[OPE] The "Islamic threat" in Holland: mosques save the Dutch taxpayer 150 million euro

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Mon Mar 23 2009 - 17:40:15 EDT

Alex Callinicos opined once that the "soul" could not exist, because there was no scientific proof for its existence. But this is a curious argument, because it assumes that all that humans can experience is amenable to scientific verification and proof. This is the fallacy of "scientism".

Phenomenologists have long known this really IS a fallacy - human experience contains many aspects which are virtually immune to "objective" scientific verification, since they only exist subjectively or intersubjectively, or concern unique personal meanings, associations and imaginations. For that very reason, as Marx says, "the human being must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, the this-sidedness [Diesseitigkeit] of his thinking, in practice".

There is no universally accepted definition of spirituality, but there is a near-universal recognition by people of a "spiritual dimension" in human experience, however interpreted. Humanists have often referred to "the human spirit" (l'esprit humain", 人文精神, 人間の精神, человеческого духа).

Broadly, we could say spirituality refers to the personal meanings given to the total experience or self-awareness one has of being-in-the-world, a sort of synthesis of all the different parts, activities and contexts associated with a living personality, or a group of people.

It creates a personal holistic "sense" or "awareness", which provides personal balance, and orients behaviour.

Somebody who is spiritually deeply injured, becomes observably disoriented or behaviourally impaired, and conversely, somebody who is spiritually very strong, can maintain himself and hold his own, in extraordinary circumstances that would defeat most other people.

For example, when the New Left hero Che Guevara said:

"At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love - it is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality"

he was uttering a spiritual statement. The statement expresses a personal belief, which is scientifically unprovable (although obviously some tests of the proposition could be devised). For another example, Chairman Mao said:

"Dare to struggle, dare to win".

This is also a spiritual statement, a direct appeal to the hearts and minds of the people urging them confidence to overcome their hesitations and fight to succeed.

Neurologists emphasize that in everyday life, the human brain must constantly assume conditions without, or in advance of, evidence or knowledge that those conditions are actually there, that they exist.

So, effectively, we are constantly performing all kinds of mental operations "on faith" at the most basic levels of our existence (influenced by fear, aggression, hope, desire, love etc.) even if we are unaware of that. This has nothing necessarily to do with religion per se, but rather with the minimal necessity to believe "something", since if you didn't, you wouldn't even get across the road. It is the ultimate basis for what hypnotherapists call "suggestibility" and politicians call "gullibility".

In logical terms, what this really implies is, that the human brain itself spontaneously performs associative and intuitive reasonings of a "metaphysical" type, that we are all "natural metaphysicians", who use different kinds of metaphors, imagery and ontologies to guide us personally in life. These "metaphysical approaches" importantly shape our sense of who we are.

In "New Age" theory, an attempt is made - similar to phenomenology - to create typologies and categorizations of the structure of subjective experience, including spiritual experience, which intend to be of universal application. But unfortunately spiritual experience is a highly personal self-creating experience, and therefore the applicability of the universal schemas is doubtful. At best you can say, that there are some common characteristics, but these descriptions are often so general, that they do not really provide much useful orientation or insight.

Most psychological knowledge also does not provide practically usable insight about what exactly to do in specific circumstances, because it is "too general". However, one's own natural human spirituality does provide such orientation, even if it is not "scientific", by consciously or subconsciously synthesizing the totality of one's experience, in a creative act by which we both "make our world" and "are made by our world".


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Received on Mon Mar 23 17:42:49 2009

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