Open Journal of Philosophy
2013. Vol.3, No.1A, 63-66
Published Online February 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 63
Theistic and Socionomic-Origin of Philosophy
Charles Ogundu Nnaji
Department of Religion and Philosophy, University of Abuja, Abuja, Nigeria
Received November 20th, 2012; revised December 22nd, 2012; accepted January 7th, 2013
This study directly touches on the origin and true meaning of philosophy from “Philos-Friend or loving
and Ophis-Deceit” which means human reasoning or lover of deceit or false wisdom (not love for wis-
dom), we can better explain what Philosophy is all about from this brief etymology.
Keywords: Theistic; Socionomic; Origin; Philosophy; Humanties
Brief Introduction to the Study
Theistic philosophy is a second thought alternative to what
professor Maduabuchi Dukor called “Theistic Humanism” es-
pecially since Humanism itself is a philosophy or believe sys-
tem that focuses on human conditions or welfarism rather than
on metaphysical existential arguments which (honestly) human
reasoning abilities cannot yet decode or comprehend. While
(Dukor’s) Humanism in relation to the African is theistic, this
paper’s position is that the Theistic Humanism of the average
African is not necessarily a theistic-Humanism, but a theistic
philosophy since such belief systems are not really existential,
but inherited beliefs, or worldviews that have no practical lega-
cies, proofs or evident results.
Objectives of the Study
The study briefly touches the origin and true meaning of
philosophy from “Philos” (love) and “Ophis-deciet” (Snakle)
which collectively means Human reasoning (Newman, 1983) so
that we can connect it to what Theistic-Humanism and Theistic
philosophy should be.
This study attempts to show that what Dubor called African
Theistic Humanism is merely a religious theistic-philosophy
which has no evident practical legacies since Humanism is
often accompanied by practical proofs with socionomic or so-
ciological results that speaks volumes; especially, if the lofty
Humanistic African ideologies being peddled about are any-
thing to go by, then levels of developments in African societies
should have far exceeded what they are currently.
Hence, this study rather than analyse points out that what we
often present as African ideologics thought patterns, belief
systems and worldviews are mere philosophies, reasonings
ideas or ideas of best possible worldly which often run short of
realities since the humanist or philanthropic ideas or philoso-
phies of Africans rarely get praticalised just as a recent radio
programme pointed out that Africans spend millions of Naira
burying the dead rather than spending the millions on such
people while they were still alive
Focus of the Study
This study draws attention to the difference between Theistic
Humanism and theistic philosophy, especially that what we call
“theistic Humanism” is mere socionomic spiritual or theistic
philosophy or traditional practises, i.e. human religious beliefs
presented as ideologies and philosophies, not forgetting that
philosophies remain ideologies until put into practice (pragma-
Statement of the Problem of Study
Part of problems in philosophy is that philosophers often
present positions and ideologies as if they are established reali-
ties: if that be the case, then philosophy has made itself science.
That you taught of something as a best possible reality does not
make that ideology or position a reality. Surely many philoso-
phers are likely not going to agree with this study that many
issues they present as a peoples’ philosophies are truly not so-
cionomic or physical realities just as a writer questioned the
reality of Socrates: i.e. did Socrates and Pythagoras ever exist:
Even if they existed, are classical Greek realities the same as
contemporary African Traditional realities.
The research consulted relevant literature, particularly Greek
language texts and etymologies, including the Greek language.
New Testament gave us the true meaning of the word philoso-
phy. Greek English Lexicons and Ancient Greek language vo-
cabularies not forgetting contemporary works in African phi-
losophy were also consulted.
Definition of Terms
1) Theistic: The word theistic is the adjective of the Greek
“Theos” i.e. “God” . Hence, t heism means believe in God, while
theistic means the qualities of divinity or God. Theistic con-
notes relatedness to God (not God), rather it involves Godly
human activities and ideas including theistic or religious human
philosophies and ideologies (Me t z g e r , 2001 ) .
2) Humanism: Humanism comes from Human: Human is
from Homo which means the same (Newman, 1983) or the
same kind, type or specie while sapiens is the human or man-
kind in that specie. Humanism is the philosophical position that
the Human (or existential) welfare (or condition should be fo-
cused on, rather than on incomprehensible metaphysical issues
(Hawkins, 1995).
3) Theistic Humanism: Theistic Humanism according to
Dukor refer to the theistic nature and origins of African phi-
losophy or worldviews which necessarily does not trickle down
to the sociological or socionomic practicalities expected from
the ideology
4) Theistic Philosophy: Theistic philosophy simply means
Philosophical positions that are religious or socionomic e.g. my
philosophy or belief is that God exists; which means that I am
not arguing if God exists or not; My position or philosophy is
that I already believe that God exists: Is that not philosophy;
especially peoples philosophy that consists in practical tradi-
tional religious practices that constitute their own philosophy.
This writer calls it socionomy. Philosophy can also be highly
religious, not just only abstract thinking or argument.
5) Socionomic-Philosophy: Socionomy simply means the
positive and negative contributions of Religion in the history of
human societies (Nnaji, 2012. “psychonomy and socionomy in
the origin and true meaning of philosophy”). Socionomic phi-
losophy states that whatever philosophical labeling as society or
people have been given must correspond to the physical reali-
ties of such a people’s practises, especially that African phi-
losophy is socionomic, i.e. societies controlled by intra-univer-
sally accepted religious beliefs and observances whereby the
African primarily beliefs that the spiritual or metaphysical con-
trols the physical. Unfortunately, philosophy today has been
blindly presented by philosophers as a field of study that pri-
marily has nothing to do with God and Religion, but has so
much to do with science and investigation. But then that is not
what philosophy means; philosophy is not definite, philosophy
has no position, rather it has positions which are beliefs that are
subject to investigation rather than verification. Philosophy
investigates rather than verifying science has laboratories for
verification through experimentation which establishes Truth
rather than speculative reasoning. Philosophy has no laboratory
since it is not science, hence it cannot through human reasoning
but physical experimentation once philosophy breaks away
from its human reasoning, then it is no more philosophy since
philosophy simply makes human reasoning or uses human rea-
soning to investigate and solve all questions and problems in
human existence (please see below “Origin and definition of
the word Philosophy).
Literature Review
It is strongly believed that the word “Philosophy” did not ex-
ist in the Socratic-era, rather the initial name or labeling of the
wandering logikos, i.e. argumentators was “sophists or sophro-
nas (Brown, 1990) Sophosteros and sophroneo which—literally
means “wiser” wiseman or people who use human reasoning or
wisdom to answer questions of existence (Newman, 1983: pp.
165,177) Another word for wisdom in Greek is Noia—Nosis or
Nimos; the Greek English Interlinear New Testament did not
use “Sophos or Sophia” for wisemen, rather the word used is
“phronimos” which means “wisemen or the wise” (Brown,
Comfort et al., 1990). The original Greek language New Tes-
tament clearly shows that Jesus did not often use Sophia from
Ophis (snake) but he used phronimos from Phren i.e., spiritual
wisdom or prudent. Lk 12:42, Mtt 24:45 etc. (Metzger, 2001: p.
71). “Phronimos” did not metamorphose into the word “phi-
losophy”. The point is this, Sophia means human snake, i.e.
false wisdom-serpentine-crafty and deceitful wisdom. Sophy or
Ophis means snake or serpent, while Nosis, Nimos or Nouma
means spiritual knowledge-Divine wisdom, understanding or
Divine mysteries; This was the origin of the mystery-Gnosis or
Gnosticism (Mccain, 2005; see also Newman, 1983). Hence, in
coining the word “philosophy” Greek Sophists had to make a
clear demarcation between Divine wisdom (Nosis, Nimos or
Phronimos-Pnouma) and “Sophia or Sophos” (i.e. serpent)
which clearly and indisputably means Human wisdom crafty
and cleverness (see Aland & Newman, 1983: p. 194; and
Metzger, 2001: p. 71 etc.). This clearly says that the word “Phi-
losophy” points to human reasoning. It has nothing to do with
Divine wisdom being the reasoning why writers of the New
Testament did not use the word philosophy to refer to divine
wisdom: The few who did in the epistlers did so out of poor
grasp of the Greek language “Phronomos” was constantly used,
while Philosophy was mentioned only in Acts 17 and Colosians
Theistic Humanism-Analytical Reaction
Though I have not fully understood what Prof. Dukor means
by Thestic Humanism, It seems to me that the phrase “Theistic
Humanism” strongly agrees that humanism (i.e. human welfa-
rism) cannot be free from theistic (i.e. supernatural) influences
especially since the metaphysics of ontology, cosmology and
cosmogony often finally ends at the dead end of a necessary
being incomprehensible, inexplicable and necessarily meta-
physical, psychic or supernatural, since anything which cannot
be explained must necessarily be mystical, numinous or spiri-
tual. Theistic humanism as presented by Prof. Dukor simply
means that humanism in African philosophy is inevitably theis-
tic or spiritual, or more appropriately in philosophical language,
it is metaphysical, and psychologically it is “metapsy chic”. The
theistic nature of African philosophy has its origins in the en-
demic general belief system of virtually all Africans that exis-
tence has spiritual origins and it is not possible for existence to
have been the product of accident or chance, especially that the
spiritual controls the physical which is the world of ideas (re-
member philosophy hates using the word “spirit”). If African
humanism is inevitably theistic, it simply means that ma n as the
nucleus or central focus of African philosophy (or world view)
is a psychic or spiritual product which completely draws Afri-
can philosophy into a humanism that is inevitably theistic. If
philosophy must remain credible, Its substance and method
must be goal-getting or objective, rather than what the New
Testament Greek called “sesophismenos”, i.e. cleverly-crafted
(2 Peter 1:16) or invented stories and arguments (Dialegeto)
which often leaves the substance while chasing shadows, espe-
cially shadows of anti-thesis (opposition) philosophy which
often denies anything Religion in its bid to present philosophy
as having nothing to do with Religion even when philosophy
itself means belief system, which can be spiritual, scientific or
sophist. When someone asks you what your philosophy of life
is, it simply means, what do you believe in (please see Charles
Ogundu Nnaji, 2012; the Etymology and True meaning of the
word “philosophy”; Theome t ry, Abuja) Chapt e r one etc.
Analysis of Chapter Three of Prof Dukor’s
Theistic Humanism of African Philosophy
African Cosmology, Ontology and (Cosmo gony)
This chapter dwelt on African cosmology, ontology and
cosmology, which Dukor (2010) called “An exposition of Af-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
rican myths about God…” (p. 110).
This is in relation to the concepts of myth and the relation-
ship between African cosmology and the unified field theory.
Dukor subscribes to cosmology as the science of the universe
and part of creation, while ontology is metaphysic i.e. the na-
ture and essence of things especially God as a necessary being.
Does anything exist necessarily? Is it necessary for something
to exist, i.e. must God exist. Must there be a God? It is con-
cerned with the existence of material objects, minds, persons,
universals, numbers and facts etc.
“In the history of western philosophy cosmological argu-
ment for the existence of God is believed to have origi-
nated with Aristotle. The ontological argument for the ex-
istence of a supreme deity was a predominant intellectual
question in a whole spectrum of ancient Greek philosophy.
It argues that God exists necessarily: When Xenophanes
in ancient Greek period was mentioning God, he was re-
ferring to him as a necessary being. The supreme deity in
Socrates world of forms, called the demiurge is a neces-
sary being” (Dukor, 2010: p. 110).
Other prominent philosophers who focused on the existence
of God were medieval European philosophers like St. Thomas
Aquinas (1224 CE), St. Augustine (d430 CE) St. Anselm of
Canterbury (1033 CE) etc. They all worked on proving that
God exists.
This chapter notes that European and other western writers
often label African Religious practices as pagan, animist, hea-
thenist and idolatry, which is very wrong (see Aland & New-
man, 1983; Pagan, i.e. deceit (p. 130). What Europeans call
pagan are worldviews, belief systems or philosophies which
present the African philosophy or belief system as supersti-
tiously or deceitfully theistic or superterranean (p. 111). The
African believes in the personification of nature, especially that
the divinity of nature and all humans have vital souls, forces or
spirits residing in them. Dukor cited Geofrey Parinder as ob-
serving the Igbo worldview or philosophy as being highly
spiritual. Religion permeates every aspect of the Igbo life;
hence Africans are incurably religious. Therefore African spiri-
tuality or metaphysics is indisputably (African) theistic phi-
losophy. K. C. Anyanwu, Edwin Smith, John Mbiti, Malagasy
myths. Buganda, Zulu, Ashante, Ngombe of Congo other
mythical worldviews were also highlighted in this chapter.
Myth and Science (See Iloyd Thompson, 1990)
Dukor looked at “Myth” in African belief systems. Surely,
African beliefs and customs are replete with myths and what
science and philosophy call “fables and doubtful fairytales”.
Thinkers, however quarrel with dictionary definitions of myths.
Anthropologists and Philosophers argue that limiting myths to
stories of gods and heroes removes legends, and folktales
through which historiography can reconstruct the past or history
of Africa. Example, the Yoruba god, shango had existed physi-
cally as a human being with extraordinary powers, hence he is
more of a historical figure rather than myth. Also the Igbo and
Mende (Sierra-Leone) have ideas of God that should not be
seen as myths but realities: when parapsychologists treat myths
as dream, they forget that knowledge of hierarchical social
stratas lost in the distant past cannot be retrieved through
dreams. Dukor citing Alasdair Maclintyre and WKD Guthre
sees the emergence of philosophy and science as beginnings of
the rejection of Greek mythologies of gods and goddesses for a
more systematic culture of reasoning especially questioning the
existence of those gods etc., pp. 121-123 etc.
The emergence of philosophy as rejection of Greek myths of
gods, including questions of the existence of those gods and
goddesses, highlighted in Nnaji (2012) in The Origin and True
meaning of Philosophy, specifically Pauline passages (Col 2:8,
1 Tim. 6:20 etc.) see also 1 Cor. 17:18, Isaiah 29:14 which
strongly condemned philosophy as challenging God, proceeded
to call philosophy empty deceit, foolish and stupid arguments,
especially deceit called knowledge (i.e. Gnosis: 1 Tim. 6:20).
Pathological Traditionalism and Igbo
Dukor says that pathological traditionalism simply means
African belief systems handed over many centuries while re-
taining its inconsistencies and undesirable cultic practices
which consistently portrays it as heathenistic, i.e. dirty and
spurious. He called it … “crisis ridden” (p. 128). Though Afri-
cans have not seen the worship of God and divinities as the
crisis in traditionalism, rather they are unquestionable integrates
in African customs and traditions, through ritual killings, which
are clearly murders that cannot be swept under the carpet. Some
tradition have attempted to explain away such killings as cus-
toms handed down under customary humanism. To confirm the
crisis ridden and undesirable nature of ageless African tradi-
tions and customs, Prof. Dukor narrated his grand father’s con-
fession that the work of a traditional spiritual head is so bur-
densome and implicative that the man urged his children to em-
brace Christianity. Dukor’s grandfather’s philosophical poem is
titled “The muse of truth oracle” for Gbusaizu Dukor (1830-
1958) Gbusaizu Dukor is Prof Dukor’s grandfather. This tradi-
tion was narrated by Cyril Dukor (1916-2001) Prof Dukor’s
father. The poem generally highlighted the burden in being a
high priest of the gods in his duty as custodian of truth received
from God the supreme deity.
According to Duko r …
“Alas he carry’s the symbol of truth
And wisdom
The symbol of truth
Is in his hand and in his mouth
He is an enigma …”
(see also Mabofa, 1994).
A Triple Heritage
1) The triple heritage discus arrests syncretic practices of
merging Christianity, African traditionalism and Islam in one
compromising-individual, described by philosopher Gbusaizu
Dukor, as contamination of varying traditions which should not
be distorted by alien cultures. Prof. Dukor cited Olu Holloway
as an example of a compromised Christian who is the district
grandmaster of the freemason in Nigeria and the Olori Oluwo
of the Reformed Ogboni fraternity (ROF). Holloway thus ex-
emplifies a Christian still deeply involved in traditional and
Ogboni cultic practices, which Gbusaizu Dukor 1830 to 1958 is
strongly against. “Tripple Heritage” is simply another technical
word for syncretism which means simultaneous adherence of an
individual to multiple religious practices and traditions: This
which some opinions seriously frown at.
2) From the triple heritage, Dukor plunged into what he
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 65
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called the Noumenal (spiritual) substratum of the ephemeral in
the question of the enculturation of African philosophy, i.e.
foreign cultures have seriously influenced African world views.
He touched on recent archaeological excavations in Igbo-Ukwu
and Nri-Igbo which clearly show that Ibo-civilization is not
inferior to that of Egypt, Greece and Samaria (p. 147).
3) He then discussed theistic panpsychism which is akin to
animism (Nnaji, 2010) in that it is the belief that in every being
or object there is a vital power, soul or spirit immanent-exist-
ing-in those objects (p. 148) i.e. Ibos and Africans don’t wor-
ship empty objects but believed powers in those objects.
4) On theodicy, i.e. problem of evil, Prof. Dukor says that
Igbo metaphysics and Augustinian theodicy believe that God
did not create evil, but that evil is man-made and that some e vil
are attributable to some gods and misguided divinities (p. 153).
5) Dukor’s logikos of an existing God in Ibo-metaphysics is
that there is necessarily a perfect God because God is perfection.
Hence, the existence of perfection indicates that God exists (p.
6) Other topics highlighted by Prof. Dukor include anthro-
pomorphism and imanism (i.e. describing God as if he is a man
with human qualitied, especially that God is in all things, this
which touched on what he called theistic panpsychic animistic
universe) (i.e. God is the universe, the universe is God) (i.e.
God is connected to all things through the gods, goddesses and
divinities, down o the earth goddess-Ani-yet, God remains tran-
scendant), (i.e. above all).
7) The mind and body issue in Ibo metaphysics simply holds
that man is physical, spirit and mental (mind) in composition
(see Eke, 2001), hence the question, what is the relationship
between spirit, soul, heart and brain in man. According to Du-
kor, at death the Igbo spirit (muo) leaves the body (anu aru) and
through transmigration that spirit metamorphoses into the soul
(psyche) which goes to God for judgement (p. 157) The mind
(mentality) cannot function if the spirit is not there since the
spirit gives life and sustenance to the body, which energizes the
mind; called Uche-muo, i.e. spiritual-mentality (intellect and
8) Finally, other ontological objects in Igbo metaphysics in-
clude a) the mystical palm tree; b) The offor, symbol of truth; c)
the ogiris, new boulda tree which represents personal and fam-
ily totems (gods) etc. Then the Oji (kola nut). That is, he who
brings the kola nut brings life.
Prof. Madu Dukor ended this chapter with notes on the phi-
losophical significance of myths and symbols (case study) the
Zangbeto cult of the Ogu people of Badagry, Nigeria; the sig-
nificance has its origin in the religious humanism and the phi-
losophical search for wisdom through premodial myths of the
zangbeto tradition (p. 163).
Research Findings, Suggestions and Conclusions
This study has noticed that works in philosophy often focus
on carving out ideologies, worldviews or believe-systems for
groups or peoples; often these believe-systems end up sticking
as those peoples’ philosophies without measureable evidences
of sociological or practical (pragmatic) relevance or solution of
those peoples social-problem by the philosophies carved out or
attributed to them. The point is that this study has found out
that more often a peoples philosophies, theistic, humanist,
phenomenological, or existential ideologies, do not really often
improve the social and economic welfare of such people; which
is what Humanism should be that is, a people’s philosophy
should be seen to be improving their socio-economic educa-
tional and scientific-wellbeing. This is what I am saying, if the
Ibo are presented as egalitarian and capitalist in their philoso-
phy. Can we presently identify prosperity and socio-scientific
advancement among present day Ibos as a philosophy of hard-
work, progressiveness, egalitarianism, capitalism and existen-
Let Us Perform an Experiment
1) Someone sat down in California, never visited Africa, but
he wrote that Africans are “theistic existentialists”.
2) Someone else visits some African communities and inter-
acts with poor uneducated people (not western or university
trained philosophers) Do you think that an uneducated African
will understand what “theistic existentialism” means, let alone
accept it as a worldview Cosmology or philosophy.
3) Then verbally interview and ask that poor uneducated
farmer what his philosophy or view of life is; i.e. ask him what
life means to him just wait for it.
4) What this experiment means is that often scholars sit
down on study tables and label a peoples belief systems without
visiting and interacting with such people. Often such people do
not understand what such scholars have labeled them: but
onething is often very clear. People know what they are wor-
shipping. Often they do not think or reason the way other peo-
ple say they do. Simply put, philosophers have become mind
readers of what they believe people are reasoning, rather than
being investigators of what people are actually reasoning.
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