Ontology Without Apology

I am expressing my relief upon realizing in my previous post that the ontology of secular naturalism is expression of an extravagant hope that a plausible case can be made for a thesis that everything in reality is dependent upon that which can be studied by the methods of natural science.

Ontology is philosophy and philosophy is not necessary for most people to lead a proper life and a flourishing intellectual life. However, those, blessed or afflicted with a philosophical temperament, our life guiding beliefs are unstable without ontology. When people become aware of what ontology is, I think most would agree that it is at least an important phase in providing justification of what we believe.

What do I mean by ontology?

Ontology is the effort to articulate and justify the composition and structure of what there is-reality- so that our beliefs can be true, proper or apt. Broadly speaking, ontology is a theory on what would constitute truth conditions for beliefs. I add “proper” and “apt” because we have beliefs about what is good and beautiful.

I think that is misleading to talk of moral or aesthetic beliefs which are a correct response to reality as true. Talk of truth misleads us to thinking that the proper response to reality is to think of it statically laid out as a realm of facts. It gives primacy to theoretical reason over practical reason or even aesthetical reason , if I may use the term. The proper response to what is good or obligatory, if such there be, might be obedience rather than mere recognition that it is a fact that such-and-such is obligatory. Knowing that “You ought not kill” is one step removed from recognizing it as morally binding.

I think that exclusive focus on the factual ultimately leads to secular ontologies such as naturalism. Purposiveness is more than just a fact; it is a not yet factual aiming to be factual. Our theoretical thought represents a dynamic reality as abstract states of affairs or facts. We turn the actual conditions for truth into thoughts which are truth conditions for our claims

Indeed, I admit that ontology, being expressed as a theory, falls prey to overemphasizing theoretical reason. So, myths might help people experience the order and structure behind moral and religious beliefs better than some theoretical statements about the “furniture of the universe.” For instance, fables such as C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” or Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” might help many people have a clearer appreciate of what reality is like for the Paschal Mystery to express the human condition than some theoretical statements about original sin.

Nonetheless, I intend to push ahead developing an ontology for authoritarian morality. It is important for defending beliefs and going forward with it in no way is ignoring some well established view on what there is on earth and in the heavens.