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Spirituality & Philosophy

Does the spiritual and/or ideal outweigh the material and/or real? Or vice-versa?

Posted 2 Weeks ago by chiarizio

Metaphysical positions can be arranged on a scale. Five of the points on the scale can be labeled thus:
*1* Only the spiritual and/or ideal truly exists. The material and real are merely illusion.
*2* Both the spiritual/ideal and the material/real exist, but the spiritual/ideal is significantly more important than the material/real.
*3* Both the spiritual/ideal and the material/real exist, and they are about equally important.
*4* Both the spiritual/ideal and the material/real exist, but the material/real is significantly more important than the spiritual/ideal.
*5* Only the material and/or real truly exists. The spiritual and ideal are just mental constructs at best, figments of the imagination at worst.


Which of those positions are you closest to? Or if you stand between two of them, which two?
Do you have anything you’d like to say about your position?
For instance, perhaps, you’d like to say why you think or feel as you do?
Or how your position has changed through your life?
Or maybe what you think the consequences of your position are, or should be? Maybe it influences how you act?


I could say more but I think I should stop now and let someone else reply!

There are 7 Replies


As for me, I think I’m close to the fourth position mentioned above; I think both the ideal and the material truly exist, but for the most part and in most circumstances and for most purposes, the material matters more than the ideal.
As a software engineer and a mathematician I cannot think that the ideal doesn’t matter. It matters a lot.
Nevertheless for many purposes the material matters more in my opinion.

In at least one way I’m presently closer to that 5th position — pure materialism — than to the 3rd position — evenhanded idealism+materialism. I do not believe people (or anything else) have souls.
But I don’t think that’s necessarily a position I couldn’t be persuaded to change.

On other questions, possibly, I’m closer to the 3rd position than the 5th. Or maybe not.
Anyway I’m closest to the 4th.


One consequence is that I do not believe, nor want to believe, in any kind of afterlife.


2 Weeks ago

I lean towards 1 in terms of absolute belief and 3 in terms of actually applying it. As far as the 1 goes, I don't believe in platonic duality between the spiritual and material -- they're kinda fundamentally composed of the same stuff.

2 Weeks ago

You wrote:
(an answer)

Your answer confuses me.
That’s alright; metaphysics nearly always confuses me.
It also nearly always bores me to distraction.
Your answer isn’t boring, and isn’t excessively confusing.


I find epistemology and ethics to be more interesting parts of philosophy, in general, than metaphysics.

But the questions:
“Do souls exist?”
“Is there life after death?”
“Is there a Heaven or a Hell?”
“Can souls be reincarnated?”
And so on, seem to me to be closer to metaphysics than to ethics or epistemology.

I have opinions on such matters (namely; no. And no. And no and no. And no.).
So I decided to start off with metaphysics.

I do not want to believe there is a Heaven or a Hell.
I’m OK with finding out there’s reincarnation as long as it’s not a reward or a punishment.


How can the ideal or spiritual be the same stuff as the real or material?
That’s the part of your answer that confuses me.

2 Weeks ago

How can the ideal or spiritual be the same stuff as the real or material?

I'm also very confused here but the gist of it is that there's a layer beneath the material that warps and changes it, and that layer is intimately connected with the spiritual/emotional.

If you go a bit deeper (which I don't recommend, that's where your head explodes), then everything that happens (or exists) is some function of a process of turning nothing into something. This is where Christianity is very useful, because it describes the process in excruciating detail and its end result. It also works way better on the subjective angle.

2 Weeks ago

1. Thanks for the explanation!
2. ignotum per ignotius, I fear. I feel that I am as confused as ever, but i think i am probably confused on a higher order and about more important things.

2 Weeks ago

I can’t find it any more but I think I saw you somewhere said something like most things that happen are at base nothing turning into something.
Whoever said it, whenever and wherever it was said, I doubt it.
I think it’s plain that the universe’s activities are quite near exactly balanced between processes of creation (nothing turning into something) and annihilation (something turning into nothing).
I think if one of those processes exceeds the other the difference is so small as to be unobservable on a mortal scale.
One of them may indeed dominate the other but the truth will take eons to become manifest even on an intergalactic scale.

I do not understand how Christianity helps at all.
Even if it helps Christians it won’t help me; I don’t trust Christianity.


Am I crossing topics? Maybe you talked about this elsewhere.

Alternatively, maybe I just dreamed it.

2 Weeks ago

I am learning a few things about myself to my surprise.

For instance; my empiricism and materialism and emphasis on what can be sensed and observed and is falsifiable, is very deep-seated and — what’s the word? — central, maybe? — to my psyche.

I hadn’t known that.

And I’m much more materialistic than you.

I had not even suspected that.

2 Weeks ago

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