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Philosophy and National Development

Philosophy and National Development


Philosophy and National Development: The issue of National Development is one which much attention is being geared towards, and as such, every subject of material implication and correlation to it is to be carefully analyzed to draw conclusions to aspects which her usefulness will be to National Development. Philosophy as a subject is one whose potentials to contributing to National Development are infinite. As a result, a study such like this which is aimed at bringing to light the positive posits which the subject Philosophy can bring to National Development is important.

Philosophy by definition is a very complex and rather ambiguous subject. This complexity and ambiguity do not arise from the fact that Philosophy is a vague and an incomprehensible subject, but from the fact that they are many philosophical viewpoints, with different philosophers, defining Philosophy from their own viewpoints. This difference of definitions is also a function of the purpose to which Philosophy is to be applied in a particular situation.

Etymologically, Philosophy is defined from its two root Greek words Philos (meaning Love) and Sophia (meaning Wisdom) as “the Love of Wisdom. As an academic discipline though, Philosophy is centered on three basic principles, which are

  • Critical searchlight on the justification of certain basic human beliefs, values, views, thinking patterns, traditions and cultures.
  • Find the kind or type of assumptions, thoughts, beliefs, mindsets and others that give birth to a particular practice, culture, tradition and others.
  • Get justification for these practices, beliefs, theories and so on.

Development, is seeing as a positive improvement, progress or advancement toward the perfect wellbeing, peace and happiness of the people in a society. Though wrongly conceived in a narrow and shallow light, development goes beyond her association to just only physical advancement in terms of structures built in the society. Development is a totality of growth that an individual, group of individuals, and in the case the whole nation witnesses that is brought about by factors that the subject matter of Philosophy is so much interested in bringing to fore.

National development can only be brought about when an enlightened individual, group of people come together to analyze concepts that are hindering development, finding and implementing the results from such analysis to better the society. This, is the basis of Philosophy


The relationship between Philosophy and National Development is so intertwined and intricate, and as such one cannot clearly separate them. There is no National Development whatsoever without Philosophy. Every factor that can bring about National Development is that which Philosophy and philosophical approaches has to the best of present day knowledge tried to and successfully analyzed and explained. This is a fact because Philosophy, though not conclusively defined etymologically is the balance point that gives rise to all positive developmental ideas and concepts.

Philosophy is the mother of all knowledge; it does not just seek to analyze and criticize every thought, believe, value, assumptions and axioms, but does so to the end of finding solution to human problems. As defined by Omwuama, Philosophy is a critical, reflective and unbiased investigation on development aimed at providing principles, theories for development. Philosophical issues for development refer to those areas and problems of development that are reserved exclusively for philosophical clarifications and hermeneutics (Onwuama, 2012).

The three methods of drawing conclusions and or arrive at the truth of a situation, value or theory as posited by Philosophy which are Analysis, Objectivity and Activity are all tailored towards Human and National Development. Philosophy goes beyond just formulation of thoughts, criticism and arguments on the origin of existence to coming up with ideas and conclusions from suitable logical premises which are to give rise to solutions to problems faced in the society.

With Philosophy being the search for the Ultimate Truth, it is evident that this search for the Ultimate Truth is the quest for the ultimate problems confronting mankind. Every nation is a collection of people that make up the entirety of mankind, and so seeks to solve their ultimate problem. National Development can also be brought by the activities of the people that are consciously working for her good, as a nation, and all her prosperity or poverty is a product of her human populace.

No matter the abundance of every other resource within the boundaries of any nation, her growth and development can never be made possible without her human resources. Philosophy, as a discipline considered from any angle is in essence, a subject that is geared towards developing the MAN, who in turn is responsible for developing his nation.

Philosophy as an Analysis is aimed at clarifying concepts, beliefs and the rest in order to help in better formulation of theories, laws and rules, practicing and or solving problems. Here, all of the ideas, laws, rules and regulations that are put into place to govern the nation that can bring about positive development and or create a negative impact on the nation’s affairs are trashed. When philosophically approached, the laws, rules, beliefs governing the society will be better formulated, therefore leaving the nation on the partway to development.

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As an Objective, Philosophy brings to the fore the issue of the verification of all thoughts, values, beliefs either logically or empirically as to ascertain their Rationality.  The call to being in the state where all decisions are rational is that which is borne out of Philosophy. As expounded by Aristotle, the society will definitely be a better place and the nation will be well developed if all her citizenry, and especially her key decisions and policies makers were to think, plan, act, and choose in a way that is Rational. This we can all attest to is a more Pragmatic approach to National Development than the current barely Reactive Response given to the bedeviling outcomes of Irrational Decisions made.

Philosophy as an Activity confronts questions and problems from their basic and foundational outlook. The solutions proffered to these problems by philosophers are solutions offered for National Development. The activity of Philosophy takes charge at the problems that are facing every class, group and strata of people in the society. It begins by tackling the cultures and traditions and all other thought and mindset factors that poses problems to the individuals, and the nation at large.

Philosophy will help in bringing out all the factors of human satisfaction and rationalism of individuals and national development. Through appropriate evaluation of the Economic Policies of the nation, the Gross Domestic Product and per capita income of the nation is sure to be better placed than of present. Philosophy will help the state in public policy formulation, in the course of its critical and reflective methods; empirical propositional hermeneutics; and normative theories of analysis. Philosophical studies and research is a must for social, economic, political and technological advancement of any nation. It is necessarily important in the national development in Nigeria. Thus, it is on a connected note, that Nnamdi said that: “When we talk of national development, we have to remind ourselves that the nation is only real and concrete in terms of people that constitute it… development is people – centered, it means that the people that make up the nation, the individual men and women, are both the agents and the beneficiaries of development…” The role of philosophy therefore is in the molding the character of individuals (Nnamdi, 2011)

Development is a process of transformational agenda. It is not purely materialistic but happens within the context of a people in relation to the level of growth and progression of individual members of a society. Its real essence is on man in a proper way to provide a humanitarian paradigm “which bring about marked UJAH Special Edition, 2017 55 improvement in the standard of living of the people” (Anozie, 2006). In the same way, Offiong states that: It involves a structural transformation of the economy, society politics and culture the satellite that permits the self-generating and self-perpetuating use of the people’s potentials. He further gave us a changed structure for interpreting our basic experiences on the subject matter. He outstandingly asserts that, “Development is here understood as the quantitative and qualitative improvement in the material, emotional, and spiritual conditions of human existence” (Efemini, 2010).

However, this analysis grasps an essential truth that development is a systematic entrenchment of values in both qualitative and quantitative aspect of human life. It is materially, emotionally and spiritually driven as a value within a state that goes beyond the evolutionary perspective. It is inevitable march of progress in every culture. Development is not organized around the competing theories of social-change, nor does it adhere to a simple, all encompassing perspective. Rather, the narrative retraces the concept of development as an increasingly global enterprise that liberates the people through the promotion of a general welfare in the provision of security, shelter, good health and proper democratic governance. Considering this, Nnamdi asserts that it is “through the wisdom of philosophy that man is able to reflect on his personal life in search of real self, and the meaning of life, he is living” (Nnamdi, 2011).

Philosophy is a systematic and comprehensive study that centers on meaning, interpretation and evaluations of logical relations. According to Socrates, “an unexamined life is not worth living”, and in consideration to this, man should know himself. He should explore a better way of improving his life in environment. Thus philosophy for this reason is without a doubt important for human development. It concerns with values, goals and human aspirations for development of human society. It helps in understanding the meaning of development and genuine level of its impact to human development. Under this category of paradigm, the subject matter of philosophical studies have different outlook in human development process: First, it has a great impact to social change. It helps man to classify the sets of social change into different categories of purposes and functions.

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We do not know what a thing is until we classify it into a meaningful context, and to recognize a class is to recognize the unit of essential attributes in a multiplicity of individual instances. Philosophy therefore helps in the classification, quantitative measurement, and hypothesis, which are solely based on the assumption of the development of science. Secondly, philosophy involves in the political spheres of human existentialism, through genuine democratic process of good politics. The purpose of politics is for good and happy life in a state. Thirdly, philosophy creates social stability and cohesion for proper learning and human education; and finally, it is religious. It establishes man’s intentional phenomenology to the understanding of the transcendent. Philosophy justifies the importance of religion to man, but with clarity of purpose by sifting facts from fallacies; and truth from falsehood within the realm of culture(s).

From the characteristics of the branches of Philosophy, it is clearly envisioned how the discipline serves as a means to the end of National Development. As explained in the five main branches of Philosophy which are Metaphysics, Axiology, Epistemology, Logic and Social and Political Philosophy, the subjects brings all the factors of National Development that are pined to the main factor of development, which is the MAN.

Metaphysics whose ultimate goal is to established reality is a subject that contains all theories of human existence and essence. All  human endeavors beyond the senses or the physical are viewed and the questions regarding “being” are answered to give the man the needed perception and guidance for his thoughts and actions.

Axiology, with her key theme being Ethics is that branch of Philosophy that seeks to institute and protect the universality of the concept of right and wrong, good and bad. If ethics and ethical judgments are the given a prime position in the nation by all, key problems hindering the growth of the nation like corruption, bribery, extortion, misuse and abuse of public offices and public funds, truancy, and so many other evils confronting the society will be a thing of the past.

Logic, which is the study of methods and principles used in determining and differentiating correct and incorrect reasoning, is the basis for which rational judgments are made. Accepted, is the fact that poor, rash and irrational decisions that have been imbedded into laws, rules and guidelines in the country is the twin cause of underdevelopment, coupled with ethical bankruptcy exhibited by the citizens of the country in general, her leaders in particular. A nation with reasonable and logically sound and rational laws, which are rightly implemented with fear and favour cannot go without being developed.

Epistemology, as a school of Philosophy deals with the study of the source and composition of knowledge, as well as the methods and validity of acquiring knowledge. As such, the inquiries towards the gain of knowledge, both scientifically or by experience and that gotten by reasoning or thinking is aimed at getting to know, so as to intelligent apply, the things learnt from it for the development of the human race.

The fifth branch of Philosophy being Socio-Political Philosophy is a branch of Philosophy that focuses its weights on the society and the politics of its people and existence. In a nutshell, Socio-Political Philosophy takes a critical reflection about the society in its totality. A careful and pragmatic adherence to the dictates of this branch of Philosophy which tackles key societal issues such as governance, power, justice, authority and sovereignty is to be welcomed and embraced so as to foster National Development.

An inculcation of postulates from this philosophical school of thoughts and their scholars is a major breakthrough for National Development. A good Philosophy makes for good governance when strictly and carefully practiced. With the awakening of the consciousness of man to view every side of everything as to making proper judgment, better policies for National Development can be formulated. Unbiased, unprejudiced and quality values when put into action will leave every nation practicing such better than ever.

In the days gone by, the essences of the proper application of philosophical theories, led by sound philosophers are evident. Julius Nyeyere led a wholesome transition as his philosophy played a great role in the Tanzania Revolution. The story is different when viewed from a point where the unguarded beliefs of a set of people caused the world so much, and is still a major cause of the challenges facing the global village as seeing in the Germans embracing the Nazis Philosophy. Another of such bedeviling and despicable Philosophy that is troubling the world’s peace and even existence is that of sectarian religious views. The Islamic sect called ISIS, Boko Haran and their likes and the havoc and impediments they are wrecking around the world and in Nigeria in particular is a glaring tale of what a biased, unfounded and irrational view of life can be. If the so called believe in Jihad, can be overlapped by a more logical thought and action, the pangs of terrorism engulfing the world will be a thing of the past.

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The contributions of philosophers to the development of the nations of the world that has lasted beyond the time they lived is a pointer to the role of Philosophy in National Development. The political development of the globe will be incomplete without the contributions of the greats such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and so many others. Their work on Political Ethics forms the basis to which present day rules on political emancipation, justice and social rights are coined from. The staunch criticism of the capitalist form of economy led by Karl Max, and his postulation of the socialist economy and socialism as a whole, which has been balanced to a point by other socio-economic theories by noble philosophers has left the world better. Kwame Nkrumah and his views against capitalism and his offering of a viable alternative in communism was a step that led to the taming of the exploitative forces that hampered the growth of the African continent as a whole, and the nation of Ghana in a more particular note.

In Nigeria, notable among the forces that led to the political emancipation of the nation are the philosophical thoughts and logically pragmatic actions of great men like Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo to mention but a few. The wake of political consciousness for self governance led by them brought to a stop, the reign of colonial rule in the country. When they lived, and when their ideas and views were still implemented when they were gone, Nigeria as a country progressed and flourished in every sphere.

The present day reality of crashing economy, insecurity, poor leadership, moral laxity and all of such sorts are evidence of the problems caused by poor policies, decisions and actions emanating from unwise minds. A recourse back to the central concern of Philosophy as embedded in reasoning is a wakeup call that must be answered, if the country is to once again tread the threshold of positive and all round National Development.


As extensively discussed and x-rayed here, the place of Philosophy in National Development is not debatable. A detachment from Philosophy in the affairs of the nation is a move that will result in the total collapse of every aspect of the nation. As portrayed, the prevailing precarious scenario facing the nation is as a result of the lack of in-depth philosophical knowledge of the people at the hem of affairs of the country. The way forward however for the nation is in the warm embrace of the love of wisdom, as in her wisdom, the nation will be built. Every well meaning citizen of the nation is to hold sway to the teaching and practice of Philosophy, as showcased in logical thinking, critical reasoning, effective decision making, and proper moral and ethical standard as the weapons that will bring about National Development.



Bah, T. D. Philosophy and Metaphysics: A Critical Introduction, Lagos: Obaroh and Ogbinaka Publishers, 1997.

Efemini O.A, Claude Ake. Philosophy of Development: Implication for Nigeria, Port Harcourt: University of Port Harcourt Press 2010.

Nnamdi B.S, Selected Themes in Logic and Philosophy, Port Harcourt: University of Port Harcourt Press, 2011.

Offiong D.A, Imperialism and Dependency, Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishers, 1980.

Onwuama, E. Fundamentals of Philosophy, Logic and Issues in Human Existence, Enugu Kriscento Publishers. 2012.

Russel, Bertrand, The Problems of Philosophy, London: Oxford University Press, 1976.

Ryle, Gilbert, Contemporary Aspect of Philosophy, London: Oriel Press, 1976.

Uduigwomen, A. F. Footmarks on African Philosophy, Lagos: Obaroh and Ogbinaka Publishers, 1995.

Umotong, Iniobong, Exploration for Knowledge, Uyo; Minder International Limited: 2007.

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