RE: Debunk All Religiosity Equally (D.A.R.E.) ---> inloading

From: Russell Blackford (
Date: Mon Jul 09 2001 - 21:45:16 MDT

Lee said

>So are we homing in, by any chance at all, on a mutually
>useful meaning? That is, it sounds to me that "spirituality"
>might be for many of us---certainly not all---the following:
>Spirituality: a deep appreciation of something so emotionally
>compelling that it becomes a form of reverance.
>Now, I must also candidly say that there is one huge
>problem with any such explanation or definition, and
>it's this: many people will ADAMANTLY resist any such
>reduction to concrete words or concepts for these reasons:
>1. such an active reduction is itself rational/scientific,
> and therefore *itself* not emotionally compelling
>2. any such description is "third person" instead of
> "first person"---hence "detached", "analytic",
> "unfeeling", and so on. (Those same people will,
> for example, frequently insist that first person
> consciousness or pain can never be explained.)

<big snip>

>So it comes down to this: the people who claim to be
>spiritual in most cases (a) have a deep appreciation of
>of things, probably foremost among them the universe
>itself, to the point of reverance, and (b) feel inclined
>to talk about it, or to communicate it.
>People who have no use for "spirituality" or "religiosity"
>usually---although perhaps having equally deep appreciation
>(or perhaps not, who can really say?)---hardly ever feel
>worshipful, reverent, or deeply respectful (of non-sentience).
>Moreover, they feel awkward or even self-indulgent when
>trying to communicate such appreciations or profound feelings.

Although I kept out of the recent religion war, I seem to have sparked it
off by my comments about "sin" and "spirituality". Sorry about that (though
I did say that I was prepared to bracket off the "spirituality" isssue <g>).

What Lee has said here makes a fair bit of sense to me. I remain of the view
that references to a spiritual domain (when made by people who are not
religious believers, etc), refer to deep personal feelings, aesthetic
values, etc. I also think that there is a tendency in our society not to
wish to refer to issues or values as "aesthetic" because it somehow sounds
too weak (as in "mere aesthetic value"). When we find value in art, beauty,
culture or the awe- (or joy-) inspiring aspects of the physical world, we
are tempted to refer to this as "spiritual" value. I see it as aesthetic
value but add that aesthetic dimension of life is extremely important.

Perhaps I should stop resisting this usage of "spiritual" and
"spirituality"; I'll have to think about that. The posts from Samantha,
Amara and now Lee make me feel much less dogmatic than when I first
mentioned the point a few weeks ago. All the same, I remain uncomfortable
with these words for reasons I have explained previously and which J.R. and
others have elaborated.

My other example of a word that should be dropped, "sin", I have no doubts
about (nor is it an original suggestion of mine). In the end, we *seem* to
have a consensus that this word contains wrong implications of God's anger
etc, etc and should be dropped.



(Now, adapting J.R.'s approach, here's a semi-random list of useful
hypotheses, memes, etc:

philosophy; science; intellectual adventure; science fiction; freedom of
inquiry, thought, speech and expression; limited government; creativity;
polyamory; self-development; atheism; evolutionary explanations;


Russell Blackford
writer philosopher lawyer transhumanist
Active Member: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)
Member: Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA)

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