I was one of the last persons in my class then to submit my proposal topic to Dr Pius Ekpe, that great academician, philosopher and an authority in Charles Hartshorn’s philosophical literature.
Understanding Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologiae,” especially his thoughts on the theory of knowledge (epistemology) as well as the role of phantasms is not always easy. The toggles with Aquinas, I would come to know could be likened to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico Philosophicus,” that small pamphlet which, since its publication in the last century has to its credit, an attractiveness showing thousands of critcisms, opinions and researches.
Anyone who claims to grasp these two men of different philosophical epochs and timeline would be right to claim understanding of the writings of today’s literati, not to mention Prof. Wole Soyinka or Gabriel Okara.
So after days of reflection on how best I could bring down the “role of phantasms,” to a proper appreciation, I decided to choose and settle for a topic. It was a topic that would take me about two to three days of defense (you had to defend your proposal before beginning writing). It was titled, “Actualization of the Human Intellect in Aquinas: An Epistemological Investigation.”
Many times I was really scared that my table of contents might not appear convincing or self-explanatory. The terms used in some of the chapters would take no ordinary mind to break into. I was even more worried that my supervisor will cancel it as outright nonsense or just out of this world.
Nonetheless, I was steadfast, ready, not bleak, even as I spawned words and descriptions of the most simplest of kinds. Throughout my sessions with Dr Pius, as he spewed out questions from left, right and centre, I sat there answering them deligently. Into smithereens, would lay Aquinas’ discourse on phantasms, on the intellect, as well as my own evaluation and conclusions would be to us both a piece meal.
Few weeks had passed, just before the Dean of Academics called for a meeting, that I went to him, “…please what did they say about my proposal?” He looked at me, sniffed and smiled saying, “…they almost rejected it. They said it was too abstract and not important…I must say your explanations helped me…for that’s exactly what I told them and what you mean to do…they accepted it eventually.”
Today, as I stand amidst young minds in class, eager to learn with very intriguing and intricate curiosity, this experience fails me not. It tells of the power of explanations in explaining our deepest beliefs. It speaks a simple language of understanding our very problems and those of others. It narrates the audacity of our deepest convictions in our personal projects.
Today, I stare at myself from the outside, and wondered how far in the journey of explaining things I had gone. I haven’t reached there yet, but I’m still explaining. Oh yes, I got a job sometime because of how I felt I explained even my naivety, loopholes and the grace of my strengths.
What I do know sufficiently is this:
That sooner or later,your explanations of how you really feel, of how you had really survived, of how you love your job, of how you got married, of how you were abused, heartbroken, of how you succeeded, of how you failed, and of how you did, and are doing anything at all, could be the only reason why your project, your dreams, your wishes, etc will see the light of day, of a new page, and a new chapter.
Just be sure, your explanations are understood by a bright mind or by folks who can speak of it to others!
We are condemned to explaining our explanations till we get to the grave. It’s like seeking to free one’s self from a thick spider’s web.
Author: David Francis E.