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Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 32, 2018

Philosophical Traditions in Africa

Ephraim Stephen Essien
Pages 15-21

The Meaning of Complementary in Physics and African Philosophy and their Intersection with Compatibility Theory

This paper comparatively examines the meanings of Niels Bohr’s and Innocent Asouzu’s complementarity theories and how they differ from or relate with my compatibility theory, C={(≡)|(≈)|(~)|(∩)|(c)}. While Niels Bohr’s principle of complementarity falls under the domain of physics, Innocent Asouzu’s theory falls under African philosophy. I shall, in this paper, locate Bohr’s theory within the context of the new physics of quantum theory, especially within the wave-corpuscular problematic of the nature of electromagnetic phenomena, such as light. I shall present a firsthand meaning of Innocent Asouzu’s complementary theory (having been privileged to be one of his pioneer postgraduate students and his supervisee while the theory blossomed in his opus magnum in 2004 (The Method and Principle of Complementary Reflection in and beyond African Philosophy). Thereafter, I shall connect Bohr’s and Asouzu’s theories with the compatibility theory. Innocent Asouzu’s complementary theory avers that anything that exists serves a missing link of reality. In other words, no entity is self-sufficient and exclusive in itself in relation. Innocent Asouzu says that there are traces of exclusive dualism in Bohr’s reasoning. Asouzu argues that incompatible opposites and contraries can co-exist.