Bert recently posted a piece on spirituality (check it out) below which eamonknight posted this:
IMHO the word “spiritual” has been debased into uselessness, i.e. when someone says “I am spiritual”, I have no idea what they mean by it, what aspect of their life it describes. It can mean anything from being an ardent practitioner of a particular religious tradition, to just getting a warm fuzzy feeling from watching a beautiful sunset, or anything on between.
Despite my distaste for the word, I have composed a definition that I think is general enough to capture the core idea across traditions, and even apply to atheists: Spirituality is that which gives one a sense of one’s place in the universe and one’s relations to the rest of the universe, in a way that provokes an emotional reaction (i.e. not just the facts of cosmology, but one’s reaction to them), and usually with implications for how one should live one’s life. By that definition, learning science and philosophy count as “spiritual” activities for me, as do visiting places of natural wonder.
But I still don’t use the word.
I think there are many cases where the word is used really casually and without much thought, to evoke a sort of “woo” feeling as it has purchase in modern culture. One needs to be careful in how one uses it, I guess.
As Neko pointed out on the thread, though, Sam Harris has tried to rehabilitate the word:
Speaking of which, I have just edited book by Joseph J Berger called Science & Spirituality. Check it out!
Stay in touch! Like A Tippling Philosopher on Facebook: