Is "supernatural" a useful word?
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16-08-2016, 01:54 PM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
(15-08-2016 07:39 PM)cactus Wrote:  What do you guys think? Are these dictionary definitions too specific? Not specific enough? Or is your application of the term "supernatural" just kind of an "I'll know it when I see it" sort of thing.
It's a term for fantasy stories. Nothing more.
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16-08-2016, 02:02 PM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
I'd say it is a very useful word. As soon as I hear somebody use it to define their claim I know I'm generally safe in discounting everything that follows.

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16-08-2016, 02:02 PM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
The word superstitious comes to mind as well. But I wonder, is there a "stitious" that is not so super?

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16-08-2016, 02:12 PM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
(15-08-2016 07:39 PM)cactus Wrote:  
Merriam Webster Wrote:1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil

2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)

If something exists, does that not also make it natural? I guess people who would claim to "believe in the supernatural" are saying that their definition of what's real, a.k.a. "the natural", extends into a territory which also happens violate our current understanding of natural laws, and that violation is what defines a concept as "supernatural."

In order for a concept to be considered supernatural, does it even have to "violate" natural laws, or is it sufficient enough to say "It's so improbable that I have no reason to assume it's natural"? What about Russel's Teapot? Should that fall under the definition? Should non-deterministic free will be considered supernatural?

Quote:2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
Would that mean that for a brief period of time, "supernatural" was once an accurate way of describing things like quantum entanglement, or does something have to violate a well-established theory that specifically refers to the concept in question, before it should be deemed supernatural?

What do you guys think? Are these dictionary definitions too specific? Not specific enough? Or is your application of the term "supernatural" just kind of an "I'll know it when I see it" sort of thing.

It's not so much a matter of specificity than arbitrariness IMO. The term is arbitrary. It is a case of men deciding the boundaries of what constitutes the natural.

We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning ~ Werner Heisenberg
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16-08-2016, 02:43 PM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
Quote:Supernatural comes from the Latin word supernaturalis, meaning beyond nature. The adjective form of supernatural describes anything that pertains to or is caused by something that can't be explained by the laws of nature.


Worthless. So we need a new word, that is defined by:


(insert word here) comes from the Latin word (make something up), meaning beyond current knowledge. The adjective form of (new word) describes anything that pertains to or is caused by something that can't be explained by the science of the day.

So...what word do we use? Does anything fit, or can we make up a new word and submit it to Webster?
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16-08-2016, 02:45 PM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
I think I'll submit "Whathufuk" as a contender. I've actually used it before when confronted by something new and surprising.
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16-08-2016, 04:05 PM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
(16-08-2016 02:45 PM)The Dark One Wrote:  I think I'll submit "Whathufuk" as a contender. I've actually used it before when confronted by something new and surprising.

As a single word? Hmm, I like that Thumbsup

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17-08-2016, 02:05 AM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
Hi,

My understanding of supernatural is 'not bound by the laws of nature'. From this angle, metaphysics might not be supernatural if we consider logical forms to be natural, as they are bound by logical laws.

This leaves us wondering if we could understand the supernatural in any way at all, and explains the theist view that God is incomprehensible to us. Theists have told me that God is not bound by natural or logical laws and could create, destroy or change anything at will. However, these described actions are comprehensible to us, as we see happening in the natural world, so are still natural.

Maybe we cannot conceive of 'supernatural' in any sensible way, so the the term is without denotation to us, except as the broad category of what we can never know.

D.
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17-08-2016, 02:26 AM (This post was last modified: 17-08-2016 02:31 AM by Heywood Jahblome.)
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
I tend to think of supernatural as meaning, "not having a local cause".

Suppose you are really living in a computer simulation. The simulation is paused. The programmer changes the value of some variables that determine your location within the simulation. The simulation is restarted.

In such a situation you would find yourself instantly transported from one location to another. You would look for a cause and find none. Then you would invent an explanation like quantum randomness caused you to tunnel from one place to another and call it natural. But really the cause was a natural one that wasn't local.
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17-08-2016, 02:42 AM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
(17-08-2016 02:05 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  Hi,

My understanding of supernatural is 'not bound by the laws of nature'. From this angle, metaphysics might not be supernatural if we consider logical forms to be natural, as they are bound by logical laws.

This leaves us wondering if we could understand the supernatural in any way at all, and explains the theist view that God is incomprehensible to us. Theists have told me that God is not bound by natural or logical laws and could create, destroy or change anything at will. However, these described actions are comprehensible to us, as we see happening in the natural world, so are still natural.

Maybe we cannot conceive of 'supernatural' in any sensible way, so the the term is without denotation to us, except as the broad category of what we can never know.

D.

A synonym, glorified no less, for irrational.

We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning ~ Werner Heisenberg
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