From Aristotle Metaphysics to Modern Spirituality

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy, and related to the natural sciences, like physics, psychology and the biology of the brain; and also to mysticism, religion, and other spiritual subjects. It is notoriously difficult to define, but for purposes of briefly introducing it, it can be identified as the study of any of the most fundamental concepts and beliefs about the basic nature of reality, on which many other concepts and beliefs rest – concepts such as being, existence, universal, property, relation, causation, space, time, event, and many others.

Part of the trouble with defining metaphysics lies in how much the field has changed since it was first given its name by Aristotle’s editors centuries ago. Problems that were not originally considered metaphysical have been added. Other problems that were considered metaphysical problems for centuries are now typically relegated to their own separate subheadings in philosophy, such as philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, philosophy of perception, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. It would require quite a long time to state all the problems that have, at one time or another, been considered part of metaphysics.

Other philosophical traditions have very different conceptions of the metaphysical problems from those in the Western philosophical tradition; for example, Taoism and indeed, much of Eastern philosophy completely reject many of the most basic tenets of Aristotelian metaphysics, principles which have by now become almost completely internalized and beyond question in Western philosophy, though a number of dissidents from Aristotelian metaphysics have emerged in the west.

While metaphysics is practiced by many as a religion, it is basically a belief system. Unity, Science of Mind, Religious Science and Spiritualism are examples of Metaphysical-based religions. There are many who consider themselves metaphysicians but attend no worship services. However, they live their lives in a metaphysical pattern. This includes those who consider themselves Neo-Pagans who follow the beliefs of Druidism and Wicca. They too are spiritual paths that are inclusive rather than exclusive. For the majority of people, there is comfort in belonging to a group of people who think as you do but metaphysics makes no requirements for membership in any organization.

New Age

New Age describes a broad movement characterized by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture. The movement is particularly concerned with spiritual exploration, holistic medicine, and mysticism, yet no rigid boundaries actually exist, making the term point to its own perspective on history, philosophy, religion, spirituality, medicine, music, science, and lifestyle.

The term “New Age” at one time, perhaps in the late 1960s, referred to a movement started by the followers of Alice Bailey’s ideas concerning the coming New Age. Since then New Age has broadened into its current meaning. No longer a single belief system, it is an aggregate of beliefs and practices (syncretism) which are drawn from earlier myths established religions and new religious movements. Inside this movement are individuals using a “do-it-yourself” approach, while other groups formulate coherent belief systems resembling traditional religion.

Some people, including neo-pagans, who are frequently labeled as New Age, might find the term inappropriate since it appears to link them with beliefs and practices they do not espouse. Others think that the classification of beliefs and movements under New Age has little added value due to the vagueness of the term. Instead, they prefer to refer directly to the individual beliefs and movements. Indeed, use by religious conservatives, scientists and others has caused the term “New Age” to sometimes have a derogatory connotation.

New Thought Movement

The New Thought Movement describes a set of religious developments that occurred in the United States during the late 19th century, originating with Phineas Quimby. From this movement emerged several religious denominations that remain active today, including Divine Science, Religious Science, and the Unity Church. Although Christian Science has some historical connections to the New Thought movement, it developed in a different direction and does not consider itself a New Thought denomination.

New Thought religions generally share a belief in the universal presence of God within all people. In line with Philosophical Idealism, they profess the primacy of mind over the physical world, and place great emphasis in positive thinking, affirmations, meditation, and prayer. New Thought churches often avoid dogmatic pronouncements about the afterlife or other theological questions, and vary in the degree to which they associate themselves with Christianity. Although New Thought churches are often identified with the New Age movement, New Thought beliefs predate contemporary New Age thinking by nearly a century.


Neopaganism (sometimes Neo-Paganism) is a heterogeneous group of religions claiming to be a revival of mainly European Paganism. It is called Neopaganism by academics and many adherents to distinguish it from earlier forms of Paganism, from which it differs in many significant ways. Some adherents detest the term Neopagan, finding it deeply insulting, while some see it as representing what they feel to be a changing, vital nature of Neopaganism.

Neopaganism is a diverse collection of beliefs. It has been said that there are as many Neopagan belief systems as there are Neopagans. However, while Neopagans do establish their own personal belief system, they also share some common precepts, although the younger generation of Neopagans especially can be highly resistant to such profiling. Common themes include the reverence for nature or active ecology, Goddess (or Horned God) veneration, use of ancient mythologies, the belief in “magick,” and often the belief in reincarnation.

Modern Spirituality

Spirituality is often thought of as the better or higher part of mind. Or is it the moral aspect of life? Perhaps it may mean a state of being ethereal. It may be termed as an ideal that sees all reality in essence as spiritual. Or simply stated spirituality is one’s character or quality that makes one transcend the barriers of worldliness, caste, creed and sensuality; and realize one’s connection with Truth.

Spirituality may include belief in supernatural powers, as in religion, but the emphasis is on experience. What is referred to as “religion” and what is referred to as “spirituality” are often the same. In recent years, “spirituality” has often carried connotations of the believer’s faith being more personal, less dogmatic, more open to new ideas and myriad influences, and more pluralistic than the faiths of established religions. Those given to speaking of “spirituality” rather than “religion” are apt to believe that there are many “spiritual paths” and that there is no objective truth about which is the best path to follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment