Okay, I had a little epiphany today (several actually) while I was going thru my regular Sunday morning rituals.

"Spirit!" What does it matter what it is, or even if it is? We all know its effects when we see those effects in a person (or ourselves). I'm not trying to say we all have the same experience of "spirit," but that we all can relate to a something that enlivens us, motivates us, and makes us feel guilt, empathize, and feel joy and oneness. Number 3 in the dictionary says, "Life, will, consciousness, thought {re: redi's question; but I digress}; and the dictionary mentions, among many others, "intention" -which I usually include in a list such as this.

The point being (from above -coberst's reference) that the big hangup is in how we define the word, "spirit." Whether "spirit" is 21 grams of dark matter, or "-it" is just a meta-artifact of the meta-meta-cognition of our complex, representational, survival-based neural system, "spirit" has an effect that we are interested in.
Spirit makes both Intellectual Injustice and Economic Injustice an affront that deserves our attention.

I had the brief thought of trying to define "atheist" as a person who is keenly interested in spirited aspects of life, but just as strongly repelled by the word, "spirit." Of course it is the perceived definition of the word, "spirit," that is raising alarms in the atheist; but the point is the same. It is the definition of the word, regardless of the reality, that is problematic.

For the word, "spirit," I try to keep a number of definitions concurrently in mind; and consider it okay to translate what I think others mean into one of my reserve definitions. We surely do this implicitly, so we might as well do it explicitly; and having multiple definitions (like the dictionary) makes it much easier.

Not committing to one specific definition could be problematic too. Certainly someone devoting their life to a particular worldview would be rewarded by being more specific in choosing a definition; but if one wants to reach across worldviews, the ability to translate definitions is also rewarding.

I don't know how to define it, but I'm happy when I see it [...and that characterizes both "spirit" and porn!]. smile
I should add that this little essay above also applies to words like G0d, Love, and Universe. It is possible to compare and contrast the differing definitions; but often it is not necessary if a discussion using these words is focused on some other goal. The goal can be missed if we're stuck on the definitions.


Although this above is a continuation of ongoing thoughts, it also came about more specifically after catching the Q&A section of a talk by Jeffrey Feldman on his book, Framing the Debate. Thanks BookTV.

Well worth a look, at:

Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.