Open Journal of Philosophy
2011. Vol.1, No.2, 76-83
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/ojpp.2011.12013
Theistic Panpsychic Communicative Rationality
Maduabuchi Dukor
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awla, Nigeria.
Received August 11th, 2011; revised September 16th, 2011; accepted September 24th, 2011.
The difference between a scientific system and the non scientific system is only a matter of forms of rationality:
so also the difference between empirical system and non empirical system explainable in terms of the kinds of
rationality systems in their structures. Similarly, the classification of civilized cultures and primitive cultures or
the black civilization and western civilization is all about forms of rationalizations. That is because the form of
explanation of European Society is different from the form of explanation of the Black African animistic society.
However, structural functionalism is an attempt on a large scale to combine the methods of both functionalism
and structuralism which is not only extant in African philosophy but also embedded in the practice of tradition.
Indeed Theistic Panpsychic rationality is culturally structural and functional thereby qualifying to be described
as structural functional Panpsychic communicative animism.
Keywords: Theistic, Panpsychism, Animism, Communication, Rationality, Oralism an d Proverb
The traditions of Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Marx etc are forms
of rational enquiries into particular socio political formations of
their respective cultures. The American pragmatic thinkers like
Pierce, Meed and Dewey had the vision and understanding of
radical participatory democracy. Horkhemer, Adorno, Marcus
and other members of the Frankfurt school formed a rational
system antithetical to the methodology of modernity and the
Enlightenment Europe. The history of Western philosophy is
indeed the history of rational explanations and communications.
Yet in the ancient Africa (uninfluenced by western tradition)
there is a peculiar and unique form of rationalization process in
form of oral tradition that is animistic but symbolically and
philosophically described as theistic panpsychic communicative
rationality and its antithesis theistic panpsychic literally criti-
Until the emergence of the critical theory, it was not obvious
that the soul of humanity was being desecrated by modernity.
Consequently recreating the world from the battered assault of
modernity becomes the preoccupation of Habermas and the
Frankfurt school even as the pristine African consciousness
holds tenaciously the lubrics of the universe which the former
failed to recapture. African society is a fallibillistic critical co-
mnity whose perception and utilization of society is partly a
function of transendentalism and inter-subjectivism, yet based
on Theistic Humanism. However, Habermas sought the Kernel
of what he was to later call “Communicative action”. For him:
Communicative action is a distinctive type of social interac-
tion the type of action oriented to mutual understanding. It must
be distinguished from other types of social action and non so-
cial action which are oriented to success, to the efficient
achievement of ends. These later action types exhibit the form
of purposive rational action where we seek to achieve an end or
goal by appropriate means (Bei nstein, 1983).
However, communicative action which is in form of prov-
erbs and prayers or liturgies which in African philosophy is
based on Theistic Psychic rationality is a kind of purposive
rational actions purposive rational actions, according to Ha-
bermas, can be treated under two different aspects, the empiri-
cal, efficiency of technical means and the consistency of choice
between subtle means. The rationality of means requires tech-
nically utilized, empirical knowledge. The rationality of deci-
sions and goals requires the application and inner consistency,
of value systems and decision maxims, as well as the correct
derivation of acts of choice. Theistic Panpsychic rationality not
only emphasizes decisions that requires the understanding and
consistency of value systems and decision maxims, as well as
the correct derivation of acts of choice but also the rationalizas-
tion of empirical knowledge as a secondary quality in African
philosophy Rational purposive actions which is the inner con-
sistency of value syste ms and decisions maxims have transcen-
dental claims and justifications and the rationality is what I call
Theistic Panpsychism which ethno methodologically and un-
scientifically is an animistic thought process and actions. Ani-
mistic philosophy is a pervading and immanent philosophy that
underlay socio-political and techno-empirical actions in Black
man’s universe. The ultimate justification or foundationality
which is Theistic Panpsychism and Theistic humanism theo-
retically manifest in a host of symbolic interactions, arts, aes-
thetic monological regularities and empirical analytic herme-
neutics in all spheres including the esthetics, the cultural, the
political and the technical. Unlike the theistic panpsychic phi-
losophy, modernity disintegrated objective reason into partial
moments, scientific-technical rationality, practical moral ra-
tionality, and aesthetic rationality. Like Adomo, a post-odernist,
African philosophy of Theistic panpsychism rationalizes aes-
thetic production so as to achieve a sublation of instrumental
rationality into a non repressive form of reason. African phi-
losophy with its metaphysical rationality rescues the arts, pain-
ting, dancing etc. from the metaphysical and aesthetic hiccups
of instrumental rationality and provides a framework of theistic
panpsychic rationality for instrumental reason to be sublated
into a field of forces which is ruled by logic higher than that of
identifying instrumental action. Through the metaphysical founda-
tion of Theistic Panpsychism, African philosophy distills out a
non repressive instrumental rationality and achieves an aes-
thetic unity out of a manifold of its individual elements. Au-
thentic work of art in African philosophy supported by the me-
taphysical foundation of Theistic Panpsychic rationality exhibits
a resemblance of reconciliation and achieves a non repressive
form of social and spiritual integration.
Arts as Communicative Action
Generally, when we think of art, what might first come to
mind is “beauty”, “intrigue”, “imitation”, “festivity”, and so on.
Plato’s states that “art is the imitation of sensible things by
means of a copy at lower level of reality” (Martin and Jacobus,
1983). Here, imitation is used to suggest a similarity in appear-
ance between art and object of the material world. On the other
hand, material objects are perceptible to our sense, thus we are
aware and certain of them. In other words, artist actually en-
deavors to imitate all that is visible, and in essence, immaterial
objects of our sense. This is contrary to Plato’s notion, which is
embodied with elements of idealism, which is that the artist
imitates sensible thing, which are but faint shadows of reality.
The social, spiritual, artistic or aesthetic integration in Igbo A-
frican philosophy, independent of instrumental reason, is no-
mological, theistic panpsychically communicative, interactive
and idealistic. Art, in this sense, endeavors to depict the fea-
tures, qualities, facts, and character of the original. In this sense,
art can never be the genuine but a copy or specimen, which is
made to look like the original. Thus, Aristotle rightly states,
that it is “natural for man to delight in works of imitation” (Ari-
stotle). For communicative actions reasons, “delight”, “beauty”,
or “pleasure” is paramount to artistic representations. This view
may have been initiated by Santayan’s notion which states that
beauty, which can only be found in the sensory appearance of
things, is pleasure objectified. Implicitly, pleasure is actually
cast as a quality of the object resulting from natural impulse,
which appear to us as beautiful. Santayana, argues that, “The
beautiful is itself an essence, an indefinable quality felt in many
things, which however disparate they may be, otherwise receive
this name by virtue of a special emotion, half wonder, half love,
which is felt in their presence” (Urmson,1984). In aesthetic
communicative interactions and actions the beauty of some-
thing which one sees or hears lies in one’s whole attention cen-
tering on loving care and on the precise character of that with
which one is confronted. In doing this, one is really not con-
cerned with the irrelevant factual context in which this thing is
embedded. What is found to be beautiful then is a given essence,
not the physical things. Basically, the essence attracts and holds
the interest of the viewer when it is beautiful and charming.
Typically, this leads one into aesthetic contemplation. Further,
art gives a unique quality of pleasure, which appears distinct
from the pleasure derived from the satisfaction of any of the
instincts. Such a pleasure can be derived only from art, which is
pure and worthy in itself. This is typically hedonistic, in view
of the fact that beauty lies in the ability of an object to please,
when in aesthetic contemplation.
In addition, both the expression of art and the contemplation
of beauty are activities of the self. Art can be interpreted as a
free expression. Generally, art portrays freedom, frankness ‘and
independence, especially, of the artist. In light of this, ‘artist’
may suggest an individual, who can flourish only by becoming
free of all collective entanglements and commitments in the
external world; just like the spectator is entranced by the beauty
of artworks. Similarly, the artist is entranced by the beauty of
material object; he dissociates himself from elements of his
immediate surroundings but surrenders himself to the trance of
tranquil state of aesthetics. In other words, the artist endeavors
to acquire full mental and steady concentration on the object of
aesthetics which in turn, enables him to express himself fully in
his art, otherwise his art does not assume art of the highest
standard. In fact, such an art will be no more than a mere imita-
tion of nature, or an expression of the tastes of the public whom
it may aspire to please (Adorn, 1984). Art is organizes and en-
deavors to be orderly, like it is in nature. Also, art is brought
into being not only by its physical appearance or the material
component, but most importantly, by the beauty it embodies. In
fact, it will be consistent to state that since art is an imitation of
the material world, then beauty may well be an extension of
the beauty embodied in all original and natural materials, ob-
jects, and events such as stones, water, colours, animal, wood,
vegetation, language, sound , movement, and so on. In other
words, beauty is a nature given essence embedded in all that is
nature-created. All art forms come to being as a result of nature
given aids. For instances, dancing involved the human body
and movements. Music is complimentary to dance; it involved
human body (as in gesticulation), language, and action.
African art is a genuine indigenous art, which is not influ-
enced by foreign ideas and culture. It is an art, in its pure Theis-
tic Panpsychic animism. However, according to Osa D. E-
gonwa, “African art could be defined as the Creative objectify-
cation of Africans, which bear the imprints of African aesthe-
tics in their styles and subjective contents”(Egonwa, 1994).
African aesthetics is technically displayed on the African art-
work, verbalized by the African in the evaluation of objects of
aesthetic and communicative experience, and is rooted in the
collective views of the people.
The African believes the inanimate but animistic objects
have essence, which is spiritual. Only this ‘life force’ makes
some of these objects suitable for certain functions, determines
their physical qualities, accounts for the choice of materials
such as gold, bronze, brass, wood or clay for artistic creations
and the high panpsychic and animistic symbolisms and meta-
phors. For instance, among the Yoruba, a four-sided shape re-
fers to the four powerful deities: East represents Sango, West
represents Ifa, and North represents Oduduwa and the south
represents, perhaps, the sumpem deity God Otadumer/Oloriun.
A sense of uniqueness and style is revealed in traditional Afri-
can painting. The first style used was the application of care-
fully outlined dark shadows to capture descriptive scenes of
animals and human in motion. This style of silhouette isn’t only
beautiful and elegant, but it is also original to the African. Also,
there were the realistic representation of figures, and poly-
chrome tendency. In fact, in the attempt to capture realistic
images, natural colours, such as copper, red, brown, orche, and
Kaolin white where obtained from minerals such as iron, hema-
tite, chrome and lime among others and bound with a variety of
adhesive agents were used. Painting and drawing were used for
decorative, magical and preservative purposes. In fact, in an-
cient Egypt, the belief in after death gave rise to realistic em-
phasis on painting and drawings of kings and nobles, used to
ensure that they continue to enjoy all that they had on earth
even after death (Egonwa). These kind of animistic Panpsychic
sculptures serve as aesthetic communications. The richness of
the facial expressions in some of the stone sculptures suggests
that they may have been idealized portraits of people. Also,
there are evocative stone monoliths with engravings metal work
with ritual symbols, stool, staff’s office, some form of animal
and human figures. The blacksmiths were talented and well
skilled as they produced exclusive aesthetic communicative
designed works, especially for religious purposes and for the
royal class. African wood sculpture is predominantly naturalis-
tic representations of human figures usually in African regalia,
especially if the figure depicts a chief, animal figures or decora-
tive motifs. African objects of art, especially the wood sculp-
ture, are meant to be perceived, appreciated and relished, but
except in cases when members of secret cults or groups used
them. However, the African sculpture is simply a folk expres-
sion of folk-people as diverse as the traditions of Africa. The
intricate designs, which are some of major characteristic of
African sculpture suggest the great talents, dexterity and craft-
anship in traditional society.
Africa also produced dancers’ musicians and poets. In tradi-
tional society, every event such as war, marriage, birth, death,
ritual, initiations, and festivals is celebrated in public sphere
accompanied with songs and music. Music is a means of theis-
tic humanistic communication. In its rhythm, melody and har-
mony music is blend in such a way as to evoke theism, animism,
emotion and ecstasy. There are many musical instruments par-
ticularly drums of different kinds; it is this that gives our dances
a communicative animistic spirit and variety. The emotional
responses to the inspirational quality of the theme, vocals, the
power of its story and the vividness of its characterizations are
the communicative actions of African music and poetry. Poetry
is recited or sung orally. Studies of the traditional literature of
many societies such as Igbo, Swahili, Yoruba, Uganda and
Kenya, have shown that African communities have always had
their own ideals of the nature and function of poetry. Tradi-
tional poems are a serious art and communicative action for
dealing in a wide range of human experiences in rich figurative
languages, presenting beautiful pictures in words and certain
deep reflections about the world and man’s place in it, and treat
the relation between man, his environment and nature, all of
which are theistic Panpsychic animistic in nature. Traditional
oral poetry is composed as religious songs, and lyrics, dirges,
praise-poetry, prayers, proverbs, myths, and so on. Also, the
emotional facial expression by poets and dancers enhances the
aesthetics and beauty of traditional songs and poetry.
Also, beauty, sensuality, artistic sensitivity, and a taste for
spectacle suggest already existing aesthetic culture in Africa.
For instance, in the West African sub-region, the clothing of
both genders is almost the same. Generally, it ordinarily con-
sists of a long piece of cloth wrapped loosely around the body.
However, the lengthy job of adding finishing touches to pieces
of clothing with an aesthetic arrangement of multi-colour
paintings, dyes, embroidery and breads are delicately and artis-
tically done, especially for ceremonies, festivals or for royalty.
Theistic Panpsychic Animistic Arts and
Literally Criticism
Theistic Panpsychic rationality as the underlying principle of
African philosophy points to some element of the universal in
the communicative epistemic actions of African art. This pre-
supposes a position that refuses to create mutual exclusiveness
between western and African aesthetics except the difference in
the underlying cultural principles that separately informed both.
African arts and aesthetic as modes of communicative rational-
ity have sacred and ritualistic superstructure, the reason for
which I have described theistic Panpsychism as a mode of ra-
tionality. This Panpsychic and animistic nature of African art
and aesthetic sensibility gives it uniqueness, yet as an art and
aesthetics in continuum with civilization of humanity. It is nei-
ther Platonic nor Kantian in methodology but the same as a
mode of intellectual appreciation of nature. Hence Eugenia
collier critical theory that treats African art and aesthetics and
western version as mutually exclusive is a deservice to artistic
and aesthetic humanity. The background to this position is the
truncated invention and methodology of J. O. Ojo:
I have indicated earlier that European artists recognized Af-
rican sculpture as an art form. This is rather a pity because
many of the objects which European artists regard as works of
arts were not conserved as such by their creators. Many of
these objects, which Euro-American aesthetic sensibility classi-
fied as works of art are in fact sacred and ritual objects, objects
whose forms are dictated partly by tribal convention, technical
instruments each of which has its own well defined functions.
But the religious and spiritual backgrounds which brought
them into being are not often considered. It is not realized by
many that art in the phrase African Art is an unsatisfactory
term and that when used, aesthetic analysis based on either
Platonic or Kantian definition of beauty is unapplicable (Col-
lier, 1986).
Art as an intellectual appreciation of object and as a means of
social and cultural communication is a universal value. But
aesthetic valuations differ from one race to another and that of
the African is sacred and ritualistic. The meanings attached to
art by the Africans may be different from the meanings attached
to it by the Europeans. However Collier rightly stated that “Af-
rican art grows out of a concept of the universe which holds
that man and nature are one: that the spirit world and physical
world are equal realistics; the past, present and future exist
together and that man is in harmony with his world. This is a
monistic or naturalistic conception of art that explains African
cosmology; there are, however, other conceptions that caters for
other segemental realities without a total bifurcation of the
ultimate principle that underlie everything that bespeaks of
Theistic humanism or Theistic panpsychism in Africa. Though
God created man to have dominion over nature, the African
maintained dominion at animistic and ritualistic level condi-
tioned with theistic panpsychism: while the western dominion
of nature takes on a scientific and technological dimension that
subsists outside the confines of nature and spirit and the turns
against it. Western metaphysical and social dualism presup-
poses a human that emphasizes the person as an individual.
Western humanism claims a schism between man and nature.
The central assumption of this humanism is “a dualism of man
and nature, as opposed to the monism assumed by naturism”.
On the other hand, African unity of man and nature and its
dualism of soul and spirit underlies a special form of humanism
that is obedient to (and not against) nature, a humanism that is
derived from the gods and God, a humanism that artistically
and aesthetically amenable to the objects of nature in the name
of Theistic humanism and panpsychism. It is therefore false for
Collier to assert that “humanism is the antithesis of the unified
view of Africans” (Collier). This is because the western form of
humanism is different from the African humanism. While the
western humanism is scientific and technological the African
humanism is metaphysically theistic humanism, an amalgam of
the spiritual transcendental and regrettably crudely inchoate
scientific animism that subsists at the level of subliminal exis-
tentialism. The western aesthetic humanism operates with an
instrumental rationality that pits man against nature, an off-
spring of the hollowness and destructive ontology of the mod-
ernity, while Africa aesthetic humanism is coherent specie of
the holistic, communal, social and monistic world view super-
imposed in the ultimate universal principle of theistic panpsy-
chic superstructure of transcendental unity of apperception in
African philosophy.
Rational aesthetic communication in African philosophy ac-
tivates the sensibilities that produce sculptors, proverbs myths,
tales, songs poems dance, tragedy etc. that relates man to sub-
terranean objects and entities that pronounce the dependence
and mortality of man and his limitations in the face of the infi-
nite and immortal creator perceived as synonymous to nature.
In this sense, the African art or aesthetics is a deeper reality
than the Western understanding of art, though the difference
borders at the level of culture, the former is Theistic humanistic
and panpsychic while the other is scientific and technological.
Eugenia Collier captures the substance of African culture as
follows “Art is like a pebble dropped in water… individual,
family, community, universe, spirits world, all brought into
meaningful relationship through art. Thus art is functional and
highly disciplined, serving purposes that are social, political
and psychological” (Collier). In African philosophy art is par-
ticipatory being rational instrument of communication and dy-
namic, realistic and concrete means of realizing the society’s
moral, social, spiritual and economic goals. As a moral vehicle,
“it is committed to truth and ultimately to the sacredness of the
human spirit” (Collier). There is the element of Puritan view of
art in African philosophy as much as in Plato’s conception of
Art. Plato’s view of art as much as that of the African is both
relevant to the political welfare of the state and the religious or
spiritual salvation of the individual soul. For Plato, “lyric po-
etry is an utterance of the gods through the medium of the poet
conveyed through virtual “possession” (Collier). This view by
definition has moral and African theistic animistic implication.
Hence African art and Plato’s art coincide in their spiritual,
political and moral interests in the society.
African aesthetic communicative rationality presupposes Af-
rican forms of political organization and government as well as
the totality of individuals’ cultural and behaviouralistic mani-
festations and as directed by Theistic humanistic and panpsy-
chic tendencies. In the art there are both Egoistic and altruistic
conceptions and in some cases outright conceptions of pleasure.
In African artistic and aesthetic conceptions there are material
and emotional elements as shown in a carved figures which
contained the spirit of an ancestor, a praise song to a chieftain,
in a dance to thank the gods for a beautiful harvest etc. I agree
with Prozirimu that African art is different from the art of the
The authentic critical standards must be born from the works
of specific societies and their representative creators. That is
where it all begins, criticism. Not in Aristotles Poetics. The
Poetics were written from Greek dramatic performances and
experience, it was a distillation and a summation of what ap-
peared to be operating principles from observed plays. Our
plague has been to think that Greece was the universe and Ar-
istotle the world oracle (Collier).
In terms of literally criticism, writers must not study African
arts and aesthetics from the mind set of white standard but from
the fundamentally metaphysical theistic principles that form the
superstructure of blacks’ world view, as “black aesthetics is an
outcome of black societies” (Collier). African art is a Theistic
panpsychic art that reflects the values of communalism and
community, and communicatively and rationally functions as a
means of sustaining the society or the community in aesthetic
and public spheres. African aesthetics and arts is also mythical
and could be analyzed and understood at metaphysical level
because of the people’s collective unconscious based on the
supra-natural Theistic panpsychism. The nature of African may
agree to some extent arts therefore, has what one can call
communal archetypes and myths reinforcing the entire world
view. African literature, aesthetics and poetry is fundamentally
couched in mythical planks underlying the mysterious and su-
pernatural nature of the universe, and its creator, for which in
many ways it differs from Freudian and Marxist analysis of arts.
African poetry is, in the same sense, in search of the ultimate in
the mythical universe; it is both an expression of ultimate real-
ity and the emotional phenomenal nature. The African would
agree with T.S Eliot that “Poetry is not a turning losses of emo-
tion, but an escape from emotion: it is not the expression of
personality” (Collier). African aesthetic experience is a re-
sponse of sensitivities to the supernatural and the natural, the
Theistic humanistic structure of the universe, created, static or
dynamic, but which represent or articulate essential archetypes,
symbols and attitudes of the community and uncreated.
Orality and Forms of Communication
Oral tradition is one of the theistic animistic elements of Af-
rican folk literature which serves as vehicle for historiography,
and communicative actions consist of folk takes, ballads songs,
epic narratives, myths and legends, riddles, proverbs, recita-
tions and chants, orations festivals, drama and ritual perform-
ance A tradition is oral if it has no written literature or sacred
scriptures. The Websters Third New International Dictionary
defines oral tradition variously as follows:
The process of handing down information, opinions, belief
and customs by word of mouth or example, transmission of
knowledge and institution through successive generations
without written instruction. Cultural continuity embodied in a
massive complex of evolving social attitudes, beliefs, conven-
tions and institution rooted in the experiences of the past and
exerting a normative influence on the present. Something exist-
ing only in popular belief inherited reputation or memory
(Webster, 1971).
In order for a thing to be regarded as traditional, it must be
widely understood and practiced in a society and it must have
been handed down for at least a few generations. Unfortunately,
the term is misapplied to represent just anything anyone wishes
to give legitimacy. Strictly speaking however, oral traditions
are those recollections of the past that are commonly or univer-
sally known in a given culture. Versions that are not widely
known should be dubbed testimony while those that relate to
recent event belong to the realm of oral history (Henigo, 1982).
As a coherent communicative network of theistic animism oral
tradition consists of myths, legends, stories, proverbs, belief,
folktales, songs and dances, liturgies and rituals, pithy sayings,
riddles and adages, social attitudes, conventions, institutions
and customs. Some of these communicative symbols and ac-
tions appear in work of arts and crafts, symbols and emblems,
names of people and places, shrines and sacred places. Works
of art are not merely for decoration. They usually convey reli-
gious feeling, sentiments, aesthetic feelings ideas and truth
(Ajayi, 1981). Oral tradition involves the handing down of a
thought system from one generation to another by word of
mouth or by practice. The elderly and the wise-men are re-
garded as the purveyor of the thought system. Oral traditions
can be described as testimonies of the past which are deliber-
ately transmitted from mouth to mouth. These traditions are
neither rumours nor sensational stories but eyewitness accounts
that have been passed from generation to generation. The ab-
sence of the art of writing in traditional African societies has
made it necessary to employ oral traditions as a means of pre-
serving and transmitting African religious beliefs and practiced.
These oral traditions constitute the scripture of African tradi-
tional region. They are mirror through which the religion of
African is known (Aderibigbe, 1987). However, the reliability
of the various form of oral traditions as vehicle for the authentic
beliefs of the people varied. For example the condensed, and
memorized forms like proverbs, names and pithy sayings, whi-
ch are said to be memorized as they were handed down from
the time immemorial, are certainly more reliable than myths,
legends, folktales and daily speeches which are susceptible to
changes and sometimes have distorted version. Oral tradition is
both an art and an instrument of communicative action in Afri-
can philosophy with its epistemological foundation in the unity
of apperception consciousness or Theistic Panpsychism. No hu-
man face is exactly the same as another human face, but it is
like many others in having two eyes, a nose, two lips and two
ears. In the same way, no two people even respond to God’s
presence in exactly the same way.
Similarly each particular religion has a particular character
because of the particular people who practice it. For example,
Islam grew in the Caravan Cities of Arabia, Hindus devel-
opedin India and African religion in the indigenous religion of
the Africans. It is the religion that has been handed down from
generation to generation by the fore-bears. It would be seen,
therefore, that in one form or the other every person in the
world over seems to have in him a force that links him with the
“Ultimate reality” called God (Aderibigbe).
The force in African philosophy is Theistic Humanistic Pan-
psychic animism. It should be noted that the absence of sacred
literature and also the absence of imposing sacred buildings lik e
mosques, churches, cathedrals and temples should not be inter-
preted to mean that African religion cannot be known. The
history of religions the world over testifies to the fact that the
societies from which these religions emanated were backward
and pre-literate and the revelation given to them existed in oral
form before being committed to writing at a much later date. In
the same way, Africa religious ideas or Theistic Pan- psychic
animism exist largely in oral form. Thus, inspite of the fact that
Africans have no written records, their religious beliefs and
practices can be known and revealed.
African Panpsychic animistic philosophy is mirrored through
some institutionalized devices. Some of these devices are both
oral and non-oral. The oral devices include myths, proverbs,
theophorous names, everyday speech, pithy saying, liturgy and
songs. The value of proverbs as a reservoir for religious beliefs
and customs of non-literate people derives from reportorial
communicative value of proverbs in most African Societies.
These proverbs reveal a lot about African philosophical belief,
especially ideas about Theistic Panpsychism. From some of
these proverbs, we learn of the following attributes of God:
Creator, omnipotent, holy, compassionate, omnipresent, self-
existing, accessible and determiner of destiny. Some of the
proverbs also describe his power, his transcendence, his mercy,
his care for his creature, his lordship over the universe and his
divine providence. Proverbs are natural to the people. They are
the rational voice of the people in the profound sense and are
accepted as a true index of what a people regard as true and are
interpretative of the principle of life and conduct. Among Afri-
cans, the use of proverbs is cultivated as an art and cherished as
an instrument of rational communication. The Yoruba say that
proverbs are horses for retrieving missing words. The Zulu also
assert that “without proverbs, language would be but a skeleton
without flesh and to a body without soul” (Aderibigbe). The
Igbo have it that “a child who knows how to use proverbs has
justified the dowry paid on his mother’s head”. The same could
be said of most African peoples.
Most of these proverbs refer to Theistic humanism as the
spiritual, physical and moral principles of African philosophy.
For instance the power and reliability of God are expressed by
some African proverbs. The Bangerwanda (Rwanda) say “The
tree set up by manna (God) cannot be blown down by the wind”
(Jacobs, 1997). Similarly the omnipresent of God is expressed
by this Akan Proverb: “If you want to tell God, tell it to the
windOral traditions have played important roles in revealing
both the ethical as well as the communicative rationality of the
Africans. They serve moral purposes. Some of these oral tradi-
tions e.g. proverbs reveal the value judgment and morality of
the people. Good character is cherished in such a way that eve-
ryone is expected to cultivate it. According to the elders, good
character is the king of medicine for fortune. Proverbs project
the belief that the entire world is a stage, as we have our entry
and exit. Consequently, life itself is transitory and ephemeral.
Hence the slogan “As I watch through this span of life, what
name, what image do I have behind, what hope and what
thought for the future, preoccupies their minds” (Jacob). The-
refore, according to the African, man should do good and hate
evil. Thus, for the Igbo good character is the key to success and
that good name is better than riches. The Yorubas believe that
character is a god, it supports one according to manners and the
way he behaves. Consequently, “Whatever one sows he shall
reap” (Jacob). Hence, the watch-word is that good character is
the adornment of man.
They also stress the fact that wo rthless people are so many as
the grass while good people are dearer than the eyes. From the
foregoing, one cannot but agree with the view that proverbs as
oral tradition are used to emphasize the importance of good
character among the Igbos and Yorubas. The following could
be considered as among the proverbs which deal with the moral
value of the Yorubas. For instance, when the earth worm pays
respect to the soil, the soil opens for it (Delano, 1972). The pro-
verb serves as an advice to the experienced people that if they
accept their position and give honor to those who are superior
to them, they will receive favour and help they need. With this
proverb, it is necessary to state here that the African greatly
believe in the saying that if youths could give respect to the
elders and listen to the advice and the dictate of the elders, they
believe that their ways will be straight in life. There are some
proverbs which serve as warning to our future living. For in-
stance, if a kinsman is not warned in time when he eats poi-
soned insect, the resulting itch will keep the whole family
awake (Delano). The proverb is pointing to us that the actions
of those near to us may affect our ways of life and so it is wise
to warn them if they are acting imprudently so as not to suffer
with them in the very near future.
It is however pertinent to mention here that through oral tra-
ditions, the Africans uphold dearly the spirit of unity and to-
getherness which is not fundamental but also instrumental in
living a progressive and peaceful life. This conception is well
conceived in proverbs. Consequently, the proverbs such as “the
decease which troubles forty also torments three hundred and
when the right hand washes the left and the left washes the right,
makes both hands clean, do not only encourage the spirit of
unity and togetherness but also stress its importance (Odujinrin,
1984). This gives incentives to mutual help which is beneficial
to all parties concerned for instance. “The child’s hand cannot
reach the shelf, the elder’s hand cannot enter the gourd”. Oral
tradition through proverbs recommends cooperation between
the young and the old. It points out that the old need the young
and the young need the old conversely. It could be used as a
rational communicative instrument whenever there is a quarrel
between young an d old people.
Proverbs are wise sayings; simply expressed they are the
words of elders, which are words of wisdom. A wise man has it
and get wiser, while a foolish man hears it and becomes more
foolish. The ideas expressed in proverbs are generally regarded
as truisms truths, which cannot be rationally disputed because
they express certain truths about value and reality. The elders
say proverbs are the horses of speech, if communication is lost;
we use proverbs to retrieve it. Generally, proverbs are em-
ployed by elders in a discussion of importance. The more an
elder can appropriately use proverbs, the more he is regarded as
a man of wisdom. Like a proverb: “The drum sounding a mes-
sage of war is beaten in critical manner, only wise men can
dance to it, and only experience men can understand it” (Aji-
bola). The value of proverbs lies in what it reveals of the
thoughts of the past, expressed of the present and speculated on
the future as well as on the facts of being a model of com-
pressed and forceful language. Apart from drawing on it for its
words of wisdom, the speaker or user of proverbs takes interest
in its verbal technique, its selection of words, and its use of
comparison as a method of rational communication.
However, proverbs are not only a body of shorts statements
and insight of a community into problem of life, but also a
technique of verbal expresses. It is a traditional saying which
expressed the basic common truth of a people. According to
Oladele Taiwo, oral traditions deal with all aspects of life. They
are used to emphasize the words of the wise and the stock-in
trade of old people, who use them to, convey precisely moral
lessons, advice warnings, since they make a greater impact on
the mind than ordinary words. The judicious use of proverbs is
usually regarded as a sign of wit (Taiwo, 1967). Proverbs as
oral tradition form the main structural materials of the language
of communication. Appropriate and correct usage of proverbs is
important among the users. Oral tradition through proverbs is
constantly pressed into the service of the elders during delibera-
tions in council and at home when settling disputes. It is gener-
ally believed that a relevant proverb if mentioned throws light
on the subject and drives points so vividly home that the impact
enters very fully into their feelings. Consequently, one can be
allowed to take part in communal discussions if he is consid-
ered to be versed in the use of proverbs.
Epistemology of Proverbs
A general epistemological survey of some African proverbs
will attempt one to conclude that the Africans are also empiri-
cists. Knowledge to them is some times based on experience.
Elders say “experience is the content of wisdom”, we do not
stay away and claim to know what a particular soup tasted like
and news is not as reliable as personal witnessing. In other
words, proverbs readily reflect the epistemological and panpsy-
chic animistic proposition that knowledge is derived through
experience. Under this situation, if something bad happens to
someone, for instance, if one looses a job, the fact that one has
personally experienced that danger of unemployment makes
him to know the evil effect of unemployment in the society.
The African also through proverbs express the view that
knowledge is a universal phenomena, hence the proverb ‘wis-
dom is not an exclusive possession of any one and does not
belong to any individual’. This proverb is similar to Yoruba
proverb; “the young man is wise and an elderly man is also
wise as a result of which Ile-Ife was founded” (Kola, 1982).
This proverb concerns Ile-Ife which is regarded as the cradle of
Yoruba land. The proverb arose from the story of Oduduwa
who was the founder of Ile-Ife. He was a warrior who was said
to have traveled all the way from a place around the present day
Mecca. He eventually got a piece of vast and plain land where a
young man suggested to him that they should settle and which
he readily accepted. Hence, they settled down and agreed to call
the place Ile-Ife, which simply means a plain land or an ex-
panded of land. The proverb is epistemological and rationally
communicative in the sense that knowledge is not restricted to
the elders alone; although an elder could be more knowledge-
able, knowledge is also extended to the youth. In African tradi-
tion, it is believed that the elders are wise but at the same time,
the elders could sometimes tap from knowledge of the youth.
A proverb says: “The people of our compound are not help-
ful, our relatives have no character but we cannot compare
them to casual outsiders” (Owomoyela, 1973). This proverb
proves to us that experiences have shown to us that it is best to
put up with whatever wrong our relatives and neighbor do to us,
as they will be more helpful to us in difficult times than people
we only know casually. From past experience, people have
believed that it is only your relations who will remain loyal to
shoulder your diffic u l t ies during the tri a l period.
In African cosmology and ontology the Africans believe that
a child who died can still return to the world as many times as
he wishes. Thus, a Yoruba proverb used to buttress this case is:
“An Abiku makes the doctor a liar” (Delano, Op.cit). The Yoru-
ba believe that when the mother loses a child in infancy it is the
same child who returns and dies. Such a child is known as
Abiku”. The above proverb is a metaphysical view of the
Yoruba which have been supported in many ways by empirical
evidence. “Abiku” is the name given to a child who is destined
to die. It is believed that a mischievous spirit (panpsychic ani-
mistic spirit) has taken the place of the child in the mother’s
womb. When the spirit child is about to be born, he promises
the other spirits that he will return to the spirit world soon. It is
for this reason that children sometimes die young. The spirit
has the power to re-enter the same woman several times, if he
wishes. An African Panpsyhic animistic seer or native doctor is
thought to have no influence on the “Abiku”, hence in spite of
the treatment given by him, inspite of numerous medicine and
injections, inspite of seeming improvement under the doctor’s
care, the Abiku child will eventually die. The doctor, whose
treatments may have seemed very effective, will inevitably be
made to appear as a fool or a liar. The proverbs might be used
by a person who feels that his own efforts are destined to fail
because he has no control over certain situation or, it might be
used to explain a failure for which a person does not feel re-
Thestic Animistic Communicative Prayer
Myths are very important elements of theistic Panpsychic
animism. They are stones told to explain the origin of things
like God, universe, earth, familyhood, rivers, gods, divinities,
etc. They are vehicle for Theistic Panpsychic animistic com-
municative rationality. They are an expression of the unob-
servable reality in terms of observable phenomena. They are
vehicle for conveying certain facts about man’s experiences in
his supra sensible world. Carl J. Jong’s theory of myths is
hereby applied to African arts, ontology and cosmology as the
psych of humankind and not the Freudian individual psych and
on the basis of human instinct but not on Freudian neurosis. In
African arts, one could identify a number of basic archetypes
and myths speaking for the communal philosophy of the people.
However, the following different definition of myths shows
some concurrence with the supernatural assumptions of African
aesthetics and theistic panpsychic rationality:
Myths is fundamental, the dramatic representation of our
deepest, institutional life, of a primary awareness of man in the
universe, capable of many configurations, upon which all par-
ticular opinions and attitudes depend. Myth is to be defined as
a complex of stories-some no doubt fact, some fantasy -which,
for numerous reasons human beings regard as demonstrators
of the inner meaning of the universe and of human life. Myth is
the expression of a sense of togetherness-a togetherness not
merely on the plane of the intellect, but a togetherness of feel-
ing and of action and of wholeness of living.Myth are by nature,
collective and communal; they find a tribe or a nation together
in that peoples common psychological and spiritual realities
(Collier, Op.cit).
A myth endeavors to give explanatory answers to the ques-
tions posed to man in this physical universe in which he finds
himself. He attempts to probe and answer question about ori-
gins and purpose of man on earth. For example, the Ijaw myth
of origin of creation says that in the beginning, Tamearau (God)
created heaven and earth. Yoruba creation myth says that earth
was without form when Olodumare (God) decided to create the
earth. He sent orisha-nla, the arch-divinity, to create the solid
These myths raise questions about origin and organization of
the universe. The explanation offered by each of them is a the-
istic one; the world resulted from the activity of a divine being.
Also questions like why must man sweat before he eats; why
women must labor before they give birth to children, and the
like are raised. Answers to questions are naturally clothed in
stories, which serve as means of communication and handing
them down from generation to generation. These myths give us
insight into some of the theistic animistic concepts of the Afri-
can people who evolved them. With regard to the use of myths
as man’s communication, they tell us a lot about people’s wo-
rldview, including their religion. There are some myths, which
are creeds, or esoteric ritual formulae, which are sometimes
learned and recited like prayers. Myths of this nature enjoy a
high degree of authenticity and when properly studied with
accurate illustrations, it could provide the basis for a scripture
in African religion. Besides, some myths actually explain the
dramatic break-through of the sacred into the world. For exam-
ple, the story or how the world came into being is true because
the existence of the world is there to prove it.
Another means of communication is the theistic panpsychic
prayer: they pray to God for guidance and blessing in matters of
daily life, personal, family or business matters. Africans com-
municate with God in prayers at anytime in any place. His is
their last court of appeal. These prayers are made to God, the
deities and the ancestors Ngosian, 1974). Theistic humanistic
panpsychic animislic. Prayers are offered for almost everything,
from asking for the gift of children, for health, wealth or rain,
good harvest to requesting for success in trade, or hunting, most
of these prayers are short and to the point through they are also
example of long and formal prayers (Ngosian). Praying is re-
corded among practically all African peoples through the actual
prayers have not often been recorded in written form. Few ex-
amples would be considered to illustrate the concepts and con-
tents of African prayers in relation to their beliefs and rational
communication with God, gods and ancestors. In an animistic
manner, it is common to hear an elderly African man during the
early morning hours, asking God to let the day dawn well, to
pour upon the people his medicine of health and to drive away
the evil forces. For instance, Pygmies pray when there is sick-
ness and before undertaking a journey or going to hunt, asking
God to heal the sick, prosper the traveler and give game to the
hunter. Similarly, a hymn of prayer committing the Yoruba
worshippers to the care of God says “father of children” prepare
medicine for the children the children have no medicine (Ngo-
sian). This implied that worshippers are entirely dependent
upon God who is mightier than other animistic forces like an-
cestors, gods and divinities. Although most of these prayers are
addressed directly to God, most of them come in form of invo-
cation asking God to intervene for a particular purpose. For
example an African may ask God, give me rain: Help me oh
God: God pity me: These invocations are usually what the indi-
vidual prays spontaneously and unceremoniously on the spur of
the moment. They show that people consider God to be ready to
respond to their need and not subject to religious formalities,
but most of these supplicators go through the gods and god-
desses, ancestors and so on.
Theistic Panpsychic Social and Political System
The theory of fu n c tionalism as a meth o d o l o gy was developed
by Broniski Malinowski. He says that “all social processes are
causally determined” (Malinowski, 1959). What this implies is
that before any new thing can be incorporated in the cultural
system, it must satisfy some human need to justify its existence.
Incidentally, Functionalism is a mode of understanding and co-
mmunication in African thought, although the analytical sche-
me or framework in African reality is theistic, panpsychic and
animistic. African society is functionally dominated by a set of
values held in network by Theistic humanism and Panpsychic
animism which sustains objective natural laws. The hierarchy
of forces in African philosophy though theistically panphyschic
and animist is conceived and understand as theistic functional-
ism which is generated by natural laws. This animistic ontology
is the, functional superstructure of communicative rationality,
which is the nature of beings that inhabit the world, the struc-
ture of the cosmos as conceived in terms of unity and interac-
tive of all beings or forces. Basically, interactive and commu-
nicative African traditional ontological order falls into three
broad categories, Spirits and forces, Human beings, Things (P-
lants and Animals) The interaction of forces, which Placid Te-
mples, describes in his book, Bantu Philosophy, applies to co-
nception of the relationship between the beings in nature. The
order listed above is in descending hierarchy according to the
relative power of spirits. This means that Beings are differ-
rentiated in African Ontology according to their vital power or
their inherent vital rank. At the head is God who is sovereign
over the three worlds posited and those beyond. He posses
spirit in its absolute form and have absolute control over all
beings. After Him come the deities and ancestors: These are the
first fathers and founders of the society. God is not as closely
involved in human affairs and natural phenomena as the deities
and the ancestral spirits. The local deities and ancestral spirits
control natural phenomena while God remains as a kind or su-
perintending power to whom final appeal is made in the event
of any injustice. The deity in collaboration with the ancestral
spirits controls the moral order. The ancestors constitute the
most important chain binding men to God. They occupy an exa-
lted rank in the theistic panpsychic animistic ontological order
regarded as living dead. This is because they belong to a hiera-
rchy, participating in the divine interactions, and rational com-
munications with all forces including human beings.
The ancestors follow their order of primogeniture. They form
a chain through the links of which the elders exercise their au-
thority and influence rationally and communicatively on the
living generation. Those living on earth ranks, in fact, after the
living dead. The living belong in turn to a hierarchy that is also
ordered by their own being in accordance with their primo-
geniture and vital rank, that is superior and master to other
forces that lives on the land. The eldest in an African family or
clan is by Divine law the panpsychic animistic authority con-
necting the ancestors and their descendants, because of his on-
tological status. It is he who bridges the rational communicative
gaps among his people and all inferior forces-animal, plants etc.
In African monarchical societies, the king, following this
panpsychic animistic conception of authority is the father, and
the king of the people. He is the source of all good living; he is
as God himself. Any person who is nominated but is not quali-
fied by reason of vital rank and force, cannot be a king or chief
among the kingdoms, because he cannot be the rational com-
municative link binding the living-dead and the living. In theis-
tic panpsychic funtionalism, there is an ontological chatter whe-
reby, after the category of human forces comes the other forces,
animals, plants and minerals, but the important point here is
that within each of these categories, is found a hierarchy based
on vital force or power, rank and primogeniture whose material
apparatus is culture. And it is based on this that the concept of
authority in African political system can be defined and under-
The hierarchy of forces as one face of the theistic panpsyduc
animistic metaphysics, and social order, authority and leader-
ship as the other face haves the sociological and behavioristic
pattern of functional theory of society. There is a sense in whi-
ch the subjective and objective explanation of communicative
action and social order or public sphere is justified by function-
alism and structuralism. For Ernest Nagel, “the functional view
of culture insists upon the principle that every custom, material
object and others fulfill a vital function within a working who-
le” (Punaman, 1973). Structuralism asks the question of “what
are its constituents or what is it made of?” (Norman) and justice
in theistic panphyschic animistic society is the constituents of
the hierarchical order are God, gods, ancestor, elders, etc. Ho-
wever, structural functionalism is an attempt on a large scale to
combine the methods of both functionalism and structuralism
which is not only extant in African philosophy but also embed-
ded in the practice of tradition. Indeed Theistic Panpsychic ra-
tionality is culturally structural and functional thereby qualify-
ing to be described as structural functional Panpsychic commu-
nicative animism.
Critically speaking the problems of communicative rationality
in theistic panphychic animistic philosophy of culture, that is,
African philosophy is inherent in the functional-structural nature
or epistemological frame work. The limitations border on the
dogmatic and unscientific concepts which are replete in the phi-
losophy of culture such as forces, spirits, gods etc. Again the
vulnerability of cultural predisposes all the elements of function
and structure to disuse and disservices. Yet Culture cannot be
rooted out, rather culture may grow, undergo transformation or it
may evolve. However the greatest problems to African rational
communicative symbols and actions like oral tradition proverbs,
myths and prayer is the impart of acculturation.
Contemporary Africa is the result of tremendous ideological
and infrastructural changes, all of which have altered the pat-
terns of aesthetic and communicative rationality of Africans,
and even the African oral traditions. Access to multiplicity of
ideas contributes greatly to the negative and positive definition
of rationality form. Access to improved technology made pos-
sible the use of foreign production tools and devices, which
impact heavily on traditional values. Consequently, there is
need to improve and scienticize Theistic Panpsychic animism
but not to embrace hollow sciences and the god of materialism.
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