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ARISTOTLE’S POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY AND THE QUESTION OF HUMAN RIGHT IN AFRICA

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 Format: MS WORD ::   Chapters: 1-5 ::   Pages: 80 ::   Attributes: historical analysis ::   112 people found this useful

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THR STUDY

As trite as it has become, the term “African predicament” still enjoys the headlines of many writings on African political issues and problems today. Africa has variously been described as the “home of darkness”, “the land of want” and the “zone of death”, among many others. The atmosphere of uncertainty, despair, darkness and pessimism pervades the colonial and post-colonial Africa. These are some of the features of what is rather known as African predicament. There are two sets of questions that can be asked about the state of political affairs in Africa today.

The first concerns itself with the effects of colonialism brought by the West and the accompanying evils of their mission, namely: what are the visible impacts of colonialism to the psyche of Africans? What did the West actually intend to achieve by destroying African value systems, traditional heritages and the ontological understanding of being in the community of beings. The concern here also is to determine the forms of their operation, the insincerity in granting independence hurriedly to nations that they have so grossly been ripped offits soul and guiding it to the only route of unavoidable failure.

The other set of questions concern the reactions of Africans to the unholy marriage with the West. What are the possible gains and lessons? Do Africans themselves gain anything or learn any lesson therefrom? For how long will Africa live with the scares and/or wounds inflicted on her by the West or through their self-inflicted ones? How can Africa assist herself and most importantly how has Africa inflicted more wounds on herself? What is the route to Africa‟s true emancipation?

1.2 HUMAN RIGHTS IN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

The historical developments that have lead to the expression "human rights" since the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations in 1945 are as fascinating as they are complicated. In the twentieth century, the term "human rights" has replaced earlier expressions such as "natural right" (lex naturalis) in classical Greek and Roman thought, "natural law" (jus naturale) and the "law of nations" (jus gentium) in Roman law and during the Middle Ages, and, since the modern era and the French and American revolutions, the "laws of nature" and the "Rights of Man."

The origin of "natural right" may be traced to the Greeks' distinction between "nature" (physis) and "convention" (nomos).2 The Greeks contrasted animals and humans insofar as the habits of animals were uniform, whereas the practices of humans differed according to convention. The Skeptic philosophers drew the conclusion that what was conventional could be deconstructed since there was no uniform force behind human conventions. The notion of natural right was a rebuttal to this ancient form of deconstruction. The argument for natural right held that undergirding the manifold of human manners and customs there exists a universality and permanence of nature interpreted either in terms of self-evident truths or through a particular historicity. Natural right became the determinate norm in historicity grounded in the invariant structures of human cognition.

        The Stoic idea of "natural law" (the lex aeterna, recta ratio, lex naturalis, ius naturale) governed by a universal system of rational laws influenced the writings of the Roman philosophers Seneca, Cicero, and others, and the Roman jurists Ulpian and Gaius. To use Heinrich Rommen's metaphor, Stoic philosophy was the mother of Roman jurisprudence that "sucked in the doctrine of the ius naturale with its mother's milk."3 Ulpian's definition of the function of justice "to render each his right" (suum ius cuique tribuere) moved beyond the limited political standard of the Greeks. Gaius (Institutes) distinguished the jus civile from the jus gentium, the latter of which would legitimate the absorption into the Roman empire of peoples governed only by their local conventional law.4Classic natural right teachings may be delineated along Socratic-Platonic, Aristotelian, and Thomistic lines. In the Socratic-Platonic tradition, natural right-- as justice-- is independent of law. Justice of the city consists in persons acting according to their capacity and treated according to their merits. Natural right finally transcends the city; the cosmos ruled by God is the only true city. For Aristotle (384-322 BCE), actions can be just by nature or legally just.5 Natural justice or right is unalterable and has the same force apart from any positive law that may embody it. That which is legally just originates in the will of the lawmaker or an act of the polis, and varies in history and time. But natural and legal justice are not mutually exclusive. There is no fundamental disproportion between natural right and the requirements of political society. A right that would transcend political society could not be the right natural to persons who are by nature political animals. Aquinas (1225-74) distinguishes the general and immutable axioms of natural right from which mutable, specific rules of natural right are derived.6 Aquinas works out a harmony between natural right and civil society and the immutable character of the fundamental propositions of natural law as formulated in the Second Table of the Decalogue and symbolized in the doctrine of synderesis or conscience. Like Aristotle, Aquinas emphasizes the social nature of human beings and the primacy of duties to the common good. Conscience explains why the natural law or natural right can be duly promulgated to all human beings as universally binding, despite varying societal conventions.

1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The inability of man to satisfy his countless needs compels him to seek the services of other individuals, hence the origin of the state. Here a state as we have pointed out earlier, exist for the preservation, protection and satisfaction of individual’s needs and for his assimilation.

 

Unfortunately, in Africa today just in Athens at the time of Aristotle, the individuals at the corridors of power have lost sight of the aim for which the state is established. The crux of the matter is that the state seems pitched against the individuals in Africa. Sadly enough, this negligence has given rise to a lot of problems. These problems include: injustice, marginalization, economic crises, inadequate social infrastructures, exploitation, bribery and corruption, incessant violation of human rights, selfish leadership, election malpractice, gansterism, sqandermania mentality, labour strikes, to mention but a few. Furthermore, workers are not paid their salaries as and when due. There are inaccessible roads all over the nation. This has resulted in the loss of many lives of the individuals through road accidents. The education system is grossly in a dilapidated state. The university lecturers, primary and post-primary school teachers often embark on strikes due to poor condition of workers and poor enumeration. Africans suffer economic hardship resulting from the constant increase in the pump prince of petroleum products. Some political leaders do not have proper sense of patriotism. They often make policies that favour egoistic interest at the detriment of the poor and the powerless. This situation calls for an urgent attention, as well for enduring solutions that would salvage Africa form the above socio-political predicaments. It is against this backdrop that we delve exposing first of all the Aristotle’s notion of “individual” and “state”. Our intention is to present Aristotle’s views as a paradigm to the problem of Africa.

1.4 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The main aim of the research work is to examine Aristotle’s political philosophy and the question of human rights in Africa. Other specific objectives of the study are:

  1. to examine Aristotle political philosophy on economic right in Africa
  2. to examine Aristotle philosophy on fundamental human right in Africa
  3. to look into Aristotle political philosophy on individual and state

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

The study on Aristotle’s political philosophy and the question of human rights in Africa will be of immense benefit to philosophy and international relations department in the sense that the study will examine Aristotle political philosophy on economic right in Africa, Aristotle philosophy on fundamental human right in Africa and also Aristotle political philosophy on individual and state. The study will serve as a repository of information to other researchers that desire to carry out similar research on the above topic. Finally the study will contribute to the body of the existing literature on Aristotle’s political philosophy and the question of human rights in Africa

1.6 SCOPE OF THR STUDY

The study will focus on Aristotle’s political philosophy and the question of human rights in Africa. With genuine humanity, we do not intend to present an exhaustive work or study on the socio-political concepts. This study is specifically limited to the Aristotle’s teachings or views of these concepts as they appear r contained in this politic. The above being the case, this study is but a stepping-stone towards more holistic uncovering of the greatness that lies hidden in Aristotle’s socio-political philosophy. In this regard, effort will be made in this work to abstract some relevant truths from Aristotle’s political teachings and apply them as possible solutions to the heart-rending, protracted and precarious African nations’ socio-political and economic predicaments.

1.7 METHODOLOGY

The methods to be used are both expository and evaluative. The study will first explore the background and the environment that helped Aristotle to nurture his socio-political philosophy. Then we shall give a thorough expository explanation of the concepts of the individual and the state as articulated by Aristotle in his political philosophy. Finally, the study will be critical evaluation bring to limelight both the positive and practicable dividends accruing from Aristotle’s notion of the individual and the state.

In general, the work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one offers a synoptic view of the entire work. And the political environment, that is the background of Aristotle’s social-political philosophy. The chapter two is the literature review. In chapter three, we shall dwell on Aristotle’s notion of the individual and the state, including the relationship existing between the individual and state. The fourth chapter is meant to expose the extent of promotion it of human Rights in Nigeria, in the light of Aristotle’s notion of the individual and the state. Here the fundamental human rights will be discussed under economic right, political rights and social rights. And we shall also point out where the human rights are violated. Finally, the chapter five serves as the critical evaluation and conclusion of the work.


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Paper Information

Format:ms word
Chapter:1-5
Pages:80
Attribute:historical analysis
Price:₦3,000
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