Caribbean Journal of Philosophy, Vol 12, No 2 (2020)

Making a Case for Yoruba Inverted Supervenience on the Nature of the Mind

Richard Taye Oyelakin, Babalola Joseph Balogun


The problem of the nature of mind centres on the question whether what is called mind has independent existence or it is nothing over and above bodily events and processes. Whereas Descartes opts for the former by providing the first systematic outline for dualism, wherein mind and body are affirmed to possess distinct ontological statuses, the physicalists, especially of the contemporary order, have continued, vigorously, to affirm the latter with the aim of providing a naturalistic basis for resolving the problem of the nature of mind. The growth of physicalism in contemporary philosophy could be traced to the historical evidence of the diverse irresolvable problems engendered by dualism. However, physicalism has not fared better, as it too has incurred quite a number of issues militating against its plausibility as an explanatory thesis. The many identified inadequacies of the physicalist account of mind necessitates that attempts to address the question should be sought elsewhere. This paper explores Yoruba metaphysical view on the nature of the mind as an alternative account. The paper finds out that the Yoruba metaphysical perspective on the subject matter resembles one of the physicalist theories called supervenience, although in its metaphysical structure, it inverts the order of the orthodox supervenience. Coined “inverted supervenience”, the thesis holds that the physical world supervenes on the spiritual world for its existence. It, thus, becomes futile to seek rational justification for the spiritual world, as doing so appears tantamount to seeking a mental justification for the physical events in the orthodox supervenience hypothesis.

Full Text: PDF