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HomeOPINIONS AND COLUMNSOWEYEGHA-AFUNADUULA: What He Advocates, Professes And Philosophizes About

OWEYEGHA-AFUNADUULA: What He Advocates, Professes And Philosophizes About

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By Oweyegha-Afunaduula, F, C.
Center for Critical Thinking and Alternative Analysis.
Oweyegha-Afunaduula is a retired but not tired academic. He retired in 2009 from the academic world of disciplines and joined the non-academic real world of civil society work and water management -interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary -in the Nile Basin of 11 countries.

He rose to become the topmost civil society leader in the Nile Basin in 2008 when he became the Chairman of the Nile Basin Discourse -a regional Civil Society organisation that aims to integrate the fears and concerns of the more than 500 million people in the development process in the region.

More importantly Oweyegha-Afunaduula is not completely removed from the dynamics of university manifestation. He believes that critical thinking and alternative analyses should be central to intellectual and academic processes in universities, and in other processes outside university enclaves.

He holds that one important reason why academic institutions and countries in Africa have become sterile and centres of docility, silence, undemocratic practices and human rights abuses is because critical thinking and reasoning have been squeezed out of academic and intellectual processes in and outside universities.

He believes that there can be no meaningful and effective academic and intellectual processes in universities and development processes if Critical Thinking, reasoning and alternative critical analyses are not central to those processes.

He is of the view that without the centrality of these processes being assured the result is a docile, domesticated, tortured, inactive population, which cannot be effectively engaged in intellectual development, let alone economic, political and social development.

2. Critics Who Influenced Oweyegha-Afunaduula
Many past thinkers have spurred the intellectual stance of Oweyegha-Afunaduula, particularly as regards critical thinking and critique, and integration of knowledge.

These include: the Mediaeval thinker and philosopher Saint Bonaventura(1221-1274); the Renaissance thinkers Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), Martin Luther (1483-1546), Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) and Galileo (1564-1642); Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), One of the advocates of the Method of Science, the other one being Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679); Jantsch (1972, 1972) and Drucker (1989, 1993).

3. Learning from Past Critics
Each one of these thinkers influenced the thinking of Oweyegha-Afunaduula in different ways, but all of them taught him that there is a lot of value in critique and alternative analyses.

Philosopher St Bonaventura taught that “There is no Queen of the Knowledges (Disciplines) in the knowledge society. Accordingly all knowledges are equally valuable; all knowledges equally lead to the truth, but to make them paths to truth, paths to knowledge, has to be the responsibility of the men and women of the knowledges. Collectively they hold knowledge in Trust”.

Reformation thinker Erasmus critised, among other things, the doctrine of scholasticism, the lifelessness of scholastic discourse, and scholastic jargon. He even criticised the whole scholastic system, which he saw as resistant to change. He was consistent and persistent in his critiques, and without fear or favour.

Martin Luther, another Reformation thinker and scholar, criticised several aspects of the Catholic Church, consistently and persistently, leading to its rupture, and emergence of the First Protesting Church (Protestant Church, the Lutheran Church).

Montaigne criticized the tendency to constrain free thought, discouraging thinking and reasoning by coercing thinkers, scholars and practitioners in pockets of knowledge, and to commit them to doctrines about which perfectly reasonable objectives could be raised.

He said, “as an unpremeditated philosopher, One who was not confined intellectually to some rigid set of ideas within which his thought and life must be expressed….desire to live a happy life cannot be fulfilled if one is committed doctrines about which perfectly reasonable objectives could be raised”.

Galileo criticized the intellectual tendency of scholars of his time of quoting ancient thinkers’ texts like those of Aristotle, Hippocrates and Galen, instead of being creative and innovative so that they could write their own works and contribute to the growth of knowledge, or even contract the works of those thinkers of antiquity.

In his controversial book “Dialogue Among Two New Sciences”, contained a statement that “Nothing that cannot be proved should be accepted as dogma”. This attracted rage from the Catholic Church, scholars and scientists of his time.

The church and astronomers, who had rejected Copernicus’ discovery that it is the Earth, which goes around the Sun, and refused to gaze in Galileo’s telescope, maligned him, and even caused his house arrest. Galileo had proved by experimentation that Copernicus was right. He had also proved that the Milky Way was a cluster of stars.

He refused to rekant his discoveries and Ideas. His Intellectual stance was importantto the advancement of scientific knowledge. He taught us to stick to the truth when the majority is wrong and stuck to doctrines and dogmas.

Sir Francis Bacon used his sharp intellectual acumen to to advance method as the key to knowledge. He set as his task reforming the philosophy and science of his day. His central criticism was that knowledge had become stagnant because science was identified with learning and learning meant reading ancient texts of philosophy.

He criticized the domination of philosophy by Plato and Aristotle, whose teachings he denounced as shadows and phantoms of knowledge. Having said that Knowledge is Power, he emphasized the utility of knowledge. He was going against traditional approach to knowledge.

He accordingly mercilessly criticized the uselessness of traditional learning. He said it was useless because it mixed Science with superstition, unguided speculation and theology. He criticised this approach to science because it lacked an adequate method for discovering what nature and its workings are.

Bacon criticised the Schoolmen of the Middle Ages, dismissing them as “degenerate versions of Aristotle”, whereby men’s imaginations were glorifiedat the expense of actual nature of things. He talked of “cobwebs of learning” and advocated for the total cleansing of the mind to remove the cobwebs of learning.

Of all the early scientists he only respected Galileo a man who rose to prominence In science withouta degree or training, butjust his excellent intellectual powers. Bacon praised him for contributing to advancement of learning away from traditional learning of the philosophers of antiquity, by constructing telescopes and using them to prove that the Milky Way was a cluster of distant stars. He was happy that Galileo’s telescopes madecit possible to observe and understand the universe accurately,

Bacon wanted scientific knowledge completely separated from theology. He wanted a new philosophy fashioned upon a new method of observation and a now interpretation of nature.

Bacon despised and criticized separation knowledge into social science, natural science and arts. He preferred integration of knowledge. So, he set as his ideal objective, the reconstruction and unification of sciences, Arts and all human knowledge, something he called his Great Instauration.

This was a creative task. But before he implemented it, he criticized Oxford, Cambridge, other Universities and the reigning schools of philosophy for enslaving themselves to the past by sticking to the traditional ways of teaching. He particularly criticized knowledge and the lingering influence of Aristotle.

Bacon summarized his criticisms of the way knowledge and learning are distorted. He did so in his Distempers of Learning and Idols of the Mind.

On distempers of learning, Bacon identifies three types of distempers that distort learning and knowledge: delicate learning, contentious learning and fantastical learning. He considers them the vices and diseases of knowledge.

He describes exactly how they distort knowledge. Fantastical learning is where the concern is on words, emphazing texts, languages and style, focusing more on choiceness of phrase not matter or its weightiness. Contentious learning is a worse type of learning. It starts with fixed positions or points of earlier thinkers.

They are the starting points of contentious argumentation. Delicate Learning is where earlier authors, taking themselves as authorities are not contradicted by readers. Bacon says all these types of learning must be be removed from themind for real learning to begin. They engender errors.

On Idols of the Mind, Bacon identifies 4 Idols: Idols of the Tribe, the Cave, the Market Place. the theatre. He also calls them Phantoms, and says they distort the mind. They are the false opinions, dogma, superstitions, and errors.

Idols of the Tribe are preoccupation with opinions. Idols of the Cave are the books one read, the customs, the conventional wisdoms, the intellectual authorities. Idols of the Market Place are the words commonly used.

Idols of the Theatre are the grandiose dogmas and doctrines of The long philosophic treatises. Also included are principles, axioms that have become tradition.

In his two articles he wrote in 1972 “Towards Interdisciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity in Education and Innovation” and “Interdisciplinarity and Transdisciplinary in University: A Systems Approach to Education and Innovation” E.Jantsch criticized and demystified intradisciplinary education.

He argued for innovation through interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinary. Indeed today the new movement of new knowledge production and management may be said to have began with these two pioneering articles.

Thus Jantsch’s articles influenced the two intellectual in the choice of interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity for their future intellectual discourse and knowledge production.

P. F. Drucker, in his book “Post-Capitalist Society” published in 1993, influenced intellectual Oweyegha-Afunaduula with regard to knowledge production and management as well as learning in the 21st century.

Drucker wrote about New Knowledge Society and the New Educated Person as real capital of the new knowledge society. He influenced his thinking further when he wrote:

“What will define the Educated Person in the new Knowledge Society ischis or her capacity to understand the knowledges: their central concerns, theicentrak theories, their major new insights, their important areas of ignorance, problems and challenge”.

Drucker stressed that without such understanding the knowledges themselves will become sterile and indeed cease to be knowledges, and become intellectually arrogant and unproductive.

Oweyegha-Afunaduula understood this to mean that the knowledges cannot save themselves if they continue to preserve walls around themselves. According to him, true knowledge starts when the walls are dissolved. And what can dissolve the walls the new knowledge production through interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, and indeed nondisciplinarity.

2. What Oweyegha-Afunaduula Advocates, Professes and Philosophizes
One cannot be called an advocate, professor or philosopher unless there is something unique to one that one advocates, professes or philosophizes.

It is that which distinguishes one from there others. However, in traditional intradisciplinary knowledge production one can be a professor without a specific thing he or she professes.
Oweyegha-Afunaduula advocates, professes and philosophise about the following:

Critical Thinking, Independent Mindedness, Openness, Integration of the Sciences, Arts and all human knowledge, Fearlessness, Problem Solving, New Knowledge Production and Management, Knowledge Integration, Alternative Analysis for the 21st Century

In order to advance their joint advocacy, professing and philosophizing on these foci of intellectual interest, Oweyegha-Afunaduula catalyzed the establishment of the Center for Critical Thinking and Alternative Analysis in Uganda.

This idea, which is fully registered under the laws of Uganda is more or less an alternative university not fascinated by the doctrine of scholasticism, scholastic processes and scholastic jargon.

It is hoped that many thinkers from across the globe will find the Center the kind of home they have been looking for to exercise critical thinking, independent thought, openness and integrative thought for problem-solving without being forced in pockets of “pure” knowledge, thinking and practice.

4. What Oweyegha Afunaduula believes should be the way forward for Knowledge.
Like Drucker did, Oweyegha-Afunaduula believes that Knowledge does not come cheap. All developed countries spend something like a fifth of their GNP on the production and dissemination of knowledge.

He believes Africa in general and Uganda in particular needs to spend more on education in terms of percentage of GNP if the hope to be among the Middle Income Countries this century is to come true. However, he stresses that the focus should be on New Knowledge Production and Management through interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity.

On knowledge productivity, this is what the intellectual says:
First it should not be knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Second, making knowledge productive is the responsibility of Management of the economy; Government. Third, it must be applied to make a difference; if not then it is useless knowledge, if not applied.

Fourth, Knowledge must be clearly focused, Fifth, there must be systematic exploitation of opportunities for change, Sixth, there must be effective management of time, Seventh, Knowledge must be seen to be productive not just in the economy or technology but most especially in social problems, in the polity, and in respect to knowledge itself.

Unfortunately little effort has been done to apply knowledge to these areas. We need more productivity of knowledge in these areas, than in the economy, technology and medicine.

5. Conclusion
In conclusion, therefore, it is a different type of advocacy, professing and philosophizing by a thinker free from fear and scholasticism. Emphasis is on intellectual processes for problem-solving, not self-glorification and just self-actualisation, including titles and hierarchies. Traditional learning is alien to his thought.

There is no commitment to any doctrines or dogmas, unless the dogmas are proved integratively. Therefore, the process of de-intellectualizing education in general and the academia in particular must be halted.

Only this way shall we catch up with the wind of new knowledge production and management and begin to produce thinkers that are free, independent-minded and able to challenge the reigning, dominant thoughts in our academia and begin to initiate necessary ideas and create and innovate new knowledge and imagine new ways of transmitting knowledge to make us free thinkers and actors in the New millennium of knowledge and communication.

If we don’t change then we shall be confined to the 20th century in knowledge production, teaching, knowledge management and transmission. Change must come, not retarded.

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