How Not to Individuate Destiny: a Critique of Segun Ogungbemi’s Conception of Destiny

Abstract

The social nature of human beings and individualistic characterizing destiny of individuals is contradictory and call for philosophical interrogation. Segun Ogungbemi has unrepentantly argued that destiny is individualistic and neither connective nor collective. This paper critiques Segun Ogungbemi’s conception of destiny, instead, argues for connectiveness and collectiveness of destiny. It argues that destiny, as an individualistic phenomenon, challenges and raises the Yorùbá notion of corporate communal existence. The paper concludes that individuating destiny is not only a non-plausible conception; it is also not tenable in any possible social world.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    It was published as Segun Ogungbemi, “An Existential Study of Individuality in Yoruba Culture” Orita: Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. XXIV, No. 1, (Ogungbemi 1992), 97–110. There is no difference between the contents of the Journal article and the chapter in his book, Philosophy and Development, (Ibadan: Hope Publications Ltd., Ogungbemi 2007). The latter is referenced throughout this paper.

  2. 2.

    It must be stated here that there is no need for this other definition of his. The definition itself is defective. At best, it can be a by-product of the purportedly rejected one or it be fused with the one he purports to reject. Avoiding red-herring fallacy is an alternative for this discussion to continue.

  3. 3.

    Kikamba and Gikuyu are his major settings.

  4. 4.

    Udo Etuk (2002: 15) shares this similar view.

  5. 5.

    The use of present tenses is deliberate and intentional. It is assumed that since creation is a continuous activity, the activities of the concerned agents mentioned here are continuous. By implication, possible objections from the scientific point of view are also deliberately discarded.

  6. 6.

    This is where the Genesis account of the story of creation appears similar. In the Biblical account, it is said that there was a clarion call, a call to duty, “Come, let us create man….” The ‘us’ there could not have been used for a person. It rather suggests that more than one agent of creation were involved in the process.

  7. 7.

    Bolaji Idowu refers to Oníbodè as ‘the Gate Keeper’; a translation given by him which may not really give the exact meaning. However, the translation is adopted here as such.

  8. 8.

    By Memorandum of Understanding here, it is meant that both parties would have consented to some wills, which indicates an intended common line of action between the agents of destiny. This will include each of the parties’ requirement and responsibilities. It must be understood here that the MoU is not conceived the same manner of conception in formal setting, although it shares some similarities with that of the formal setting. By Terms and Conditions, what is intended is that the agent of destiny going into the world would have been given some conditions for the destiny to be actualized. S/he would also have agreed to those conditions before embarking on the metaphysical cum physical journey to the mundane world.

  9. 9.

    All possible worlds will mean both actual and possible worlds.

  10. 10.

    The argument here refutes Oladele Balogun’s support for soft-determinism because of punishment and moral responsibility. He needs to be reminded that punishment and moral responsibility are parts of human existential package. See Oladele Balogun, “The Concept of Ori and Human Destiny in Traditional Yoruba Thought: A Soft-Deterministic Interpretation” in Nordic Journal of African Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1, Balogun 2007, 116–30

  11. 11.

    The narration that follows is not expected to raise any philosophical debate. It is only an instance to drive home points.

  12. 12.

    Roughly understood here means the narrations that usually follow its discussion in any class are such that many interpretations accompany them whether or not those interpretations are correct. Scholars sometimes may confuse some accounts all in the name of narration. Students as well give those accounts trial by error whether correctly narrated or not. Nevertheless, the important thing is that there are usually some considerable similarities in their narrations. The differences now do not matter to them. In fact, those differences are not accounted for.

  13. 13.

    Examples are those of Plato, especially his Allegories of the Cave, Line and Sun in the Republic. See E. Hamilton, and C. Huntington (eds.), The Collected Dialogues of Plato including the Letters, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, Hamilton and Huntington 1973

  14. 14.

    This is according to Bolaji E. Idowu. He adds to the general assumption that Àjàlá moulds. In addition, he says that at the bodè of Oníbodè, the individual utters further what s/he wishes to become in life, including his/her activities on earth. Here, he is going to mention everything s/he wishes for him/herself. For details, see his Olódùmarè: God in Yorùbá Belief, London: Longmans, Idowu 1962: 174

  15. 15.

    The present writer has interpreted this to mean one’s palms should not deceive one. This will be more accommodating, especially in the normative sense.

  16. 16.

    It must be borne in mind that playing any game involves, at least, two parties. Even in computer games, there are two parties; while one is real, the other may be imaginary.

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Adéṣuyì, O.R. How Not to Individuate Destiny: a Critique of Segun Ogungbemi’s Conception of Destiny. Philosophia 47, 1391–1404 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-018-0051-1

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Keywords

  • Destiny
  • Communo-centric destiny
  • Collective destiny
  • Connective destiny
  • Ego-centric destiny