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Issues With Spirituality

Updated: Feb 24

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(More articles I wrote on spirituality:



Spirituality is a very problematic concept in philosophy, as there isn't necessarily a direct, universal definition as to what it means. For example, you can be a theist or an atheist, and still share some agreement about any spiritual views that are not religious. However, not everyone, theist or atheist, will agree with you. Since it is too abstract a concept, its usage in philosophy is too unclear to be understood even by the most dedicated of philosophy readers.

Is spirituality about religion? About incarnation? About psychedelics? You can use that term in a sentence, and it will nonetheless create confusion because it does not indicate its own set of components. How can one know what exactly you mean by it, when other people use this word as well, but under different meanings?

What we do have to agree about when it comes to this term, is that it claims this universe has something "hidden," AKA, higher than oneself; a force that exists beyond the physical. Some call it a God, others the Way, some a universal, infinite energy, and so on. Regardless, as you can see, there is still no agreement when it comes even to the basic premise of spirituality.

What do we want in philosophy? In the end, we want to understand, and to do that, we ought to grasp the content of which we consume. Without concise understanding, therefore, there will be no attainment of wisdom. We can interpret the material for ourselves, but ultimately, if we don't understand the text or video as far as we can, what was the point in consuming it?

Some credit should be given to spirituality, however, for it is the ancestor of all institutionalized religions. What does religion do? It takes spiritual ideas and evolves them into culture, social norms, and ideologies. After all, the concept of gods is a spiritual one, even if it is just one of many ideas. In the end, spirituality is a pantheon of metaphysical ideas.

You don't have to agree with them all in order to be a spiritual person, but the recognition of some could indeed suffice.

And still, the usage of this word will still be unclear the more others use it. It's so subjective, anyone could have a "spiritual prototype" of their own. Thus, the only solution to this problem would be using specific terms within this "pantheon."

When philosophy is regarded, it is not as "fluid" as spirituality is, because a philosopher's job isn't just to believe, but to inspect, contemplate, and reach a logical conclusion. You can't just choose to believe in something; you have to justify it through supportive information and logic. In other words, the spiritualist might eat a cake, but the philosopher would consider whether or not it's worth it, and whether or not the results are more beneficial than they're not.

This is why spirituality and philosophy don't always go hand-in-hand, and at times they are ridiculously unmatched. The spiritualist has no clear purpose, and will not always stop and question their beliefs. They are as theists as they're atheists; environmentalists as heavy polluters; clear-headed as "high" on drugs. There is no insight to the definition, the alignment, and the archetype itself. How then, can it be used clearly during philosophizing?

The issue's roots come from the fact that none of us can clearly say what is there beyond the physical realm, if such a bigger realm even exists. We may theorize and discuss, but in the end we can all agree that physical reality is far more understood than the "metaphysical realm" is. One doesn't need to be a scientist to know that there are germs, atoms, and so on. It isn't an issue of sight, but of clarity, if that makes sense.

This is where the appeal to authority fallacy kicks in. Anyone can claim they are masters of a hidden art, such as Reiki (look it up if you're interested), or a prophet of a one true god, and even if we are to question their beliefs and roles, they may argue that "we know what you don't." How can we overcome someone in a subject only they, theoretically, are masters in? The answer is simple: either call them crazy, or submit to what one may believe to be the facts. That's after all how cults are made, along with any other scam. There is no knowledge on behalf of the audience, but the guru's charisma can sure convince one that they're right.

These are all the problems I have thus far found in this term. I used to use it too in my early writings, but only as a reference to self-actualization, and I even made it clear back then. To avoid confusion and unnecessary misunderstanding, it's hence no surprise why I rarely use it in most of my writings.

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There is so much to unpack in what you wrote, that I would only offer the comment that a key distinction between philosophy and religion (or spirituality, as I am using the term here), is that philosophy concerns itself as a discipline with the search for the truth, whereas religion concerns itself with the search for the good. Both avenues are valid and consistent within their own frameworks, but trying to explain one system with the terminology of the other, (or reduce one system to the other), will be unsatisfactory. A guided insight meditation with a qualified instructor would most likely clarify many issues, as the spiritual realm has many processes that make sense, but only in a subjective manner.…

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Thanks a lot for reading and commenting, Mr. Davis. I used to go to meditation class as well but unfortunately due to the COVID issue the class has been disrupted permanently. Maybe one day I will return meditating, as meditation indeed has a lot of hidden potential.


Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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