Conceptualization of Akrasia in Kenya’s educational policy
Njoroge, George Kanari
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In Chapter one, a general framework of the thesis is given. This includes the statement of the problem, a theoretical framework where assumptions to be studied are stated, the purpose and significance of the study, the methodology to be used and a brief organization of the study. In Chapter two, I present the Competitivist understanding of akrasia. This understanding in following the advice of Hegel is taken as the thesis. The Competitivists understand akrasia as basically knowledge. This is reflected in their delineation of man as always in conflict. The conflict usually results from the_opposition of the inclinations or appetites and emotions to the rule of reason which should always lead man to rational and good actions. This conflict is permeated to the behaviour of man. What he judges, the knowledge he has, the decisions he makes, he eventually does not act on them. All that he has as a good for himself remains theoretical. It remains intellectual. Man is thus theo~etical. It is from this that akrasia for the Competi~ivists is taken to mean knowledge or intellect. Four illustrative philosophers of this .understanding of akrasia are considered: Plato, gives the conflict between reason, appetites and emotions which are the three principles in the soul of man. Aristotle gives two levels of knowledge from which a man may be said to have knowledge and yet act against such knowledge. He shows that a person may not a~t as per the knowledge that he has because of the oppositicn to reason by the appetites. Immanuel Kant gives the opposition between duty and the inclinations. Man has no goodwill and thus does not act from the call of duty. This is because of the inclinations which are hindrances to his endeavours. Finally, John,Wilson,gives the components of a morally educated man, a man who should always act in a morally praiseworthy way. However, people are usually not known to be the ideal morally educated man as given. They usually do not act as they ,should. This is because of counter-attractive desires which avert the good decisions to act .morally. In Chapter three, I present the Precisionist understanding of akrasia. Since their position is in opposition to that of the Competitivists, then their understanding still in following the advice of Hegel is taken as the antithesis. The Precisionists understand akrasia as action. This is reflected in their delineation of man as always action oriented. Man loves to do good for himself and his society. He shuns what is detrimental to his welfare and that of his fellows. He feels pain when he sees others suffering. Thus, he averts their pain by the sympathy he gives them and the pity that he shows. Man, therefore acts on knowledge, judgements, decisions and more so on principles and norms as enacted for him by his society. He is therefore, all action. Thus, from this delineation, Precisionists are interpreted to understand akrasia as action. Four illustrative philosophers of this understanding of akrasia are considered: Socrate~ argues that no man with knowledge will act as against knowledge. Thus, no man will willingly engage in evil~ Essentially, man will act in conformity with what he knows is for the good (xvii) of himself. This is because man loves what is good and therefore pleasant and hates evil which is painful. F.H. Bradley says that, man strives after self-realization. Self-realization is acting in a way that promotes the good of oneself and the society. In the society, one finds what is beneficial to him. Man is felt to act in such a way that he does not alienate himself from his station and his duties.· 'He stiives after good actions f6r his is the 6nlyway that he realizes the self. J.J. Rousseau argues that, man is naturally good. It is therefore not in human nature to do that which is evil. He acts in ways that are in consonance with his nature. While he loves himself, he also feels pity for others and therefore liaises with them to avert evil in the world. Finally, R.M. Hare argues that moral language is prescriptive and thus action guiding • This means that no man can sincerely assent to a principle or a command and not act on it. The judgement and principles that are therefore enacted for man by his society is always for his own good, then it means that, man always acts in conformity with what is for his own good. Man means action. In Chapter four, the most significant chapter, I give a synthesis of the two understandings of akrasia as delineated in chapter two and three. Still in the Hegelian attitude, we have in labelling the philosophers as Competitivists and Precisionists shown that, they understand akrasia on the polarities. For this, their understanding of akrasia was referred to, as the thesis and the antithesis. Hegel had found out that, the truth of a proposition can be ·found out only by a synthesis of the thesis and the antithesis. A thesis is a proposition which one starts with. However, this proves to be inadequate an argument. The thesis therefore generates its opposite which is the antithesis. This also proves inadequate. These opposites are taken up into a synthesis. The synthesis preserves what is ra:tional in them but cancels what is irrational. By following this advice of Hegel, we have found the truth or the proper understanding of akrasia to be 'the will'. The will is the rational criteria that avoids the conflict of the two understandings of akrasia as given by the Competitivists and the Precisionists. In Chapter five which makes the educational component of this thesis, I examine the significance of the will (as the proper definition of akrasia) in Kenya's educational policy. An analysis of the educational policy is first given through documentary study of Ominde, Gachathi and Mackay Education Reports. It is found out that while the policy acknowledges the role that the will plays in human endeavours, it understands the will as action and not as both knowledge and action. The educational policy is thus weak since it emphasizes only practice and thus ignores theory which is also important. The policy is therefore found to be based on an incomplete and improper philosophical foundation. To inbuild what is lacking in the policy, it is recommended that theory and practice should be the essence of education. In Chapter six which is the conCluding chapter, the salient findings of the thesis are given. More so, recommendations on how to ingrain the will as both knowledge and action in our education, especially in the curriculum, educational planning, educational administration, teaching methods, discipline and in our teaching of virtue through character education are given.