The Ontology of Philosophies -- Why We Have Them
Updated: Oct 12, 2023
(Definition of Ontology: What is Ontology? - Definition & Examples - Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com)
Religion can be described as a "theistic philosophy," a philosophy that relies on one or more gods to give philosophical reason to our lives, a reason beyond the sexual and biological processes that lead us to be born by our parents (or in other scientific ways). There are exceptions, but I digress.
While science can provide us with accurate, observed explanations, religions do not, for there is no inherent purpose to our universe, beyond what we create in our mentality and grant it. The same lack of exact accuracy may be present in philosophy as well. For philosophy and religion are not mathematical but verbal concepts, and verbality isn't as accurate as numbers.
By the same token, a religion can be considered an ideology. However, there are differences between the two.
This is why there is no "one, ultimate, universal, logical" truth when it comes to philosophy, not only theist philosophies. You can argue with representatives of many religions day and night, but what makes religious discussions and arguments so extensive is that there is no inherent meaning to this universe, making the philosophical purpose of our existence theoretical and up to potentially infinite interpretations.
(Note: By "Philosophical purpose" I refer to one's reason to exist in one's eyes. One that without it alone, one would become depressed even if they have all their "earthly" wants and needs).
As such, perhaps only ideas that can be proven are worth discussing, if their discussion would indeed lead to their discovery. As to how ideas are known, is another topic.
Purpose, a creation of both atheist and theist philosophies, is not something that exists in the physical universe, which is the only existent universe. "The only existent universe" can be regarded as the one that exists beyond our minds. Should our imagination exist at the same degree of "existentinality" as the world beyond the mind, and it can be proven emprically, then we could further complicate things and claim that everything exists.
You cannot use scientific methods and experimentations in order to interpret philosophical purpose, because philosophical purposes are concepts which only exist in our consciousness, in what I call the Mental Dimension. "The Mental Dimension" is an illusory one, since it cannot succumb to scientific observations.
Because we humans are fragile beings, we normally create and seek purposes for our lives in order to compensate for our fragility. By "fragility" I refer to our mental toughness. Hence why can be hard for many people to be nihilists, because nihilism may require mental toughness not everyone has. Depression can break you.
To avoid the void inside us that we might even fear, we do this by creating and believing in "absolute truths." The illusions we create are the backbone of our mental existence, and they help prevent us from collapsing into insanity, depression, or suicidal tendencies. We may use them unconsciously to deny external reality.
What allows religions and other philosophies to create purpose is the absence of a grand purpose in the world beyond the mind. What allows me to be in a room and to navigate around it is the space, the void, that it contains. With void comes freedom.
(Note: I wrote "absolute truths" sarcastically. The world beyond the mind is, for example, an actual absolute truth).
So it is with philosophical purposes: What allows one to come up with a possible purpose for living is the lack of purpose that living in a purely physical universe has. It is not the discovery of something that already exists; it is rather an idea created by us humans in order to feel fulfillment, create moral guidelines, and gather humans in collective under a system of accepted ideas. It's the role of cultures and the nature of ideologies to do so from a functional and political perspective.
Philosophers whose philosophership is well respected, like Confucious and the second Indian President, may even get power and prestige thanks to their ability to fill in the void of meaning in their societies. As such, philosophers can have very distinct influence in any society.
And thus we create not only purposes, but other fantasies as well, which we see as existent even though there is no coherent proof for their existence:
A spiritual realm, an afterlife, an organ named "soul," angels, demons, heavens, hells, and so forth. We do this in order to back up our confidence in the purpose or set of purposes we have created in a universe devised of matter inside a grand, possibly infinite void. This is where we begin to deceive ourselves by believing in things which have no scientific evidence. We may connect our feelings with these philosophies. This is a mistake because of the existence of actual absolute truths.
Religions and other philosophies have no physical existence; they only have physical representations, which we humans grant them or assume they have. These representations include symbols, books, artifacts, buildings, and so forth. We do this in order to be even more sure that this universe has an inherent purpose. They also do not exist in a "spiritual" realm, because there is no evidence for a spiritual realm (unless/until proven otherwise).
Therefore, they exist in our illusions, and because we humans are also partially illusory beings, we relate to the physical reality, the world beyond the mind, through illusory concepts and traits. In other words, we attempt to understand the universe in both scientific and illusory ways, making our understanding of the world beyond our minds non-absolute and open up for interpretations.
It is therefore only natural for us humans to understand the world under illusory terms, and then believe that these illusions truly exist beyond our minds. In reality, however, each and every one of us may be delusional to a degree, as a result. This age of post-truth doesn't bring any help to this situation at all.
We create a set of illusions to create purpose in a universe that lacks one. It is only natural to do so for the sake of our collective survival: of creating rules, principles, norms, and ceremonies. We then see them as reality even though their purposes are to unite people as the illusory human creations that they are.
When we do not question said concepts, we possibly ensure the supervision and the authority of those who create, manage, and provide it to us: governments, churches, corporations, and so forth. Like Diogenes we may be seen as eccentrics for questioning them. However, they deserve to be questioned in the name of the truth that exists beyond ideologies, religions and even falsely-proven philosophies.
For there exists truths beyond whatever can be proven as false and therefore, as not true.
When we do find ourselves in such a realization, that the world-beyond-the-mind is meaningless by default, we suffer. Suffer when realizing that much of what is considered as true and unquestionable, is the exact opposite of that. That is when the transition begins -- from a "typical" human being to a fully fledged philosopher. You see, being a philosopher is not only an occupation/profession but a state of being... A state of being where you can be quite dead inside, as a result.
We escape what we are not strong enough to handle. Why? Because only the weaker escape from what they cannot handle with their strength and courage. Spirit-wise included. Then, we may justify our escapism as just, in an attempt to cut off completely our fears from a possible existential crisis.
(It could be the same fear our primal ancestors had when they evolved into homo sapiens, and reached a complex enough level of consciousness that needed to rely on abstract concepts in order to continue their uncertain survival in a world populated by predators and wilderness).
Animals other than humans do not necessarily need a philosophical purpose in order to live. However, they might operate on a logical reasoning of their own. Compare this to objects of various weights that need to be carried towards indefinite locations. The easier, or simpler, entities are, the more likely they are to be carried, making more complex ways to carry them unnecessary. Do you think animals need philosophical purposes?
I am not sure. My cat can live the same day all over again without having an existential crisis. They have a "philosophy" of their own, I suppose. However, since we humans have a very complex level of consciousness, we have reached a point where a justification for our existence can very much help us when we have our elementary needs fulfilled. Abraham Maslow knew what he was talking about when he discussed self-acutalization as a need.
This is our weakness as complex beings: the desire to create a purpose when we are complex enough to be able to realize the lack of philosophical purpose the universe has. We escape the world beyond the mind by creating illusory worlds, either our private fantasies or "worlds" that exist by shared and agreed systems of beliefs (AKA, intersubjectivity). We are confident that these worlds exist as the world beyond the mind, even though there is no scientific way to prove this claim.
Should we accept the likely possibility of no inherent purpose to true existence, there will not be a need for dogmatism. We will be mentally free from the tyranny of collective ideologies on our lives, leading ourselves to existentialism and, thus, to decide our own fates and roles in the limited time we have among the living.
Just like with my decision and dedication to be a philosopher and run a philosophy site. These were choices I made alone. And making choices independently of external desire to make them, is a testimony of free-will to exist, and thus, the free-will to create meaning in a meaning-free universe.