We hear so much these days about the problems of unremitting economic underdevelopment in the so-called Third World as well as in some areas of the developed countries that we have to ask the question, why has it been so elusive to solve and moreover will it ever be solved?
Now readers of books with a taste for dissecting the problem and its possible solutions can thank S.A. Odunsi, author of Deep Thinking The Human Condition,New Ideas We Can't Do Without for breathing some creative and intelligent new life into the discussion.
Odunsi, in the first of his three part series, sets out to present a fresh look into the quandary. As he states, because these problems have always been around, they are automatically considered by many to be endemic and even unsolvable or they require an undetermined time to be resolved.
Although, as he points out, there have been hundreds of studies pertaining to the problem of persistent underdevelopment and poverty, nothing conclusive has ever emanated from them. Consequently, the objective of Deep Thinking The Human Condition is to show that the existing ways by which these problems have been perceived and addressed have systematically excluded several crucial elements. For example, we are informed that there is an unrelenting belief that education is a cure all and once you educate sufficient numbers of the population, the problem will go away. Nonetheless, this does not seem to be the case as it is shown that education has failed to meet its promise in these poverty stricken countries wherein there are armies of people who have received contemporary education yet the countries have little to show for it.
Odunsi allocates a great deal of ink to the “conceptual back office role” of academia’s social scientists that Odunsi throughout the book lambastes with his devastating analysis of their failures in their quest to spur third world development. As pointed out, the premises of these intellectuals are qualitative and philosophical and are not subject to independent verification in the same manner as the premises of the natural scientists. They are in effect planners that think they have the solutions rather than searchers who admit that they really don’t know the answers in advance.
Yet, academia is given the role of the official custodian of the basic premises to which government and social institutions formally adhere, particularly if these institutions are recipients of government largesse. Moreover, as illustrated in various chapters of the book, the social science academics are the “final secular authorities on the fine details of our existence, specifically concerning those matters that individuals normally do not have to ever think about but which underpin important thoughts and behaviors we consider logical, rational and humane.”
In fact, the importance given to these social scientists is mind boggling when you consider that they strongly influence the graduates of the academies who go on to become decision makers in government and industry. Furthermore, as pointed out, when we explore and analyse the fundamental premises of social science in the various disciplines, we discover that they lack universal applicability and are highly controversial and debatable.
Another concept that is bounced around throughout the book and which Odunsi is especially passionate is the process of “functionality” which he sees to be the fundamental motivator of Western economic development, but which nevertheless remains a mysterious phenomenon to the academics of Western social science.
Functionality, as described by Odunsi, is tied up in the characteristics of entrepreneurship, managerial ability, and inventive or innovative performance-as demonstrated by Northerners with respect to the tangible and intangible aspects of Western-style economic development. Unfortunately, Western academia has successfully blocked all available means of investigating functionality.
Furthermore, as Odunsi contends, it is useless to rely on the Western educational curriculum for economic development, because it tries with little success to emulate this mysterious process of Western development.As he asserts, the academics are clueless as to the root cause of Western economic development and they have no idea as to what is the root cause of persistent underdevelopment. What they are offering is in reality stop- gap measures and superficial explanations that have left resolving the problem in a state of stagnation. As mentioned: “The stagnation of social science has left the world’s intellectual infrastructure ill-equipped to deal with persistent underdevelopment.”
Although some of Odunsi’s contentions may be debatable, he does succeed in providing credible, rational and compelling arguments without claiming in his first volume to settle the questions that linger. I guess we will have to wait for the next two volumes to see what develops. The author’s language is accessible and is an attestation to his profound understanding of the subject matter as well his abundant research. Moreover, he travels into difficult territories where few have dared to venture arguing that we need to rethink our entire approach to resolving the problems of underdevelopment in the underdeveloped countries.
In addition, he provides in chapter four some fresh rethinking and a useful historical guide on subjects as to why the indigenous people of the colonial territories were being given more consideration.
Given how much has already been published on the problems of African poverty and underdevelopment, Odunsi genuinely has added something to our understanding of a complicated problem.
The above review was contributed by: The Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com, Norm Goldman, B.A. LL.L, Retired Title Attorney: Norm is also a travel writer and together with his artist wife, Lily, the couple meld Norm's words with Lily's art. To check out their travel site click on Sketchandtravel.comClick here to view Norm’s Reviews & Interviews.
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