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Supernatural vs Reality


Off-Topic Discussions

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

This thread is effectively omnibinary. That's right: I made that up, just like the supernatural.


*movie not seen, mind blown anyways*

STOP CREATING PARADOXES!!!


Just watched it. Its a nice recruiting video for the uninitiated.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Aretas wrote:
Just watched it. Its a nice recruiting video for the uninitiated.

Care to dispute the content?

Andoran

Okay, I'm gonna preface what follows with three things:

1. I am devoutly religious, though not Christian. Specifically, I'm a somewhat eclectic Pagan and hard polytheist.

2. My parents are both atheists, so are many of my friends, and I'm currently going to school to become a Psychologist, which is to say a scientist and empiricist. I use the scientific world view in most of my life and am a staunch advocate of reason, for the most part.

3. I don't believe in an omnipotent deity, and indeed, basically agree with the various issues this video brings up regarding one. So, while I suppose I 'have a dog in this fight' in some sense, I'm not particularly inclined to dismiss this video because of the nature of it's message.

On to the topic at hand, the video, on which I'm gonna note a couple of things:

1. That portrayal of Shango (or Chango, both are acceptable and I couldn't tell which)? Most racist thing I've seen in a while. Really not cool, guys. The rest are just funny charicatures, but that one's got nothing to do with the real mythology of the deity, it's just a racist collection of stereotypes.

2. The entire video only meaningfully argues against an omnipotent God in the Christian sense...it kinda doesn't say a damn thing about any other religion ever with the possible exception of Islam. I mean, arguments could be made against others, but this video does not make them.

3. The explanation of 'supernatural' can equally be applied to 'morality' or 'philosophy' or any other subjective concept lacking defined physical laws of some sort. 'Supernatural' tends to have very definite and different meanings depending on who's using it (much like the aforementioned concepts). Saying it 'is nothing' is every bit as much dismissive b~%#~@@+ as saying 'Morality is nothing. It causes nothing. It has no meaning.' It's simply an untrue statement, because it doesn't have 'no meaning' it has a hundred different meanings based on who's saying it, some of them deeply absurd or troubling, but some also valid and useful (as thought constructs, anyway, which as meanings of a word is all they are).

Andrew Turner wrote:

I think you meant that in a good way, but 'recruit' makes us sound like an 'us' with a conversion agenda.

Personally, I'm OK with Believers so long as they understand and acknowledge that what they believe is--

a) irrational
b) a deliberate choice to suspend reason and observable reality in favor of their belief

I'm with you on A. No really, believing in deities of any sort, or an afterlife, is an irrational act. At the moment there exists no proof for any of them, and the observed properties of the physical universe don't seem to support their existence (or at least not their interaction with humanity). So belief in them is irrational.

'Suspend reason' seems a bit wrong though. Logical and reasoned arguments for the existence of deities of some sort abound, after all, and you're not arguing this from a perspective of philosophical logic anyway, but from an empirical perspective. Thus, I'd probably go with 'suspend empiricism'...but even that's not true for everyone. I've met people who've had experiences of one sort or another that convinced them of something like the existence of deities rather thoroughly, and basing one's belief on one's personal observations is what empiricism is based on after all (and hardly an irrational act either). Are they interpreting those experiences wrong? Perhaps. Were they hallucinating? Maybe. But it's still not an entirely unreasonable conclusion for such people to come to.

Of course, if such people are rational, they would be the first to acknowledge that any similar attitude is not to be expected from anyone without a similar experience.

Andrew Turner wrote:

For example:

"Yes, I am fully aware that my belief in the supernatural defies the observable universe and all manner of reason and logic. Nonetheless, I find that embracing my belief makes me both personally happy and psychologically enables me to deliberately live a humane and beneficent life. Therefore, despite my intellectual acceptance of the impossibility of my belief, I choose to deliberately believe."

Despite what I just said, that's a very problematic statement. Far too many things have been discovered by science that were once considered 'impossible' prior to that discovery for the blanket dismissal of such things to be a remotely sure thing. Our understanding of the universe and how it works is in its infancy, and thus presuming that we understand enough about how things really work to categorically deny the possibility of such things as Gods or an afterlife is both untrue, and arrogant in the extreme.

A staunch empiricist should not believe in the existence of such things at the moment, but doing so doesn't mean one believes in an 'impossibility', just an unsupported (and perhaps unlikely) hypothesis.

Also, I don't think the reasons listed are a good reason to believe anything. If you're analyzing your beliefs to the extent that statement implies and then actually deciding them based on a cost/benefit analysis it's not genuine belief, just a bulwark against doubt and/or reality.

My religion does indeed help me in various ways (as you describe), but that's not why I believe in it, I believe in it because it feels true on some deep, primal, level. That's how faith works. It's like falling in love (another irrational act), you can analyze it and try and explain the details, but that's not really why you do it, it just sorta happens.

Andrew Turner wrote:

Now, if Believers followed all that up with something like this--

"Given my prefatory statement, I further recognize that my belief cannot logically be purely shared with you (such that you will experience the same sensations as I, sensations which I directly associate with my belief and my belief in that belief), nor can I rationally expect you to mime my belief or accept it for yourself."

This is true, though. Nobody can ever really talk someone into real faith, only a shoddy (and largely worthless) semblance thereof.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
...[lots of awesome stuff]...

Thank you for such a cogent and polite reply.

I need to read your post again to reply to it, but I wanted to tell you right away how much I appreciate your lack of vitriol and invective.

I look forward to our discussions.

Andoran

Andrew Turner wrote:

Thank you for such a cogent and polite reply.

I need to read your post again to reply to it, but I wanted to tell you right away how much I appreciate your lack of vitriol and invective.

I always strive to be polite. :)

And, since it wasn't my faith specifically the video targeted, I have perhaps a bit more emotional distance from the subject matter than others might.

Also, I actually enjoy engaging in philosophical/religious discussions while others here are clearly a bit tired of them. Which might also help explain the degree of hostility involved.

Andrew Turner wrote:
I look forward to our discussions.

As do I. :)

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:

...On to the topic at hand, the video, on which I'm gonna note a couple of things:

1. That portrayal of Shango (or Chango, both are acceptable and I couldn't tell which)? Most racist thing I've seen in a while. Really not cool, guys. The rest are just funny charicatures, but that one's got nothing to do with the real mythology of the deity, it's just a racist collection of stereotypes.

2. The entire video only meaningfully argues against an omnipotent God in the Christian sense...it kinda doesn't say a damn thing about any other religion ever with the possible exception of Islam. I mean, arguments could be made against others, but this video does not make them.

I concede points 1 and 2 without argument.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
3. The explanation of 'supernatural' can equally be applied to 'morality' or 'philosophy' or any other subjective concept lacking defined physical laws of some sort. 'Supernatural' tends to have very definite and different meanings depending on who's using it (much like the aforementioned concepts). Saying it 'is nothing' is every bit as much dismissive b%!!#$%! as saying 'Morality is nothing. It causes nothing. It has no meaning.' It's simply an untrue statement, because it doesn't have 'no meaning' it has a hundred different meanings based on who's saying it, some of them deeply absurd or troubling, but some also valid and useful (as thought constructs, anyway, which as meanings of a word is all they are).

I disagree. Morality, for example, is quantifiable; it may be developed from a physicalist analysis of the world around us, with the general values of promoting human well-being, even given necessarily plastic terms like sympathy and honesty. If it happens, it can be measured. As to philosophy, quite a bit of modern philosophy is very much rooted in logic and science. The days of Aristotle are thankfully well behind us.

Now, I have to admit, sensations of the supernatural are just as measurable as culturally independent mores, and in much the same way, neurochemically. Nonetheless, I might argue that it's a question of public qualia vs private qualia. A quale of sensation derived from a supernatural experience cannot be purely known by anyone but the experiencer. Whereas a quale of sensation derived from moral imperative is transferable.

This is to say, I may know fear conceptually (or joy, or bliss, or awe, etc.), but I cannot know your fear even if I were to experience the causal agent simultaneous with you. In this way I might define an incident of fear as a sensation experienced from an apparent spectral visitation, but it could be from a purely human experience like a robbery or a street fight, or combat in a war zone.

Conversely, the sympathy I feel for a starving child is not from the qualia of private language. Humans are genetically evolved to care for their young, and in most cases of normative development, any given human is likely to feel a 'natural' sympathy for the pain or suffering of any child, regardless of genetic affiliation. This quale of sympathy is transferable across cultures and from one individual to the next. Under conditions measurable by fMRI, the neurological reaction between, say, me and Renrut Werdna of the Setats Detinu tribe--or you--will be measurable more similar than not.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
...Despite what I just said, that's a very problematic statement. Far too many things have been discovered by science that were once considered 'impossible' prior to that discovery for the blanket dismissal of such things to be a remotely sure thing...

Conceded. I should have written 'improbably'.

I'd like to go on, but it's very late here. I'm sure you'll have some interesting responses against my epiphenomenal-state arguments. Hell--couldn't we argue that fear is immoral? Shouldn't I be able to measure immoral qualia as well?

Until then.

Andoran

Andrew Turner wrote:
I concede points 1 and 2 without argument.

Alright then. :)

To be entirely fair, I doubt the actual makers of the video were racist per se...Chango just really came off as such, mostly in a 'we didn't think this through' kinda way.

Andrew Turner wrote:
I disagree. Morality, for example, is quantifiable; it may be developed from a physicalist analysis of the world around us, with the general values of promoting human well-being, even given necessarily plastic terms like sympathy and honesty. If it happens, it can be measured. As to philosophy, quite a bit of modern philosophy is very much rooted in logic and science. The days of Aristotle are thankfully well behind us.

Particular aspects of particular moral codes are quantifiable. But as you note, so are particular aspects of specific supernatural belief systems. I believe you can find the legitimate, medically verified, statistics on people who've been cursed to death in some places (Haiti comes to mind), for example. Their belief in the power of the individual cursing them actually appears to cause them to die. That's...at least as verifiable a physical result of some definitions of the supernatural as any physical consequences that morality has.

But neither are, at their heart, physical phenomena. They are ideas, and variable ones, and you need a specific variant to do anything with them at all.

Andrew Turner wrote:
Now, I have to admit, sensations of the supernatural are just as measurable as culturally independent mores, and in much the same way, neurochemically. Nonetheless, I might argue that it's a question of public qualia vs private qualia. A quale of sensation derived from a supernatural experience cannot be purely known by anyone but the experiencer. Whereas a quale of sensation derived from moral imperative is transferable.

I'd disagree with this quite thoroughly. Two people in an identical moral quandary often feel very diferent things, and react in entirely different manners. Moral imperatives are neither universal nor necessarily transferable. People's moral systems differ on a profound and fundamental level, and thus so do the the responses they have to stimuli.

Andrew Turner wrote:
This is to say, I may know fear conceptually (or joy, or bliss, or awe, etc.), but I cannot know your fear even if I were to experience the causal agent simultaneous with you. In this way I might define an incident of fear as a sensation experienced from an apparent spectral visitation, but it could be from a purely human experience like a robbery or a street fight, or combat in a war zone.

Right, I'm with you on this, and the evidence (as well as rationality) does indeed seem to support that people percieve and react to the world and the things within it in vastly different ways, both psychologically and physiologically.

Andrew Turner wrote:
Conversely, the sympathy I feel for a starving child is not from the qualia of private language. Humans are genetically evolved to care for their young, and in most cases of normative development, any given human is likely to feel a 'natural' sympathy for the pain or suffering of any child, regardless of genetic affiliation. This quale of sympathy is transferable across cultures and from one individual to the next. Under conditions measurable by fMRI, the neurological reaction between, say, me and Renrut Werdna of the Setats Detinu tribe--or you--will be measurable more similar than not.

And here's where I disagree.

Do two people react identically to a picture of a starving child? I very much doubt it, and indeed just ran into a study (in another atheism-related thread on these boards actually) that, assuming it's validity, gives good evidence of the converse. The non-brainwave responses are certainly significantly different even within a particular cultural milieu.

The entire history of human warfare and particularly genocide also argues strongly against a uniformity of reaction to suffering. It is eminently possible to simply not care about the plight of another (though admittedly, caring about children is genetically biased for and thus more common).

Now, I'm not primarily a neurologist, so I don't have any quick studies to back up the idea that the brainwave response differs as well, but I'd bet you it does so to a statistically significant degree. Which is more than enough for it to not be the same experience.

Andrew Turner wrote:
Conceded. I should have written 'improbably'.

Okay, cool. I don't actually object to that at all. :)

Andrew Turner wrote:

I'd like to go on, but it's very late here. I'm sure you'll have some interesting responses against my epiphenomenal-state arguments. Hell--couldn't we argue that fear is immoral? Shouldn't I be able to measure immoral qualia as well?

Until then.

You can measure immorality as well as morality. But you can only measure either in any way post-definition. And people's definitions vary. Fear isn't moral or immoral in and of itself, because morality isn't an absolute, it varies depending on who's defining it.

And I look forward to it. :)

Paizo Employee Digital Products Assistant

Removed some posts. Play nice, people.


Sorry.

Andoran

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Chris Lambertz wrote:
Removed some posts. Play nice, people.

How can *this* thread need to have posts removed? I feel like I'm watching a salon:

"Tosh and fiddle, my dear sir! I shall demolish your arguments thusly- but first, may I offer you a glass of this fine tawny port?"

Back to eavesdropping. Thanks, you two. :)

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Particular aspects of particular moral codes are quantifiable. But as you note, so are particular aspects of specific supernatural belief systems. I believe you can find the legitimate, medically verified, statistics on people who've been cursed to death in some places (Haiti comes to mind), for example. Their belief in the power of the individual cursing them actually appears to cause them to die. That's...at least as verifiable a physical result of some definitions of the supernatural as any physical consequences that morality has.

Yes; and will is probably the strongest psychological (and manifestable) characteristic of the human brain. Professional soldiers are known for fighting through wounds that should have felled them without recourse, and athletes are routinely seen to push through injuries and fatigue even until total system failure and death--all seemingly through will alone. Nonetheless, this is measurable through biochemistry and neurology; changes in brain chemistry and actual manifested change in physical systems and components (like sudden onset super compartment inflammation studies of body builders who seemingly will targeted muscle expansion based on the requirements of a particular exercise demonstration)!

Deadmanwalking wrote:
But neither are, at their heart, physical phenomena. They are ideas, and variable ones, and you need a specific variant to do anything with them at all.

I disagree. As mentioned above (sorry to jump the gun), the physicalism of neuro- and biochemical change is very much systematized scientifically. The metrics are repeated subject-to-subject, which has led some (like Richard Davidson at U of W-M) to begin research on whether or not internal systemic directed change can be trained neurochemically.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

...Two people in an identical moral quandary often feel very diferent things, and react in entirely different manners. Moral imperatives are neither universal nor necessarily transferable. People's moral systems differ on a profound and fundamental level, and thus so do the the responses they have to stimuli.

This is an excellent supportive statement of fact-value distinction, but I believe there's more to it than that. Functional MRI studies have begun to show very significant similarities between persons of different cultures when asked (admittedly simplistic) true-false statements (including photos) of conventional morality, such as whether or not it is moral to starve a child.

Interestingly, the 'truth' centers of the brain light up in the same way when the question is rephrased in a deliberate attempt to illicit an opposite or neutral reaction, such as whether or not it is moral to deliberately allow a child to starve, or to allow a child to starve through inaction. Across the spectrum, the brain seems to respond in the same way to all three questions, essentially suggesting that (at least in the brains studied) there is a fundamental moral connection that is transferrable (and cross-cultural) to starving children (when it is assumed that the situation might be avoided with intervention or direct action).

Conversely, emotional responses to stimuli of a neutrally moral nature (for example, fear) are manifested in the same areas of the brain across subjects, but are not consistently experienced to the same degree (and occasionally not at all) across subjects, suggesting that neutrally moral emotional responses are very culturally-dependent.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
You can measure immorality as well as morality. But you can only measure either in any way post-definition. And people's definitions vary. Fear isn't moral or immoral in and of itself, because morality isn't an absolute, it varies depending on who's defining it.

Yes and no, I would argue. Certainly, we have to identify what is, say, a fearful image (whether in public language or private language), and then see if that image is processed in the same way across populations. But once that image is known, I think it might be simple to extrapolate.

Andoran

Andrew Turner wrote:
Yes; and will is probably the strongest psychological (and manifestable) characteristic of the human brain. Professional soldiers are known for fighting through wounds that should have felled them without recourse, and athletes are routinely seen to push through injuries and fatigue even until total system failure and death--all seemingly through will alone. Nonetheless, this is measurable through biochemistry and neurology; changes in brain chemistry and actual manifested change in physical systems and components (like sudden onset super compartment inflammation studies of body builders who seemingly will targeted muscle expansion based on the requirements of a particular exercise demonstration)!

No disagreement here. The few legitimate cases of mltiple personalities display different brainwave patterns, physiological signs, and even different allergies depending on which personality is manifest. The mind's power over the body is an amazing thing.

I'm not arguing that people dying of a curse is proof of magic or anything like that, I'm arguing it's a consequence of belief in a particular variety of the supernatural and at least as measurable as the consequences of a belief that, say, marital fidelity is a moral imperative (a moral distinction).

You can operationalize both and have meaningful data based on how people who believe in X behave as compared to people who do not believe X.

Andrew Turner wrote:
I disagree. As mentioned above (sorry to jump the gun), the physicalism of neuro- and biochemical change is very much systematized scientifically. The metrics are repeated subject-to-subject, which has led some (like Richard Davidson at U of W-M) to begin research on whether or not internal systemic directed change can be trained neurochemically.

Oh sure, but that's all effects, not causes if you can see what I'm geting at. You need to operationalize 'morality' before you can start measuring anything based on it. There is no real definition of 'morality' that everyone agrees on, and particularly no dfinition that has been agreed on by cultures throughout history. So the reactions in question might have nothing to do with what some individuals or groups have considered moral.

Andrew Turner wrote:

This is an excellent supportive statement of fact-value distinction, but I believe there's more to it than that. Functional MRI studies have begun to show very significant similarities between persons of different cultures when asked (admittedly simplistic) true-false statements (including photos) of conventional morality, such as whether or not it is moral to starve a child.

Interestingly, the 'truth' centers of the brain light up in the same way when the question is rephrased in a deliberate attempt to illicit an opposite or neutral reaction, such as whether or not it is moral to deliberately allow a child to starve, or to allow a child to starve through inaction. Across the spectrum, the brain seems to respond in the same way to all three questions, essentially suggesting that (at least in the brains studied) there is a fundamental moral connection that is transferrable (and cross-cultural) to starving children (when it is assumed that the situation might be avoided with intervention or direct action).

Hmmm. I'm familiar with the work on 'fairness' as an important (and seemingly inherent) concept in both humans and other primates, but not with the research in question, so all this is a bit speculative, but I'll note a few possible problems with the universality of this:

1. Presumably, these are all citizens of relatively developed nations in the present day. That's...not damning or anything, but considering the current degree of world connectivity and certain cultural similarities in most of today's cultures in this area it makes me a bit skeptical as to it's truly universal nature.

2. I'd be very curious if only neurotypical people were included in the study. If so, that's far from everyone, and leaves out the subset of people most likely to react differently, on a physiological level. Someone with something like Aspergers sydrome, or (for a more extreme example) Antisocial Personality Disorder might have a very different reaction, and yet still have some sort of moral code they adhere to.

And even assuming it's accuracy, a system of morality might be influenced by what people fell on a gut level (ie: their measurable brain activity in those split seconds) but is inherently a thought construct that may go against that immediate response in certain circumstances (ie: save the child or save the world problems, picking an important mission over the child out of a sense of duty, etc.)

Andrew Turner wrote:
Conversely, emotional responses to stimuli of a neutrally moral nature (for example, fear) are manifested in the same areas of the brain across subjects, but are not consistently experienced to the same degree (and occasionally not at all) across subjects, suggesting that neutrally moral emotional responses are very culturally-dependent.

Here's a good example, actually. You are defining fear responses as not a moral issue, while simultaneously defining the feeding of a starving child as an important one. I tend to agree with you, but there have been various cultures throughout time, with codified moral systems, that would have profoundly disagreed with one or both* of those assertions, and thus your argument that morality is universal is predicated on your existing definition of morality...making it more than a bit circular.

Andrew Turner wrote:
Yes and no, I would argue. Certainly, we have to identify what is, say, a fearful image (whether in public language or private language), and then see if that image is processed in the same way across populations. But once that image is known, I think it might be simple to extrapolate.

To true universality? Maybe. But if so, then people's ideas about and responses to the supernatural could be similarly operationalized and put into some universal framework just as well (if perhaps with a bit more effort involved).

*Assuming the child was visibly not of their particular tribe or culture, anyway.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
...You can operationalize both and have meaningful data based on how people who believe in X behave as compared to people who do not believe X.

Absolutely. You've hit the proverbial nail here; operationalization is exactly what this concept needs. Right now, scientists like Harris, Sacks and Llinas are struggling with how best to define their ideas. A lot of Harris' work is, in my opinion, all over the place. It's obvious he has some fundamental bridging ideas between neurochemistry and morality, but it's almost like he's distracted by too many good ideas: consilience is what's missing.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Oh sure, but that's all effects, not causes if you can see what I'm geting at. You need to operationalize 'morality' before you can start measuring anything based on it. There is no real definition of 'morality' that everyone agrees on, and particularly no dfinition that has been agreed on by cultures throughout history. So the reactions in question might have nothing to do with what some individuals or groups have considered moral.

I understand what you're saying to be that the reproducible metrics are really just loosely-defined data sets; that the results are effects of change and that the changes themselves, thus, cannot be the cause (ex nihilo nihil fit--the effect cannot cause itself so that the glass is broken by the broken state itself). Hmmm. You've got a really good point; I don't know what to make of it right now, but I feel like I'm missing something really easy, something superficially obvious--there's a counterargument here, I'm sure.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
1. Presumably, these are all citizens of relatively developed nations in the present day. That's...not damning or anything, but considering the current degree of world connectivity and certain cultural similarities in most of today's cultures in this area it makes me a bit skeptical as to it's truly universal nature.

Maybe we shouldn't think of it as universal, per se. Perhaps we have to allow for localized morality based on the circumstances of the time period. This would require constant updating of the 'scientific morals database', which isn't bad in-and-of itself, but I don't like it at first glance.

I can imagine a good argument for isolated events of apparent universal morality, based on genetic translation even in speciation, which had proved to be of fundamental value to the spread of markers--say, a predisposition to ensure the safety and health of offspring in general. But you're right, I think. Across species, including the great apes, and seen in cultures worldwide, there is not a consistent threshold of general care for offspring, and in many cases I might be only marginally surprised to learn there's more data to suggest a deliberate sabotage (if you'll allow) of another group's offspring. We might see this especially in cases with areas of very limited resources. Humans encode these sort of environmental conditions as culture all the time.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
2. I'd be very curious if only neurotypical people were included in the study. If so, that's far from everyone, and leaves out the subset of people most likely to react differently, on a physiological level. Someone with something like Aspergers sydrome, or (for a more extreme example) Antisocial Personality Disorder might have a very different reaction, and yet still have some sort of moral code they adhere to.

I'll dig out the journals this weekend--If you're at the uni library this weekend, check out Nature 448, 864 and Annals of Neurology, Vol 69, Issue 3. They're sitting in the bookcase right now, but I have to dig through them and it's already very late here.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
And even assuming it's accuracy, a system of morality might be influenced by what people fell on a gut level (ie: their measurable brain activity in those split seconds) but is inherently a thought construct that may go against that immediate response in certain circumstances (ie: save the child or save the world problems, picking an important mission over the child out of a sense of duty, etc.)

That's an interesting thing to note with fMRI studies. The scans indicate two things: the actual decision is made by the brain before the respondent is consciously aware of the decision; and this allows an almost guaranteed prediction of a respondent's follow-on reactions.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
To true universality? Maybe. But if so, then people's ideas about and responses to the supernatural could be similarly operationalized and put into some universal framework just as well (if perhaps with a bit more effort involved).

Yes, I think so too. But I think a distinction is to be found in the transferability of the qualia. It would seem from these initial studies that neutrally moral qualia are inconsistently experienced, while morally-charged qualia (moral or immoral) are at least more consistently experienced across subject populations.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Refined thought on transferable qualia:

Can you think of a supernatural quale that is fundamentally morally-charged?

Initially, I imagined Fear, Joy, Awe and Bliss. On further consideration, I think these are patently neutrally moral.

Andoran

Alright, let me take a step back here from answering things point-by-point, I think I'm losing the forest for the trees. :)

My point was never to argue that the supernatural was really a transferable qualia or that it's expressions were truly universal to the human experience. Not per se, anyway.

Indeed, my argument was in some ways the opposite of that. That it was a fundamentally extremely variable belief/experience/thought construct, much like many other such thought constructs (though all such can be quantified eventually). Morality is one example, but so legality or a particular code of professional ethics.

I don't necessarily agree that morality is a fundamentally transferable qualia, at least not prior to it's operationalization (which makes it very specifically only some versions of morality that are so transferable) but even if it is, legal codes or standards of professional conduct are not so transferable. They're a pure thought construct, but they still have meaning in the world. They have meaning inasmuch as we impart it on them with our thoughts and actions

The 'supernatural' is the same way, even if you don't believe in the existence of actual magical forces and such, it's a meaningful concept because it deeply effects how a large number of people think and behave, and in a hundred different ways,as their definitions differ.

For example, my personal definition of the supernatural can be summed up as 'Things we don't have the science to explain yet.' That includes things like deities, an afterlife, 'magical' beings and capabilities, etc. I firmly believe in such things, but also believe that they are only 'supernatural' because our understanding of the way the universe operates is so very new and incomplete. Science will eventually explain and codify all of them, or at least has the capacity to do so. That's a valid definition, but one I think many other believers would disagree with on one or more profound levels...but both my definition and theirs have meaning and give rise to both thought and action.

Andrew Turner wrote:

Refined thought on transferable qualia:

Can you think of a supernatural quale that is fundamentally morally-charged?

Initially, I imagined Fear, Joy, Awe and Bliss. On further consideration, I think these are patently neutrally moral.

A sense of righteousness, perhaps? A feeling that what you have done thus far was right, good, and justified. That's pretty wrapped up in morality, and certainly the kind of thing some people describe when detailing supernatural experiences.

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