Secular Spirituality

For all things philosophical.

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Greta
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Greta » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:09 pm

marjoram_blues wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:29 pm
What is 'Secular Spirituality' ?
Would you agree with the suggestion below that it is 'the ultimate goal of philosophy'?
From wiki:
According to Robert C. Solomon, an American Professor of Philosophy, "spirituality is coextensive with religion and it is not incompatible with or opposed to science or the scientific outlook. Naturalized spirituality is spirituality without any need for the 'other‐worldly'. Spirituality is one of the goals, perhaps the ultimate goal, of philosophy."
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_spirituality
Hi Marj

Philosophy, like science, just tries to answer the age old question asked by human beings ever since they could ask questions - what is actually going on? :)

My favourite moment of secular spirituality was Neil deGrasse Tyson walking out of the clouds, palms splayed, pronouncing breathlessly: We are made from star stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff .... Aside from enjoying the showmanship, emotionality, visual effects and satire, there are few deeper truths to contemplate about the nature of reality.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Dubious » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:02 am

What's so unique about it. Every planet in the universe including anything living on it is made of star stuff.

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Greta
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Greta » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:14 am

Dubious wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:02 am
What's so unique about it. Every planet in the universe including anything living on it is made of star stuff.
Yes, but the process from then to now is worth thinking about. He (actually Sagan) was trying to put across the degree of our integration with the rest of nature, a seemingly obvious notion often not appreciated by those influenced by the religious notions of human divinity embedded in many cultures.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:20 am

fooloso4 wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:24 pm
We should keep in mind that the term ‘secular spirituality’ covers a wide variety of meanings and practices. A major problem that will prevent mutual understanding in our discussion is a type of guilt by association.

Robert Solomon was an accomplished teacher of mainstream Western philosophy. As a quick reading of the preface to his Spirituality for the Skeptic makes clear, on the one hand he wishes to rescue the meaning of the term spirituality which has been taken over by religion, and on the other hand he wishes to rescue philosophy from the narrowness of contemporary trends . In addition, it should be noted that he is disdainful of what might be called “new age spiritualism”.

What Solomon calls his Hallmark-card phrase “spirituality as the thoughtful love of life” seems to me to be wholly consonant with the meaning of philosophy as the love of wisdom. Although we would probably never find it on a Hallmark card, we might put Socrates’: “the unexamined life is not worth living” together with Solomon’s. As Plato reminds us, the lover of wisdom desires but does not the possess wisdom. That is the source of both the comedy and tragedy of life.

We fundamentally misunderstand spirituality as long as we posit a disjunction between the physical and the spiritual or the rational the spiritual. The desire to be wise shows them to be aspects of a whole. But it is a whole that is incomplete because the philosopher never possesses what is desired. The circle is never closed. We desire the good life, but we remain tentative in our understanding of what that is and powerless to secure it for ourselves.

Analogous to the aporia of Plato’s Meno, we do not know what it is we desire when we desire wisdom because unless we possess it we cannot know what it is. Here we may fall victim to promises of answers from religion, spiritualism, mysticism, etc., or to the despair of longing. The thoughtful love of life may lead most to wisely conclude that the love of wisdom is not the proper pursuit for them. The love of thought and thoughts of love may lead one to see that there are other things their spirit desires more than an empty and abstract notion of wisdom. As Nietzsche’s Zarathustra discovers, what he loves most is life itself. Is this then the abandonment or fulfillment of philosophy?
Thank you for articulating the problems in undertaking an exploratory thread, especially about a term which seems to attract hostility from both theists and atheists. No wonder Solomon preferred the word 'naturalized'; perhaps a pity that there seem no real alternative to the word 'spirituality'. I am attracted to his writing and thoughtful approach. He seems willing to almost poke fun at himself with the 'Hallmark card' reference.

I look forward to a critical reading of his book where,no doubt, some objections will be raised along the way. Therein lies the beauty of philosophy, requiring certain careful skills - not least the application of the Principle of Charity.

It might help to give some background to my query. I started this with some apprehension, with only a notion that it was worth exploring despite potential personal attacks. I was indeed hoping for responses which would further understanding. Where I was wrong was being too protective and ready for any perceived assault. I was wrong to react so dismissively towards serious objections. Clearly there is still progress to be made in developing any philosophical skills such as you have admirably demonstrated.

Regarding seeing philosophy as a 'love of wisdom', I have never been completely happy with this. As you say, the notion of 'wisdom' can be viewed as 'empty and abstract'. There are, of course, different types of wisdom - of which practical wisdom might be seen as a significant contribution to the 'good life'. The life worth living. I see philosophy more as a process - a developing of the individual through careful reading, listening, writing - reflection and putting any worthwhile ideas into practice. A sense of curiosity and wonder is the thread which binds, from start to end.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:34 am

-1- wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:40 pm
marjoram_blues wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:17 pm
How very emotional of you. And wrong. Again.
I am ready to admit my response was emotional. But not that I was wrong.

You, Marjoram-Blues, are just one more additional player on this forum who is in love with a special ideology. Like other, similar loves, your love is founded upon emotional ties, not rational thinking. Other examples of single-minded obsessions with a specific ideology on this forum are bobevenson and his Ouzo, Attofishpi and his simulation/ God / Sage, and Nick_A and his megalomania of his alleged sole proprietorship of truth.
Thank you for your response. To correct your personal attack, I must object to being misrepresented as being 'in love with a special ideology' and all the rest which follows. I have no 'single-minded obsession with a specific ideology'. Far from it.
My general approach is to follow my interests, as they arise, with a view to furthering my own understanding.
It is doubly difficult and challenging to do this and at the same time to start and maintain an exploratory thread in the Philosophy Now forum.
At times, it is clear that my skills are not quite up to it. I live and learn. Your response has helped me reflect that even though there is emotional content, there is often a nugget of truth that is golden and shiny enough not to be ignored but to be examined.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:44 am

Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:09 pm
marjoram_blues wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:29 pm
What is 'Secular Spirituality' ?
Would you agree with the suggestion below that it is 'the ultimate goal of philosophy'?
From wiki:
According to Robert C. Solomon, an American Professor of Philosophy, "spirituality is coextensive with religion and it is not incompatible with or opposed to science or the scientific outlook. Naturalized spirituality is spirituality without any need for the 'other‐worldly'. Spirituality is one of the goals, perhaps the ultimate goal, of philosophy."
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_spirituality
Hi Marj

Philosophy, like science, just tries to answer the age old question asked by human beings ever since they could ask questions - what is actually going on? :)

My favourite moment of secular spirituality was Neil deGrasse Tyson walking out of the clouds, palms splayed, pronouncing breathlessly: We are made from star stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff .... Aside from enjoying the showmanship, emotionality, visual effects and satire, there are few deeper truths to contemplate about the nature of reality.
Hello again, Greta

Yes, there is that similarity between philosophy and science- the wonder of it all. I haven't seen the Tyson moment but I had a quick look on wiki.
It seems he is dismissive of academic philosophy and dislikes to be labelled as an atheist, preferring agnostic. I think I read that he talks of the 'spirituality of science'. How wonderful to bring that sense of awe to what some might consider a stuffy, boring subject to say the very least.
Perhaps we could compare what might be the 'ultimate goals' of each discipline ?

marjoram_blues
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:49 am

Greta wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:14 am
Dubious wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:02 am
What's so unique about it. Every planet in the universe including anything living on it is made of star stuff.
Yes, but the process from then to now is worth thinking about. He (actually Sagan) was trying to put across the degree of our integration with the rest of nature, a seemingly obvious notion often not appreciated by those influenced by the religious notions of human divinity embedded in many cultures.
I agree about the importance of 'process'. Or even 'progress'.
The continual thinking process which is not stopped in its tracks by dogma of any kind. A continual curiosity and exploration combining intelligence and spirit.

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Greta
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Greta » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:02 am

marjoram_blues wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:44 am
Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:09 pm
marjoram_blues wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:29 pm
What is 'Secular Spirituality' ?
Would you agree with the suggestion below that it is 'the ultimate goal of philosophy'?
From wiki:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_spirituality
Hi Marj

Philosophy, like science, just tries to answer the age old question asked by human beings ever since they could ask questions - what is actually going on? :)

My favourite moment of secular spirituality was Neil deGrasse Tyson walking out of the clouds, palms splayed, pronouncing breathlessly: We are made from star stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff .... Aside from enjoying the showmanship, emotionality, visual effects and satire, there are few deeper truths to contemplate about the nature of reality.
Hello again, Greta

Yes, there is that similarity between philosophy and science- the wonder of it all. I haven't seen the Tyson moment but I had a quick look on wiki.
It seems he is dismissive of academic philosophy and dislikes to be labelled as an atheist, preferring agnostic. I think I read that he talks of the 'spirituality of science'. How wonderful to bring that sense of awe to what some might consider a stuffy, boring subject to say the very least.
Perhaps we could compare what might be the 'ultimate goals' of each discipline ?
Yes, he's no philosophy fan but he is so interesting and inspiring that I don't care :) A renowned scientist and communicator doesn't need to be expert with philosophy as well. We have other people to do that.

I agree with him about the spirituality of science. If we assume that God is real then, if God is the universe or infused through it, then science is a sincere effort to be better acquainted with the deity. If the universe is God's creation, then the acquaintance is made with Its creation, seemingly more respectful than worshipping an untested notion in one's head and not being in the least curious about its nature and manifestation.

There is a tremendous amount of spirituality and philosophy in nature if one is open to it. Every aspect of our emergence, from the big bang to protoplanetary disc in the remains of a supernova to the evolution of the Earth and biology can operate as a springboard for deeply resonant philosophical thought.

Belinda
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Belinda » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:10 pm

Most of what people variously mean by "spirituality" is not coextensive with religion. Most people mean by "spirituality" is not superficial emotionalism which some religious sects encourage; spirituality ,if the term is seriously thought out, implies informed and disciplined search for truth and goodness.

Nevertheless I imagine that those churches where people jump up and down and sway from side to side could be fun. But I'd not take them seriously.

While it is true that the big religions carry the most effective known ethical message religions are instituted for social control. It might be argued that to search for truth and goodness involves abandoning the safety of religious institutions and going it alone or with a few brave friends.

Extroverts may well disagree with me.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Dubious » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:09 pm

Greta wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:14 am
Dubious wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:02 am
What's so unique about it. Every planet in the universe including anything living on it is made of star stuff.
Yes, but the process from then to now is worth thinking about. He (actually Sagan) was trying to put across the degree of our integration with the rest of nature, a seemingly obvious notion often not appreciated by those influenced by the religious notions of human divinity embedded in many cultures.
There are those who feel spiritual about the universe. It's a feeling not unknown to me even though it has almost evaporated. Spirituality re the universe is a purely human sentiment with nothing more to it...a phenomena of time, space and process, impersonal in every sense. What we qualify as deep mystery, surrounding such with a halo of spirituality, only amounts to our lack of comprehension. Gaps, especially those that seem impervious to solution, are the catalysts to these mystical feelings. We must have these yearnings to "secularize" these mysteries with each new solution or viable theory though some will likely remain grounded in the human brain failing to achieve escape velocity. To that extent, these astral feelings may persist.

Being neither distinctly secular or theistic, spirituality is an instinct which leads, guides and resolves in all kinds of directions. Put analogically in the context of biology, if it weren't for sex hormones forcing the impulse, humans would never be in danger of over-producing.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Conde Lucanor » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:57 am

Marjoram_blues wrote: It might look like it but I don't think it is. There is also no attack on materialism, as far as I am aware. It might be an idea if you would provide the quote where you think it does this. Thanks.
OK, maybe is just a suspicion I have about the overall tone of that entry. It sounds so New Age. It's a bit ellusive in subscribing to materialistic views and here and there slips comments that seem to avoid it explicitly:
"Du Toit argues aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a purely materialistic view of the world are spiritual;"
"Du Toit argues that industrialism has led to an increase in materialism in the West. Du Toit further argues that materialism has contributed to a more individualistic Western culture, which underpins secularism. In saying this, though Du Toit connects secularism to individualism, Du Toit maintains that secular spirituality is inherently communal..."
And then you get Yoga, the Dalai Lama and the connection with nature.

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Greta
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Greta » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:12 am

Dubious wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:09 pm
Greta wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:14 am
Dubious wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:02 am
What's so unique about it. Every planet in the universe including anything living on it is made of star stuff.
Yes, but the process from then to now is worth thinking about. He (actually Sagan) was trying to put across the degree of our integration with the rest of nature, a seemingly obvious notion often not appreciated by those influenced by the religious notions of human divinity embedded in many cultures.
There are those who feel spiritual about the universe. It's a feeling not unknown to me even though it has almost evaporated. Spirituality re the universe is a purely human sentiment with nothing more to it...a phenomena of time, space and process, impersonal in every sense. What we qualify as deep mystery, surrounding such with a halo of spirituality, only amounts to our lack of comprehension. Gaps, especially those that seem impervious to solution, are the catalysts to these mystical feelings. We must have these yearnings to "secularize" these mysteries with each new solution or viable theory though some will likely remain grounded in the human brain failing to achieve escape velocity. To that extent, these astral feelings may persist.

Being neither distinctly secular or theistic, spirituality is an instinct which leads, guides and resolves in all kinds of directions. Put analogically in the context of biology, if it weren't for sex hormones forcing the impulse, humans would never be in danger of over-producing.
Yes, love is just a sentiment. I am enchanted (at a safe distance) by the Earth, geology, biology, evolution, space, stars, black holes, time, energy, galaxies and the fascinating fractal relationships and dynamics that keep occurring at various scales. For me, these things are beautiful, interesting, uplifting, inspiring and challenging. Some might say that's not spirituality, but all things have a particular way of being, and that way of being can be thought of as its character or nature or, more poetically, it can be thought of as its spirit.

There is no need to add speculation to reality to be blown away by it. Most people, when their minds are blown like that, find it uncomfortable enough to throw the whole affair into the too-hard-basket, opt to be a believer or an atheist, and try to forget it all. For the kinds of people that attend philosophy forums, that very mind bending nature of our existential situation tends to be pleasurable rather than daunting - the disorientation makes clear there are most interesting things still to find out about the way reality works.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:26 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:57 am
Marjoram_blues wrote: It might look like it but I don't think it is. There is also no attack on materialism, as far as I am aware. It might be an idea if you would provide the quote where you think it does this. Thanks.
OK, maybe is just a suspicion I have about the overall tone of that entry. It sounds so New Age. It's a bit ellusive in subscribing to materialistic views and here and there slips comments that seem to avoid it explicitly:
"Du Toit argues aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a purely materialistic view of the world are spiritual;"
"Du Toit argues that industrialism has led to an increase in materialism in the West. Du Toit further argues that materialism has contributed to a more individualistic Western culture, which underpins secularism. In saying this, though Du Toit connects secularism to individualism, Du Toit maintains that secular spirituality is inherently communal..."
And then you get Yoga, the Dalai Lama and the connection with nature.
My ears are in disagreement with yours. The tone of the article is in keeping with wiki's writing guidelines: formal, impersonal and dispassionate.
The leader of the article includes 3 paragraphs which might be considered enough for those who wish a brief summary of the topic and a lead-in to the sources available. Indeed, on my first read, it was here with Solomon's suggestion ( see OP ) that I stopped dead and wanted to discover more.
Since then, I have read it 3 times and find nothing aggressive in its stance towards materialistic views. It is more about taking the concept back from institutionalized religion.

The Definition begins:
'Secular spirituality emphasizes humanistic qualities such as love, compassion, patience, forgiveness, responsibility, harmony and a concern for others.
Du Toit argues aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a purely materialistic view of the world are spiritual; spirituality does not require belief in a supernatural reality or divine being...'

I would argue that 'going beyond' means over and above - it is not negating or attacking materialism, rather bringing both aspects together in a holistic view of the human experience.

What is the point of your final sentence ?

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:46 am

Belinda wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:10 pm
Most of what people variously mean by "spirituality" is not coextensive with religion. Most people mean by "spirituality" is not superficial emotionalism which some religious sects encourage; spirituality ,if the term is seriously thought out, implies informed and disciplined search for truth and goodness.

Nevertheless I imagine that those churches where people jump up and down and sway from side to side could be fun. But I'd not take them seriously.

While it is true that the big religions carry the most effective known ethical message religions are instituted for social control. It might be argued that to search for truth and goodness involves abandoning the safety of religious institutions and going it alone or with a few brave friends.

Extroverts may well disagree with me.
This 'most people' reminded me of surveys and for some reason, the TV programme 'Family Fortunes' - we asked 100 people to name something associated with the term 'spirituality'. Our survey said...
Then, when you finished up with 'Extroverts may well disagree with me' - that reminded me of categories of people and studies related to that - e.g. types of personalities which might be attracted to a certain worldview. Interesting but how valid ?
On the subject of 'spirituality', I read about a survey which suggested that of those attracted to it, there was a high percentage of the mentally ill.
I can't find the link now, but it was heavily criticized as invalid, given it didn't even provide a definition of 'spirituality'.
It was reported in an online newspaper, perhaps the Guardian. I ought to start taking research notes...

I think that you are right about it not being coextensive with religion; many people do self-identify as 'spiritual but not religious' (SBNR).
And this taking back of spirituality could also be in line with the rejection of religion as having the only say on what is moral, true and good.

Introverts could also disagree with you, no ?

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:24 am

marjoram_blues wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:51 pm
FlashDangerpants wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:28 pm
Not in the least, sorry. Spirituality without any need for the 'other‐worldly' strikes me as a concept specifically designed to embolden Nick. Religious comfort food with none of the calories you get from all that occult stuff that grants religion its flavour.
Thank you for your contribution. It is a concept which has philosophical interest, apparently.
It is unfortunate that you consider it designed to embolden anyone.
It is seen as both a religious and non-religious concept.
I was interested to find Solomon's views on it - and would like to discover more of what he might have meant. He clearly prefers the term 'naturalized spirituality' - perhaps to avoid the negative baggage which some bring to the word 'secular'.
Hello again.
I thought I'd revisit my response.
Secular spirituality might well offer a degree of comfort in filling some kind of a gap between the heavily religious and a void of nothingness.
It may well be similar to the consolations of philosophy.
I am not yet convinced of Solomon's suggestion that it is one of the goals, perhaps the ultimate goal of philosophy. I still have to read his book.
I'd like to pursue that angle a bit more.
So, I'd like to ask you and others on what you consider the goals of philosophy to be, or even your personal philosophical perspective on life.
Basically, what does philosophy mean to you.
Thanks.

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