THE TWO FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS (continued from last post)

Now do not be misled; the first question incorporates a variety of extremely difficult challenges that make up entire disciplines within philosophy. First there is the nature of truth, classically called epistemology, but now more commonly known as theory of knowledge. I would include within that topic the field of logic as a means to truth, and the domains of the philosophy of science, history, and language. Second is the subject of metaphysics, the investigation of being, causality, free will, and material versus non-material reality. Third is the giant issue of the existence of God and the discipline of theology. An especially important subtopic within the nature of reality is death particularly with respect to the possibility of immortality or an afterlife. (The remaining fields of Aesthetics – the philosophy of beauty and art, and Politics – the philosophy of justice and governance, are less vital to most of us in a personal philosophical system.)

If you are new to philosophy, the breadth of study may appear daunting. However while much of our work will investigate these subjects, fortunately as one reads great thinkers of the past, it becomes apparent that the fundamental question of how to live life is not dependent on a complete understanding of all of these disciplines. In fact none of the great thinkers had absolute answers in any of these areas, but nonetheless they made great progress in understanding reality and the wisdom required for a good life. Our first task is to define the scope of reality necessary to derive a program of personal conduct and meaning. Then we will critique the most valid perspectives using simple logic, experience, and common sense. This approach will allow a pragmatic understanding in a much shorter time frame.

It is worth repeating, practical philosophy comes down to just two clearly defined elements: a reasonable understanding of the nature of reality, and sound guidance as to how one should conduct oneself in the world. Not quite as daunting as you thought.

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