“Introducing the Course: Why Pasifika Philosophies” and “Unlocking the Pasifika Philosophical Mind”

The Principal of the College, Revd. Professor Dr Upolu Luma Vaai started the philosophies stream with two mentoring sessions, “Introducing the Course: Why Pasifika Philosophies” and “Unlocking the Pasifika Philosophical Mind”. He challenged the Toloa participants that “if life in Pasifika is about relationality, grounded on the importance of relationships as the key to knowledge and understanding, why is it that we continue to use Western philosophies to underpin our policies despite the fact that they do not accurately respond to the challenges of our contexts? Philosophies that were created to respond to the challenges and/or support the development of Europe’s ‘industrialized system and expansion.’ Western philosophies are not bad. It’s just that they were meant for another context, not for all contexts. And if we are to use them, we have to be selective and understand first their risks. Many of these dominant philosophies are mostly rational and therefore one dimensional, hidden in educational frameworks, public policies, religious doctrines, human rights, gender, and so forth. It is not easy to detect them, but they are there.” Professor Vaai continued, “The issue with our Pasifika policies is that they are mostly driven by Western philosophies that promote the violence of compartmentalization or what I called the ‘Curse of Onefication,’ an ultra-reductionist project that only works through elimination of the other. It believes that there is only one constituent source of goodness. That is, everything, no matter the diverse they are, must dissolve into one reality to achieve such goodness. Many of them deny an integrated ‘whole of life’ view for the purpose of control and categorization. They deny flow and fluidity. They separate being from relations. They promote the hierarchy of power. They prevent a fair economic flow. These philosophies are promoted by our own people without thinking of their consequences. This is why imposing or copy and pasting policies from outside sources as done by many policy writers and consultants, without firm Pasifika philosophical framing is dangerous. Unlocking the Pasifika philosophical mind is about understanding philosophies to navigate and negotiate the complexity and multidimensionality of life and relationships.”