Volume 8, Issue 2, May/August 2019
Pursuing Knowledge for its own Sake amidst a World of Poverty
Reconsidering Balogun on Philosophy’s Relevance
In this article I critically discuss Professor Oladele Abiodun Balogun’s reflections on the proper final ends of doing philosophy and related sorts of abstract, speculative, or theoretical inquiry. Professor Balogun appears to argue that one should undertake philosophical studies only insofar as they are likely to make a practical difference to people’s lives, particularly by contributing to politico-economic development, or, in other words, that one should eschew seeking knowledge for its own sake. However, there is one line of thought from Professor Balogun, about philosophy being able to make life meaningful, that I argue ultimately––perhaps contrary to his intentions––entails that it can be appropriate to some degree to pursue philosophy that is unlikely to ameliorate poverty and similar social ills. My central aims in this article are to identify Professor Balogun’s strongest argument against pursuing any knowledge for its own sake and to argue that an appeal to meaningfulness constitutes a strong, competing reason to seek out some of it.