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If you came here to read about "elves, fairies, gnomes, and pixies" then please see woo. If you came here to read about the TV show called Supernatural in which two brothers hunt the stuff on this page, you'd be better off checking out Supernatural Wiki.
The supernatural is the natural not yet understood.
—Elbert Hubbard[1]

Supernatural refers to phenomena that fit one of the following definitions:

  • Supernatural events as "beyond nature": This kind of bafflegab is thrown around quite commonly. So there's something called “nature”, and then there’s claimed to be things “beyond it” in some non-spatial way. What exactly does all of this mean? Some variations indicate this could essentially mean incapable of being scientifically explained, even in principle. This may have a NOMA ring to it, or could refer to every "brute fact."[wp]
  • Supernatural events as violating laws of nature: Well at least this definition gives us somewhat comprehensible criteria. It’s simple, just know what laws of nature there actually are, and then if something acts contrary to them, it is supernatural. But an islander who has never seen an aircraft or a walky-talky would describe them as "supernatural" because they violate the laws of nature as he understands them -- despite the fact that they are consistent with the laws of nature as they really are.[2] Indeed, “laws of nature” are descriptive, and so it could be argued that it is incoherent to say that an actual event occurred which is contrary to the laws of nature, because you just added that in your description of things that happen.
  • Mind as fundamental entity: Richard Carrier defines "supernatural" as the category we would use for anything that was actually irreducibly mental.[3] This “mind stuff” would be similar to the “immaterial soul” proposed in the hypothesis of Dualism. Carrier believes this to be a useful working definition for philosophers that captures the conventional meaning sufficiently.

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. QuotationsBook
  2. To invert Clarke's Law, any sufficiently well-understood magic is indistinguishable from science.
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