternative in their views. Anglophones should virtually analyze this position, especially in the light of recent Francophone recalcitrancy to fully grant an English Educational System for all English Speaking Cameroonians. If they do not want to hand over control to technical education to the G.C.E. Board, logically the long run consequences are there.
Today science and technology are important elements in the educational processes of a people therefore, an educational system that lacks this base is certainly inefficient and can hardly adequately contribute to meaningful development. We all know that education, moreso, technical education is an important component of development in all its dimensions. Therefore, the neglect of the warnings of logic is a costly thing to do.
In Cameroon, mental lethargy is almost a collective social attitude. We notice slavish attachment to the systematization of certain fallacies in logic. Principal among these are the following:
Argumentum ad baculum (appeal to force, the voice, position and even the arm). Some bosses don't find it easy to convince their colleagues by the mere force of a good argument without the appeal to the powers of his boss ship, his rank, his qualification, etc. One simple reason for this is the fact that these elements have apparently replaced the need to read and dispute with the appeal to logic and accept the verdicts of such disputations or the truths therein. For example: 'You have to mark the G.C.E. because I have given the order as your boss.' An obvious consequence of this type of logic is what we know as 'justice in the interest of the stronger or might is right.' Another important dimension to this 'logic of force' is that of money replacing the convincing of people to one's course. 'Money', Judas Iscariot remarked 'can move the world.' Those who do not have any sound arguments or even facts to offer may sometimes employ the 'logic of money' as a shortcut to the real logic where the disputants present convincing arguments to each other. The danger is that since money is in the heads of those who acquired it, fraudulently, evil may be perpetuated and mediocrity implanted. If it is true fact the very rich sometimes is not those that can sustain genuine development, one has the right to be worried. This is because they will frequently not like anyone who might question the origin of their wealth. The Western world did find it intolerable and they still do not find it tolerable to have anyone challenge the origin of their wealth, especially as they came from Africa.
Another fallacy is the argumentum ad populum (appeal to the force of the numbers of people). This is expressed in the so-called one-party democracy where a selected few are suppressed by a so-called majority who might have been manipulated. We also have it in the relationship of the majority and minority in the country's population. In this case, the majority, by virtue of their number, does not find any reason to accept any ideas from the minority. The Francophone in this country tends to have this type of logic in his attitude especially when it comes to the interest of the Anglophone. Change has not always originated from everybody, but from someone who very often is not accepted by the majority. The May 26th 1990 political phenomenon is a case in point. The majority of the Cameroonians did not fully accept it. It was seen as the idea of a small book seller, unknown to the majority of the people, who were already drenched in the Order of the day. It needs just one man and the entire globe is saved or destroyed. And there are many examples of this type of people in science, politics, religion, philosophy and so on.
Logic calls on us not to kill or refuse an idea simply because we are in the majority. The society is built on what Prof. J. S. Mbiti has expressed as: 'I am because we are, we are because I am.' There is a symbiotic relationship between the part and the whole. Everyone is important in the development of the society. Therefore, let us accept individual ideas.
In another dimension, this error is also expressed in the enslavement of cultural norms, customs and tradition and the law-in all its variety. Within the force of these factors, the individual is forced to accept even as unconvincing argument. Sometimes, he is not given the opportunity to put forward his own arguments. And if he has to do that, he is again forced to do so within a fixed framework. The presentation of cases before the procedures is not generally understood by the litigants. It is also true that most often the verdict of these procedures is not meaningful to them. The most regrettable aspect of the problem is the fact that these procedures are not common among the local people, they originated from a foreign milieu. The will and penal systems we have with us in Cameroon have some of these aspects. Some of our traditions, customs and culture are not understood by the young generations, yet in the name of ethnic group's tradition and culture they are bound to live with them. In the voice of Thomas Paine, we may ask, what right has the past generation to govern for us of the present? The voice of logic calls on us to examine these questions properly and not just accept them because they are made by our forefathers, our ancestors, our statesmen, experts and so on.
Within the same group, we have the problem of ethnocentrism or tribalism. Tribal feelings usually overwhelm the individual, thus he is unable to extricate himself from their grip. We know the type of force exerted by this 'populace logic' Its arguments have always convinced those who refuse to listen to the voice of genuine logic. Not every argument by the ethnic love is sound. Recent achievements in science, technology and communication -- good roads, telephones, fax, telex, radio, TV and so on have helped to reduce every part of the world that was far apart -- to the reach of everyone. Even those people who did not seem to share one's ethnic views have developed interests and liking for one's ethnic group.
Events around the globe, the sharing of ideas through cultural exchange programs, mixture of social classes in school settings, and other public forums exist up the extreme attachment to ethnic groups. The economic activities of people are other forms of arguments that are helping to show the unsoundness of the erroneous views of ethnocentric logic. These types of systematized fallacies do not constitute all the kinds, but they might be the major ones. They are not easy to refute except one can grasp their nature and through analysis, their weaknesses can be shown. Error is very palatable. The study of logic is a good way of acquiring the abilities we have mentioned. The extreme attachment to 'authority' is another fallacy which still comes under the appeal to force. This time it is the argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to the force of authority). An unthinking attitude and the general intellectual lethargy predispose most of the Francophones and some Anglophones to adore this 'force of authority.' It is rather unfortunate that this error has been systematized too. It has become a body of knowledge called bureaucracy. It has become a mechanical process indulged in by most persons within our society. In fact, this routine manner of doing things through strict time tables, strict procedures, strict organization of offices, and so on, has helped to take away from most Cameroonians and francophones in particular, the ability to generate independent ideas, initiatives and views.
However, if they do, the tendency has been to find support for them in an appeal to an authority whether this is a circular, instruction, decree or law. Usually, where these are not found, no one seems to want to accept the views. Some seem to slavishly cling to these sources until they know these have gone out of force. At times, they simply cling to them since without these authorities there is a vacuum. There certainly would be a vacuum to such persons who have not developed independence of mind, which is usually the benefit of training in logic.
This has all along been perpetuated by another system -- the educational system. Students in our educational system are hardly encouraged to develop independency of mind. We notice that the system encourages reproduction of facts through the methods of teaching and the methods of evaluation. The system does not seem to educate the students on how to look for facts by themselves through the type of evaluation process. And we find the same thing from primary school level up to the university where a graduate is not encouraged to do independent research, either to make his own notes or produce an article, an essay or a project. Strange enough, one who observes that sometimes before one goes out to do research, one has to get an authorization from an authority? It is very clear that if the research is going to bring out an unpleasant truth, the researcher does not get that authorization; it may also happen that the researcher is even arrested and all his research papers are confiscated. All these are built-in checks to enforce the logical error of appeal to authority.
Proper logic develops in the individual the spirit of the pursuit of knowledge and truth. Logic enjoins everyone to eschew enslaved appeal even to dogma and religious doctrines. The education of children in the field of logic, like in philosophy, serves in the 'construction of a system of truth' and the development of the ability in them of 'tearing down systems of error.' A good human being must be able to recognize the error before he can be able to fight it; no doctor can treat a disease if he has not yet diagnosed its cause. Without necessarily working with given principles, one can develop the principles to work with. It is when one is capable of developing the principles he needs (inductive logic) to work with that he develops the independence of mind. For example, an inductive study of 'the regimes' pronouncements on some burning social and political issues would spare many Cameroonians the hardship they are going through now. The present regime is characterized by erratic contradictory and hasty statements. Its governance shows how on ambiguity and uncertainty. To avoid being fooled, develop the ability not to be fooled, that is, take logic as your tool.
The Value of Logic in our Education
When people assume, like John Locke did, that logic is gift of God to man, the implication is that there is no need to study logic again. Yet we know there is no natural gift is good for use if it is not refined, or developed. And it is in the educational process that the natural gifts are developed. The study of logic is a deliberate way of developing one's natural logic. If man must maintain his status as a rational animal, then logic must sit at the helm of affairs, it must preside over the vegetative and the appetitive parts of the human soul. Logic must be man's academic bed-mate. As the academic presiding judge, it would constantly remind the one promised the post of Principal of GBHS, if one accepts to organize the marking of the G.C.E. on the promise of a post when the Board has not been granted, an appeal to logic could reveal to that person that he should analyze the meaning of the term 'promise.' It is logical to investigate the consequences of the marking of the 'G.C.E.' without the Board having been granted. It is equally logical that a reasonable action can only take place after concluding that analysis. This mental function would prevent thoughtless action. It enables one to take cautious steps in life's journey. Logic, therefore, orders one's life, moulds and builds one's personality, regulates one's conduct and shows one what one should do and what one should not do. As a court of appeal in our disputation, logic sits at the helm and keeps one on the correct course as one is tossed about in the difficult sea of argumentation.
Every hour of the day, countless situations arise that call for advice, and for that advice, we have to look to logic. This is because it furnishes proof for our judgments, enabling us to ascertain whether there are true or false valid or invalid. Prof. A. A. Luce expresses it thus: 'it can be an instrument for ascertaining new truth; it helps a man to seek and find truth' Most of us are victims of falsehood since we cannot determine whether what we have been given is true or not. Some victims have even lost their lives, property and reputation, as a result of the inadvertent attitude to the question of truth. A simple test for the truth is the consistency of one's statements. Quoting Wigmore, in their book Advocacy, Consul et al notes, 'Cross-examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of the truth.' The exposure of falsehood which may be said to be the main function of cross-examination is to be affected by proving firmly facts which are entirely contrary to the facts alleged. As Consul and Chandra point out: 'the more inconsistent facts are provided, the worse the plight of the opponent's case.' Contradiction or consistency may be between facts and facts or between statements and statement, or between actions and actions. These are the inherent nature of statements.
Our politicians are greatly aware of this fact, and that is the reason why we say most Cameroonians politicians are liars, especially, the group of politicians who are in favor of the ruling regime of 1982 to date. Logic trains the mind to detect these contradictions and falsehood through enabling the person to gather data, analyze, draw conclusions and test them. It also enables the person to ask questions that would expose the falsehood. For example: why does the government not talk about bad roads and their maintenance except when we have presidential elections? Is the government sincere when it says there is money for the ring-road project, for example, when it says there is financial crisis in the country?
Intellectual alertness is a great asset to any person who has to succeed in his endeavors. Useful as it is, this ability is difficult to develop, it disciplines cloven thought, promotes precise statements, curbs hasty inferences, and clears up ambiguities. This mental function does not mean that we shall crystallize our thought through a sheepish adherence to rules and laws-whither they are logical or some others. Rather, they should when 'rightly dispensed, tackled and assimilated... give the mind a turn and bent and discipline' thus indicating to us that 'there is a philosophical approach to every human question.'
In conclusion, we should note that not much can be achieved by someone who is not guided by some fundamental and higher principles. Success in our daily endeavors requires that we possess the ability to be and be masters of our destiny. To acquire this ability, the study of certain subjects like logic, the Bible and philosophy is a prime engagement by our educational system. They will help to inculcate acuity and sovereignty of mind, ardent desire for the truth and the search for it. They produce a mind that is 'keen, cold, firm, serene, above passion.' They train us in the use of reason, 'the salvation of freedom.' Today, our society hankers after freedom; we mean genuine freedom that is born out of knowledge, not passion. Cameroonians are victims of material desires and its enslavement. Training in logic and philosophy would help to indicate the shortcomings of this phenomenon. And we cannot build a genuine democracy on material passion and political fanaticism. In this way we should bother about the evils of passion and political fanaticism.
1. Luce A. A. (1970). Teach yourself Logic (London: Teach Yourself Books, impressions) p.1
2. ibid p. 4
3. ibid p.8
4. Geisler, Norman L, and Feinberg S Paul (1983) Introduction to Philosophy (Michigan; Bacher Book House,) p.71
5. Cameroon Panorama No. 175 July, 1976 p. 14
6. Cameroon Panorama 172, April, 1976, p. 11
8. Geisler, et al op cit p. 71
9. Campaign speeches on Radio during the 1992 Presidential Election (Gov't Officials)
10. loc. Cit
13. Mongo Beti, 'Human Rights Hypocrisy', West Africa No. 3357, Nov. 30, 1981.
14. Mbiti John (1969). African Religions and Philosophy (London: Heinemann) p.108
15. Geisler op. cit p.73
17. Luce op. cit p.85
18. Counsul J. C. and Chandra G.. (1967). Advocacy (London: Asia Publishing House)
19. ibid p. 48
20. Fonlon Benard: To Every African Freshman or the Nature, End and Purpose of University Studies (Victoria: Cameroon Times Press ) p. (ii)
23. ibid p. 72
24. ibid p. 76
(c) Yongho N. Nichodemus 2014
III. 'THE BANGSAMORO STRUGGLE AND HOW PEACE IS TO BE ACHIEVED: A REFLECTION' BY STEPHANIE A. SABARITA
Mindanao, one of the Philippine islands, is said to be the home of the three distinct peoples, or tri-peoples: the Islamized Moro groups; the indigenous peoples; and the Christian settlers. Their distinctness is reflected in their economic relations, political structures, cultural practices and their ideals and struggles. Thus, most of the conflicts in Mindanao have been associated with the pursuit of these different groups' expressions of interests and ideals. It is the struggle of the Lumads or indigenous peoples for the recognition of their ancestral domains. It is the Moros' assertion of their right to self-determination or self-rule against colonial domination since Spanish rule. Finally, the Christian settlers also claim their right for land ownership, for example through the government's land reform program (de la Rosa, 1996).
Before the Spanish colonization, Mindanao was highly inhabited by indigenous peoples. But in the 13th or 14th century, Islam was introduced by Arab traders and Islamic missionaries and Islamized some of the populations of Mindanao. Islam heavily influenced their social, political, economic, and cultural life. When the Spaniards colonized the Philippine archipelago from the 16th to the end of the 19th century and brought in Christianity, the Islamized populations fiercely fought against them though their centralized sultanates. The colonizers did not succeed in taking possessions of the Islamized territories and failed to convert the people of Mindanao to Christianity.
However, despite the resistance of the Islamized populations and the fact that they had not been conquered, they were still included in the 'package' when the Spanish government sold the Philippines to the United States through the Treaty of Paris in 1898. During the American regime, migration programs and promulgated laws on private land ownership contributed to the eventual loss of Bangsamoro peoples' ancestral domain. This turn of events led to the gradual marginalization, displacement, and disempowerment of the Moros and non-Islamized indigenous people. Even after the Philippines was granted independence by the colonizers and the Bangsamoro territories were made part of the Philippne Republic, the Bangsamoro people asserted their sovereignty as a people of distinct identity (Kamlian, 2005; Durante, 2009).
Thus, a major factor why the Bangsamoro people have engaged in armed struggle was because they were opposed against the annexation of the Bangsamoro territories in the Philippine Republic. Their resentment about the loss of their political sovereignty, ancestral lands, and economic resources were expressed by Bangsamoro liberation movements (Kamlian, 2005) such as the More National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The cycle of fighting, ceasefire, and peace talks has continued up to this day. Peace advocates in Mindanao viewed the conflict from a different perspective, but their voices seldom heard above the conflict.
Guiamel Alim, a Muslim scholar, says that 'the conflict is due to the historical injustices suffered by the minorities, especially the Bangsamoro people. They were denied their right to self-determination. They used to be independent but when the colonialists came, they lost all of this. They are fighting to get this back today.'
The Bangsamoro people have a different identity. They are not totally different from Filipinos but they have their own identity, way of life, culture, vision, they way they look at things. Again, if we go back the Philippine history, the Muslims were already in Mindanao long before. The Filipinos need to recognize this. But the Philippine history books do not acknowledge this that the Moros existed long before the word 'Filipino' was known. The Filipinos need to recognize this, otherwise there will be misunderstanding and conflict.
The Mindanao conflict is not about the terrorism, kidnapping, and massacre. The conflict in Mindanao is about land. It's about respect of the culture, system of beliefs. It's not really a conflict about religion.
Land is the precious natural resources of Mindanao. It provides livelihood for farmers who make up the vast majority of Mindanao people. But land is also the source of conflict. Land grabbing and deposing claims to the same land, are common place. Land disputes can easily turn to violence and lead to strife among the tri-peoples in Mindanao, the Islamized Moro groups; the indigenous peoples; and the Christian settlers.
Peace is possible if the basic rights and traditions of the tri-peoples are respected.
Mindanao should be a place for everyone. The Moro people, the indigenous people and the settlers. But, they must respect each other - the Bangsamoro people should be respected of their self-determination and the indigenous people should be respected of their ancestral domain and the Christian settlers for their property rights.
De la Rosa, Romulo (1996). Bringing reality closer to the dream. AFRIML Davao City
Durante, O (2009). In Peace Education: Curriculum Manual for South Asia and South East Asia. University of Peace
Kamlian, J (2005). Understanding the Historical Roots of the Bangsamoro Ancestral Domain Claims in Mindanao. Paper presented at the USIP International Workshop on Ancestral Domain at the Eden Nature Park, Davao City. May 24-27, 2005
LaRousse, William (2001). Walking Together Seeking Peace. Claretian Publications: Manila
Lingga, A.S. (2007). The Voices from the Moro land. Strategic Information and Research Development Centre. Petaling Jaya
(c) Stephanie A. Sabarita 2014