Is spirituality minus the spirit still spiritual?
This topic contains 192 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by jakelafort 4 days, 4 hours ago.
April 13, 2022 at 5:42 am #42339
Pope…that is fine. Could you then define these two kinds of spiritual then please?April 13, 2022 at 5:42 am #42340
AutumnParticipantedit: I kind of went off on one line because it was a segue for my rambling thoughts, and less as some takedown of Reg or his post. Naturally none of the commentary has any intended implication against the fronkey farming trade.
This is because it has too many definitions and they are all subjective
There are lots of words like that, the best one probably being ‘fuck’. Even the word ‘religion’ itself is not that easy to pin down, but it has its use in a ‘know one when I see one’ sort of way.
In the ‘spiritual atheist’ sense, I tend to assume they are basically saying many of the experiences religious people have that they attribute to their god(s) are things that atheists, as human beings, feel as well and gods just aren’t necessary for it. Or perhaps it’s recognition that some religious approaches to things are useful even in an atheist paradigm or perhaps especially in an atheist paradigm when you strip the parts that work and put them into a vehicle that isn’t shit. Maybe in some cases they’re just saying, “I’m not the emotionless sin-bot you seem to think I am; I can relate to some of the things you religious lot praise (though often don’t exhibit) because I, too, am a fucking human being.)
If I were to ever refer to myself as ‘spiritual’ I think it would probably be a big ‘fuck you’ to all the religious people who have camped out on the finer aspects of human experience (love, hope, a desire for peace, ‘morality’, etc.) thinking they own them. Why use the word ‘spiritual’? Vague as it is, people have a sense of what it means enough so to know if the conversation is pointing north or south. It ties to some intuitive aspect of human existence with regard to meaning and connection. In harkens to some facet of processing our experience of the universe different than, perhaps the scientific method which in practice doesn’t always have what we need in the moment.
When atheists suggest alternatives, some are workable, but they often have no poetry to them, or they are words few know unless they happen to be Sagan fans (looking at you, numinous). From a cultural and linguistic perspective, I find ‘spiritual’ acceptable. Not every word is meant or precision or clear meaning. That just isn’t English. I’d wager most languages have some words like that where you just sort of have to grasp the meaning based on a feeling rather than a clearly articulated definition.
Of course, there are problems with the word. When someone uses it, you never know where they are in the spectrum of new-agey beliefs that specifically rely on lack of critical analysis to survive, or if they are just saying, “Yeah, looking at the stars at night gives me the special feels too”. In that regard though, I also never know what the fuck people mean when they say they like film.
But from that linguistic angle, I feel like every time this conversation happens it pushes me one step closer to being a ‘spiritual atheist’ out of pure stubbornness about language. And that will be a sad day for me, because I don’t have so much money floating around that I can just hand it over to Gwyneth Paltrow all so I can detoxify my liver. I send all my toxicity to my liver for a reason: so when world order collapses and people turn to cannibalism, the bastard who eats my liver can choke to death on my bitterness and ennui.April 13, 2022 at 5:51 am #42341
Which leads me to believe there once was a survival benefit.
I don’t think it’s about a survival benefit, although that may come as a by-product. I think it’s about enhancing and celebrating being alive.April 13, 2022 at 5:57 am #42342
why would you use a term that is this elusive? How can you achieve much (if anything) if people are talking about something different (or at least vaguely overlapping) when you can use some other term?
I don’t use the word myself. But it has some meaningful definitions that other people use: for example, the army. I think they use it to refer to the psychological and moral well being of soldiers, and where they see themselves headed in life. For example, many Russian soldiers will be broken and suicidal after the war, considering the crimes they have committed. Of course, many, sociopathic ones won’t.April 13, 2022 at 7:08 am #42343
It may be similar to the ancient Egyptians in supplying their dead with artifacts for the afterlife, or it may just be secular decoration, but knowing how just about every Sapiens culture has “spiritual tendencies” I tend to think our close relatives probably did too.
There is a book by Penny Spikins, called “How Compassion Made Us Human”. For her, this taking care of the dead is part of a wider pattern throughout the historic human family tree, of increasing care for one another including taking care of the sick and disabled. This is part of an evolutionary move away from other primates, who do not really do this.April 13, 2022 at 2:27 pm #42344
Reg: And that is why I have said the word is meaningless. If it means something different to everyone then it describes nothing. It should be seen as an archaic term.
Synoptically Reg has it wrapped up in those words. i stand unmoved in my viewpoint.
Out of curiosity has anyone been persuaded to change their viewpoint in re. to spiritual?April 13, 2022 at 2:38 pm #42345
Yes, but to the people who use it, it means something.April 13, 2022 at 3:19 pm #42346
Simon in some cases the users of that word don’t know what they mean. In any event language ought to include the thinker and the recipient, right?April 13, 2022 at 5:46 pm #42351
True on both counts.April 13, 2022 at 6:36 pm #42352
In any event language ought to include the thinker and the recipient, right?
That I agree with; however,
Reg: And that is why I have said the word is meaningless. If it means something different to everyone then it describes nothing.
That is wrong. It may describe something different to everyone who uses it, but those differences fall within certain bounds. Whether those bounds are vague or not has little to do with whether the word has meaning.April 13, 2022 at 7:42 pm #42355
It may describe something different to everyone who uses it, but those differences fall within certain bounds. Whether those bounds are vague or not has little to do with whether the word has meaning.
Yes. The meanings that people give the word are not random or arbitrary: they fall into certain categories. Of course, many people come up blank for a meaning, or they use it without having a definition.April 13, 2022 at 8:03 pm #42356
When in doubt of the definition of a word, research is necessary to understand it. Starting at a high level overview is a starting point and further research can then be conducted from there depending on the context of the audience and the speaker’s meaning.
part of the above referenced article actually has a pretty descent definition of spiritual when it comes to “personal religion” (please read the context of the article)
There is a key distinction which needs to be made between the religious and the spiritual. William James in his study of The Varieties of Religious Experience makes the distinction early in this lecture series that there exists “one great partition which divides the religious field. On the one side of it lies institutional, on the other personal religion.” This personal religion is spirituality, what he defines as, “the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine”.
April 13, 2022 at 8:05 pm #42357
- This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by Belle Rose.
From Autumn: That is wrong. It may describe something different to everyone who uses it, but those differences fall within certain bounds. Whether those bounds are vague or not has little to do with whether the word has meaning.
Both Simon and Autumn acknowledge that language is a two-way street. I suspect we would get unanimity on this point. Correct me if anyone disagrees. Therefore if language is used in a way that is meaningful to the speaker only it isn’t language. Individual cave people may have had grunts and severely mentally ill humans may have grunts or words that signify something to themselves but are devoid of meaning to others.
I take your point Autumn that the bounds or parameters of spiritual are sufficiently concrete to convey some notion, at least in some instances, of what the speaker intends. Having acknowledged that my conclusion is not altered.
Contrast the word spiritual with the word things. Things is a word that intentionally lacks definition and yet is valuable. Instead of the intellectualization or pseudo philosophy Pope mentioned or the feelings aspect of spiritual, things is concerned with well…things-material objects mostly. Where are my things? Did you bring the things? How are things? String theory is something about things on strings? The context informs the meaning. Often there is a familiarity between speaker and listener that makes context paramount and adds the meaning. On the other hand even the Popey useful aspect of spiritual is necessarily about subjective feelings and often those feelings or perception of feelings are colored by religious conceptions. That add-on makes spiritual into a junk word.
I bet algorithms could make hay with probable characteristics of those who use spiritual in their everyday parlance.
I mentioned the utility of the word in terms of first dates, ambiguity, obfuscation. I think it is also a useful word for an author who uses the word in dialogue. The reader will of course draw their own conclusions as to characters who use the word.April 13, 2022 at 8:09 pm #42359
6 second skim from Belle Rose and the following language: There is no single, widely agreed-upon definition of spirituality.
No surprise there…
Kind of amazing there has been so much discussion of the word spiritual, init? Frankly i am surprised.April 13, 2022 at 8:12 pm #42360
Words are always meaningful, but they must be analyzed in the proper context of what the original speaker is trying to say and to what audience. Any single individual word cannot be examined by itself. You alway must look at the meaning of the entire thought the speaker or writer is trying to convey.
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