Influence of Classical School Essay Example
Influence of Classical School Essay Example

Influence of Classical School Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 15 (4093 words)
  • Published: May 14, 2018
  • Type: Essay
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Classical schools of thought refers to ideas fronted by humanism, Marxism and positivism. In this discussion we shall look to the extent at which these ideas lay foundation or basis for the various African intellectual writings and thinking. We shall also highlight on key concepts the scholars adopt from the main stream writings or views of classical thoughts in order to develop their philosophy. We understand that there are many African scholars, but for the sake of this discussion we shall narrow our selves to few whom we think their writings were central to Africa and influenced African states of affairs through heir writings.

Namely Franz Fanons, Shame Marksman, Julius Anymore, etc.

Learning from the writings Of these scholars we shall see how their writings changed the policy formulation trends in Africa and then draw conclusion, to assert if the writings wer


e in deed useful for Africa regarding policy formulation for African context, Much as the world bank and other schools of thought ( Neo-liberalism, Post modernism, etc ). Also greatly have influence on African scholarly writings and views.

Introduction Classical school of thoughts are the tenets of positivism, Humanism and Marxism. Positivism gives precedence to objective observation, assortment, and repeatability of data. And Druthers is often considered the father of sociology, is viewed as a positivist. Humanism is an ethical doctrine that asserts the central importance of human life and experience on earth and the right and duty of each individual to explore and develop their potential.

Marxism, are theories of Karl Marx (and so influenced by philosopher George Wilhelm Frederica Hegel), this school concerns itself with class differences, economic and otherwise, as

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

well as the implications and complications of the capitalist system: "Marxism attempts to reveal the ways n which our socioeconomic system is the ultimate source of our experience" (Tyson 277). Theorists working in the Marxist tradition, therefore, are interested in answering the overarching question, whom does the work, the effort, the policy, the road, etc. Benefit? The elite? The middle class? And Marxist critics are also interested in how the lower or working classes are oppressed - in everyday life and in literature. Weber took an anti-positivist position, stressing the importance of his theoretical construction of ideal types. Marx went further, constructing laws of economic development based on distinct stages of history. Throughout most of the Nineteenth century Marxist methodology served as a counterweight to positivist methodology and the mainstream status quo of Western social science.

Marxist analysis traced patterns of poverty, exploitation, and class formation through colonialism and post-colonialism. It was highly influential in African Studies during the sass and sass, particularly in Southern and East Africa, and was readily apparent in the African liberation struggle, as exemplified by Minimal Cabal's use of Mayo's concept of people's war. In line with these schools of thoughts Many scholars including African ones, eve advocated Marxist-Leninist (scientific) socialism as an ideological basis upon which to found a peaceful, ordered and incorruptible society.

In Africa, socialism based on the ontological presuppositions of communism has frequently also been prescribed. The rise of communism in the former Soviet union, and particularly the teachings Of Karl Marx, Frederica Engel and Vladimir Lenin against the exploitation of the masses, informed the early African political thinkers on the need to end colonialism and

to cut off all its tentacles.

Thus African socialism was borne out of the need to find a suitable ideology for effective decentralization in Africa.

As (Deborah Fay Processor, 201 2) with the establishment of the school of oriental and African studies (SOAKS) in 1938 and after math of second world war, and on set of cold war, the Academic-UCM-strategic interest in the continent expanded beyond that of African colonial powers. As a result of the debilitating effects of colonial rule, post-independent African thinkers were faced with the serious challenges of social-political and cultural reconstruction.

The colonialists had imposed European beliefs and values on Africa.

As noted Deborah Fay Processor, 201 2), the field Of African studies was largely premised on western needs for strategic knowledge of the non-western world from cold war perspective, it was envisaged a piggybacking of western social science discipline. Thus European languages, belief systems, social, economic and political systems replaced per-colonial African ones.

In the words of Fall eye (1996, 82), "the colonialists distorted the values they met in Africa and termed them inferior. " Therefore, with this background African philosophy bears relation to history and culture and that the reflection of African intelligentsia upon outtalk satirical being represents a significant moment in the intelligentsia response of Africans to the challenges of Western civilization ( Hunting, 1983).

For instance Capitalism as an economic system was believed to be alien to Africa.

Consequently, the principle of individualism was claimed to replace the African cultural context of brotherhood, which suggests a welfare system of communism, collectivism and egalitarianism. Thus the link between capitalism and colonialism created an anti capitalist ideology in post

colonial Africa. This led to the search for an ideology of decentralization.

For Fanons 1968), decentralization involves a struggle for the mental elevation of the colonized African people.

Similarly for Wired", the most important function Of post-colonial philosophy is what he refers to as "conceptual decentralization". This simply implies "divesting African philosophical thinking of all undue influences emanating from our colonial past" (Wired 1998). So, immediately after the independence of Ghana in 1 957 and the subsequent independence of other African countries in the early sass, Shame Markham and several other African thinkers among whom were Leopold Sedan Senior of Senegal,

Seeks Torture of Guiana, Julius Anymore of Tanzania and Baffin Allow of Nigeria, were concerned about how to dismantle the legacy of colonialism in the name of capitalism, hence started to develop their own philosophy of socialism, called the Idea of African socialism greatly influenced by Karl Mar's teaching and his European adherents; African leaders claimed that socialism was not alien to Africa; rather, the African was naturally a socialist, the adequate ideology for the total emancipation of the continent was socialism.

This ontological foundation of African socialism was predicated upon the fact hat the pre-colonial African societies were communistic in nature.

The three basic principles of communism, collectivism and egalitarianism were said to be the guiding forces behind communities in pre-colonial Africa. Hence the African conception of the human being in pre-colonial Africa was said to have been based on the principle of communism. The human individual is seen not only as a social being but also as a communal one.

For instance in the Essay "Jam: the Basis of African Socialism" Anymore

argues that per- colonial African societies were socialist because they were based on the principle of Jam (familiarly or brotherhood). Anymore therefore called to a return to the African traditional past, communal past. Anymore rejected capitalism, claiming that it is alien to the traditional African mindset.

He argued that the African is a socialist by nature because of the spirit of communism in him: 'NV;lee in Africa have no more need of being converted to socialism than we have of being taught democracy.

Both are rooted in our past...

... Modern African socialism can draw from its traditional heritage.

.. " (Anymore 1 975, 515). Also Negritude of Leopold Senior with Leon Dams and Mime Easier express opposition to European values, but as a complement to them: It is a tater of selecting, among European methods, the most effective ones for an exact analysis of our situation.

It is a question of borrowing those of its institutions, values and techniques. We shall retain whatever should be retained of our institutions, our techniques, our values, even our methods.

So, from both the African acquisitions and European contributions, we shall make a dynamic symbiosis to fit Africa and the ;ninetieth century, but first of all, to fit man (Senior 1964, 83). Shame Markham, who called his ideology "philosophical conscience's", a system bethought which he claims rests primarily on socialist ideals. In rotational African societies, according to Markham, people lived 'communicatively'-everything was owned by the community, including the means of production, and everybody worked for the common good.

To Markham, the developed form of communism is socialism.

Capitalism, according to Markham, is not compatible with the egalitarian and communistic nature

of traditional African societies. Consequently, Markham contended that there is need to adopt an ideology in Africa based on socialist principles. Markham advocated a revolution in Africa based on a socialist strategy of economic and political reforms. This was to be sustained by a new courses expressing the need to confront underdevelopment and capitalist neocolonialism by way Of an alternative "African" socialism.

This, for Markham, is a "revolution for reconstruction". It was to build on the African heritage of communal and "socialist" way of life. It would end the "exploitation of man by man" by promoting social property, a mixed (private-public) economy under the control of the state, by constructing a Pan-African and Third World force in world politics, and by belief in God (Quash 1 992, 138). In Marksman's book, Conscience's: Philosophy and Ideology of Decentralization and Development.

Markham states that the socialist principles to be adopted in Africa.

A new harmony needs to be forged, a harmony that will allow the combined presence of traditional Africa, Islamic Africa and Euro-Christian Africa, so that this presence is in tune with the original humanist principles underlying African society. Beyond the indigenous models of humanism there has arisen what may be called modern African humanism, which emerged from African responses to conquest, colonization, and the various slave trades along the African coasts.

These forms usually involve engagements with Christian, liberal, and republican (domination-free) values, r with values that emerged as a result of engagement with various Muslim empires in the Middle Ages, whose impact continues to be felt today. We should bear in mind that much of eastern Africa is also populated by Semitic peoples, and

that their Septic and Abyssinian (or Ethiopians) Christianity has left a legacy that is as old as its European, Roman, and Greek counterparts. Many modern African humanists address a problem raised in early medieval African Christian philosophy in the thought of SST.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): the problem of theocracy, which involves accounting for the recent of evil in a universe ruled by an omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent god or God.

It is a problem also found in the thought of the Ethiopians Christian philosopher Ezra Yacht (1599-1696). SST. Augustine argued that human beings are responsible for evil because such actions are a necessary possibility of freedom. He also argued that human beings have limited knowledge of God's ultimate will or God's justice-?the literal meaning of theocracy, thee (god) and dick(justice).

The modern African faced the same problem when he or she looked at such evils as the slave trade and colonialism. In the twentieth century, a form of secular humanism emerged in Africa primarily through the efforts of the Senegal intellectuals Sheikh Anta Dip (1923-1986) and Lplod Sdark Senior (1906-2001 Dip advocated a strong historicist humanism that focused on the achievements of ancient Africans as the first Homo sapiens, arguing that they laid the groundwork for the cultural life of the species.

Shame Markham (1909-1972), who in 1946 offered what he called conscience's, or critical material consciousness.

For Markham, African humanism was a call for explicitly political responses to social problems. The most famous formulation of secular humanism to emerge on the African continent came, however, by way Of the thought Of Franz Fanons (1925-1961 a Mortician expatriate in Algeria. Fanons diagnosed a sick

modern world premised upon human actions, wherein the tasks faced by contemporary Africans must be to build up their material infrastructure based on national consciousness and thereby transform negative cultural symbols into positive ones that could set humanity aright.

The secular humanist tradition continued along historicist and politicking lines, and with political allegiances of the Marxist and, occasionally, liberal rarity through such writers and political leaders as Laminar Cabal and Julius Anymore until the emergence of leaders in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa took center stage. African Studies in the Anglophone world first began to coalesce in the late 1 sass in Oxford, where the Rhodes Trust built a Commonwealth library', and with the establishment of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAKS) in 1938. It was in the aftermath Of the Second World War and the onset of the Cold War that academic-UCM-strategic interest in the continent expanded beyond that of the African colonial powers. Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and other Western countries without a colonial past, most forcefully the United States, created new 'African area studies' centers.

During the 1 sass, the field of African Studies was largely premised on Western needs for strategic knowledge of the non-Western world from a Cold War perspective.

Interestingly, it was envisaged as piggybacking on the existing structures of Western social science disciplines, external to but nonetheless dependent upon the core disciplines Tanzania, under Anywhere's leadership, had embarked on the construction of an African socialist society. Academic though other commentators at University of Dark-sees Salaam had a different interpretation of socialism to that of Anymore.

The potential application of Marxist-Leninist, as well as Moist, theory

to Tanzania development was the subject of heated debate, and much of the oratory of academics like Assai Shiva, Dan Unburden, Manhood Median, Henry Maypole, Walter Rodney, and Clive Thomas. Unlike Anywhere's concern with humanistic African socialism based on reconstructed traditional rural values, they focused on the revolutionary nature of the working class versus the strength of a newly emerged African ruling class.

Intense debate took place on whether the ruling class was a bureaucratic or petty bourgeoisie.

One could not help but be pulled from side to side in the debate. Cliques were formed on the basis of support for one or another position. Study groups were formed that combed the texts of classical Marxism for theory to understand material aspects of Tanzania rural life.

Thus, in between the pounding surf of big academic debates, small tidal pools of discussion proved fruitful in coming to terms with less dramatic but substantive theoretical issues regarding the nature of peasants' agrarian modify production visa--visa the world market, as well as gender relations within peasant household units of production.

These small-group discussions sparked case study work on a more individual basis. They had a dialectical relationship to the big academic debate, stimulated by its theoretical conceptualization, but escaping its hierarchical structure and fracturing around different interpretations of political theory. A telling test of the relevance of a theory is its explanatory power with hindsight. The gender theories that these study groups formulated prevailed and proliferated.

From the outset, the researchers had engaged policy makers and media in gender debates. Whereas Weber took an anti-positivist position, stressing the importance of his theoretical construction Of ideal types. Marx went

further, constructing laws of economic development based on distinct stages of history. Throughout most of the twentieth century Marxist methodology served as a counterweight to positivist methodology and the mainstream status quo of Western social science. Marxist analysis traced patterns of poverty, exploitation, and class formation through colonialism and post-colonialism.

It was highly influential in African Studies during the 1 sass and sass, particularly in Southern and East Africa, and was readily apparent in the African liberation struggle, as exemplified by Minimal Cabal's use of Mayo's concept of people's war Prior to post-modernism, Marxist studies had been the refuge of those who rejected neo-classical assumptions and World Bank market fundamentalism but increasingly over the last two decades of the twentieth century, social scientists in anthropology, sociology, and geography gravitated towards post-modernist thinking.

6 This was both insightful and aerobatic. Post-modernist discourse theory offered analytical tools to challenge the World Bank's unattractive for Africa in terms of what it is, namely, a discourse rationalizing the exercise of World Bank organizational power and economic control on the continent. However, they stopped short of what is needed. Post-modernist analysts saw their intellectual role as deconstructing rather than constructing an alternative narrative discourse.

In this way, the surge in the World Bank's theoretical agenda setting during the sass and 1 sass was eased by large numbers of social scientists who had no interest in providing counter-arguments to the market fundamentalist scenario painted by the World Bank. Meanwhile many non-post-modernists, notably those pursuing careers in economics, political science, and Development Studies, tended to retain a positivist outlook, indifferent to post- modernist critiques of meta narratives and largely amenable to the

Bank's perspective.

In other words, the World Bank's theoretical hegemony met little resistance from formal positivist as well as anti-positivist social scientists. The paradox Of post-modernism is that it has attempted to challenge Western gooney in theory while being quintessentially a Western philosophical and literary discourse reflecting individualistic anxieties regarding the world created by the West's technology and social institutions. Despite its emphasis on critiquing discourse, post-modernist analysis has been ineffectual in countering the intellectual dominance of the World Bank and donor terminology in Africa.

African Studies witnessed a nihilistic unwillingness to identify generic patterns, trends, and tendencies in the processes that had been set in train by the implementation of Bank policies in sub-Sahara Africa. Effective counter-arguments to support alternative welfare-enhancing policies were stifled in this context.

African Studies' budding multidisciplinary during the sass did not eradicate the deep-seated disciplinary divides which African Studies faced, given its tenuous institutional position in Western university systems and the frequent unease and occasional disdain that discipline-trained scholars hold towards one another.

In fact, multidisciplinary in African Studies, at best, has tended to be evident over time in the form of serial disciplinary dominance rather than an interaction of different disciplines with one another. Political science dominated the 1 sass with its nationalism and nation-building preoccupation, whereas political economy surged forward during the sass, only to be replaced by the SAP debate within Development Economics in the sass, followed now by the present resurgence of political science and its concern with demagnification, good governance, and political security.

Interestingly, anthropology has not assumed dominance at any time but has been a source of rich case study material, while remaining

relatively distanced from African Studies theoretically, set apart by a strong disciplinary identity eased on trans-continental conceptualization.

Unfortunately, African Studies' methodological differences tend to evoke indifference rather than curiosity and productive synergies between post-modernists and positivists. Almost every"here African Studies continues to be housed in centers drawing on staff from various disciplinary departments.

Thus, relations amongst African Studies academics can be tinged by indifference or even hostility towards colleagues who do not belong to one's own specific discipline. While sharing African Studies' concerns, the others belong to different career tracks, have efferent patrons to please and different audiences and review boards to impress. In this sense, African Studies lacks fundamental coherence.

Ironically, the politics of disciplinary identity within African Studies can be likened to the politics of tribal and ethnic identity to which African Studies has given so much attention.

Also to note is that Social scientists receive diverse disciplinary training, resulting in widely differing theoretical perspectives and approaches to data collection and analysis. Thus, African Studies does not have a coherent theory or common language and constitutes, in effect, an 'undisciplined discipline' eased on common reflection and concern for the African continent. This can, however, be an advantage - providing a forum for creative thought at the boundaries of different academic disciplines.

But apart from the sociology of theoretical production in Western academia, there is the still deeper question of African Studies' theoretical relevance to the African continent's material development. Each Western social science discipline represents a historically determined body of concepts and theoretical models.

Each has its own unique foundation and developmental history lodged in the Western historical experience of industrialization and current

post-industrial societies.

TO the extent that Western social science has confronted non-industrial societies, it has been primarily from the vantage point of its own evolution from agrarian societies, colonial conquest abroad, and now post-colonial spheres of economic and political interest. Western social science theory is bounded by disciplinary strictures and biased towards perceiving non-Western phenomena through the lens of Hysterectomies, if not supremacy.

African scholars have repeatedly raised questions about Western bias, but hey have often been dismissed as overly politicized points of view, or relics of the centre-periphery debates of the 1 9705. 49 Unfortunately, their critiques have rarely been communicated from authoritative academic positions, since African scholars did not have career access to this arena until relatively recently.

The first generation of post-colonial African intellectuals of international renown, which notably included Archie Maybe in sociology, Claude Aka in political science, V. N.

Muddied in philosophy, and Thanked Manicured in economics, set a high standard of critical enquiry and skepticism about the applicability of many Western concepts and assumptions regarding sub-Sahara Africa. But their lack of strength in numbers has been a handicap. These continental professional ties and a growing presence now in American and European universities have raised the possibility of reforming not only the content, but also, hopefully, the mode of theoretical debate emanating from powerful institutional bases like the World Bank is now influencing the African intellectual thinking.

The African theoretical initiative needs to be returned to the academic arena and would be greatly facilitated by the establishment of well-funded academic for a where African and Africans perspectives could meaningfully engage and forge compelling theoretical initiatives in research and debate on

matters related to African development.

The most effective way of challenging external donor agencies' misguided influence, Western or indeed also Eastern in the near future, is for theoretical agency increasingly to be grounded in Africa.

Testing whether African Studies theory' is relevant and applicable to the improvement of African material welfare. Very simply, the links be;men African and African research are vital to achieving theoretical creativity and relevance. The two are mutually dependent and necessary for wresting theoretical control back within academia, so as to curtail the World Bank's domination as a 'knowledge bank' in Africa.

African Studies has to prove its relevance while avoiding the mainstream policy consensus of international development agencies and retaining critical academic integrity.

This is an enormous challenge given the World Bank's role in academic research funding in and on the African continent. Donors continually call for good governance and democracy in Africa, but in turn donors should be held accountable for demonstrating theoretical formulation f the developmental constraints facing Africa by supporting untied academic freedom. The driving force in philosophical conscience's is to reestablish the way of life of traditional Africa, thus its ethical and philosophical formulation, but its intellectual tools of analysis are taken from the various schools of philosophical thought.

After rigorous examination of these various schools of thought what develops is a brand new philosophical position that is consistent with the ancient and traditional philosophical view of the world but expressed in a contemporary manner.

This new philosophy provides an alternative to the confines that western philosophy puts upon the Africans intellectual life, but at the same time this new philosophy can be articulated and understood

in contemporary schools of thought.

Hence, this new philosophy not only aids the emerging new African intellectual but also enriches the world's philosophical knowledge. This new philosophy also provides a positive guide for the new African man to develop a new progressive society. In traditional African society, an African never aspired to acquire wealth to the detriment of his fellow men in order to dominate his fellow men. Everybody as the same within the community.

He was rich or poor according to whether the whole society was rich or poor.

However, if the society prospered, all members of the society or tribe shared in IM' (Anymore 1 975, 164) Conclusion Western social science, particularly classical transition theories of Marx, Druthers, and Weber, are relevant to Africans current social, political, and economic transformation, but new theories arising from the African lived experience of the twenty-first century are the principal way forward. Socialism is not only a way of life but a certain scientific approach to social and economic problems. If socialism is introduced in a backward underdeveloped country, it does not suddenly make it any less backward.

In fact, we then have a backward and poverty-stricken socialism (Nehru 1982, 614). However, although African socialism became the dominant ideology for the total emancipation of post-colonial Africa, there were several variants of it. Many of the African political thinkers were actually pursuing widely contrasting policies in their efforts to reconstruct their various countries, yet a number of them used "socialism" to describe the ideologies behind their respective efforts.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds