TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOCIETY:
The Guest of honour-VERY Rev. Prof. Stephen Mbugua– Vice Chancellor Catholic University of Eastern Africa; Most Reverend Joseph Waithaka-Regional Superior and-Chairman of the Board of Governors of Consolata Institute of Philosophy, Religious Superios, The Formation Team, the entire Administration of Consolata Institute of Philosophy, the Graduands, Ladies and gentlemen, people of goodwill, Good morning!
To our 2019 graduands, I begin by appreciating what a wonderful class you have been to us. As you leave Consolata Institute of Philosophy, remember that one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself, right here, right now, in this single, solitary, monumental moment in your life; is to decide, without apology, to commit to the journey. I know you have so many dreams running in your mind right now, please ease up on yourselves. Have some compassion for yourself as well as for others. Life is not a race. Do not undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special and UNIQUE. If you have to compete; first of all compete with yourself.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The truth that stares everybody in the face is that philosophy plays a vital role in the social political transformation of the society. The value of philosophy is so significant that one can say; without philosophy and philosophers, the social political transformation will be in a serious trouble. In fact we can say that the human person cannot do without philosophy. This is why your superiors and guardians invested in you. This is the reason that it was important for you to spend three years here. As you go out; it is important to ask yourselves these questions for reflection: how does philosophy intersect with the social world? How does philosophical thinking contribute to better understanding of the society? Will philosophy help me be a better citizen, Christian or a priest?
I: Perplexity on why philosophy should be Made Mandatory seminarians:
Ladies and Gentlemen, One could wonder why philosophy should be required from seminarians. This is because if the call entails becoming holy-the call to holiness-and to become saints, many saints did not study philosophy. What matters in Christian life is holiness but being educated does not mean being a better Christian. One may agree that the candidates for the priesthood should know the doctrine of the Church, but why should they learn philosophy too? An adequate answer to this question would require a complete course on the history of Christian thought. Fortunately, here at CIP you have already enough courses that highlight the relationship between faith and philosophy-reason- over the centuries. It is interesting to notice how strong from the ancient times until the present day, in many different ways, the Church has promoted secular learning broadly understood, and philosophy in a more special sense, of a rational search for the first causes of things. So therefore, while the church played a role of making secular learning to be broadly understood; she-the church-has also made that which is responsible for the knowledge of the first causes of things, to be used in a more peculiar sense. This is to say, Philosophy has been used specifically for the rational search of the principles and first causes of things.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we realize that it is possible that philosophy is not a well understood discipline by most people. All the same, philosophers regard themselves as having a method, and a subject matter. The subject matter of philosophy is closely connected with the sorts of questions that have dominated philosophical investigation. Metaphysics is a systematic attempt to answer the question: What is reality? Some philosophers (materialists)-by venturing into rational thinking- have thought that reality is essentially material in nature. The method, for analytically trained philosophers, anyway, is based on careful, critical analysis of ideas, concepts, and statements, and an effort to arrive at developed philosophical theories of important subjects. Some of these subjects include justice, rationality, equality, relativism, jurisprudence, and social construction. In the society and day to day life; Philosophers think systematically and critically about fundamental topics like propaganda, democracy, social hierarchies, global justice and religious conflict among others. They ask what these things are, how they hang together, and how we should react to them. Philosophy thus makes an important contribution to our understanding of society.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The relevance of philosophy is therefore unquestionable in the face of the multifarious problems it enables the human person to solve in his/her life. Even when it does not actually solve the problems, it guides man on the best approach to adopt to avoid being weighed down when faced with such problems. One thing that is clear is that, philosophy does not claim to provide answers to all human problems, but most importantly, it makes effort to rationally address human problems. The glaring fact is that, the human person and the human society cannot but need philosophy.
II: Philosophy-in the view of-is a human need.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Philosophy is a human need as real as the need of food. It is a need of the mind, without which man cannot obtain his food or anything else his life requires. Philosophy is a rational activity. Therefore, as a rational activity, the human person cannot but need philosophy. Without mincing words, we wish to state categorically that philosophy plays important role in our society. Philosophy enables the human person to change some fundamental beliefs. It is an existential fact that most of the things we do or even the way we interpret our experiences, are based on our fundamental beliefs. It is therefore the task of philosophy to question those beliefs that are not in agreement with the rationality of the human person. And, any belief that is found guilty before the ‘Court of Reason’ is bound to be discarded. Philosophy therefore helps to shape and sharpen our mental faculty.
Ladies and Gentlemen, As philosophers as far as the society and politics are concerned, we think for ourselves as individuals. There is no area of thought that we are afraid to explore, to challenge, to question, or to doubt. We feel free to inquire and then to agree or disagree with any given claim. We are unwilling to follow a doctrine or adopt a set of beliefs or values that doesn’t convince us personally. We seek to take responsibility for our decisions and conclusions, and this necessitates having control over them. Through this unshackled spirit of free inquiry, new knowledge and new ways of looking at ourselves and the world, can be acquired. Without them-knowledge and new ways of looking the cosmos– we are left in ignorance and, subsequently, are unable to improve on our condition.
Ladies and Gentlemen, In conclusion; Philosophy is “one of the most powerful tools” to empower people “into acting as free and responsible subjects in an ever more complex, interconnected, and uncertain world,” as Irish president Michael Higgins recently pointed out. Philosophy teaches you how to distinguish contributions to debates that ought to be taken seriously from illusory rhetoric or nonsense. In a world of fake news, in which the guiding role of truth in public discourse is under threat, philosophical skills allow you to make good political choices and good life choices.
And for you dear finalists, it is important to remember that Philosophy serves theology as: a preamble, a tool, a bridge, and a shield. Philosophy is a preamble in that, it prepares people for understanding the Faith. It is a tool in that, it is used as an instrument to better understand the Faith. It is a bridge in that, it provides common principles where believers and nonbelievers can meet. It is a shield in that, it can be used to defend the Faith against arguments of nonbelievers.
All these challenges require a lot of intellectual preparation, but mostly they call a lot for courage. Therefore, I take this precious moment to congratulate you together with your dedicated lecturers on this important date. I thank your formators for trusting the Consolata Missionaries to take care of you, as the future ministers of the Church of Christ at this stage of philosophical formation.
By Rev. Dr. James Wangai Kabata