“Shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to recognize that you know it, and when you do not know a thing, to recognize that you do not know it. That is knowledge.” – Confucius
Unfortunately before we can reasonably move forward to outline the path to philosophically based happiness and meaning, we need more than makes up the broad outline on the tiers of reality and ethics. If they are the highways on a cross country drive, the ‘special problems’ are the roadside stops on that journey. Each of the special problems will require careful analysis as part of developing one’s concepts of reality and ethics. A short cut now may divert one from the correct route or lead through a maze of confusing dirt roads. They require separate analysis and are distinct from lesser problems in that one’s view in these areas will color one’s personal philosophy at every level.
The key special problems I will discuss include, in logical order:
- Good and evil
- The existence and nature of God
- Body and soul
- Death and immortality
- Free will and fate
- Grief, illness, and pain
During my discussion, I will focus on defining terms, providing context, reviewing traditional viewpoints and debate, and choosing the most reasonable resolutions. I will search for means to accommodate rejected alternatives in order to minimize the consequences of error. This may be done by identifying common elements, exploring metaphorical meanings, or assigning likelihood of truthfulness.
As always we cannot expect certainty, nor can we wait for it; rather we must make choices and live life within a framework of informed uncertainty. Following this phase we will be ready to draw up a blueprint for living a flourishing life.