A REVIEW OF THE BOOK WRITTEN BY SOPHIE BOSEDE OLUWOLE: SOCRATES AND ORUNMILA (PATRON SAINTS OF CLASSICAL PHILOSOPHY) - jerkand

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Thursday, 22 February 2018

A REVIEW OF THE BOOK WRITTEN BY SOPHIE BOSEDE OLUWOLE: SOCRATES AND ORUNMILA (PATRON SAINTS OF CLASSICAL PHILOSOPHY)



A REVIEW OF THE BOOK WRITTEN BY SOPHIE BOSEDE OLUWOLE: SOCRATES AND ORUNMILA (PATRON SAINTS OF CLASSICAL PHILOSOPHY)

BY

‘BISI OLUWOLE

DATE: JUNE, 2016

INTRODUCTION
There has always been an uneasy relationship between philosophy and culture. The uneasiness developed from the insistence of those who affirm a universal status for the philosophical enterprise. For them we cannot intrinsically equate philosophy with cultural phenomenon. Yet, on the second thought, it seems axiomatic that all philosophies are the natural products of cultures.[1] History plays a very significant role in the time honoured status of Western philosophy as the universal philosophy which others are encourage to ape. The history of Western philosophy is the thought of individual philosopher whose thought constitute its frame work, which is a tradition of text. Unfortunately, it seems that the same cannot be said for African philosophy. Instead of the gallery of individual philosophers who symbolize the culture’s confrontation with its experiences, the argument goes; there is an attempt to summaries the philosophical enterprise in Africa into a collective, communal framework.  The conclusion from the above analysis is that where there is no literate tradition that stimulates the development of individual philosophers and philosophical texts, it is doubtful whether we can talk of the existence of a philosophy.[2]
The life experiences of African people are multidimensional and multi-faceted, revealing and manifesting the nature of reality to African people in their own peculiar way. While many experiences are readily comprehensible, some other may seem inexplicable, particularly to non-Africans. As a result of the aforementioned argument, Professor Sophie Oluwole has set out to contribute effort immensely to debunk the wrong notion that we cannot at all come have individual philosophy in Africa instead of collective world view that we claim to be African philosophy. Therefore he says, “A comparison of Socrates and Orumila must definitely sound strange to the ears of most contemporary Western trained Scholars. This is so given the fact that Socrates is well known as the ‘Father of Philosophy’, whereas only a handful of theologians and anthropologists are similar with Orunmila as Yoruba god of wisdom”.[3]
CHARACTERIZATION OF SOCRATES AND ORUNMILA
The Fictitious
Socrates was a fictitious character in two plays by Aristophanes: Clouds and Birds. He was depicted as the Head of the Thickery, a school of thought accused of trying to turn society head over heels. Aristophane portrayed the basic teachings of Socrates as setting Athenian youths against Greek tradition, condemning the existing system of education, the process of choosing political leaders through the use of votes or the beans in the Greek divination. The fictitious Socrates was a radical revolutionary whose proposed changes would bring Anthenian civilization to a state of anarchy and primitivism.
The story of Socrates was given by FELIX. It is fictitious because it was not really happened that Socrates existed. He was not seen as person who contribute to the greatness of the state of Athens but seen as distort to the government of Athens. He is the author of many ideas.
Historical Socrates
A man existed in time he was named Socrates by his father, Soophronisus, a man from south Athens in the city of Alopeke. The place of birth of Socrates was no given. He was said to have practiced his father’s occupation his mother was a midwife and she was called Phainarete which mean “Revealing Virtue” he was said to have fought in some wars. But we have it on the authority of Plato that in 424 B.C he escaped from Athens with 8,000 others when the Peloponnesians advance on the city. Socrates was depicted as someone who was always in the company of others, questioning them about conventional views and beliefs as well as their profession. A lot of young people crowded him and became critical of the views of earlier respected poets. They questioned the sophists’ claim to intellectual and professional expertise. The image on his bust depicts him as ugly man with a broad face. He was described as content with wearing one shabby threadbare robe throughout year, and walked on the bare foot. At age of 70, Socrates was charge of felcony, tried and declared guilty and condemned to death. He refused when his friends arrange to free him from the accusation.
The Mythical Orunmila
Orunmila is seen as a celestial being sent by Olodumare (God) with specific assignment. He went back to heaven because of one his children instituted. He was regarded as god of wisdom. The centre of their activities was Ile-Ife, the ancestral home of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria. Orunmila was mandated by Olodumare to use his wisdom to organize and manage the affairs of the society. The tradition has it that he marries and gave birth to eight children. When the people appealed to him to return to Ile-Ife because the city was in tumult after his departure, he refuse but gave them an Oracle to be consulted whenever they need his assistance. That consulting is Ifa system.
The corporate Orunmila
The second characterization of Orunmila is that name is a corporate representation of the predominant axiom of the people’s intellectual world-view at a particular point development of their tradition of thought.
Historical Orunmila
The third characterization of Orunmila is in a legend which described him as an historical personality born around 500 B.C. when it was claimed that Orunmila was from Ado, he responded that he was not a native of Ado. That on his visit to Ado, he discover the people had no religion. He prepared and made them converts of Ifa. Many places were claimed of him. His father‘s name was Jakuta. Ifa Corpus was ascribed to him. He got marry to Iwa (virtue). The legend under consideration states that Orunmila was an exceptionally wise sage. He was a religious.
What They Said; They Said
As earlier noted, the ideas, belief and principles credited to Socrates were not recorded by him. The fact that the he wrote nothing has never been contested. Thus, a researcher has little or no option than to rely on what other claim Socrates said. Socrates is acknowledged a often elusive. All quotes about him are from Plato’s Dialogues except one from Xenophone.
The attempt to choose which of the views credited to Orunmila authentically belong to him puts a schools in a similar, though more difficult, position. Although Orunmila is often used as the name of the entire Ifa literary corpus, this does not carry the implication that he authored every verse in the 16 major or the 240 minor Odu-Ifa  just as Socrates was never claimed to have authored all the views documented in the extant literature on him. But Socrates, Orunmila is said to have the major role in formulating the approach and views in Ifa corpus. 
The Nature of Reality
Socrates
As a young man, I had a true passion for what was called natural inquiry, and it seemed to me that the highest scientist was the one that knew the cause of each thing and why each thing is born and perishes. When I, however, later realized that there was no utility in the cosmological thesis, I later took to discussing of ethics[4]
Orunmila
The number two is significant as a symbolism of the binary feature in reality and human experience. For instance, Iyeye known as “The Tree of Life” has its branches in twos. The pigeon always lays its eggs in twos. They both indicate that reality is made up of two inseparable elements. This is the basic principle (Orunmila) taught at Oke Itase.
The Nature of Wisdom
Socrates
In as much as philosophers only are able to grasp the eternal and unchangeable and those who wander in the region of the many and variable are not philosophers. But the highest truth is that which is eternal and unchangeable. And reason and wisdom are concerned with eternal. What is the quality in which they do not differ, but are all alike, a common nature which makes them virtues. Virtue as virtue, will all be the same, the sameness of virtue has been proven.
Orumila
Osa-Otura says: “What is truth?” “I too say”: “what is truth?” Orunmila says: “Truth is the Lord of heaven organizing the earth”. For Orunmila, Truth is what the Great invisible God uses in organising the world. The wisdom that Olodumare uses is Great and unsurpassed wisdom. For Orunmila, Truth is the character Olodumare Truth the world that can never fail. Ifa is Truth. Truth, the word that can never be corrupted.
THEIR GENERAL THOUGHT
For two of them there is meeting point. Natural inquiry can only be provided with an adequate answer with only hypotheses.  The same of Orunmila, Orunmila says Truth is from God. The two of them are religious. They believe the same thing about knowledge no man is the sole epitome of knowledge. Orunmila says that, the young people should be educated on daily basis. Socrates also loves wisdom, this is seen when he the young Athenians gathered round him and gave them instructions about knowledge. Socrates was a moralist, it was said of him that he passing by one day in the streets and he saw one of his disciples coming out from a prostitute house and the disciple went back to the prostitute house thinking that Socrates did not see him, when Socrates got to that spot he asked him to come out because it is better to come out of a sin than to go back to it. Orunmila was also a virtuous person; he even got marry to Iwa.  
The westerners have ever said that we do not have Africa philosophy. Professor Henry Maurier posed a question: Do we have African philosophy? No, not yet was the answer he gave.[5] Wiredu recanted the position of Maurier’s view that it is intellectually fraudulent to impose a foreign conceptual framework, on an existing African one. African tradition of philosophy cannot be judged through western eyes but through African eyes. The intellectual demand is that the Africa eyes as a tradition must show respect for the logic of reason and for the verdict of human experience.[6]
The investigation here is to find out which of these two views about the nature and functions of the binary features of reality was upheld by Socrates and Orunmila and how their respective view has influenced western and African traditions of thought and philosophy.
From the above we have discovered that the two icons of philosophies have shared many things in common like the understanding and coming to authentic knowledge of truth, question about reality, the way to virtuous life, how to acquire wisdom. The placement side by side of these traditional philosophers was not to build any counter argument but it is to expose the fact at our disposal. So, the exposition of their ideas was to give us clear instantiation of authentic knowledge.
CONCLUSION
The character of Africa philosophy has always been subjected to the vagaries of European ethnocentric postulations. All students of African studies are now familiar with the notorious concept of the native African configured with the “primitive mentality” that was the zenith of European denigration of African a la Hegel and Levy-Bruhl. Specifically, Hegel’s logocentric philosophy corroborates Levy-Bruhl’s ethnocentric anthropology. The point of convergence is the central role of reason in culture and history. Reason in this sense implies the mind’s power of drawing conclusions and of determining right and wrong.[7] For Hegel and Levy-Bruhl, Africa is excluded from the constitution of rationality. In their bid to refute this stereotypical denigration of their cognitive significance, the Afrocentric scholars vigorously sought for means of confronting the negative image of African cognitive outputs.
With the immense efforts of Scholars of Africa philosophy the Westerners do not want to agree that we can come have African Philosophy. The fact is that we cannot bring out the individual thought of African Philosophers straight but it is naïve to say there is no African philosophy.  For the reason that you do not the existence of something does not mean that that particular thing is not existence. Some African scholars are saying that we just began to have African philosophy, if sure and hopefully that we are going to have Africa philosophy each scholar must come to the knowledge that it will not come out of nothing. The recent scholarly works of the philosopher counter argue the notion of people like Hegel. Hegel argues to the extent that the African mentality and culture is primitive and pre-logic, to that extent African philosophy is excluded from the universe of philosophy, strictly called. In the “critique of ethnophilosophical reason” championed by Paulin Hountonji, a more theoretical weight to the marginalization of African philosophy as formulated by the ethnophilosophiers. In their bid to reveal the originality of the African episteme and to protect it from being contaminated by foreign accretions, the ethnophilosophers attempted to ground the motif of an African philosophy in traditional African culture. In this respect, they conceived the task of the African scholars as that of promotion of the understanding of African belief systems through exposition of their logical structures and the assumption on which they are based”.[8]




Bibliography

Olusegun Oladipo, Ed. Core Issues in African Philosophy, Hope Publication Ltd, Ibadan,             2006.
Sophie Bosede Oluwole, Socrates and Orunmila (Patron Saints of Classical Philosophy),  Graphic Publication,   Lagos, 2014.
E Bolaji Idowu, African Traditional Religion (A Definition), Fountain Publications, Ibadan, 1991.
Gregory Ebalu Ogbenika, The Idea of Spirit in African Philosophy, Safmos Publishers, Ibadan, 2011.



[1]Olusegun Oladipo, Ed. Core Issues in African Philosophy, Hope Publication Ltd, Ibadan, 2006 p. 21.
[2] Ibid. p. 22.
[3] Sophie Bosede Oluwole, Socrates and Orunmila (Patron Saints of Classical Philosophy), Graphic Publication, Lagos, 2014, p. xx.
[4] Ibid.  p. 28.
[5] Ibid. p. 110.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Olusegun Oladipo, Ed. Core Issues In African Philosophy, Opcit p. 23.
[8] Ibid. p. 21.

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