/Neocomplexity Philosoph: A Paradigm Shift in Theories of Education for the Chaotic 21st Century? – Solomon Ochwo-Oburu

Neocomplexity Philosoph: A Paradigm Shift in Theories of Education for the Chaotic 21st Century? – Solomon Ochwo-Oburu

African History and Religious Studies, Department of Education, Busitema University – UGANDA


Earthhood compels all humans and creatures to network or die. Notwithstanding the general progress so far made, humanity is submerged in a froth of murky ideological waters. The warning bell tolls daily exhorting humankind in slumber; surge, periculum in mora1. A monster cognitive virus has infiltrated the most secretive part of human existence but still humanity snores unabated. This article argues that “the 21st century world experiences many injustices including that of education due to deviant ideologies of cravings for self-styled happiness grounded on neomaterialism2”. Contemporary ideologies discussed below use education as weapon to dominate. In domestic and international relations the powerful give out the scabbard and retain the sword of knowledge to establish hegemony over the weak. It follows that equitable human rights in education and in other sectors cannot be achieved unless there is a shift in philosophical outlook.

Neocomplexity Philosophy (NCP) is here neologized. It is a set of theories that contends that reality is corporeal and incorporeal and intelligible. All exist in some form of gradation or hierarchy. In their graded, chaotic, diverse, overlapping, hidden complex web of interconnectedness and sophistication can best be explained and understood from multiple points of view. The proponents contend that everything that exists has its visible and invisible networks that define and drive it. Therefore, to comprehend the materiality or immateriality of an entity and its causative-consequential nature, critical investigation of the hidden matrix is imperative.

Proponents claim that nothing in the universe is too complex or too simple. All that exist do so in “complex realities of graded, stratified layers of complexity. It is not just scientific as (Ellis 2005, 49) claims but a socio-scientific interconnectedness. Neocomplexity philosophy believes that all that exist do so as inter-complex mixture of socio- scientific, social-physiological, socio- cultural, social-political systems. NCP is unlike complexity philosophy that limits its theories investigating and explaining fundamental questions on the nature and philosophy of science-based systems and their changes (Walby 2007, 449).

The philosopher perceives a complex reality of oneness, unity and purpose that knows no injustice against the other. The world should enjoy equitable rights to education and other aspects of life. To achieve just universal brotherhood of humanity, there should be a change in perception of ontology from phenomenological or intelligible to “phenontelligibility3” interfused reality. The mindset that hatched ideological crises marked by existentialism, Marxism, liberalism and neoliberalism of past two centuries cannot be the same intellect that can solve challenges of the chaotic 21st century challenges. Against these ideologies I present a brief polemic.

I argue that the chaotic 21st century needs fresh mind and fresh ideologies to restore sanity on planet earth. For example, French Existentialist philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre and Nietzsche supported by German philosopher- Heidegger, in their theory of being, believe the universe is phenomenological, not notional. They claim appearance is “being”, that is, unless an entity appears, it cannot be a “being”. In his own words he observes, “Thus, if appearance is, being is” (Natanson 1951, 21). The French Existentialist philosopher thinks being means “being in the material world we live in”. He believes that the phenomenological reality of the physical world is the only reality. Sartre by existentialism means „that existence precedes essence, that is, subjectivity must be the starting point. He asserts that man has become problematic to himself, so the main concern is his own existence (ibid, 1-2). This is mendacious. It implies denial of existence of Supreme Reality.

Meanwhile Marxists view the world as phenomenological as well. Marxists ontology contends that ‘to be’ is to be conscious. It questions and organizes humanity into categories of praxis, labor and sociality (Jung 1987, 307- 308). They claim that conscious being is one who can shape the world by engaging in economic battleground between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. This is what (Macrine 2002, 222) describes as a ‘politics of human resistance’. However, it is better understood as ontology and metaphysics of wealth in which humankind lives and works in “economically modified universe”. Such claim is feign from neocomplexity perspective.

Liberal ideology that emerged during Victorian Age with Spencer, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hobbes among as its godfathers suffers from poverty of metaphysics and ontology. By concentrating its mind on the temporal, the liberal proponent plunges into permanent troublesome misery for himself, society and the entire cosmos. Writing as far as the beginning of the 20th century, (Hobson 1909, 93) notes that “Each generation of liberals will be required to translate a new set of needs and aspirations into facts”. I argue that its phony nature liberalism makes equality of opportunity to all material and moral means of personal development to be elusive.

The complex concepts of good life that is vicious to people victimized, liberty which promotes action without responsibility, freedom that denies rule of law and authority, individual choice that requires a certain notion of the ‘self’, a free choosing individual who is the joyful judge of his own actions and interests are all that matter. Arguably it is this free individual who is at the core of liberal belief (David and Young 1994, 93). In this case humanity as a family and brotherhood of nations is chimerical. To the Neocomplexity philosopher, the endogenous bio-thread connectivity of humanity is constantly bruised by the clumsy behavior of the egoistic liberal.

Neoliberalism is another ideological hemlock that breeds inequality in and among nations. It is of interest in this philosophical discourse. Hall (2011, 706) describes it this way;

Neoliberalism is grounded in the idea of the ‘free, possessive individual’. It sees the state as tyrannical and oppressive. The state must never govern society, dictate to free individuals how to dispose of their property, regulate a free-market economy or interfere with the God-given right to make profits and amass personal wealth.

In the Neocomplexity era, neoliberalism is a twin partner with neomaterialism. It is a modern “economic fundamentalism” grounded in the egoistic pursuance of happiness. It is bereft of community axiological credence. Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister, comments that neoliberalism by denying existence of the common good and society insinuates that, ‘Common good’ either did not exist or was too contradictory to be calculated. “There is no such thing as society”, she insisted. ‘There is only the individual and his family’ (ibid, 707).

Neoliberal concept of being is a distorted amalgam of psychological hyper- individualism that arises out of constructed instinctual fear and distorted personality. This development is what I call Godless image of “egoistic complex of materialistic fundamentalism”. Each individual is taught through socialization that one should be accountable to oneself and society is insignificant. Education provided is determined by the hegemonic class in society determined to preserve their status and quarantine the lower class in the socio-economic and political strata. To achieve this end, Neocomplexity philosophy is well placed and timely because of its unique metaphysical, ontological, epistemological perception of reality.

Neocomplexity Ontology
Neocomplexity ontology perceives human being as a creature authored by Supreme Being. “Like all other beings, man has a distinctive end, or ideal goal, for which he exists and ought to act” (Bourke 1974, 58). To the neocomp, all beings have purpose for existence because after active life in the universe they all get drawn back to the Originator for accountability. Besides, universe is a humane battlefield of work. It is known primordially as station for dutiful service, a work- PoliTeknik United Neocomplexity Philosoph: A Paradigm Shift in Theories of Education for the Chaotic 21st Century? Page: 15 Solomon Ochwo-Oburu African History and Religious Studies, Department of Education, Busitema University – UGANDA shop and a laboratory for humankind but not a holiday picnic beach. Each human person comes into the world with tools for the noble duty of service. Each has a coursework accomplish and submit the examiner after earthhood. In another way of expression, the earth is a stadium of life from which the “human-becoming” (not human being) jogs towards achieving the life’s end of being a “human being” in its fullness. If this perspective contradicts any theory that is the reason it must tickle minds of philosophers and theologians.

Neocomplexity philosopher teaches that the physical body is toolkit filled with visible tools (hands, mouth, eyes, ears mouth, and tongue) and invisible ones (feelings, attitudes, desires, wishes, aspirations, interests and goals) living by networking. Our dual being interacts in obscurity with the dual universe to fulfill the natural, divine and cosmic laws as mandatory obligation of the Ultimate Reality. “Happiness and unhappiness of the rational, social animal depends not on what he feels but what he does” (Wilson 2018, 2014). In brief, the fundamental purpose of human life is divinum officium4, not materia felicitas5. Feelings of well-being and pleasure as neoliberals contend need not be the paramount motive of human existence. To exist is not to be happy and existence is not happiness. Existence is a contract in which one is bound by reality of existence to pour oneself towards fellow human beings and creation. Once human being is born, the human person enters a divine contract to act as viceroy of the Originator on earth. The fulfillment of this divine obligation brings happiness. This is a strong belief of neocomp philosopher but on what basis is the justification? All the major theologians and some secular philosophers teach that earthly existence is mission of actions of virtue – not actions pleasure. I examine four of them.

Existence as divinum officium is the principle of existence and pathway to happiness is in Confucian teachings. Chaoming (2010, 180-181) asserts that physical pleasure is the basis of man’s pursuit of happiness as well as the source of most misfortunes. He argues that in Confucian teachings and Chinese tradition mental pleasure is greater than craving for bodily pleasure. To Confucian philosopher, a true hermit cherishes a different ideal from the mundane world. The ideals followed cannot be achieved in this temporal world which is associated with sin and evil. In order to live an ideal (holy and blameless) life one must stay away from fame, fortune, and power.

Ontologically, several Islamic scholars teach that happiness is the reason humanity was created but Allah is the One Who gives guidance of how to attain it on earth and hereafter. Sulaiman (2017, 160-162) while citing (Qur’an 67: 7-10) points out that the mind that ascertains the truth (al- Haqq) from falsehood (al-Batil) is important in attainment of happiness but it must be kept pure. One must purify one’s inner world. Inward struggle against passions and ignorance is paramount and can take a form of higher value. According to this teaching, wealth is not having many possessions. True wealth is the richness of the soul. Another Islamic scholar points out that the pursuit of happiness in Islam is concerned above all with the attainment of enduring happiness (Nasr 2014, 76).

Testament teachings following in the tradition of Judaism like Buddhism, Confucianism and Islam warn humanity of chasing after material happiness as the ultimate end of human existence. Jesus Christ knew that human existence is complex and the idea of happiness nexus human desires could not be taken from simplistic points of view. Christian love is a complex network of friendship with Jesus as the lead figure. Lawrence (1995, 2) asserts in one of his key speeches in a university thus “Place the Lord Jesus Christ at the center of all you do. Only by so doing can you find true and lasting happiness”

In contrast to the above ideologies, secular world of philosophy in its pursuit of happiness does not necessarily concern itself with incorporeal world as source of enduring happiness. For example Thomas Hobbes’ concept of happiness is perpetual craving for “power after power” and insatiable accumulation of material wealth.

Neocomplexity and metaphysics
How did the universe come to be? There are many perspectives according to different philosophers. According to NCP in the remote complex pre-primordial moment without priori that is currently beyond human reckoning, something most mysterious happened in the “Wilderness of Nothing” to introduce the very first causation. For an unknowable reason a “Power most mysteriously fecund” interacted with “Wilderness of Nothing” or eternally expanding void” (Ellis 2011, 40) to cause existence of the universe. The interaction between the Ultimate Reality and the reality of “Wilderness of Nothing” initiated a causation of obscure coalescence of the past, present and future which set on motion an eternal safari7. Therefore in the present, there is a bit of the past and a bit of the future all moving a directionless journey. The popular A-Theory or Presentism that implies that every event is (wholly) past, present and future, and sympathized within (Deasy 2015, 2076) calls for a second thought. It is contended here that the past is eternally stretching itself, the present ever shrinking or squeezed and the future ever both losing and gaining itself in eternity. The One Who caused origin of the universe also birthed existence of proto- knowledge or gnosis. Gnosis- pure and perfect knowledge is independent of the mind. It is the template from where all forms of knowledge derive.

Neocomplexity philosophy Epistemology
Neocomp7 epistemology perceives knowledge as belief that something is true and can function as tool for divine mission in the universe. It is independent of the mind; and can facilitate the headtool, handtool and/ or hearttool for divinum officium. However any form of knowledge to the contrary is inert shadow of reality and deception. Hence it exists as anti-anti-gnosis, hoax, and creature of the human mind that causes cannot promote any human rights including that of education. Its utilitarian principles are not divinum officium but hominis officium6 (Latin meaning human duty) in pursuance of egoistic happiness. Reflecting on this paradigm it is contestable that the knowledge that should be used as means has become an end in itself. In the next issue, I shall concentrate on educational perspectives of Neocomp7 philosophy.

This is a philosophical discourse. It is argued that the problem of education and other realms is not in human society but in the human mind undermined by existing ideologies. Theologies and teachings of the major faiths need to be emulated. To strengthen and entrench human rights in education worldwide adoption of ontological, metaphysical and epistemological perspectives of Neocomplexity philosophy is urgent. I argue that it is imperative to shift the schemata of human thinking from contemporary ideologies to fresh Neocomplexity philosophical outlook.

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-Nasr, Seyyed Hussein. “Happiness and the Attainment of Happiness: An Islamic Perspective”. Vol.29 No. 1 (2014): 76-91
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  1. Latin; meaning get up, danger in delay
  2. A new craving for material wealth and happiness that disregards the human element by valuing objects of pleasure more than humankind.
  3. A neology, developed by interfusing of two words-phenomenology and intelligible. It is used to mean entity with dual corporeal and intelligible reality interconnected for example, the universe.
  4. Latin: means divine duty. Human existence on earth is divine mission of life of virtue
  5. Latin; meaning material happiness
  6. Latin; meaning human duty
  7. A phrase coined from Neocomplexity philosophy. It means proponent, the philosophy itself, or the new era emerging after neoliberalism, modernity and postmodernity. This philosophy will be expounded soon in an expanded article.