Philosophy as Sophia and Phronēsis: interrogating Oladele Balogun’s contribution to African philosophy
Philosophy, going by its historical trajectory emerged from a thorough-going quest for understanding the world. This ‘understanding’ is held, on the one hand, as an end in itself and, on the other hand, as a further means to manipulating the ‘other,’ object-world, to the ‘self’ or the subject-inquirer’s, upliftment/development. In this chapter, this dichotomy is revisited. We take a terse look at Balogun’s oeuvre in African philosophy, which essentially exemplifies the preceding dichotomy. Balogun, from our analysis, sought ingenious approaches to bridging the sharp divide between the advocates of pure-theoretical philosophy—Sophia—and praxis-oriented philosophy— Phronēsis. We employ Balogun’s contributions to social-ordering, statecrafting, culture and development as the base for our intervention and go on to argue that his ideas can be strengthened through a culture of activism and education. The African philosopher, we contend, should play a more serious role in the public-sphere. Our approach is conversational in style. We submit that philosophy must move beyond analyses to including making practicable interventions on issues of existence. The context of our inquiry is the traditional Yoruba thought system as it is implicated in the Nigerian state.
Keywords: Traditional African Philosophy, Oladele Balogun, African development, Yoruba thought system, Sophia and Phronēsis