Wednesday, October 15, 2014

[Yasmin_discussions] Supernatural discussion

Dear Yasmin list,

there seems to be a widely established agreement, as Stephen Nowlin noted,
that the 'supernatural' is a problematic term; as with many problematic
terms they have in many cases served (with different meanings at different
times in history) as scaffolding devices to facilitate certain expressions
and exchanges that otherwise might have remained in the phenomenological
domain or for which more concrete terms were absent in the given context.

In this regard Dan Lewis has just addressed an important aspect that lies
in both the limits and the potentials of the continuous evolving of
cognitive abilities and their plasticity and the constantly shifting
boundaries of the knowable, known unknowns and unknowable.

If considering the term for want of a better word, perhaps considering the
'supernatural' as symptom might reveal new or formerly unconsidered
relationships as a way to mobilise ideas that underlie its persistence?

This reminds of an editorial discussion between Roger Malina, Michael Punt
and Sundar Sarukkai in *Leonardo Reviews Quarterly* 2.01 (2012) on
'Science, History and the Sublime'. Michael Punt cites Hoffmann and Boyd
Whyte (2011, *Beyond the Finite: The Sublime in Art and Science*, Oxford
University Press) with a symptomatic approach to the sublime that could
well be replaced with the term 'supernatural':

[Citation start:]

"Hoffmann and Boyd Whyte have recently put the sublime into the frame again
as a reinstatement of belief, and done it in such a way so as to avoid the
polemic that sprang from Darwin's *On the Origin of Species*. Introducing
their collection of essays they argue for a symptomatic approach to the
question of belief and science.

"The breadth and indeterminacy of the term [sub-

lime] are central to this project. Rather than ad-

dress the sublime head on as a category seeking

definition, this volume uses it as a catalyst to

provoke responses from a group of distinguished

scientists and cultural historians. ... *In this con-*

*text, the sublime is not offered either as a veiled*

*religiosity or as a mandate for nihilism. Rather, it*

*is seen as a means of defying conceptual rules*

*and, in the process relating insights that were*

*formerly unknown to each other *(Hoffmann &

Whyte, 2011, p. viii)." "

[End citation]

The full discussion on 'History, Science and the Sublime' is published as
an e-book at:

Martha Blassnigg
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