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The Natural and the Supernatural

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  • Jim
    Herman, You write: I don t get your distinction between natural metaphysics and supernatural metaphysics, sorry. Well I ll try to make my distinction
    Message 1 of 38 , Jun 2, 2011
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      You write: "I don't get your distinction between natural metaphysics and supernatural metaphysics, sorry."

      Well I'll try to make my distinction clearer. I take the natural world to be the physical world which you and I move about in all day long. Common sense says this world has human beings in it, various species of animals and plants, rocks and minerals, and lots of man-made artefacts (cars, buildings, computers, televisions, etc.)

      Science posits certain of these common-sense things – animal species, plant species, the natural elements of the periodic table, and smaller entities like bacteria, cells, molecules, etc.

      All these things-in-themselves posited by common-sense and science are part of natural metaphysics. They are things which can be observed and can be tested in scientific experiments.

      I would say that it is both a presupposition of common sense and of the scientist that the natural world works in a regular manner. We expect past regularities to continue into the future, and when something irregular happens, we look for a deeper regularity to explain it.

      The believer in the supernatural thinks non-natural irregularities can occur due to the presence of supernatural beings like God, the Devil, angels, demons, ghosts, etc. Such beings can turn water into wine, walk on water, raise the dead, part the Red Sea, stop the sun turning, etc.

      A supernatural metaphysics posits these supernatural beings who can perform actions which defy the laws of nature. There are also supernatural realms like heaven and hell which await for people when they die.

      As I suggest in my previous posts, I think it is rational to believe in the things and events of natural metaphysics and irrational to believe in the things and events of supernatural metaphysics. I cannot prove any of this, and if you see things differently from me I think I can just shrug my shoulders – our disagreement is probably irreconcilable.

      You also write: "The law of gravity is an explanation for certain phenomena; so is the term carcinogenic. Of course we fabricated those explanations. Explanations are just not "out there" in the realm of the sensible, waiting to be discerned."

      I disagree with you here. I do think that the law of gravity was waiting to be explained, and when Isaac Newton put forward his law of gravitation: "The gravitation attraction between two bodies is proportional to the product of their masses divided by the square of the distance between their centres of gravity", Newton did discover the correct explanation of falling bodies, etc.

      Similarly when Kepler and Galileo explained the yearly and day-night cycles by saying the earth rotated both around the sun (once every year) and around its own axis (once very day), they discovered something true about our solar system.

      As much as the tobacco companies would like to think that the claim that smoking causes lung cancer was a mere fabrication, many relatives of dead smokers would testify that the causal relation is a fact about the world, rather than just a mere human fabrication.

      As Bill correctly says if you drive a car, go over a bridge, sleep above the ground floor, rely on a supply of electricity or gas to heat your home or your food, you rely upon dogmas of science, whether you consciously reflect on them or not. Those who rely on the dogmas of religion offer come unstuck – like those who expected to be taken straight up to heaven on 21st May.

    • Mary
      Jim, As I wade through Zizek s How To Read Lacan, I also find this piece helpful. I realize it s a backward process to read Hegel, Lacan, and Marx through
      Message 38 of 38 , Jun 8, 2011
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        As I wade through Zizek's How To Read Lacan, I also find this piece helpful. I realize it's a backward process to read Hegel, Lacan, and Marx through Zizek, but it's where I am. Here's another link for you.


        I'm discovering a rich philosophical history behind socialism and delighted to regard Zizek as 'continuing' the work of Sartre.


        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
        > Mary,
        > Thanks for that. Reading a couple of paragraphs of Zizek makes me want to read more. In particular I would need to read more about the "original monstrous cut / excess" before I felt ready to comment on Zizek's thought in this area.
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