This is taking an interesting turn, and I would have loved to jump into the deep end of epistemology. Only I have noticed, that every time I take that
direction, a silence as deep as nirvana follows.
Not from a will to please, but rather because I do think, that there are (some) ways and means to quantify the 'spiritual' experience (honestly, the
word spiritual is rather horrible, but it has become common usage), I'll outline my thoughts on this.
Like with the 'soft' social sciences, most observations, data or information on the 'spiritual (or the anomaleous) can't be dissected or put under a
microscope, much of it isn't empirical in the terms of old 'scientism' and it isn't repeatable on order.
These shortcomings (seen from a hard-science perspective) don't make the social sciences some kind of enfant terrible, because there are decent
alternatives for evaluation, which can give pragmatically significant results. Besides it's occasionally possible to find areas, where hard science
actually can be referred to (for confirmation or rejection).
It's also possible to 'start' from specific assumptions (as in hard science), use a specific methodology etc. An extended definition of 'empirical' is
also possible, something even contemporary hard science needs strongly and would benefit from.
But the main tools of soft sciences and the evaluation of 'spiritual' experiences are with statistical and comparative analyses. And while many
practitisioners of the 'spiritual' may object to such quantification, it's still useful for those who want to see a syncretistic relationship between
the rational and what's somewhat and sometimes 'outside' the rational.
On another thread I have speculated on the 'invisible' world as being a relative reality (just as the observed physical world is). Both modern science
and spiritual experience agree on the existence of such an existence-level. As none of them can give any conclusive answers to what the 'invisible'
really is, there's actually no need for any disputes about it.
Sometimes the 'spiritual' experience gives an insight in the wider pattern of the cosmos mankind experiences (+the scientifically described cosmos).
Some of these 'spiritual' experiences are in total contradiction with hard science, some fit rather well.
If, like in clinical experiments, the parameters of the 'spiritual' experince are kept 'stable' (i.e. if there is a doctrinal background for the
'spiritual' this is important. The methodology, as meditation or prayer etc, is also a parameter to consider. The experience of the
supervisor/guide/guru/whatever plays a role), the outcome can show promising uniform results.
It's also possible to make comparisons on a global or trans-cultural basis, where complete independent 'systems' have basic similarities in
methodology and where the observed results thus can be compared.
Sorry, maybe my jargon is too convoluted for public use, can't help it though. But if this post gets any response at all, I would like later to refer
to a very interesting experiment made by an indian 'guru' (believe it was Ramakrishna, but not sure) which presents a practical example of less lofty
This post isn't meant to be a justification for any kind of 'spiritual' experience or doctrine people can cook up, and I still have a very critical
attitude to most claims in that direction.
edit on 21-12-2010 by bogomil because: spelling