The concept of religion post-Enlightenment has been watered down to a private practice of spiritualism that is distinct from secular ideologies that are debated in terms of governing society. However, the classic definition has a far greater scope than that. In the Western world, the myth has become so pernicious that to be secular is to be afforded the perception of having neutral ground; well at least initially. Now politics takes on the character of sports teams engaging in holy wars. People rally around an ideology or messianic-type figure who is going to lead people to a heavenlike state the more departed from devine the people are. It's almost as if this is embedded into human beings unlike what pseudo-intellectual 'freethinkers' would like to tell you.
- Weltanschauung/Worldview Questions
Weltanschauung is a term used by German philosophers like Immanuel Kant and Wilhelm Dilthey. We all essentially ask ourselves these critical questions:
What is reality?
What is true or false?
What does it mean to be human?
Where do I come from?
Where am I going?
What is right or wrong?
How can I act after knowing the answers to the other questions?
Epistemology examines the nature of knowledge itself. How do we know what we know? What rules should we follow to get true justified beliefs? Is there truth? We would broadly study concepts behind truth, belief, justification, evidence, perception, and memory - all the ways we acquire and validate knowledge. More deep questions! Skepticism, fideism, religious revelations, traditions, essentialism, foundationalism, progressivism, empiricism, idealism, rationalism, and constructivism are all examples of epistemologies.
Articulating this is no small feat for anybody. This is the kind of thing that we tend to just absorb without knowing. From old dude to old dude to old dude to old dude and so on. Thinking about the underlying principles of these pretty much informs the other branches of worldview construction.
Let's play a game of "What if?", with a universe theme. Ever chilled with your friends, and someone asks, "What if we're all just characters in a video game?" Check what is in your friend's drink. Other questions can go like this: What if everything around you, including yourself, is just part of someone's dream? Or what if there are parallel universes where another version of you is living a completely different life? Is there a God? That's metaphysics in a nutshell!
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that's all about asking the big, weird, out-there questions like "What's really real?" and "What's the universe made of?" It's not about stuff you can touch or see, like your phone or that cash money. Instead, it's about the stuff you can't see but the concepts that govern this reality.
So, when you're lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and wondering what to cook for dinner, maybe it is time to think if everything is just an illusion or if there's more to life than what meets the eye. It's like the ultimate mind gym where you lift weights with your thoughts instead of your muscles.
Ethics is basically the philosophy of how to be a good person unless you want to be a bad person. Morality is the golden word undergirding ethics. What is right and wrong which leads to questions about how we should treat each other. We can analyze what makes an action good or bad. What does it mean to be just? How do we make thoughtful decisions? Different ethical theories provide frameworks like utilitarianism (choose what benefits the most people possible) deontology (follow these rules and duties) or virtue ethics (aim to have great character ). But it's all about finding the best way to live and act. The study of ethics basically helps us wrestle with the dilemmas of life and arrive at deeper principles to practice on our way to pursue the good and the truth.
5. The Myth of the Religious Void
Ultimately you can't run away from justifying what you believe. We have to be grounded in reality otherwise we are just spouting nonsense in our own make-believe world. We all know deep down that there is authority above us. Even nihilists appeal to some form of brute facts (basically stating that everything is meaningless) while denying an authority that would give weight to those brute facts. As I stated in the beginning, we see in the modern period politics as religion, basically constructing worldviews from autonomous human reasoning and looking no different to spiritual people. It is human nature after all.