A Reply to Mr. Reno Omokri on the Denigration of Philosophy as a Discipline and Field of Study -By Dokpesi Timothy Adidi

The 22ndn/a September 2022 I woke up early in the morning to scroll through my phone as usual to reply to messages on my WhatsApp. I finally decided to enter the Twitter page and see the latest news from social media influencers and what they have to say. I came across a post from the verified Twitter account of Mr. Reno Omokri about the disparagement of the field of philosophy which he considers irrelevant compared to other disciplines. It is either that I did not interpret the message very well, or that I am biased with regard to the message of Mr. Reno Omokri. As such, allow me to express my post-judgment and bias on the contents of Mr. Reno Omokri’s verified Twitter account with respect to his statement and content on Mr. Peter Obi and his study of philosophy as a discipline. I will have to reiterate what Mr. Reno Omokri wrote and posted on his verified Twitter account. He said: “The most educationally backward of all the leading candidates is Obi. Nigeria’s challenges are serious. I’m not sure that a man whose highest degree is a second-class degree in philosophy is better than those who have a doctorate and a master’s degree in relevant courses”.

I am not an ordinary politician; but I know that I have to be interested in politics and more particularly as someone who is seriously trying to climb the academic ladder. My discipline is Philosophy; and as one who so loves discipline and the intellectual fruits of what philosophy can do; then, I have no choice but to educate Mr. Reno Omokri to make him understand that each discipline is relevant. First of all, let me make it clear to Mr. Reno Omokri that the discipline of Philosophy is not related to the personality of Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential aspirant of the Labor Party (LP).

In fact, in my opinion, it was a purely academic lack of professionalism to have reduced the discipline of Philosophy to the personality of Mr. Peter Obi. I therefore understand with Mr. Reno Omokri who is not an academician and a professional academic for having misunderstood and understood the dynamics of academics. Mr. Reno Omokri, giving the opinion and implying that Philosophy is not as relevant as other PhD and Masters courses is a disservice to Philosophy. Just in case you forgot your GST 101 during your 100L days as a student at the university you attended, I hope to remind you that philosophy is the mother of all disciplines. It is very likely that you have forgotten it during your studies of philosophy, logic and human existence. It is also possible that during your days you were among those who missed an important subject of this nature. Therefore, the effect of missing such an important topic during class finally caught up with you.

More so, Mr. Reno Omokri, I believe you probably took this course for granted and it just affected your logic. Logic is central to the study of philosophy; and, there is an area in Logic call FALLACY. If you were very aware of the basics and principles of GST 101 in your college days, you will realize that you have just made a mistake. This kind of mistake represents your inability to separate the dancer from the dance. Let me again fill you in on this kind of mistake you made in case you forgot your GST 101 or in case you missed classes while others like Mr. Peter Obi decided to study philosophy. This type of error is called Argumentum Ad Hominiem.

Argumentum ad hominem, which is short for “to the person”, refers to a variety of arguments, the majority of which are wrong. Ad hominem means “to the person” in Latin. Typically, when someone uses this term, it is referring to a rhetorical tactic where they attack the person making the argument rather than addressing the sticking points of the actual argument. Ad hominem is most often used in the format “A asserts x, B asserts that A holds an unwanted property, so B concludes that argument x is wrong”. I understand that you disregard such an invaluable discipline. It is nothing more than the fact that we are in a climate where our young people today have considered such a discipline to be irrelevant to the point that there is hardly anyone who decides to enter the discipline Philosophy in a climate called Nigeria. I don’t want to get into the heart of the matter of such an orientation.

Mr. Reno Omokri, I have always listened to you on issues of theological discourse, social and political analysis, and a wide range of issues. I now understand why you are always caught up in an eclecticism which most of the time frustrates the philosophical foundation of your thesis. Allow me to appreciate you on the very fact that you are such a voracious reader; and, indeed, you have read almost everything to the point of not being able to synthesize anything at all. Again, it’s a big challenge when people like you undermine the philosophy. I have studied your line of thought so well that I always try to dismiss your position in everything you say because of the lack of depth in the things you say.

This lack of depth has a very strong grip on your deficient and undernourished intellectual incompetence as evidenced by your disparagement of Philosophy as a discipline. Mr. Reno Omokri, it will interest you to know that for any course you study as a discipline, no one gives doctorate in that field or discipline of study. For example, an academic does not receive a doctorate in sociology, psychology or chemistry, but a doctorate in philosophy before the field of his major. Therefore, at the end of each academic discipline, what is awarded is a Doctor of Philosophy. It also places philosophy as a discipline at a respectable academic and intellectual advantage with historical precedence.

You (Mr. Reno Omokri) have always claimed to have a vast knowledge in theology to the point of having the opportunity to engage a Catholic priest in the field of Trinitarian theology as provided in the study of systematic theology. Yet your untreated ignorance will not give you the humility to understand that all good Theology is founded on sound Philosophy; for it again makes you intellectually inadequate in such fields of study due to your disparagement of philosophy as a discipline. I hope you will understand that intellectual prowess comes with the humility to learn; like most of the time in your writings, you have this feeling of knowing everything due to your vast knowledge of traversing the whole “universe”. Insofar as you are valued for traveling around the universe, it still doesn’t tell you anything. Let me introduce you to the Socratic dialogue of the discipline called Philosophy.

The Socratic dialogue enlightens and emboldens to understand that one’s ignorance is not a weakness. There is a difference between untransformed ignorance and transformed ignorance. A transformed ignorance is classic and what Socrates identifies as one who knows nothing but accepts the facts that he knows nothing. This is against him who claims to know but knows nothing; as such, you know nothing of philosophy and other areas you think you know; yet you do not recognize that you do not know and pretend to know.

I still understand that you have your choice of candidate for the next general election; you would be expected to have the basic human right to choose the candidate you hope to run as your presidential candidate. I hope you can learn to separate the issues from the people and sell your candidate in the best interests of the Nigerian people. As you sell your candidates, know that we have an Association of Philosophers in Nigeria. Members of this association have studied philosophy and contribute to national development in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. We also have members of this Association who are associate members and who have never studied philosophy; but, because of their love for philosophy, they are members of it and learn from philosophers or also contribute to what philosophers do.

I wish you the best in your campaign strategy to help Nigerians move forward with a better candidate.

ADID, Dokpesi Timothy

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