The prefix “super” in the word “supernatural” seems to us to connote an actual ergo natural relationship of the supernatural (likewise of the “spiritual” and of the “divine”) to the natural: so, something of a contradiction in terms or at least a tension in terms. If the supernatural and the natural have some kind of natural relationship or attachment to each other, then do we imagine some point of connection somehow half or partly natural and the other part supernatural? How can the two elements join or blend into each other, share the same atoms at the point of conjunction, if they are essentially different? The philosophers ran in ancient times and even in the best modern dress still run themselves in doubly vicious circles around forms of this question: of access of the infinite to the finite, or of the eternal to the temporal, or of the unchanging to the changeable, of the causeless to causation, of perfection to will and desire, of superior to in-superior, and so on indefinitely, if not necessarily or knowably infinitely – making themselves ridiculous to the religious, who soldier on and pilgrim forward and back with the irrefutability of the impossible conjunction of the essential or ideal (as, for example, God) and the existent (as, for example, Christ), that which cannot be but obviously is, whether or not the philosophical can settle on an explanation.
By “nature” or “the natural” proponents of scientific knowledge would refer to all physical existence including living beings or life, fully inclusive of whatever naturally existing subjectivity, beginning with the only subjectivity that any of us thinks to know: our – or, in Cartesian truth, strictly speaking only ever “my” – own. (The passage of the gods through the flaming walls of the world is no more nor less difficult than, is perhaps the same as, the passage of ego through the flaming walls of solitude.) Under this definition of the natural, the divine would either be a “natural divine” or insuperior superiority or not be at all, and the same would in the end go for ghosts, vampires, wizardry, miracles, incarnations, reincarnations, and all other so-called “supernatural” entities, practices, and events. Otherwise, “natural” – rather than denoting “the physical” of physicalism or “the material” of materialism – would be only a misleading synonym for “so far acceptably explained” or “believed inherently explicable” or “actually or in theory adequately explicable in held-to-be simply scientific terms.” Under this more inclusive and self-consistent definition, propositional divisions of the All or Being into “mere being” and “apprehension of being by beings,” “mere being” and “being of being,” and so on, are collapsed: Nature becomes another word for “the All as All-Inclusive without Exception, the Single and Whole Set of All Actualities However Conceived,” the “beyond or outside of which nothing can conceivably be conceived,” or the “other than which would be nothing at all.”
Or, nature would be or would stand for all being or existence or standing forth at all, that beyond which there is no there, there is no thing, there is not anything, there is not any being. “Beyond nature,” “other than nature,” “greater than nature,” “above nature,” and so on would be absurd or oxymoronic expressions, references to that which we might only imagine ourselves imagining, but never could actually imagine as such, because the thing to be imagined would have no suchness, but anything that can be imagined or any imagination would exist at least as thought, and every thing existent even if only as a thought can become an object of thought, and every object of thought is also an object as object, if not of course a “brute tangible” object – a rock or a computer keyboard, etc. (the other kind of “first things”). “The nothing” tellingly corresponds to the divine (or the infinite or the eternal) within this system. Under traditional constructions neither would be observed within nature or at all (by us or any finite and actual beings), but only in the manner of an effect or relation rather than as a thing, since one never thinks the nothing: one may think a logically perfect falseness of the false pretension of the thought of nothing. The nothing would therefore in this strict sense also be included in the natural, as a naturally arising thought of the absence of nature, of the absolutely without substance, a thought itself absolutely without substance except as thought, in that one sense nonsense, revealed (not merely ironically) as thought purely thought, or a pure reason as only nullity: ..aber denken tust Du nie. To associate the divine with the supernatural under this consequential system of definition of the all-inclusive natural suggests that the divine must not be at all, or has no being, or simply “is not,” while terms from metaphysical and would-be post-metaphysical (ontological) philosophy like “ground of being” or “being of being” seem to qualify as absurdities or evasions: non-sense masquerading as sense, word-games in place of anything knowable in any other way: Either a “ground,” even a super-ground or meta-ground or merely conceptual ground, “is” or it “is not.” If it is, it is natural. If it is not at all, then it is by definition irrelevant, or has no place in nature, though its non-existence may be deemed natural or naturally necessary: the atheist thought.
If there were a last refuge for the supernatural, or an interpretation of the divine as a unique category of the other-than-merely-natural, then it would seem to be as a placeholder for that which, supposedly, cannot be expressed at all. Yet to announce this category is another false pretension in the form of the supposed thought of nothing, since it is to offer an expression apparently very much intended to be meaningful, and, thus expressed, the thought of the supernatural-as-inexpressible would evoke the supernatural as, and to the exact extent expressed, entirely natural as part of or within the All that really is. We would seem to be saying that the supernatural naturally arises not merely as a natural effect from a beyond, but simply within nature as that effect as expressed, and precisely to that extent and no further: again an absurdity and self-contradiction, a naturalization of the supernatural by stealth.
The “super”-iority of the supernatural must therefore be, under this system of the all-inclusive natural, a reference if to anything other than to the absurd a reference not to the existence of a non-existent or the thingness of a nothing, but to a way of conceiving or speaking about the All or Being that initially appears to propose a beyond or above or other than the natural, but always upon reflection is, including immediately in that selfsame appearance, naturalized. The reference would be to an implicit quasi-contiguity, a “side” of things that is of course not an actual side of any natural or substantive particular thing or entirety, which particular or entirety or Natural All upon reflection would be, in the selfsame appearance, always in this sense supernaturalized – revealed to be conceptually incomplete or awaiting a completion or plenary expression that is never forthcoming except as the coming forth of its own never-to-be-forthcoming, so that this never-forthcoming of the completion itself becomes an omnipresent or universal (quasi-)adjacency inseverable from being “itself,” or, as the perplexing and inadequate philosophical language puts the matter or matter of matters, as being of being. The notion of the supernatural would therefore be a reference not to an “above” or a “superiority” or “greater than,” but to a naturally occurring and in this sense wholly natural necessity of this two-sided yet unitary moment. All things or beings, including a so-called being of being, would be in this sense simply natural things joined to the quasi-adjacency of their own final indeterminability or meta-being or meta-nature or super-nature or, in the older terminology, ideality. The invocation of the supernatural would imply a recognition not of any being other than beings that are, or other than the being that is, not of an “is-ness of a not,” but rather of the limitedness of a manner of speaking or thinking restricted to description of substantive states or ascriptions of substance to states or of states to substance: not an actuality of a non-actual, but a universality or omnipresence of the actuality of a non-actuality of a non-actual, or the being of a non-being of non-being: in religion or theology the tangible effect of the intangibility of the intangible that is also the intangibility of the tangible or the final non-finality and so on of any substantive: the open-endedness of any end, or the instability of the/any state.
Once understood, the becoming-understood, like any understanding, stands. It is. It is natural or within nature. The reference to the supernatural within a system of the all-inclusive natural or of naturalist monism would be to a conceptual difference, or conception of the conceptual as different, or concept of concepts or idea of ideas. Yet the distinction remains, and may at least be easier to administer, if imperfectly or at the limits vaguely or with necessarily vague limits, under an older restrictive and common-sensical definition of “the natural” as the merely substantive or purportedly merely material, the known realm or realm of the known, where living beings live and are. Under this second view or system of definition, that the idea of the supernatural necessarily and one might still even say naturally occurs or arises would not make it part of “nature” or of that to which “the natural” specifically refers. If a dualism, it would not be a dualism of like entities, but of being-as-being versus quasi-being-of-being, or, as above, mere being versus entity or sentience or apprehension: a modal duality, not a purported division of a one real or real oneness, but a recognition of non-equivalent interdependence of oneness and the thought of oneness: oneness of static or mere being in relation to what Hegel describes as finally only ever movement, of any state as always also only a station or idea of a station; in Cohen’s last philosophy a grammatical but precisely not actual or merely or simply actual division of being versus becoming; as for Hume the persistence of radical uncertainty, dismissible because also radically persistent, so always already presumed (previous to any being as being): any becoming of any being already a provisional overcoming; as in the ancient comprehension of the inherent mysteriousness of the idea of the simply known (observed as the self-evident divine in Voegelin’s exoteric presentation).
For the neo-Judaics, the “superiority” of the supernatural, always sensed or experienced as a “dimension of height” (Levinas), visualized and realized as above the eyes, as in or above the brow, the seat of consciousness in the face of the divine that resembles the human face that is only already its, or His, inevitable semblance (Rosenzweig), is the naturalness of the supernatural, the where of its becoming real as the becoming real or the coming into being of the always becoming: the super-natural as the most or supremely or superlatively natural, not a “supra-natural” but a “naturalest” as origin and essence of the common natural (of any creation of any world including Creation of The World and Creation of the All): the divine seemingly in the (non-, quasi-) place of the nothing, yet the distinction between the divine and the nothing, or the distinguishing of the divine from the nothing, as the everywhere and always already necessarily presumed status of any statement. When we read the name “God” in the old theologies, before we presume to disclaim His “His-ness” on whatever bases, we are misreading if we begin from a separation of divine and natural, rather than from their mutually presupposed and super-positioned identity as actuality of idea and idea of actuality. Natural and divine are not necessarily for the old theologians words for two different “things,” though old as well as new theologians will from time to time or at all times be guilty of dis-approximation where not willing victims of error. One word is a word for the thingness of the all, the other for any other-than-mere-thingness including a necessary or natural quasi-thingness of any thing. Religion is the intimation of its own necessity as relation of the two and elaboration of that relation. “God” would be in addition to whatever else or not a name that returns us to that never fully displaced, or as-only-displaced, “my” in its universal quasi-adjacency to any all and all particularity or “the any”: the pure or originary natural, the natural itself or ultranatural.