Some worldviews are more enlightened then others, which means that some are better at leading believers to satisfactory and reasonable answers than others. If a worldview does not lead one to find an answer to a fundamental question of life, of if the answer that it provides is not reasonable, then this worldview is not as enlightened as it can be. If a worldview can lead one to find satisfactory answers to any great questions of life that they might ask and all answers are reasonable, then this worldview is more enlightened than those that are not able to do this. Essentially, enlightenment is the degree to which one is able to attain satisfactory answers to important questions on the basis of observation and reason.
To clarify, this definition of enlightenment differs from the Buddhist conception of the word where followers of this religion seek enlightenment through what is known as the eightfold path. It does appear that there are some similarities between the Buddhist eightfold path and the components of enlightenment that I have outlined here, and there may also be similarities between what some Buddhists have in mind when they think of enlightenment and what I mean here, but for the most part these are separate concepts. One main difference is that, from a Buddhist perspective, enlightenment is seen as a state that one can be in, whereas enlightenment by my definition is a sort of measurement. By the definition provided here, a worldview is not either “enlightened” or “not enlightened”, but that all worldviews have some degree of enlightenment and that some are more enlightened than others.
In addition, this definition of enlightenment differs from the Eighteenth Century philosophical movement known as The Enlightenment. This work draws heavily from the ideas, methods, values, and arguments that were promoted by Enlightenment era thinkers, but when I use the word “enlightenment” here I mean it as a parameter for measuring worldviews as defined above rather than a school of thought from a historical time period, unless otherwise stated.
Do you agree or disagree with this definition of “enlightenment”? Please let your voice be heard in the forum.