The Implication Of William James’ Pragmatism For Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for International Relations

The Implication Of William James’ Pragmatism For Nigeria

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the study

Pragmatism is the result of British empiricism. It is a school of thought that has its origins in North America. The authors of this pragmatic school of thought are Charles S. Pierce (1839-1914), William James (1842-1910) and John Dewey (1859-1952). The word pragmatism comes from the Greek pragma, which means work. Therefore, the most common interpretation of the term is the one that works, which therefore designates it as a philosophy or theory of workability (Enoh 1995: 107).

It’s true for the pragmatists what works – which allows them to overcome an immediate problem. In the words of Okoh (2003: 36), pragmatism emphasizes action and action, arguing that imaginative theories must be supported and controlled by the result of active experimentation. Continuity, interaction, experience and meaning are the key words for understanding pragmatic philosophy.

For them, the whole universe is constantly evolving. Since the world is constantly changing, the reality is not fixed. Therefore, man’s conception of the nature of reality is determined by what he experiences in his interaction with the environment. An individual suffers certain consequences when it affects certain elements of the environment.

In pragmatic philosophy, there is a positive relationship between knowledge and action. Knowledge in this way is interactive. For pragmatists, knowledge is not a quality to discover. On the contrary, they seek the knowledge that man creates through interaction. We can only create knowledge if we control a certain environment through interaction. In this process, knowledge is necessarily used to solve problems arising from such an environment.

In addition, they promote the use of intelligence (reflective thinking) and scientific methods in which an individual learns by doing so for himself, as the most reliable source of knowledge. Dewey in Enoh (1995: 109) admits that “there is no true knowledge and fruitful understanding except for offspring to do so”. They believe that an idea that should be true must work and give satisfactory results. This is because the world is constantly changing and what works today may not work in the future.

So, there is no absolute truth in pragmatism. The truth always changes when the world changes on its own. The values ​​of pragmatism are relative because all values ​​are derived from human needs and desires. The man encounters one or the other problem. It is his desire to solve these problems that makes him react in a certain way. Things that can be helpful in overcoming your problems will be helpful. At the level of society, value is given to the elements that have allowed it to survive over time. Their survival depends on their ability to use the intelligence acquired to overcome their problems of existence. Abstract thinking is not enough, for ideas to be useful they must be applied in practice. They therefore recommend the acquisition of skills. Pragmatists believe in democratic ideals, because it is only in a democratic society that freedom, character, intelligence and other possibilities develop. They also participate in lifelong learning to improve the updating of knowledge so that it is in tune with the new realities of the changing world. As Dewey (1944: 76) puts it, “education is a constant reconstruction or reorganization of experiences”. The ability to systematically apply the necessary experience to meet the challenges of future problems is very important for pragmatists.

1.2 Problem statement

The dysfunction of the Nigerian education system is alarming. For many Nigerian educators and non-educators, this has become a concern. The current Nigerian education system has failed to solve the fundamental problems of the country’s life. For example, unemployment, illiteracy, poverty, sickness and superstition are on the increase. According to sources from the Internet Library on “Education in Nigeria”, the National Planning Commission of Nigeria described the country’s education system as “dysfunctional” in 2004. The reasons for this characterization were decaying institutions and graduates. poorly prepared. It is unfortunate that even in the 21st century, at a time of science and technology, the Nigerian education system contributes little or nothing to the process of globalization. It can not be said that the educational system of the nation is useful to them, whereas it is not so for the individual (recipient) or for the nation as a whole. What good is a graduate who can not defend his certificate? The knowledge gained through education should be used to solve social problems. However, if the beneficiaries of a given education system can not use their knowledge to solve social problems, these graduates are simply “literate illiterates”. This is not the kind of graduate a nation needs to grow. The majority of young people currently engaged in activism, bokharam, brawl, gangsterism, worship and other forms of antisocial behavior are usually people who have received dysfunctional training and feel unable to live a legitimate education . said. Implicitly, each country should have development strategies. These strategies are reflected in the curricula of the education system. The development of a nation is therefore linked to development, not to natural resources, but mainly to the human resources of the nation. Therefore, education is inextricably linked to the needs and development of each country. Nigeria can not be an exception. In contrast, the Nigerian education system has been separated from the needs of Nigerian society.

1.3 Purpose of the study

The purpose of this study is to examine the implication of William James’ Pragmatism for Nigeria. Specifically the study:

  1. Determine the effect of pragmatism on Nigeria’s educational system
  2. Assess the level of application of pragmatism in the nigeria’s educational system
  3. Proffer solution on strategies to improve pragmaticism in nigeria’s educational sector

1.4 Significance of the study

Education in Nigeria has been very neglected and has suffered a bad spell. A country that neglects education does so at its own risk. In Nigeria, we have paralyzed our education. The consequences are manifested in different ways in our national life. First, contemporary Nigerian education does not allow its beneficiaries to become self-reliant. It frees people from the productive activities of industry and agriculture. It channels all educated men and women to poke, white coke or unproductive arena of politics, repressive capitalism, maneuvers, false contracts and a more lucrative ransom hijacking. The reason is that our education system has failed to make people independent in their life endeavors. Therefore, this study will provide suggestions for improving this provision.

1.5 Study hypothesis

The study hypothesis is:

Hypothesis 1
  • HO: pragmatism has no significant effect on Nigeria’s educational system
  • H1: pragmatism has a significant effect on Nigeria’s educational system
Hypothesis 2
  • HO: there is no sufficient application of pragmatism in Nigeria’s educational system
  • H1: there is no sufficient application of pragmatism in Nigeria’s educational system

1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study

The study scope is limited to implication of William James’ Pragmatism for Nigeria using the educational sector as case study. Limitation faced by the research was limited time and financial constraint

1.7 Definition of Basic terminologies


Pragmatism stresses action and doing and maintains that imaginative theorizing must be supported and controlled by the outcome of active experimentation


Education refers to the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. The act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgement and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

University Education:

This refers to an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after secondary education. It is otherwise known as higher education, post – secondary education, tertiary education or third-level education.

1.8 Organisation of study

The study is grouped into five chapters. This chapter being the first gives an introduction to the study. Chapter two gives a review of the related literature. Chapter three presents the research methodology; chapter four presents the data analysis as well as interpretation and discussion of the results. Chapter five gives a summary of findings and recommendations.

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