• Darkaristotle
    2
    Assumption: I think that we can all agree that the spirit is something science cannot substantiate, as the human spirit cannot be tested, and therefore falsifiable, which are the two conditions any concept must meet in order to be scientifically substantiated. If you agree, then please proceed towards reading my question.

    An interviewer asks a scientist, who personally engages in spiritual practices in the comfort of his own home, what the definition of spirituality is? The scientist proceeds to purposely avoid using the Oxford's definition of spirituality (which is anything related to the human spirit or soul). Instead, the scientist states that spirituality is a "Connection, a deep sense of meaning to something greater than yourself." What kind of fallacy or technique of argumentative persuasion did this scientist commit? The scientist purposefully changed the definition of spirituality to a more personal one, so as to avoid being debated or ridiculed through a logical or an etymylogical angle.
  • mew
    51
    Why should he have used a dictionary definition?

    Although, an example given by the Oxford dictionary seems close to the scientist's use.
    a deep sense of spirituality that connects them to the natural environment

    So, is it probably you who tries to eliminate some uses of the word to fit your preferred use?
  • Michael
    9.3k
    An interviewer asks a scientist, who personally engages in spiritual practices in the comfort of his own home, what the definition of spirituality is? The scientist proceeds to purposely avoid using the Oxford's definition of spirituality (which is anything related to the human spirit or soul). Instead, the scientist states that spirituality is a "Connection, a deep sense of meaning to something greater than yourself." What kind of fallacy or technique of argumentative persuasion did this scientist commit? The scientist purposefully changed the definition of spirituality to a more personal one, so as to avoid being debated or ridiculed through a logical or an etymylogical angle.Darkaristotle

    Asking for the definition of spirituality can be a confusing question. If you want to know what most people mean by it then if someone gave their own definition they're just not answering the question, or if they believe it to be what most people mean then they might just be wrong.

    On the other hand, if you're trying to debate or ridicule the scientist for being spiritual by attacking what most people mean by it but not what the scientist means by it, then you're committing a straw man fallacy.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    The only people I have ever seen ask what the definition of a word is are children that have encountered a word they do not know, and want to learn about it. Unless the person asking the scientist the question was a child, I expect what they wanted the scientist to do was tell them what the word 'spiritual' meant to him, the scientist - in which case the scientist gave an entirely appropriate answer.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    Assumption: I think that we can all agree that the spirit is something science cannot substantiateDarkaristotle

    That is tendentious starting-point, and also, probably, begs the question, i.e. assumes the very point that is at issue.

    What kind of fallacy or technique of argumentative persuasion did this scientist commit?Darkaristotle

    None whatever. Find some other charge!
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    Fallacies are only pertinent to logical arguments (whether formal or "informal"). When you give your definition of something, you're not presenting a logical argument (normally at least--I suppose you could, but that would be weird). If you're not presenting a logical argument, there's no fallacy.

    Also, I don't agree with this:

    I think that we can all agree that the spirit is something science cannot substantiateDarkaristotle

    If spirit refers to something that really occurs, then it should be at least indirectly demonstrable from a third-person perspective that science can tackle.
  • Darkaristotle
    2


    Thank you for your response, as I found it the most relevant to a rational discourse topic I was involved in with my class at my graduate program. Before I proceed to explain what happened, please know that by no means am I trying to ridicule or attack anyone for their spiritual beliefs or actions, I am simply trying to have a rational conversation with fellow colleagues that are involved in the field of medicine & science.

    The question was asked if techniques of a spiritual nature (Spirituality) should be prescribed by Doctors that claim to use evidence based medicine? Like any rational argument, I believe that terms must be defined first, so I proceeded to ask what is spirituality? The following statements were made "It is a connection" or "It's a belief in something greater than yourself" or "its ethereal."

    Now, I stated that it's really hard to go on with this discussion without an agreement on the definition of spirituality, so for time's sake and to reach some form of objectivity, I believe we should go with a dictionary definition of spirituality. The Oxford dictionary was handy so we went with "Spirituality is defined as relating to the human spirit or soul."

    Now, how is it that a doctor, that claims to use evidenced based medicine, proceed to use spirituality to heal people, when the very existence of the human spirit has yet to be substantiated by science? Of course, this is based on the assumption that for something to be substantiated by science, it must be testable and it must be falsifiable, which to my knowledge, such a study regarding the existence of the human spirit has yet to be conducted. In my opinion, my colleagues didn't purposely avoid using the dictionary definition of spirituality (which states that the human spirit exists), and proceeded to use a more personal definition of spirituality, which, as you stated, "they believe it to be what most people mean then they might just be wrong."

    At the end of day, I simply have a hard time respecting a medical professional's argument, which claims to use evidence based medicine provided by science, yet turn around and use spiritual techniques (which must admit the existence of the human spirit) to heal people, when the existence of the human spirit has yet to make into a scientific research article.

    Thank you all very much for your time!
  • mcdoodle
    1k
    A healer is indeed a healer, which is not a scientist. Healers engage in certain rituals, and it is often their empathy rather than their adherence to evidence which benefits the people who seek their help. Consider, for instance, the profound effect of placebos. Let's not judge anyone too quickly. And for me, the human spirit is well attested. If you disbelieve in it, well I advocate a few more difficult novels. Dostoevsky, say.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    At the end of day, I simply have a hard time respecting a medical professional's argument, which claims to use evidence based medicine provided by science, yet turn around and use spiritual techniques (which must admit the existence of the human spirit) to heal people,Darkaristotle

    They do? Which doctors?
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    Hello Darkaristotle. I think the problem is that the issue you are concerned about was incorrectly described in your original post. In that post you said
    An interviewer asks a scientist, who personally engages in spiritual practices in the comfort of his own home, what the definition of spirituality is?Darkaristotle
    That conjures up images of the scientist meditating, praying, doing pujah, or maybe even having seances. It doesn't suggest anything about 'spiritual healing'.

    But then in your latest post you say this
    The question was asked if techniques of a spiritual nature (Spirituality) should be prescribed by Doctors that claim to use evidence based medicine?Darkaristotle
    which conjures up images of the sort of 'healing' that televangelists do.

    The latter is viewed very negatively by the majority of the scientific community. The former is nobody's business but the scientist involved.
  • Arkady
    762
    An interviewer asks a scientist, who personally engages in spiritual practices in the comfort of his own home, what the definition of spirituality is? The scientist proceeds to purposely avoid using the Oxford's definition of spirituality (which is anything related to the human spirit or soul). Instead, the scientist states that spirituality is a "Connection, a deep sense of meaning to something greater than yourself." What kind of fallacy or technique of argumentative persuasion did this scientist commit?Darkaristotle
    This scientist's definition of "spirituality" (which I bolded) is so nebulous that it could mean virtually anything (from belonging to a social club which gives meaning to his life or believing in a personal god who attends to his every prayer for intercession). So, which fallacy (if any) is being committed is unclear.

    (By the way, does such a definition of "spirituality" entail that people who aren't spiritual believe in nothing greater than themselves, or only that they don't feel "connected" to this greater thing? Hmm...)
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    The question was asked if techniques of a spiritual nature (Spirituality) should be prescribed by Doctors that claim to use evidence based medicine? Like any rational argument, I believe that terms must be defined first, so I proceeded to ask what is spirituality? The following statements were made "It is a connection" or "It's a belief in something greater than yourself" or "its ethereal."Darkaristotle

    The latter part of that I find strange, because for the first part "techniques of a spiritual nature prescribed by doctors that claim to use evidence-based medicine" would simply be something like prayer--it would be spiritual and/or religion-oriented practices for patients who have strong spiritual or religious beliefs. We don't need a definition of "spiritual" for that beyond it being whatever practices someone typically engages in with respect to their spiritual or religious beliefs.

    I'm in favor of doctors doing the above, if there's evidence that it can have benefits, and there is. I'm in favor of this even though you can't find a more hardnosed atheist than me. It doesn't matter whether the beliefs in question correlate with something factual. What seems to make the difference is that the people (the patients) in question believe that they're true. In cases where patients believe this, spiritual practices can have a benefit, because of the state of mind in puts them in and because of the physiological consequences of those states of mind.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    (does such a definition of "spirituality" entail that people who aren't spiritual believe in nothing greater than themselves, or only that they don't feel "connected" to this greater thing? Hmm...)Arkady

    Actually, while I'm critical of the OP, I think there's an element of truth in your remark, in that I think the *absence* of anything spiritual does often manifest as a sense of separateness or isolation. I suppose there are secular alternatives to spiritual associations - political or scientific organisations, or career goals - but I think a principle aim of spirituality is a sense of relatedness - to the Universe at large, and to others; overcoming the sense of being alone in a meaningless universe. The sense of the lack or absence of that, and it's overcoming, is reflected in a lot of existentialist literature.
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