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The New Science

A Second Scientific Revolution





Other Articles by Peter Wilberg


Soul-Science and Soul-Schooling
Soul-Scientific Research

Soul-Science and Soul-Sensing
‘Scientific Socialism’ as Soul-Science
Soul-Science and Social Change
Bodily Sensing and the Sensed Body

Soul-Science and Soul-Schooling

The Purpose of my Philosophy

A genuinely scientific psychology, as a true knowledge ‘of’ or ‘about’ the soul or psyche, can only arise from the soul – it can only arise from inner knowing or gnosis. Such a psychology would not merely be one science among countless others – a mere scientific ‘field’, academic subject or professional specialism. As a science of the soul it would constitute the very essence of all the sciences – understood in a new way as soul-sciences. To speak in modern terms of ‘educational psychology’ as one sub-division of ‘psychology’ is no less misleading than to speak of psychology itself as one specialist field or sub-division of science. For what is ‘education’ if it does not cultivate our souls, drawing out (e-ducare) the inner knowing within each of us? The essence not only of esoteric teaching but of all education is the education of the soul. The essence of education is soul-schooling, just as the essence of all ‘psychotherapy’ is soul-therapy, a tending and attending (therapuein) to the soul.

What passes today as ‘education’ on the other hand, is simply the imparting of abstract knowledge designed to be ‘applied’ in the form of skilled practices and vocations – whether plumbing or corporate management, political activism or academic philosophising. Soul-schooling, by contrast, does not have as its purpose the cultivation of such practical skills, whether arithmetic or aesthetic, manual or intellectual, technical or linguistic. Instead it understands all such ‘skills’ as the expression of latent soul powers or potentials. This is what makes the difference. For a complex weapon or computer can be operated, complex calculations made or complex intellectual or political argument constructed in a completely soul-less way – a way that does not expand but instead limits or even constricts the latent soul-knowledge and soul powers of the individual. It requires no skillful activity or powers of soul to operate and activate the most powerful weapons, computers or machines in the world. What is thereby released and realised is their power — not the soul potentials and soul powers of the operator or employee. Nor does the knowledge applied in releasing such powers or capabilities flow from the soul of the operator or employee, from their inner knowing.

Like different traditional schools of esoteric teaching, both Steinerian spiritual science and Freudian psychoanalysis had an educational as well as scientific purpose. That is to say, they both constituted forms of soul-education or soul-schooling. Indeed most people know of Rudolf Steiner only through the specific approach to education cultivated worldwide in ‘Waldorf schools’ — schools in which not just the body and brain but the soul of the child is recognised and cultivated. My teachings and practices also have an educational as well as a scientific character, constituting a new form of soul-schooling. But whereas Rudolf Steiner’s scientific and educational philosophy both laid particular emphasis on the ensoulment of the senses, my teachings and practices lay equal emphasis on the sensualisation of the soul and through it, the cultivation of inner soul-senses. The skills I employ and impart are ‘soul-skills’. These are sensory skills through which our souls may be sensualised, our soul-senses opened, our soul-knowledge awakened and our soul-powers embodied.

We can see a colour as a mere sensory sign – a red traffic light for example. We can see it only as an already signified sense – the sense signified by the word ‘red’. We see the rose as ‘red’ and no more. In doing so we ignore the unique tonality of this rose’s redness – seen here and now, in this light and in this space and time. If however, we attend and attune to the unique quality of a particular object’s colour, we begin to ensoul our sensory awareness – attuning to the underlying soul tone manifest in that sensory quality. If we then allow that soul tone to resonate within us — attending to it as a tonality of our own awareness – it begins to permeate and colour that awareness. What began as a sensory quality that we were aware of, now begins to transform into a soul quality – a sensual quality of awareness as such. Through our second attention – attention to our awareness of sensory qualities as such – we not only ensoul our awareness but also begin to sensualise our soul. In doing so we also sensitise our soul, cultivating our ability to sense the manifold soul qualities of things and of other people – the inwardly felt colourations and configurations, patterns and tones of their awareness. We develop our soul-senses and with them, our capacity for soul-sensing other beings.

The key to cultivating our soul-senses and our capacity for soul-sensing is our capacity for resonant attunement or ‘resonation’ with the unique, underlying feeling tone of a particular sensory quality or form. For soul-qualities are essentially tonal qualities, comparable to the sensed shape and texture, brightness or darkness, lightness or heaviness, warmth or coolness of a musical or vocal tone. Just as we can look at a colour and see in it only a sign or a signified sense such as ‘red’, so we can see the look in a person’s eyes and take it only as a sign of something — for example as a sign of ‘sadness’ or ‘anger’. ‘Sadness’ and ‘anger’, like ‘redness’, are examples of already signified senses. Alternatively we can seek to attune to the unique tone of this rose’s redness or this person’s sadness — in this situation, here and now. Attending to our awareness of this unique tonality of ‘sadness’ not only brings us into resonance with it. It allows us to directly sense within ourselves those inner soul qualities of a person that appear from the outside to be merely familiar signs with a familiar sense or signification – in this case the emotional signification of ‘sadness’. These soul qualities are characterised above by their sensual nature – they are felt in a similar way to the soul qualities that manifest as spatial and sensory qualities such as shape and colour. That is why when we talk of someone as ‘warm’ or as ‘cold’ and ‘distant’, as being in a ‘dark mood’ or ‘radiant’ with joy, as withdrawn and closed off, or open and receptive, we are not talking metaphorically but describing sensed and sensual qualities of their soul and its bodily field-boundary – their soul body. Soul-sensing and resonation are the principle skills cultivated by soul-schooling. They are also the principle medium of communication in the soul-world we inhabit after death. For this body is also the very language of the soul, being composed of soul-qualities which can be combined, like letters and sounds, into sensual ‘words’ and ‘sentences’ of the soul. Our physical body is also a language, being the outwardly perceived form of our inner soul body – its ‘word’ become ‘flesh’. But we do not need to die or have ‘out of body’ experiences to enter our soul body, for it is nothing more or less than the sensed and sensual body of our awareness.

It is after death however, that the sensual form and qualities of an individual’s soul-body become directly sensible. It is also after death that individuals discover that soul-schools and soul-education are a reality and a necessary one. They exist in order to help them learn what they have not yet learned in their physical life but need to learn in the afterlife — to freely shape-shift their soul body, and to use its own soul tones and qualities as a medium of sensual communication with other souls. The soul-body and its senses is the organon or instrument with which we give sensual form to inner feeling tones. It is also the medium through which we can sense and resonate with the soul qualities and soul-tones of others, to the point of merging and melding our soul-bodies with theirs.

Soul-schooling in this life has the value of preparing people for the afterlife by reminding them of their soul-bodies and of soul-communication. But the soul-body is also the very inwardness of our fleshly body, just as soul-communication is the inwardness of communication in all its forms. That is why soul-sensing and resonation are just as valuable in life as in the afterlife. That is also why soul-schools and soul-schooling are just as necessary on the earth plane as on other planes of awareness. Its aim is the expansion of awareness and identity through exercising and expanding the shape-shifting and sensory powers of our soul-body. In this sense soul-schooling is ‘yoga’ – not a yoga of the physical body but a yoga of the soul-body. Its disciplines are not disciplines of ‘mind, body and spirit’ but of the soul and its body. Soul-schooling is awakening to the innate sensuality of the soul — something quite distinct from both biological sexuality and sensory experiencing.

Soul-schooling on the earth plane has, since Gurdjieff, been described simply as ‘The Work’. Specifically, it is soul-work, aimed at the awakening, cultivation and embodiment of our inner soul senses and soul powers. The foundation of this work is the second attention. The second attention is attention to one’s sensory awareness of self and world and thereby also to the sensual qualities of that awareness – the soul qualities or qualia that find expression in sensory phenomena. The second attention is the link between the ensoulment of our bodily senses and the embodiment or sensualisation of our soul senses. Through it one awakens one’s soul-senses: soul-sight, soul-hearing, soul-touch, soul-scenting, and soul-tasting. Soul-sight is sensitivity to soul-light and soul-colours; soul-hearing is sensitivity to soul sounds and tones; soul-touch is direct soul-to-soul contact via the soul-body and its centres of awareness. Soul-scenting and tasting allow one to sense the qualitative essence or quintessence of another person’s soul, its essential ‘flavour’ or ‘scent’. The awakening of the soul-senses allows the practice of soul-sensing, one of the principal soul-powers cultivated through soul-schooling. The experience of sensing another soul is like experiencing their soul in our body and our soul in theirs. At night we slip or sleep into the depths of our own body soul (the collective awareness of our cells and organs). Those depths which lead us into our soul-body and into the soul-world. Dreaming is a sensory and sensual recollection of the soul qualities that make up our soul body and those we have sensed with it.

Soul-sensing in waking life is a capacity to allow one’s soul to slip or sleep into the body of another. In this way we can begin to sense the spatial configuration and qualities of their soul-body, and can also ‘dream’ these soul-qualities in the form of sensory qualities – shapes and colours, sounds and tones, proprioceptive, kinaesthetic and synaesthetic sensations. Soul-sensing is a form of “dreaming awake” (Mindell), the wakeful aspect of it being the second attention – attention to the sensory and sensual dimensions of our awareness.  Attention, including the second attention is a function of the ego which normally falls asleep when we sleep and dream. Maintaining the second attention is the ego-activity which allows us to dream awake. Applying the second attention, the ego attends to sensory awareness and its sensed significance – the soul qualities that find expression in it. In contrast, ordinary ego awareness — the ‘first attention’ — is attention only to the signified sense of things, their place in an already established pattern of significance. Using the first attention, we see an object as ‘a yellow kettle’. But ‘yellow’ and ‘kettle’ are not direct sense perceptions but sense conceptions. To perceive something with the first attention is not to sense it directly but to sense it as this or that. This means to sense it conceptually – as ‘a kettle’ for example. But as Heidegger recognised, there simply is no ‘kettle’ there, already “present-to-hand” in space before we pick it up or use it. Instead we only perceive the object that is there as ‘a kettle’ because of its place in a potential project or sequence of actions in time — for example the project of making a cup of coffee. Perceiving something with the first attention — ‘as’ this or that — means sensing it only as part of such an already established pattern of significance that takes the form of a project or sequence of actions in time. Thus the physician makes no attempt to use the second attention and directly sense the significance of a patient’s symptoms. Instead he perceives them only as diagnostic signs of a standard disease pathology – a perception shaped by the overall project of diagnosis, treatment and ‘cure’. The first attention is a mode of perception entirely determined by pre-established patterns of significance and sequences of action in time. Only with the second attention could the physician achieve true dia-gnosis – using soul-sensing to come to a direct and immediate knowledge (gnosis) of the soul dis-ease expressing itself through (dia-) the patient’s symptoms. The physical body is a sensory image of the soul. The soul-body, unlike the physical body, does not have localised sense organs. But our soul-body as a whole is the psychical instrument or organon with which we can use our sensory image of another to directly sense their soul– seeing and feeling its unique physiognomy and physiology. Because of this, soul-sensing is the most important medium of soul-diagnosis and healing - as well as being the basic instrument of soul-scientific research, enabling us to explores the aware inwardness or soul of all bodies, human and non-human.


Soul-Scientific Research

Its Basic Principles and Practice

 The most fundamental scientific ‘fact’ is not the objective existence of a universe of bodies in space-time but our subjective awareness of this universe.

This awareness can no more be regarded as a product of any objective phenomena than can our awareness of dreaming be regarded as a product of any phenomena we dream of.

‘Soul-science’ defines ‘soul’ as the non-local or field character of awareness. ‘Soul’, quite simply is field-awareness as opposed to ordinary ego-consciousness or focal awaren

By virtue of its field character, human awareness cannot be a property or product of any localised phenomena (e.g. the human body or brain) that we perceive within our own awareness field.

Fundamental reality consists of awareness fields, not matter or energy fields.

Non-local fields of awareness are the very condition of perception of any localised ‘object’ by a localised centre or ‘subject’ of consciousness.

The ‘body’ of a phenomenon is its bounded outwardness. The ‘soul’ of a phenomenon is its aware inwardness, an inwardness that has an unbounded or field character.

Awareness has its own innate sensual field-qualities of shape and substantiality, mass and density, light and gravity, warmth and coolness, colour and tone.

These soul qualities form themselves into those field-patterns or gestalts of sensory qualities that make up our perceptual world or ‘camouflage reality’ (Seth).

We can only truly understand a specific sensory phenomenon such as warmth by learning to experience it as the physical expression of a soul quality – in this case the quality of soul warmth.

We can only truly understand ‘objective’ physical phenomena such as warmth, light and gravity, space and time, mass and density etc., through the soul qualities that lie behind them – by subjectively exploring the sensed lightness and gravity, spatiality and temporality, shape and substantiality of our own awareness.

Every soul perceives reality according to its own specific field-pattern of awareness, which shapes its own perceptual world or patterned field of awareness.

Physical-scientific models of the structure and dynamics of phenomena are metaphors of the psychical structure and dynamics of the soul – they attempt to give verbal, diagrammatic or mathematical expression to underlying field-patterns and dynamics of awareness.

Evolving scientific models of the atom, cell, planet and solar system are evolving scientific metaphors of the structure and dynamics of the soul as a ‘self’ – a psychical structure with its own central nucleus, core, or stellar centre.

The phenomena investigated by physical-scientific research are ‘camouflage’ realities shaped by our own current human field-patterns of awareness. These field-patterns of awareness have evolved - they are not shared by other species and were not shared by earlier civilisations, both of which quite literally perceive(d) the earth and cosmos in ways we no longer experience or understand.

It is the current, limited field-patterns of human awareness that find expression in both our perceptual world and in the scientific and mathematical concepts used to understand that world.

Mathematics, as we know, cannot prove itself – for it has a subjective or intuitive basis. But the more intuitively close a physical-scientific or mathematical model is to the psychical reality it represents, the more effective it will prove in accounting for and technologically manipulating the camouflage reality it describes.

Technologies developed from the physical sciences do not ‘prove’ the truth of those sciences, for these very technologies are manipulations of camouflage realities.

When a so-called ‘Mars lander’ lands on the planet Mars, what is happening is that a camouflage technical instrument is landing on a camouflage planet and probing its camouflage reality.

Direct psychic exploration of different planes of awareness will give rise to new, more accurate scientific models of the physical phenomena they find expression in, and allow the birth of new technologies.

‘Soul’ – awareness – has its own sub-atomic, atomic, molecular, cellular, inorganic, organic, planetary, stellar and cosmic dimensions.

The human soul not only has the dimensions of a cellular body – the human physical body. It also has trans-human and trans-physical dimensions – the dimensions of a planetary, stellar and cosmic body.

‘The body is an awareness’ (Castaneda). The physical body is the soul as a cellular body of sensory awareness. The soul body is the soul as a body of sensual awareness – made up not of cells but of sensual qualities of awareness as such.

The soul body has the characteristics of a warmth body or body of soul warmth, a light body or body of soul light and colour, an electromagnetic body or body of soul electricity and magnetism, and a gravitational body or body of soul gravity.

The physical body is the soul body perceived from without, as a bounded sensory object in space.  The soul is unbounded inwardness of the physical body, connecting us to the aware inwardness of every other body and leading into countless inner spaces and planes of awareness.

Physical-scientific research makes use of the physical body of the scientist and extends this body through technical instruments. The principal ‘instrument’ (Greek organon) of research that is employed in soul-scientific research is not the physical body or technical instruments but the psychical organism or ‘soul body’ of the researcher.

The geophysical planet is a camouflage reality concealing countless planes of reality.  Soul-science alone allows us to explore all those inner planes of awareness that form part of our planetary soul body. It will allow us to discover countless hitherto unexplored continents, civilisations, species and sciences of soul.


Soul-Science and Soul-Sensing

Basic Principles and Practice

 We are only aware of our self as a whole to the extent that we are aware of our body as a whole.

Without feeling our own self and body as a whole, we cannot feel the whole-body – and whole self – of another person. 

Without being in touch with our self and body as a whole, we cannot touch the whole-body – and whole self – of the other with our feeling awareness.

Whole-body awareness is a healing principle because all disease arises from the ‘dis-ease’ of ‘not feeling ourselves’ – not feeling our selves and body as a whole.

Disease takes the form of localised symptoms (mental, emotional or physical) because its arises from the dis-ease of not feeling our self and body as a whole - not feeling our soul.

The dis-ease of ‘not feeling oneself’ is a first step towards ‘feeling another self’, another part of our self, letting it become part of our self as a whole.

Healing means once again feeling our self and body as a whole – feeling our soul.

Our body as a whole is a sense organ of the soul.

Whole-body awareness is therefore soul-body awareness.

Through whole-body awareness we experience our whole-body as a sense organ of our soul –  as all eye, all ear, all heart, and as an all-sensitive skin of awareness.

Through whole-body awareness we can also experience the whole-body of the other as a sensory image of their soul. Soul-body sensing begins with whole-body sensing.

Soul-sensing means sensing the body of the other as a sensory image of their soul, and feeling all of its sensory qualities as the embodiment of inner soul-qualities. 

Soul-qualities are those underlying qualities of awareness that make up a person’s sense of self.

The inner connection between self and body lies in the connection between the sensory qualities of a person’s body and the basic qualities of awareness that shape their sense of self.

Like moods, qualities of awareness are what colour our entire experience of ourselves, other people and the world. 

What we call the ‘self’ is a combination of those particular qualities of awareness that shape a person’s entire sense of self.

What we call the ‘body’ is the field-boundary of awareness through which we distinguish qualities of awareness that we associate with ‘self’ from those we experience as ‘not-self’ or ‘other’.

Sensory awareness of another person’s body as a whole is what allows us to sense those underlying qualities of awareness - soul-qualities - that make up their current sense of self.

To the extent to which they are identified with these qualities, they experience other soul-qualities within themselves as ‘not self’ – identifying them with others.

The dis-ease of ‘not feeling oneself’, since it arises from feeling soul-qualities previously identified as ‘not self’ brings people to an ‘edge’ or ‘threshold’ of identity.

Healing means crossing this threshold of identity and expanding one’s sense of self to embrace new, and hitherto foreign or dissociated soul-qualities.

Soul-qualities are the qualities of awareness that shape both our self-experience and our experience of the world and other people.

Since soul-qualities are qualities of awareness, the key to sensing them is awareness.

Our awareness of any element of our experiencing – whether a sensation or emotion, thought or perception, dream or memory, impulse or expectation - is not that sensation or emotion, thought or perception, dream or memory, impulse or expectation.

Since our awareness of felt dis-ease or disease symptom is not that dis-ease or symptom, the key to healing is also awareness.

If we experience a sensation such as a headache, we can treat is as a ‘thing’ that we have (‘I have a headache’) and dis-identify from it - regarding it as an intrusive sensation coming from our body. Alternatively, we can identify with it (‘I always get headaches’). 

If we are experiencing an emotion such as anger we can think ‘I am angry’ and thus identify ourselves with the anger. Alternatively we can dis-identify from the anger and experience it as ‘not-self’ – caused by others and disturbing our sense of self.

Through awareness of any element of our experiencing we neither identify with it, accepting it without question as part of our ‘self’, nor do we dis-identity from it, treating it as ‘not-self’. 

There is a difference between thinking ‘I am angry’ and thinking ‘I am aware of a feeling of anger’. There is a difference between thinking ‘I have a headache’ and thinking ‘I am aware of a painful tension in my head’. 

All experiencing has a sensory quality. Even a train of abstract thought or state of mind has a sensory quality and is a sensory experience.  

On the other hand, the awareness of a sensory experience, whether we identify with it or not, is not that experience. But awareness itself also has what I call a sensual quality.

Soul-sensing is based on a fundamental distinction between sensory experiences we are aware of, and  sensual qualities of awareness itself.

Bodily temperature (feeling hot or cold) is a sensory experience we are aware of. Feeling warm or cold towards someone is a sensual quality of awareness.

Behind all sensory qualities we are aware of are sensual qualities of awareness – soul-qualities.

Soul-sensing means directly experiencing the sensual qualities of awareness that find expression in our sensory experience of ourselves, other people and the world. 

The key to soul-sensing lies in what I call The Three Attentions.

The First Attention is attention to all or anything that we are currently experiencing – different regions of our bodies, the space around us and the objects within it, the way we are lying, sitting or standing; moving, breathing or speaking; our emotions, trains or thoughts or mental images; our needs, desires and impulses etc. Applied to another person, it is attention to all the elements that make up their experience or our experience of them.

The Second Attention is attention not just to what we are experiencing in ourselves or others but to exactly how we are experiencing it in a bodily way – its specific sensory qualities. The important principle to remember is that there is no element of our experience that do not have a specific sensory quality – even thoughts and purely mental processes are something we sense in a specific way in our heads. The same applies to emotions. Thus we may for example, sense an emotion of ‘vulnerability’ in ourselves or others. To enter the second attention means focussing our attention of how exactly we sense this ‘vulnerability’ in ourselves or others  – its specific sensory qualities or signs.

‘Feelings’ are something people ‘have’ - that they ‘experience’ or seek to express in words. But ‘to feel’ is a verb, and ‘feeling’ is  something we do. The second attention shifts our focus from the feelings that we or others are experiencing to how we are feeling them – the specific way we sense them in our bodies and/or the bodily signs through which we sense them in others.

The second attention allows us to use our whole-body sensing of another person’s body not only to pick up ‘signs’ of particular feelings they might be experiencing but to feel them. What that means is that we ourselves begin to feel and sense the way another person is currently feeling and sensing themselves

The movement from the first attention to the second attentions takes us from what we feel to how we sense it – its sensory qualities.

The movement from the second attention to the third attention takes us from how we feel or sense and experience it to how is makes us feel – how it affects our overall sense of who we are. 

First Attention: what we are experiencing.

Second Attention: how we experience it in a bodily and sensory way.

Third Attention: the effect of our sensory bodily experiencing on who we experience ourselves to be – our bodily sense of self.

The Third Attention
is not attention to any localised sensory experience of ourselves of others. Instead is attention to our own or other people’s overall sense of self – the way we are feeling ourselves as a whole, or others are feeling themselves as a whole. The way we or others feel themselves is not characterised by any localised thoughts, emotional feelings or sensations but by an overall ‘mood’ or ‘feeling tone’.

A mood no localised feeling or sensation but rather a basic tone of feeling that permeates our awareness as whole, colouring our entire experience of ourselves, other people and the world. A particular sensory experience might put us into a certain mood. Alternatively it can be seen as the localised experience of that overall mood or feeling tone.

The Third Attention is the key to sensing soul-qualities through sensory qualities.

We can experience voice tones as having many different sensory qualities  - warmth or coolness, brightness or darkness, sharpness or dullness, lightness or heaviness or roughness or smoothness, hardness or softness, flatness or depth, speed or slowness.

Similarly, we can experience our own or other people’s overall feeling tone as having different qualities. These are not sensory qualities but they are still sensual qualities.

The felt tone – not only of someone’s voice but of their thoughts and emotions, their movements and gestures, facial expressions and looks – even the way they dress – is the bridge between sensory qualities and soul-qualities.

Feeling tone is the bridge between our own or other people’s sensory experiencing and the sensual qualities of awareness that find expression in it.

We cannot sense the soul of another and its qualities unless we can sense our own soul and its qualities.

If we cannot feel our own warmth or coolness of soul we cannot sense another person’s warmth or coolness of soul. If we cannot feel our own lightness or heaviness of mood in a sensual way we cannot sense the lightness of heaviness of another person’s mood.

We cannot sense our own soul and its qualities of awareness except in a sensual way – as qualities of warmth or coolness, brightness or darkness, lightness of heaviness, density or diffuseness, sharpness or dullness  etc.

All sensual soul-qualities have a spatial dimension.

Thus soul warmth or coolness goes together with a sense of closeness or distance to others. Brightness of mood goes together with a sense of expansion. Darkness with a sense of ‘introversion’ – of awareness being inwardly rather than outwardly focussed. Lightness of soul is an upward movement of awareness. Heaviness a downward movement.

All ‘e-motions’ are ultimately the expression of ‘in-motions’ – spatial motions of awareness. Hence we speak of the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of our emotional life, of feeling elevated or de-pressed, being dragged down or pulled up, feeling ‘withdrawn’ or ‘expansive’, ‘centred’ or ‘grounded’, ‘beside ourselves’ or ‘spaced out’.

Awareness does not only have its own innate sensual qualities. In particular, it also has its own sensed shape and substantiality. Together these give the soul its own innate bodily character.

That is why, aside from the Three Attentions, and the Third Attention in particular, it is the experience of the soul as a body in its own right - one with its own changing spatial dimensions and substantiality - that is of most importance in soul-sensing.

The soul-body is essentially an awareness body –  a  body shaped by the spatiality of our own awareness and made up of sensual qualities of awareness, including the sensed substantiality of our awareness – its elemental qualities of airiness, fluidity or solidity, density or diffuseness, compactness or expansion.

The physical body can be seen not just as a cellular body, but as a neuro-electrical body, a chemical body, a molecular and genetic body, a sub-atomic or quantum body, so does our soul have many different bodily dimensions or ‘bodies’.

The physical body is the soul as a sensory body - the body of our outer sensory awareness. But the soul also exists as a body of spatial awareness that includes the spaces of awareness we feel inside our physical body. Similarly, the soul exists as a body of inner soul warmth or soul light – the warmth or light of our awareness. It also exists as a body of inner colour and sound – soul sounds and soul colours.

Only through familiarisation with all these bodily dimensions and qualities of our own soul can we use them as means of sensing, resonating with and healing the soul-bodies of others. 

The body as a whole is both a sensory image of the soul, and a sense organ of the soul - allowing us to sense the souls of others through the sensory image or after-image we have of their bodies.


 ‘Scientific Socialism’ as Soul-Science

Marxism beyond Materialism

The Marxist philosophy of ‘scientific socialism’ is usually thought of as a form of crude, materialist philosophy, as suggested by terms such as ‘dialectical materialism’ and ‘historical materialism’. That Marx’s understanding of both ‘materialism’ and ‘science’ was in fact completely at odds with that of modern materialist science was made clear in his Theses on Feuerbach, where he writes: 

The chief defect of all previous materialism … is that the object, actuality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object of perception, but not  as sensuous human activitynot subjectively.  

The most basic scientific ‘fact’ of all – ignored in all modern sciences - is not the existence of a universe of perceptual objects, but rather the fact of our immediate subjective and sensuous awareness of such a universe. The problem is that ‘subjectivity’, ‘consciousness’ or ‘awareness’ has hitherto only been conceived as the property of a point-like human ‘subject’ or ‘ego’, bounded by the body or even mysteriously localised in the brain. Modern science is precisely a materialism of the sort that reduces even the human body and brain to mere perceptual objects, and then finds itself in the impossible situation of having to explain how such objects can miraculously give rise to subjective awareness. In this science of the human body there is no place for the human being, who is reduced to a phantom of the brain, a homunculus looking out at the world through the peepholes of the senses.

But what if all seemingly localised and point-like centres or ‘subjects’ of awareness are the expression of non-local fields of awareness or subjectivity? What if subjective awareness is not a blank sheet on which we passively register sensory impressions coming from perceptual objects – but has its own innate sensuous qualities and patterns – for example the subjectively sensed lightness or darkness, colour and tone, levity or gravity of our moods, the subjectively sensed dullness or clarity of minds,  the subjectively sensed size and weight, solidity or fragility of our bodies, or our subjectively sensed closeness or distance, warmth or coolness towards other beings? What if such sensed qualities and patterns of subjective awareness as such are the source of all ‘objective’ energetic and perceptual patterns or ‘gestalts’? What if ‘the soul’ is nothing suprasensible, insubstantial or disembodied, but is instead the bodily shape and form taken by such innate field-patterns and field-qualities of awareness? What if the very substantiality of our bodies themselves is the sensed and sensual substantiality not of some material body object of perception but of subjectivity as such?  What if all the sensory qualities of nature are the expression of soul qualities - innate qualities of subjective awareness? What if these sensual qualities of the human being’s soul or inner nature can link us directly with the very inwardness or soul of nature itself? Then and only then, could we begin to comprehend Marx’s concept of a natural science of man that is at the same time a human science of nature.

This will not be a crudely objectifying, materialist science of the sort we see today, but a ‘subjective’ or ‘phenomenological’ science – a science of immediate subjective awareness and experiencing. More precisely, it will be a field-phenomenology of the sort articulated by the Marxist physicist and phenomenologist Michael Kosok in his seminal essay entitled Dialectics of Nature. For as he writes: 

Subjectivity, phenomenologically, simply refers to a field of presence, i.e., an immediate non-localised gestalt, ‘opening’ or ‘awareness’ whose content is constituted by events of mediation of determination – by ‘objects’ of awareness … Subjectivity, as a non-localised field of presence is nothing but concrete immediacy, i.e., experience as an on-going process, in which the events or event-complexes present are any objects, products or structures appearing out of the field … be they symbolic systems, physical objects or egos.

It is precisely this PHENOMENOLOGY  of awareness between field and events which at the same time expresses itself as a DIALECTIC  of inseparable distinctions, or what in modern science is called a NON-linear field of relations. In a dialectic relation, all elements are grasped as elements OF relation and never simply as elements IN relation.  

For Marx, revolution was intrinsically connected with the liberation of the human senses and of human subjectivity – the soul - understood sensuously. This means the liberation of subjective experiencing as an on-going process from its domination by any and all of its products – whether these take the form of scientific models and mathematical abstractions, religious myths and symbols, perceptual objects or material commodities.  

The function of myth or abstraction – in science as well as society – which alienates a product from the process of experience is … to delimit all actual and conceivable experiences as expressions of that product.

Growth and genuine transcendence come only when one can re-grasp the relationship that exists between the process of experience and its products, realizing that products and results are neither ends (positive or posited goals), nor something to be denied (negative goals) but are rather the vehicles and means through which experience can enrich its self-mediated state of concrete immediacy and express itself in visible forms.

Degeneracy, however, sets in when the reverse takes place and man defines and delimits experience…in terms of its products and results. Such is the paradoxical challenge of existence – not to be ‘done in’ by the very products of its process!

So-called ‘false’ or ‘inauthentic’ consciousness is simply the product of ‘true’ or ‘authentic’ consciousness, instead of being the process.

Michael Kosok Dialectics of Nature

This is not ‘psychologism’ or ‘subjectivism’ in the narrow sense. For as Michael Kosok points out:

Emotional reactions, thoughts and object modifications are NOT examples of experience, but rather PRODUCTS of experience …


 Such ‘psychical’ phenomena, like ‘physical’ phenomena all emerge or arise (Greek physis) from non-local fields of awareness. ‘Dialectic phenomenology’, with its recognition of the field character of awareness or subjectivity, is a subjectivism which avoids all solipsism and with it the false philosophical question of how much reality we can attribute to the subjective awareness of others – the question of ‘other minds’. 

The so-called problem of the ‘other’ or of ‘other minds’ only appears if you think (Laing notwithstanding) that experience is private and in need of being communicated, i.e., that experience can be ‘owned’ like a commodity’.


 The way we ‘privately’ experience others  is automatically sensed by the other and automatically communicates to the other - just as does the way they experience us. Subjectivity or awareness is in essence reciprocal or ‘inter-subjective’. ‘Scientific Socialism’ is a new science of ‘soul’ understood as a social field of inter-subjective relationality – uniting the soul inwardness of human beings not only with that of others but with the aware inwardness or soul of all apparent ‘objects’ of perception. Understood in this way, ‘Scientific Socialism’ is ‘Soul-Science’, a revolutionary science that stands in radical opposition to all current forms of social and scientific reductionism – the reduction of the human senses to the single sense of ‘having’ that Marx wrote of, and the reduction of all immeasurable qualitative dimensions of human subjective experience to ‘objectively’ measurable quantities.


Soul-Science and Social Change

Social-Revolutionary Aims of Soul-Science

 The soul dimension of socialism has to do with the intrinsically social character of the individual soul as such. We have not one personal identity but many. Our soul identity is itself a group identity. The soul is itself a family group or community of selves. The personal self we know and identify with is but one part and one expression of this inner society of selves.  As souls we are multi-persons.

In the social world, each person is the hub of a wheel of dyadic relationships with others. Part of the meaning of these relationships lies in the way in which each person we relate to in our social world symbolises and links us to another self of our own – to a specific part of that group or society of selves that makes up our whole self or soul. In the social world, we are taught to feel our personal identity as the private property of our ego.  In the soul world on the other hand, personal identities can mix, merge, meld and overlap with those of others, without any loss of essential spiritual individuality, which has to do with the group nature of our whole self or soul.

If two individuals linked in a dyadic relationship can sense the specific aspects of their own souls linking them with the other, and feel the ways in which their own identity overlaps with that of the other, then that relationship becomes a link to their whole self or soul. It ceases to be a mere ‘interpersonal relationship’ - one in which each person treats their own identity as private property, and rigidifies the boundary of identity separating them from the other person. Instead they become conscious of their interpersonal relationship as a soul relationship, and become aware of its reality in the soul world.

A social group is a group of persons. A soul group is a group of souls. But since each individual, as a soul, is themselves a group or society of selves, a soul group has a ‘holarchical’ character. It is a group of groups in which each member is part of every other, and is linked to each other member through a particular aspect of their own soul.  If each member of a social group is able to feel the specific inner soul-connection uniting them with each other member of the group, then the social group can come to consciousness of itself as a soul group, and become aware of its own living reality in the soul world. It is only through a highly specific sense of our inner soul connection with a specific other that both interpersonal and group relationships can be transformed into soul relationships - awakening a social consciousness of our own whole self or soul, of soul groups and communities, and of the soul world as such.

Most accounts of society and social history are based purely on studies of social practices and the social world as such. They entirely ignore the social influence and reality of soul relationships, soul groups and the soul world.  The natural world is a world that surrounds us all the time. It is not ‘another world’ but one we are a part of,  even though, as urban dwellers, we may only be conscious of it through changes in the weather.  The same is true of the soul world. We are part of that world too and have never left it. It surrounds us all the time and in the same way that the natural world does, making its influence felt through constant changes in the psychical atmosphere, mood or climate that permeates social groups and the social world as a whole.

We know what it feels like when the atmosphere in an interpersonal relationship or social gathering cools or gets overheated. Soul relationships and soul group do not necessarily find expression in interpersonal relationships and social groups. Yet individuals who do form part of the same soul group can feel changes in the climate or atmosphere of that group even though they may rarely or never meet as a social group, or live thousands of miles from one another in totally different natural climates.  Because of the hold exerted by the notion of personal identity as private property however, individuals tend to both personalise and privatise their experience of changes occurring in the psychical climate and atmosphere of their soul group and soul world – often to the extent that they treat them only as the result of their own unpredictable personal ‘mood swings’.

Natural weather patterns and climatic changes are only ‘unpredictable’ in a conventional scientific sense. From a soul-scientific perspective they are themselves a manifestations of local, regional and global changes in the psychic atmosphere of the mass psyche. Dangerous and life-threatening global climate changes are a result of humanity adopting a soul-less and purely practical relation to nature – turning the planet into a stock of exploitable mineral, vegetative and animal resources.

It is because social relationships, social groups and the social world are primarily formed on the basis of common practical relations and purposes rather than shared inner soul connections that the whole climate of the soul world can also be damaged, affecting every soul group within it and each of the individuals within those groups.

The foundation of religious groups and communities, religious cults and cultures, was driven by the ideal of giving social and communal reality to the soul world - to soul groups and communities. What unites religion and socialism however, is the ‘utopian’ spiritual ideal of creating ‘heaven on earth’, realising the innate soul-brotherhood and soul-sisterhood of all humanity in a way free of distortions and inequalities created by human practical relations. Unfortunately, like political groups and organisations, religious groups and communities too, have themselves built up solely on the basis of purely practical relations between their members. For whilst emphasizing the ethical importance of relational practices they have tended to reduce such practices to a body of moral commandments or a set of symbolic rites.

The spiritual and political essence of ‘socialism’ is not collectivism but individualism fulfilled through relational practices that free human relations from the alienation created by their practical social relations. Only such practices can create conditions for a communist society as Marx defined it – one in which “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” The ideal of a communist society will forever remain a utopian one however, unless soul is put back into ‘socialism’. Only by recognising the reality of the soul world (‘in heaven’), can soul communities attain reality in the social world (‘on earth’) as social communities. The sole means by which this can happen is through a relational revolution which shows each individual how to sense and realise their inner soul relationships with others through bodily relational practices – practices which break down the illusory bodily boundaries of personal identity itself.

We know that in reality all social groups, organisations and communities flounder or fragment through breakdowns in the interpersonal relationships among their members – the basic dyadic units of relation on which they are built. We know too, that the basic reason why individuals join or leave political and religious groups, organisations and communities has to do with the degree of inner soul connection they feel with them and the degree of relational fulfilment that they do or do not find within them.

This in turn has to do not only with the practical relations that govern those groups, organisations and communities but rather with the relational practices that do or do not flourish within them –  practices necessary in order to not only nourish the interpersonal relations that are their very life, but to transform those relations into intimate soul relationships.  It is through such relational practices that individuals can change their world, the world of others, and the social world as we know it. How? By overthrowing the foundations of capitalist social relations in their own souls. To do so means ceasing to experience their own personal identity as private property, recognising instead that their true spiritual individuality – their whole self or soul - is itself an inner society of selves. None of these selves is the private property of the ego. Rather each of them is a bridge of identity linking them with others in soul families, groups and communities. 

is a bodily relational practice that brings with it a bodily experience of soul-communion. Only through such bodily relational practices will it be possible to truly re-ensoul our social world – to form social groups and communities ‘on earth’ which know themselves as soul groups and communities, not just as aggregates of atomised and otherwise isolated individuals. 

The essential reality of the human being is a complex of relationships. How they experience their reality is determined by the inner bearing they adopt to and within those relationships – their way of being in the ‘world’ that these relationships constitute. Any break in the normal pattern of relating, dominated as it is by everyday practical relations, brings about a break with normal consensual reality - but by no means with reality as such. For the ‘normal’ person their practical relations and purposes are all that constitute their world they take as real - however superficial or unreal the relationships that make up that world. Soul-science is a break with the entire non-relational concept of reality that underlies the world of normality, and the ‘normal’ modes of relating that maintain and reinforce it.  Other realities – different planes and spheres of the soul words - do exist than the consensual reality reinforced by human social relations.

Soul-science is also a doorway into those realities, but one we can only open and enter through a revolutionary transformation of our own relation to the sensory world around us. That relation must cease to be one in which thinking turns all sensory phenomena of that world into intellectual abstractions. Instead it must become a relation in which we think with our bodies themselves, using them to sense the aware inwardness or ‘soul’ of all natural bodies – not least the human body itself, which is both a sense organ of the soul, and as Wittgenstein recognized, a sensory image of the soul – its “best picture”.

If the practice of medicine were understood as a relational practice, the physician would indeed take time to listen to the patient. If it were understood as a bodily relational practice, the physician would not simply rest content with observing or examining the body of the patient from the outside – they would listen not just with their medical mind but with their whole body -  using it to sense the patient’s own inwardly felt body and inwardly felt dis-ease. The world of medicine and the physician-patient relation is but one example of the way in which what we call ‘the world’ is shaped by practical relations which leave no room for relational practices.

Just as the physician-patient relationship is approached only with the practical purpose of producing a diagnosis and recommending a treatment plan, so can the teacher-student relationship be dominated entirely by the project of setting and completing assignments and passing exams. Study itself ceases to be experienced as an activity by which the student deepens their inner relationship to a subject matter, but is reduced instead to the purely practical project of exam preparation or the production of passable essays.

We live in a world of practices – scientific and technical practices, professional and vocational practices, commercial and economic practices, medical and therapeutic practices, spiritual and meditational practices, political and religious practices. All these practices are also relational practices, yet how many understand themselves as such? Anyone can transform their ordinary practical relations with other human beings and with the entire sensory world into aware and bodily relational practices. In this way they ‘change the world’ in a revolutionary manner, subverting a consensual reality or world in which practical relations have hitherto squeezed the life out of human relations, and breathing fresh life into those relations through their relational practices.

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Bodily Sensing and the Sensed Body

From ‘Felt Sense’ to the Felt Body and Felt Self 

Peter Wilberg

From a physical-scientific point of view it seems clear that what we call ‘bodies’ possess measurable properties of material mass and density, speed and distance, temporal duration and spatial extension in three dimensions. The human body too is thought of as a physical body in this sense, a complex material structure of atoms, molecules, cells and organs. Our understanding of the human body reflects a general scientific understanding of the nature of physical bodies as such, whether in the form of particles or galaxies. According to this understanding, perceived sensory qualities of bodies such as colour and taste are secondary expressions of ‘primary’ qualities such as mass, motion, momentum and spatial extension – all of which were not essentially qualities so much as quantities.

In contrast, the classical pre-modern science of the Greek natural philosophers was, as Ronchi points out, closer to a “physiology of the senses” than a mathematical physics of mass and energy. Rather than reducing phenomena such as ‘light’, ‘heat’, ‘gravity’ and ‘sound’ to quantitative instrumental measurements and mathematical functions, the point of departure of pre-modern science was our body’s own sensory awareness of the qualities of other bodies. Such qualities included brightness and darkness, warmth and coolness, dryness and wetness, weight and lightness, hardness and softness, and particularly the elemental qualities of solidity (earth), fluidity (water), airiness or fieriness. Dreams made it self-evident to the ancients that sensory awareness or sentience in all its forms had an intrinsically subjective character, independent of our bodily sense organs. Modern science, on the other hand, sought the objective counterparts and objective foundation of these subjective sensory qualities of bodies in measurable ‘primary’ quantities and their functional relationships – in particular measurable quantitative extension. Only with the advent of a ‘post-modern’ physics of energetic quanta and with it the indeterminacy principle — the recognition that absolute or infinitely precise quantitative measurements are impossible in principle — did scientists begin to reflect on this dichotomy of primary and secondary ‘qualities’. 

“It is as though the programme of Galileo and Locke, which involved discarding secondary qualities (colour, taste etc.) for primary ones (the quantities of classical mechanics), had been carried a stage further and those primary qualities had themselves become secondary to the properties of potentia in which they lay latent.” Heisenberg 

What is the fundamental nature of these potentia or potencies. They are currently conceived as energetic field-potentials which can take the form of ‘virtual’ or even ‘massless’ particles — immaterial bodies lacking any field-independent dimensions. But the idea of such immaterial bodies makes no sense if bodyhood is identified with material substantiality and measurable extension. It can make sense only if we understand bodyhood itself – not just the human body but all bodies, from sub-atomic particles to atoms, molecules and cells, in a fundamentally new way. The new understanding of bodies is that they are outwardly detectable or sense-perceptible forms or figurations of sub-atomic, atomic, molecular and cellular awareness, emerging within fields of awareness and giving expression to immanent field-potentials, field-qualities, field-patterns of awareness. That the latter possess their own intrinsic dimensions of spatiality and temporality, to do not with distances between extensional bodies but degrees, densities, durations and distances of particular qualitative intensities of awareness.

The mistake of both modern and pre-modern philosophy lay in treating awareness or subjectivity as the property of a localised subject of consciousness or perception. The mistake is compounded by the modern scientific world-view, which treats the subject as something localised in a particular object of perception — the brain as we perceive it. The result is an inescapable contradiction – the subject of perception is seen as a product or epiphenomenon of its own localised objects of perception!

In contrast, the starting point of what I call field-phenomenological science is a recognition of the fundamentally non-local or field character of awareness or subjectivity itself. Its foundation is the understanding that non-local fields of awareness are the condition of emergence not only of any localised objects of perception but any localised subjects of perception or ‘centres’ of awareness.

The foundational thesis of field-phenemonological science is a radical one. It is that awareness or subjectivity not only has a field character but also its own sensual qualities, its own sensed shape and substantiality, its own qualitative extensionality in space and time, its own dimensions of motion. I call these intrinsic sensual qualities of awareness qualia. Awarenes, in other words, s is not merely a consciousness of some thing or other – of material bodies and their sensual qualities. Rather it has itself an intrinsically bodily character, being composed of sensual shapes and patterns, tones and textures, qualities and intensities of awareness. This thesis, and this thesis alone, undermines all dualisms of ‘mind’ and ‘body’, psyche and soma. In particular it challenges Descartes’ distinction between res extensa (extensional reality) and res cogitans (the thinking subject). It does this by challenging the identification of substance (res extensa) with quantitative extension in space, and of subjectivity with a non-extensional subject of awareness.

Cartesian mind-body dualism has many variations (psycho-physical parallelism, mind-body interactionism, epiphenomenalism, and monistic ‘dual-aspectism’ – seeing mind and body as two aspects of the same thing. It has its historic roots in Greek philosophy, in particular in the development of a way of thinking rooted in the sense of sight and visual perception. This is most evident in the very word ‘idea’ coming from the Greek idein – ‘to see’. From this arose the idea of the world as a collection of perceived things, of extensional bodies in space, some of which, like the human body, were also perceiving things. The visual perception of bodies in space became the model for the human being’s entire relation to the world. Other and earlier directions in Greek thinking did not prioritise the sense of sight, with its locus in the human head, but focused more on the sense of touch or rather on bodily sensations of wetness or dryness, warmth or coolness, of the sort which we experience with the body as a whole and not just the head. Elemental qualities of sensation such as solidity (earth), fluidity (water), airiness and warmth (air and fire) were taken as the basis of natural philosophy – different bodies being considered as different combinations of these elements, which in turn were combinations of the basic sensual polarities such as warmth and coldness, dryness and wetness, light and darkness, lightness and heaviness etc.

The entire history of Western philosophy and science is rooted in a failure to distinguish bodily sense, bodily sensation and sense-perception – the five senses. Our entire modern concept of reality is based on a mechanics of sense-perception, visual perception in particular. But as Gendlin points out, “Our bodies don’t lurk in isolation behind the five peepholes of perception.” Nor do we even possess five discrete bodily senses. Instead, all perception is a ‘synaesthetic’ blending of the senses – when we look at a rose, we do not just perceive its shape and colour, we sense its texture and weight, the way it would feel to touch. When we look at a metallic object we have a sense of the way it would sound if struck. Similarly, looking at a person’s facial expression we can ‘hear’ it as a sound they might make. A wide-eyed, open- or round-mouthed look of wonder, delight or astonishment we hear as a potential “Ah” or “Oh”.

However, even recognising the innate synaesthesia of the senses does not go far enough in transcending the idea of the body as a perceiving thing looking out through its “five peepholes of perception”. For as we have seen, bodily sensation and bodily sense-perception are not the same thing. The ‘percepts’ of the senses are localised. Bodily sensation can have a non-local or field character – an all-round sense of lightness or darkness, warmth or coolness. We do not just ‘hear’ a lorry rumbling by on the street. We sense its vibration throughout our whole body. An infant lying in its cot does not hear the sound of ‘a lorry’ at all – for it may not have a visual image of the thing it hears, let alone a word for it. It does not, to begin with, ‘hear’ or even ‘see’, ‘taste’, ‘smell’ or ‘touch’ recognisable things – recognisable objects of sense-perception to which it can attach a concept or verbal label. For the baby these things are no more than synaesthetically blended sights, sounds, tastes and smells all of which touch them – are felt in a certain way with their whole body.

The distinction between sense-perception and sensation reflects another more fundamental distinction – that between the bodily senses and what Gendlin calls bodily sense. For this is something that, as Gendlin points out, transcends the five senses. Is the space we sense behind our backs for example, something we ‘see’, ‘hear’, ‘touch’, ‘taste’ or ‘smell’? What is the bodily sense of ‘danger’ behind us that we might feel walking down a dark street, or the sense of constriction we might feel in a lift. What is a bodily sense of excitement or anticipation?

This is where it becomes important to acknowledge that felt bodily sense is not just felt bodily sensation but felt ‘sense’ in another ‘sense’ — felt meaning or intent. When we sense a person’s look or posture as ‘menacing’ are we simply attaching some significance to it, or are we sensing its significance? Here again, we are led to another fundamental distinction. This is the distinction between what I call ‘sensed significance’ or ‘sentience’, on the one hand, and what I term ‘signified sense’ or ‘signification’ on the other. To talk of a person’s look as ‘menacing’ is to signify its meaning or sense. But signifying sense is not the same thing as sensing significance. The poet, for example, can only use words to signify their felt sense of a landscape, for example, because they already sense meaning or significance in it. What Gendlin calls “felt sense” or “bodily sensing” is immanently sensed meaning or significance of the sort that always transcends formal or outward signification. The sign function of a phenomenon is its place in an already established pattern of signification. But its immanent, and directly felt sense always transcends such patterns, containing dimensions of as yet unsignified sense which conceal still latent, implicit or unmanifest patterns of significance. An animal’s ‘sense’ of danger is not an interpretation of signs in the form of sensory stimuli, but a direct sense of their as-yet unmanifest or potential significance – the possibility of a lurking predator for example. Even before the animal moves, this sense of danger is embodied in the animal’s alert posture, as a perceptible readiness for flight in response to any perceived predator. Sense in general is bodily motion - in response not just to patterns of perception and action but potential ones.

Saussure compared language to a surface plane of signification, one side of which was constituted by the ‘signifier’, a sound of a word, and the other side by a word-concept or thought, its ‘signified’. But what if not only language but perceived reality as such constitutes a plane or membrane of signification that surrounds or envelops an inner semiotic space or ‘semiosphere’ (Hoffmeyer) with its own depths of potential meaning or significance. The outer semiotic membrane or ‘sembrane’ would correspond to the sign function of sense-perceptible phenomena – their place in an already established pattern of signified sense or ‘sense-conception’ (the inner surface of the sembrane). The inner space of the semiosphere, would correspond to the unbounded domain of sensed but as yet unsignified and unmanifest significance that Gendlin calls ‘felt sense’ or ‘bodily sense’.

Nowhere is the distinction between bodily sense, sensation and sense-perception more significant than in medical science, which makes no distinction between a patient’s underlying sense of dis-ease, the sensations of bodily discomfort or pain they may experience, and sense-perceptible symptoms. The latter are read as possible diagnostic signs of some bodily disease whose reality can be made sense-perceptible — either through direct or indirect sense-perception using diagnostic instruments and tests. The sign function of the patient’s symptoms – their sensations of discomfort — is reduced to their place within established patterns of significance associated with particular diseases. No attempt is made to help the patient explore their felt sense of dis-ease, and with it, the felt meaning or sense of their symptoms. Doing so might reveal an unmanifest symbolic significance to those symptoms that no medical examination can ever disclose.

Bodily symptoms, like dream symbols, are just as much signifiers of felt bodily sense – and of the unmanifest dimensions of significance latent in it — as any words with which we might signify this sense. A child whose un-ease at attending school remains unexpressed and unsignified in words may develop tummy-aches that prevent them from going to school. Seeking to sense the inner meaning or significance of the child’s felt un-ease is a quite different matter from seeking medical diagnosis and treatment of their symptoms. Arnold Mindell uses the term ‘dreambody’ to distinguish bodily sensations from their felt sense or significance, understanding bodily symptoms as something dreamt up in the same way as dream images, and bearing similar depths of symbolic significance. The term ‘dreambody’ is a way of understanding bodies as semiospheres whose surface skin or membrane can be perceived from the outside as bodily signs, signals or symptoms or perceived from the inside as dream symbols and dreamt bodies. Both the sense-perceptible dimensions of bodyhood and those of our dreams, however, constitute domains of signified sense, and conceal inner depths of potential meaning and an inner semiotic space of sensed significance – “felt sense” -which constitutes the immeasurable and unbounded inwardness of any body. 

“It is a remarkable thing that what flows out remains within. That the word flows out and yet remains within.” Meister Eckhart 

Thinking in purely extensional terms, ‘inwardness’ — for example, the inwardness of a container such as a jug, is formed by its outwardness, the material form of the jug. But as Seth emphasises:  

“The outwardness is formed through the inwardness, not the other way round. There is always an excess of this inwardness, struggling to express itself in an outward form. For this reason, a study of the outwardness will never result in a true comprehension of the inwardness. There will always be that inside which is still unexpressed.” 

That is why the inwardly sensed significance of a phenomenon can never be reduced to a set of signifying words, the sense-perceptible ‘things’ we take to be signified by these words, or their pre-assigned place within an already established pattern of conceptual significance or sense-conception. Sensed meaning or significance is not a property of signs or sign-systems at all, whether body signs or road signs. It has to do with sensual patterns, qualities, intensities and directions of awareness. The root meaning of the word ‘sense’ is ‘way’ or ‘direction’. Conventional signs might seem to be all about one thing pointing to another – as a road sign may point to a nearby supermarket. But in essence, the road sign is not one thing pointing to another. It is something which points us in the direction of another. Not just sense-perceptible signs but bodily sensations and symptoms have, like dream symbols, intrinsic sense, pointing our awareness in a certain direction, orienting and preparing us to act in a certain way. The spatiality of bodily sense has to do with orientations of our being and not just our bodies. The ‘space’ of bodily sense is a ‘potential’ space (Winnicott), a space of potential patterns of action and speech, perception and thought. Its dimensions are ‘subjective’ – for our sensed distance or closeness to a place or person may have nothing to do with our measurable or ‘objective’ distance from them. Similarly, the sensed or ‘subjective’ duration of a journey may bear little relation to its measurable duration in standardised clock-time. The problem is that subjective spatiality and distance, like subjective temporality or subjective speed and motion, is seen as less ‘real’ than measurable space and time, speed and motion. That is not just because ‘objective’ reality is identified with the positions and movement of extended bodies, but also because bodyhood as such is identified with bounded extension ‘in’ space.  

“Space is neither in the subject, nor is the world in space.” Heidegger.  

On the contrary, subjectivity or awareness has its own intrinsic, and unbounded spatiality. If our awareness did not extend beyond the apparent physical boundaries of our bodies we would have no sense of a space around our bodies or of other bodies within that space. What we call the ‘senses’ are what enable us to perceive this space and these bodies with our own. Bodily sensation (for example of movement or balance) is what allows us to feel this space. Bodily sense is what allows us to sense it in a way that transcends both sense-perception and sensation – for it includes a dimension of sensed meaning or significance to do with potential patterns of action and perception, potential sensations and sense-perceptions. But the fundamental thesis of this essay is that neither sense-perception, sensation or what Gendlin calls ‘bodily sense’ are functions of the body as a bounded extensional object — a ‘body thing’ in space. To believe so is to ignore the fact that what Gendlin calls ‘felt sense’ or ‘bodily sense’ has as its basis a felt sense of our own bodies, which we may feel or sense as more or less bounded or unbounded, more or less spacious or constricted, more or less solid or fluid, more or less weak or intense, more or less formed or amorphous. Recognising this brings us to a fundamentally new conclusion – namely that bodyhood as such is essentially a function of sense and sentient awareness and not the other way round. In sensing our own bodies, becoming aware of bodily sensations, and perceiving other bodies with our senses, we are actually giving bodily shape and form to a field of sensory awareness – one that has its own qualitative dimensions of spatiality, and temporality, distance and duration, shape and substantiality. Bodyhood is the bodying of sentient awareness. Sensation is not something produced or located in the body.

You see a painting on the wall. You see it with your own eyes. But where do you see the painting? The painting is on a wall. Your eyes are in your head. But is your seeing in your head, in your eyes or brain? Or on the wall? And where do you see the painting? See it as a painting. Seeing meaning or sense in it and not just a blotch of sensory colours and shapes.

You hear sounds of music coming from a loudspeaker. But where is your hearing? Where do you hear the sounds? And where, if anywhere, do you hear their music? In the air? In your ears? In your brain? In your feelings? Is the space of your felt resonance with the music a space in the room, a space in your ear? Is this resonance a vibration of molecules of air in your room or of fluids in your ear? Is it a release of nerve signals in your brain or hormones in your body?

Dreaming, we may have vivid sensory perceptions of other bodies in our dream environment, but our sense of our own bodies may be more or less substantial, dense or solid. Waking, we may sense on our body the warmth of the sun, or the feel of a breeze, the contact with your clothes, the ground you are standing on or the chair you are sitting in. But what does this mean if not that your sense of your own body is always and everywhere inseparable from your sense of other bodies? Or rather, these other bodies, like your own, are bodily shapes and combinations of sensations – sensations of light and darkness, colour and tone, form and texture, weight and density.

What are sensations? Are they your body’s sensory awareness of other bodies? Or are they sensual qualities and intensities of awareness as such, patterned in such a manner as to shape an experience of bodyhood – your own body and other bodies? And what is bodyhood, if not a non-localised field of sensory awareness which in turn takes on bodily shape and substantiality? And what are eyes, ears and brains if not examples of bodies or body parts that we can locate within that sensory field of awareness, if we choose to do so.

When you look at a painting on the wall, the painting is not first of all ‘there’, on the wall, then a set of light waves, then a set of nerve signals triggered in the eye and brain, then a mentally illuminated image constructed by the brain to ‘copy’ the ‘real’ picture, then a projection of this luminous image into a mentally constructed three-dimensional space and onto an image of a wall in that space. A tall scientific story if ever there was one
yet this is how science explains the visual perception of objects.

Your looking at the painting is not dependent on you being here and it being there, somewhere else in physical space. Your attention to the painting is what first stretches out a field or space of sensory awareness as such, one that spans your ‘here’ and its ‘there’. That is why, when you look at a painting or any other object in space, you are both ‘here’, inwardly sensing your own body from within, and ‘there’ at the outer surface of this other body. You not only see the shapes and colours of these other bodies, but sense their surface feel and their very substantiality – their texture, weight and density. You see what they would feel like to touch or hold, or feel what they would be like to see. You even sense the sound they would make. All sensation is ‘synaesthetic’ – an intermeshing of sensual qualities of awareness which come together to create a sense of the shaped substantiality or ‘bodyhood’ of an object.

Moreover, the sense you have of your own body is shaped by the sensation and sensory perception of these other bodies. The more your awareness is drawn into the things around you, the more it takes on their sensual bodily shape and substantiality. The more your awareness is drawn into internal sensations, the more it takes on the shape and substantiality that you identify as your own bodyhood. Within the field of your sensory awareness, therefore, every body is potentially your body, shaping your sense of your own bodyhood in its very substantiality. Lashed by rain in a stormy wind, you do not merely ‘sense’ the wind and rain ‘with’ your body or because you ‘have’ a body. Rather your very sense of bodyhood takes on something of the nature of wetness and windiness. Similarly, if you are with somebody else, you do not just ‘perceive’ their body with yours – your own sense of bodyhood takes on something of the shape and tone of this some-body-else.

Where and how then, do you draw the boundary between your body and other bodies around you, between you as ‘some-body’ and ‘some-body-else’? You do so by feeling a withinness to your own body that for the most part, you only dimly sense in other bodies – first and foremost, other human bodies. The field of our sensory awareness has two dimensions. One is the dimension of ‘aroundness’ – of extensional ‘physical’ space and the bodies we perceive within it. The other is a dimension of ‘withinness’ that has no measurable physical dimensions, but consists of sensual qualities of awareness that take on the felt shape of our own bodies. The sensed boundaries of the felt body may or may not coincide with our skins, or rather with skin sensations. More often than not it is defined by qualities of muscular sensation. Essentially, however, the boundary of the felt body is a mobile and unbounded boundary, not a physical skin boundary but a sensual field-boundary between the dimensions of ‘aroundness’ and ‘withinness’, a boundary that may expand or contract, be felt as more or less porous or translucent. Here it can help to think of the TARDIS, the name of an imaginary time machine in the science fiction series ‘Dr Who’. TARDIS meant ‘Time And Relative Dimensions In Space’. As a device it had the apparent outward form and dimensions of an ordinary police telephone kiosk, with room for no more than one person within it. Once entered however, its spatial volume appeared to have inwardly expanded, taking on the dimensions of a spacious living room.

Once again, however, it must be emphasised that it is not our bodies that ‘possess’ or ‘produce’ sensory spatial awareness and our felt sense of bodyhood. Rather that felt sense of bodyhood – the felt body and its felt boundaries – is a shape taken by sensual qualities of awareness as such. Sensory fields, field-shapes and field-qualities of awareness are not a product of specific bodily shapes and sensations occurring within them. Sensing is no more a product of bodies we sense than is dreaming a product of images we dream. This being the case, however, just what sort of reality does our body, or any-body, have, besides being a shaping of sensual field-qualities of awareness with their own felt substantiality? For one thing, perceived from the outside, whether as a mirror-image or by other people, this field-pattern, though changeable, has a certain stability, and fixed boundaries. But what we perceive as another person’s body in the space around us is no less a bodily patterning of our own field of sensory awareness than the image of ourselves in a mirror. It is, as it were a ‘materialised body image’ of another human being created in resonance with the patterning of their own outer body image and their own inwardly felt body shape.

When we look at ourselves in the mirror, what we see is a double of ourselves, manifest in the mirror. But similarly, when we look at others, what we see is a double. We ourselves shape a bodily double of the other’s body. In doing so we shape a double of a double. For the ‘true’ body of the other is itself a double – a combination of their own outer body image and their own inwardly felt body. How do we create these doubles of doubles? Through resonance with the outer and inner field-patterns and field-qualities of awareness which the other identifies with their own body, and through which they maintain their familiar sense of bodyhood.

The dimension of aroundness that is one side of our field of sensory awareness takes shape in the form of other bodies in space. But the dimension of ‘withinness’ that constitutes the ‘other side’ of that field of sensory awareness, whilst it takes shape in the form of our own inwardly felt body, is above all an embodiment of our being – of our felt self. The felt body is also the beselved body. The dimension of withinness consists not just of the inwardly felt sensations of bodyhood but of their felt sense or meaning. Felt sense has to do with felt potentials of our being – with the potentials of the felt self. It is also our link to felt resonance with others – with their felt body, their felt self and its potentials.

The dimension of withinness leads directly into a third dimension of our field of sensory awareness. This is the dimension of unbounded interiority. It is through this dimension that our own felt body and felt self is linked with the felt body and felt self of others, vibrating in field-resonance with them. Our felt body is our resonant link to the felt body of others. Our innermost self is our resonant link to the felt self of the other. Our felt resonance with others is a field-resonance occurring in the dimension of unbounded interiority. It is through this field-resonance that we are able to create outer doubles of their body image in our perceptual field, but also create an inner double of their felt body within our own. And it is through this inner double that we gain a bodily sense of their own felt self and its potentials.

Gendlin rightly emphasises that the perceiving subject is not just a disembodied ego or “I”, nor even a bodily subject capable of perceiving its environment. For this bodily subject is at the same time in constant dynamic interaction with its environment on many levels – organic, cellular, molecular, atomic and sub-atomic. It is therefore also a reservoir of information about that environment and its own actual or potential relation to it that we can access through ‘bodily sense’. Implicit in Gendlin’s thinking is a new type of relational epistemology of the sort that confirms the reality of the body’s own immediate interactional ‘knowing’ of its environment in distinction from knowledge of or about it. As Heidegger put it “Knowing is a relation in which we ourselves are related, and in which this relation vibrates through our basic posture.” Put in other terms, our every experience is the expression of a specific relation or comportment to our environment that forms part of an ongoing interaction with it.

What I believe is still missing in Gendlin’s account of the nature of ‘bodily sense’ however, is that it takes the body and its environment as two pre-given, sense-perceptible entities ‘in’ interaction with one another. This model contrasts radically with that of the German biologist Jakob von Uexküll. It was Uexküll who first recognised that each species of organism constitutes its own unique sensory and perceptual environment or Umwelt. Uexkülls cites the example of the tick, whose Umwelt is primarily constituted by its senses of touch and warmth. For us as human beings, the term ‘warm-blooded’ is simply a general concept applying to a number of distinct sense-perceptive species, whereas for the tick ‘mammalness’ is not a tangible sense-conception. For its own sense organs do not differentiate, as ours do, between different species of warm-blooded animals, and therefore it does not mentally abstract it as a general category, for it senses other species only through their innate body warmth. But Uexküll’s thinking has yet deeper, still unthought implications. For it suggests that the way we, as human beings, perceive both the bodily form and environment of another species – for example an insect or a shark, may in no way correspond to the way these species (1) perceive each other, (2) perceive their environment, and (3) perceive our own human bodily form.

Lacking the electrical sense organs of the shark, for example, we have no idea how they perceive the bodies of other fish, of human divers or the oceanic ‘environment’ as a whole through this sense. No-one has yet fully thought through the paradoxical and subversive implications of Uexküll’s Umwelt biology for our understanding of the nature of bodyhood as such. For if our very scientific ‘knowledge’ of the shark’s sensory organs comes from our own species-specific sense-perception of its body and behaviour, how are we to say what the bodily nature of sharks, or any other species of organism, essentially is? Questioning along these lines, we are driven inexorably to the conclusion that the bodily nature of an organism is essentially nothing more or less than an organising pattern of sensory awareness, one which will necessarily be perceived in a different way by different species of organisms, or even different members of the same species.

The fact that our own human perception of other bodies in the natural world is shaped by our own species-specific field-pattern of awareness does not mean that it is illusory, only that it is partial. Nor does it mean that our perception of the universe is necessarily limited. For like other organisms, our own field-patterns of awareness are themselves one expression of a primordial source field of awareness that includes other potentials patterns. This source field can be compared to an ocean. Just as sharks, jellyfish and other oceanic life forms are expressions of the life of the ocean as a whole, so are their field-patterns of awareness configurations of an oceanic field of awareness. Our own localised human subjectivity or ‘ego-consciousness’ can be compared to a fish’s awareness of itself as a body separate and apart from other fishes and life forms in the ocean, separate and apart from the ocean as such. It is unlikely however, that other species apart from our own are aware of themselves in this way. More likely, a fish is aware of itself in a bodily way not as something apart from but as a part of the ‘ocean’ as a whole, connected to other fish, and to other oceanic life forms, through it. What Gendlin calls ‘bodily sense’ is our human equivalent to this mode of awareness – our bodily awareness of ourselves as ‘part of nature’, intimately connected to other beings through it. What I call our ‘sense of self’ however, is something quite different. It cannot be identified with our highly species-specific mode of ego-awareness. Instead it is the human equivalent to the ocean’s awareness of itself in the form of a particular fish. Human ‘self-awareness’, unlike that of the fish, can therefore be said to have three basic levels as opposed to two.  

1.      Human ego-awareness – our perception and conception of ourselves as localised bodily subjects or centres of awareness separate and apart from others.

2.      Body awareness or ‘bodily sense’– our ‘instinctive’ bodily awareness of ourselves as part of a larger natural environment, and in constant energetic interaction with other bodies in it.

3.      Self-awareness – our awareness both of our own egos and bodies as localised self-manifestations of a larger sensory field or ocean of awareness, one which includes other potential field-patterns of awareness, and gives us potential access to these patterns.  

As far as level two is concerned, we must remind ourselves that even a fish’s awareness of itself as part of the ocean as a whole is shaped by its own species-specific awareness of that ocean. Each oceanic life form senses and perceives the ocean itself in a different way. The question therefore arises as to what the ocean as such essentially is. This is where the term ‘ocean of awareness’ ceases to have a merely metaphorical character. For just as the bodyhood of an organism is essentially an organising field-pattern of awareness, perceived in different ways by other organism, so is the ocean essentially a field of awareness manifesting its potentials in different organising patterns of awareness. This ocean of awareness, however, unlike perceived or sensed oceans, does not have any extensional dimensions whatsoever. It has a purely non-extensional or ‘intensional’ reality, consisting as it does essentially of potential field-patterns, field-qualities and field-intensities of awareness. 

“To every actual intensity belongs a virtual one. Actual intensity has extension (form and substance), virtual intensity does not: it is a pure intensity. The virtual has only intension. That is not to say it is undifferentiated. Only that it is indeterminate in our spatiality. Every one of its dense points is adjacent to every point in the actual world, distanced from it only by the intensity of its resonance and its nearness to collapse. This means that it is also indeterminate in relation to our temporality. Each of its regions or individuals is the future and the past of an actual individual: the states it has chosen, will choose, and could have chosen but did not (and will not). All of this is always there at every instant, at varying intensities, insistently. The virtual as a whole is the future-past of actuality, the pool of potential from which universal history draws its choices and to which it returns the states it renounces. The virtual is not undifferentiated. It is hyper-differentiated. If it is the void, it is a hypervoid in continual ferment. ”  Brian Massumi 

The distinction between extensional and intensional reality — the Outer and Inner Universe — does not correspond in any way to the dichotomies of ‘body’ and ‘mind’, ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ reality, or ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ qualities. It corresponds instead to a more fundamental distinction between the domains of Potentiality and Actuality. Potentialities, by their very nature, are not perceptible or measurable as Actual realities. Potentialities can indeed be felt and sensed, but not seen or perceived in any way. A more fundamental distinction than that of primary and secondary qualities, one attuned to Heisenberg’s recognition of ‘tertiary’ qualities or potentia — is that of primary and secondary cognition. Secondary cognition is ‘consciousness’ in the ordinary sense –awareness in the form of perception of some actual thing, event or ‘phenomenon’. Primary cognition on the other hand, is not unconsciousness of the actual, but awareness of potentiality. It has the character of a direct feeling cognition or ‘felt sense’ rather than any type of sense-perception of actualities, or their conceptual representation in thought.

Potentialities have ‘reality’ only in awareness, and therefore also have reality only as potential patterns, qualities and intensities of awareness. The domain of potentiality is intrinsically inexhaustible – unlimited by any domain of actuality. Extensional bodies and space-time universes belong to the dimension of actuality. All such bodies and universes however, have an intrinsically intensional character, for they open up, expand and contract within an inexhaustible, non-extensional space of potentiality. Topologically, extensional space opens up within intensional space and bodyhood is the infoldment of an intensional space of potentiality within extensional space. This topology is represented in Diagram 1 below, with the shaded area outside the circle representing intensional or potential space and the infoldment of this area representing the human body – or any body – as it exists in extensional space (the white area within the circle). The shape of this body is unimportant. What is important in this diagram is that it is a way of illustrating how bodyhood as such is a dynamic boundary state of extensional and intensional space, the domain of potentiality and that of actuality.


Diagram 1













Intensional reality consists of formative potentials latent in fields of awareness. What we call ‘energy’ is the formative activity (Greek energein) by which these inner potentials are actualised in material forms.

“Matter is as you know camouflage, the outwardness of energy. The outwardness is formed through the inwardness, not the other way around… The inwardness therefore flows through and forms matter, and the inwardness remains when it has finished expression in any given form.” Seth 

Matter and ‘material bodies’ are the localised, outwardly perceptible form taken by energy. But if material bodies are the ‘outwardness’ of energy, its actualised extensional reality, then awareness is the very inwardness of energy, its intensional or potential reality. But since energy is the autonomous self-actualisation of infinite formative potentials of awareness, it is itself inherently inexhaustible. Strictly speaking, energy in all its forms is not a ‘source’ of power – it has its source in power, in an intensional dimension of those potencies or potentialities whose autonomous self-actualisation it is.

Nowadays, New Age philosophies, like theosophists and body psychotherapists speak of ‘other bodies’ besides the physical or material body – an ‘energy body’ or ‘subtle body’, an ‘etheric’, ‘astral’ or ‘mental’ body etc. The term ‘energy medicine’ is a current catchphrase drawing on such concepts. But simply talking of an ‘energy body’, for example, does not begin to address the fundamental question of what bodyhood itself essentially is, or for that matter, what ‘energy’ or ‘matter’ essentially are. Only in the work of Gendlin and Heidegger do we find any pointers in this direction. For Heidegger it was clear that the lived body (Leib), was something quite different in nature from the corpus (Körper), the body as perceived or examined from without. A distinction between the lived and the physical body does not force us into the postulation of some ‘other body’, any more than a distinction between the inwardness and outwardness of a cask, vessel or vat (the root meaning of ‘body’) forces us into the postulation of some other vessel.

What Gendlin calls ‘bodily sense’ or ‘felt sense’ is our connection to the ‘lived body’ – or rather to what might be called the sensed body or felt body, the body as we sense or feel it from within. But when we speak of the body’s sensed or felt withinness, we are not simply referring to a psychic interiority bounded in dimensions by the physical body. For as Heidegger points out:  

“When I direct someone towards a windowsill with a gesture of my right hand, my bodily existence as a human being does not end at the tip of my index finger. While perceiving the windowsill….I extend myself bodily far beyond this fingertip to that windowsill. In fact, bodily I reach out even further than this to touch all the phenomena, present or merely visualised, represented ones.”  

Even the body in motion cannot be conceived as encapsulated by our skins.

“When I go toward the door of the lecture hall, I am already there, and I could not go to it at all if I were not such that I am there. I am never here only, as this encapsulated body; rather, I am there, that is, I already pervade the room, and only thus can I go through it.” 

Our distance or closeness to one another as human beings is not something measurable by the distance that separates us as bodies in space. We can be close to another human being though there are thousands of miles separating them from us. Similarly, we can be physically close to them whilst at the same time being ‘miles away’. The closeness we feel to other beings – and not just human beings – is a qualitative distance that is not measurable in quantitative terms. But it is no less a felt bodily closeness than the closeness we feel from an object at a measurable distance.

But what if not just human bodies, but material bodies of all types, from particles and atoms, to planes of glass and windowsills, cells and living organisms, are in essence unbounded — immeasurable in a purely extensional way? What if they are instead the energetic embodiments of field-patterns and field-qualities of awareness – not only human ego-awareness but beings whose awareness has a pre-egoic, pre-conceptual, pre-perceptual and indeed pre-physical character? Field-phenomenological science, as qualia science, demands and allows us to think the hitherto unthinkable. That material bodies are no more extensionally bounded than our own bodyhood is in relation to a windowsill, a pane of glass or another human being. That in this sense, material bodies are not separated from one another in extensional space, nor do they move ‘in’ space. That the movement of bodies, their kinetics, is not simply a change of place but kinesis in the sense that Aristotle understood it – a change of state, transformation or metamorphosis.

What if space as such is not a uniform system of coordinates in which any body can occupy any position? What if the Greeks were right in thinking that every body has its own natural place or topos, as did their temples and the people that visited them, as do plants or animals, planets and stars? These fundamental considerations may be thought of as too deep and philosophical to have any direct implications for our current scientific understanding of the universe. And yet there are reasons why they do have such implications. Firstly, they provide a new and deeper way of understanding otherwise new scientific concepts such as non-locality, matter waves etc., which challenge the traditional understanding of bodies as indivisible extensionally bounded units of matter – ‘atoms’ in the original Greek sense.

Secondly, these fundamental considerations open up new ways of understanding such basic concepts as space and time, distance and movement, mass and energy, light and gravity. For if every body has its own place, and like the site of a temple in a Greek landscape, and like the temple, also lends a particular cast to that landscape – affecting its own ‘space’ or environmental field — then the whole idea of a motion of bodies in space might give way to an understanding that the movement of bodies is in fact a movement of spaces – space of awareness. And if all movement is essentially kinesis – not change of place but change of state — then ‘energy’ is not simply some actual ‘thing’ that conserves itself ‘in’ every transformation. Instead, it is that very formative and transformative activity (energein) through which states of potentiality actualise themselves in extensional form. What if the ‘mass’ of an extensional body is the expression of a field-density of intensities, potential intensities that in turn are the source of its potential energy? Then maybe gravity itself can be considered in a deeper way – neither as a force exerted by a body through its inertial mass, nor as a relativistic function of matter in motion, but as that which first attracts and gathers, draws together and densifies a range of field-intensities of potentiality.

When our own sensed body feels ‘heavy’ with fatigue, it is not just because we have used up physical energy, but because we are weighed down with an accumulation of ‘residues’ from our lived experience – residues that remain undigested and unprocessed, whose potential significance remains unformulated or unexpressed until we go to sleep and dream. We feel the pull of sleep in a bodily way as a gravitational force leading us down into ourselves and towards the ‘black hole’ of sleep — making it difficult to sustain our focus of the light of our awareness on our outer, extensional reality and seeking to draw us inwards. When we feel close to a loved one who is far away we sense that closeness in a tangible bodily way – as a warmth of feeling within us. And yet this warmth is not itself a measurable physical warmth – our temperature does not increase as it might do hugging that person physically. Is this language of the ‘sensed body’ merely a set of metaphors drawn from the physics of bodyhood? Or are the physical sciences themselves fundamentally mistaken in thinking of their own basic concepts as purely exo-referential — referring only to external, physically measurable dimensions of reality? Are warmth and light, mass and density, distance and duration – and extension itself — only physical dimensions and relationships of bodies? Or are they the physical expression of psychical qualities — intrinsic qualities of awareness which constitute the very essence of the sensed body?

From the point of view of the modern physiologist, psychologist and physician it is bodies and brains that see and hear, think and feel, breath and metabolise. It is bodies that are aware and bodies that interact. From the point of view of field-phenomenological science it is quite the reverse. It is not bodies and brains but aware beings that see and hear, think and feel, breath and metabolise. We do not see because we have eyes, hear because we have ears or think because we have brains. We have eyes, ears and brains because we are seeing, hearing and thinking beings. Similarly, we do not breathe because we have lungs. We have organs of respiration because we are breathing beings. Breathing and the functioning of our respiratory organs is the bodying of our capacity for respiration as beings. What we inhale as beings in this respiration is not physical molecules of air but the ‘life-breath’ of awareness (noos) that in Greek went by the name of psyche. In doing do we energise ourselves not with ‘quanta’ of energy alone but with qualia — qualitative nuances, tones and intensities of awareness.  

“We know by now a great deal – almost more than we can encompass – about what we call the body, without having seriously thought about what bodying is. It is something more and different from merely ‘carrying a body around with one”. Heidegger 

In its understanding of bodyhood as bodying, field-dynamic phenomenology takes forward Heidegger’s project of developing a new phenomenology and a new “fundamental ontology” of bodyhood. The term ‘ontology’ comes from the Greek ontos – being. Ontology is the science of beings and of Being as such. Awareness can no more be considered a product of any bodily phenomena we happen to be aware of than can Being or is-ness be considered a product of particular beings. To paraphrase Sartre, the Being of Awareness is the Awareness of Being. Being as such however, is no actual thing, no particular being that is. In this sense it is Non-being. But Non-being, however, is not a word denoting an empty void. It consists of infinite potentialities of being that have reality within awareness, and exist as potential forms and figurations, patterns or gestalts of awareness. The ‘void’ is actually a plenum, fullness or pleroma – not empty or undifferentiated but a hyperdifferentiated field of potential patterns of awareness. A ‘being’ that emerges from this plenum is essentially a particular figuration or field-pattern of awareness, one that by its very nature configures its own patterned field of awareness. It is the former that constitutes the sensed body of a being and the latter its sensory environment or Umwelt. But it is only through resonance with the sensed body of other beings – their own field-pattern of awareness — that it is able to sense and perceive them as bodies in its environment. It is this field-resonance between “sensed bodies” that I believe constitutes the essence of “bodily sense”. Field-patterns of awareness are not fixed perceptual, conceptual or linguistic patterns. They are patterned tonalities and intensities of awareness, constituting different sensed bodily textures and densities of awareness. This is what Deleuze and Guattari call the Body without Organs, composed of vibratory regions, each of which is a “zone of intensity”.  

“Some of the body’s vibrations resonate with its surroundings and are amplified. Some clash with them and are muffled. Resonant vibrations are identified as belonging to the baby in some more essential way than clashing ones. “Good baby!” They come back amplified into virtues (the genealogy of morals).” Brian Massumi 

The mistake of medicine is to confuse the sensed body with the physical body, the patient’s felt meaning or sense of their dis-ease with felt sensations of discomfort, or sense-perceptible signs of organic disease. The mistake of Freudian psychoanalysis lies in reducing the sensed body and sensual qualities of awareness to the body’s senses and sensual desires, thereby reducing sense and sensuality as such to its sexual significance. The mistake of physical science lies in ignoring the immense potential of the sensed body as a medium of Fundamental Research into the Inner Universe. By this I mean the use of felt sense and ‘field resonance’ to obtain direct feeling cognition of the inwardness and inner relatedness of natural phenomena, and the inwardness and inner relatedness of current scientific concepts themselves.

In the Inner Universe, concepts themselves have an energetic reality and, as Deleuze recognised, an unbounded inwardness — an inexhaustible dimension of potential significance. Both philosophy and the physical sciences see truth as a function of verbal propositions – a truth solely determined by their capacity to represent verifiable actualities. Propositions about the actual necessarily make use of concepts, or seek to define or refine them in terms of other concepts. But no set of theoretical propositions about reality can fully express or exhaust the meaning of the very concepts it employs or explores in those propositions. This is particularly true of the ‘body’ concept, a concept largely unquestioned and unexplored not only in medical science but in philosophy, psychology and physics itself. To get inside any concept means to sense its inwardness, to feel its singular multiplicity of inner senses in a bodily way. To explore and express the deeper dimensions of the body concept is only possible through a deepened experience of our own sensed bodies. This in turn is impossible without a deepened resonance with at least one other body, for the sensed body is inseparable from our sense of other bodies. Dyadic field resonance is the basic principle of Fundamental Research, a form of qualitative, field-phenomenological research whose sole instrument or organon is the human organism — the sensed body.

The sensed body is an inherently motile and shape-shifting body – an amorphous body of awareness with its own substantiality with an unlimited capacity for metamorphosis, comparable to a jelly-like blob. When our sensed body is in resonance with another body – whether a human body or that of a rock, plant, or animal, an organic or inorganic structure, mountain range or cloud formation, molecular or atomic structure – it tends to take on the sensual shape and substantiality characteristic of that other body, sensing this as a bodily shape and substantiality of awareness. It is because of this that we are capable of creating perceptual images of other bodies in our dreams, for dreaming is our primary way of giving perceptible form to those shapes and qualities of awareness which make up our sensed body. In dreaming these other bodies however, it is as if the part of our body or blob of awareness that has taken on their shape becomes severed from the main body of this blob, and takes on an independent life of its own. The same thing happens when our awareness gets drawn into something in everyday life. When we read a book, part of our awareness goes into the book and takes on the shape of its language. That is to say, part of our sensed body — our Blob — goes into its mould. What happens however, if the portions of our awareness that go into things and get moulded by them — not just books but the media in general, everyday concerns, thoughts and emotions, situations and projects etc. — get severed from the main body of the Blob or the main Blob of awareness that constitutes our essential bodyhood? Then we get the so-called 'mind-body' split — which is nothing else than a split between elements and portions of our body of awareness. Arnold Mindell’s term ‘dreambody’ suggests, without in any way explicating it, the implicit relation between dreaming on the one hand and ‘bodying’ on the other. For these are the two fundamental processes by which we give form to the shifting shapes, qualities and intensities of awareness that constitute our sensed body and the intensional space, semiotic space or ‘dreamspace’ it inhabits and shapes. The latter is a resonant space of potential meaning and significance, potential bodily action and interaction, potential speech and movement, potential percepts and potential concepts.

Diagram 2 represents the dyadic field of two bodies in a state and space of resonance that they experience. The latter is experienced as a consensual extensional space of ‘aroundness’ (the overlapping white circles). The inner relatedness of the two bodies within this space however, is mediated by the sensed ‘withinness’ of their own bodies (the shaded area within the white circle) which leads into a sensed dimension of ‘unbounded interiority’ – the shaded area surrounding the white circles. The latter is an extensional representation of the intensional or potential space within which all actual extensional spaces, including those of our dreams, open up. Represented extensionally, however, this dimension of unbounded inwardness appears, paradoxically, to surround the extensional spaces that open up within it. And this is indeed how it is sometimes sensed mystically – as the noumenal ‘behindness’ of the extensional spaces and sensory phenomena ‘around’ us, as a depth dimension of inward awareness that leads into a wider more all-embracing sphere or field of awareness. The sensed body or dreambody is indeed also the ‘inner body’ of the shaman, who enters the higher spheres of the ‘spirit world’ to rescue or retrieve the souls of others. How? Not by ‘leaving’ their body in extensional space but precisely by going further down into its own sensed interiority, its intensional inwardly unbounded ‘soul-space’.


 Diagram 2













Whilst our sensed body has an unlimited shape-shifting potential for what Deleuze and Guattari call “Becoming-other” — allowing what we sense and how we feel to transform our felt, bodily sense of who we are – this very capacity is crippled by a capitalist culture and economy in which personal identity, including body-identity is treated as private property. In this economy and culture ‘Becoming-Other’ takes the form of purchasing of new part-identities in the form of commodities and their brand-images and identities. ‘Self-actualisation’ and the fulfilment of ‘Human Potential’ thus comes down to the individual’s actual or potential earning and buying power. The purchase of some stylish new car or piece of clothing makes the consumer ‘feel’ other — more confident, independent, mature or ‘successful’ — irrespective of whether they are or have become such. Becoming-Other through the sensed body is reduced to “Feeling Other” through changing the outer face of the physical body with clothing or cosmetic surgery, altering its brain chemistry with designer pharmaceuticals or adding appendages to it in the form of technological gadgetry. You’re “worth it” after all. Despite all prosthetics, however, the bottom line is that the body is essentially an economically prostituted commodity. Its only recognised potential is its labour power, its only recognised value the market value of that labour power. Its only recognised standard of ‘health’ is its capacity to ‘function’ as an instrument of labour. As a result, the inner structure and dynamics of the sensed body become rigidified — isomorphic with the physical body, corporate body and the body politic — with the ‘head’ as leader and manager in control of the rest of the body as functioning instrument. Individuals can no longer distinguish between their own sensed dis-ease, physical sensations or diagnosable medical symptoms. The function of medicine and psychiatry in this system is to police the sensed body by medicalising and medicating all physical and psychological expressions of the deep dis-ease resulting from the limitation of its creative potential. Medical science, based on an unquestioned concept of bodyhood, provides the ideology for a high-tech battle against deep dis-ease, one which offers an unlimited source of corporate profits as new cures are ‘discovered’ for newly diagnosed conditions or ‘disorders’.

Gendlin’s reaffirmation of the epistemological primacy of bodily sense has profound implications for philosophy and psychology. It has already found application in a new understanding of ‘psychotherapy’, not as a specialised professional practice but as a potential we all bear within us to reground ourselves in our own bodily sense of who we are, how we feel, and what we desire – and our potential to help others do likewise. But this regrounding of thinking in a bodily sense and, with it the potential regrounding of medical science in the sensed body also has radical cultural, social and political implications. What is at stake is nothing more or less than the freedom of each and every individual to Becoming-themselves by Becoming-other. This means rediscovering not only the innate wisdom of bodily sense but the innate motility of the sensed body. For freedom is no abstract spiritual ‘value’ or constitutional ‘right’. We may be ‘born free’ but the embodiment of the freedom we are born with is impossible if we lose contact with bodily sense and the sensed body or allow them to be moulded by our social environment. Freedom, as genuine bodily autonomy and not just ‘freedom of thought’, is freedom from those supposedly ‘automatic’ bodily responses that are associated with the actualities of the ‘autonomic’ nervous system.

“Becoming-other is an exponential expansion of the body repertory of responses. Not only does each stimulus evoke an indeterminate number of pragmatic responses, but there is a change in the body’s mode of response. The body is capable of selecting any one of these responses, but it does not have to. It envelops a growing number of bifurcating futures in each of its presents, but none is preordained.” Brian Massumi

What Gendlin calls “Focusing” is a procedure designed to restore our capacity to choose between different possible ways of expressing ‘felt sense’. This means using learning to ‘resonate’ back and forth between felt sense and its different possible formulations in language. To find the fitting or resonant words requires that we feel how ‘resonant’ each possible formulation is with our overall bodily sense of the meaning that it seeks to express, not just how resonant it is with a specific thought, emotion or perception. Focussing is one dimension of what I term ‘Doubling’, since to practice it requires a type of double or dual awareness – of words and the wordless, formulated and unformulated, verbal and bodily dimensions of sense or meaning. Doubling has another dimension however, and that is the capacity to choose between different possible ways of embodying felt sense in our moment-to-moment decisions, deeds and bodily demeanour. This means learning to resonate back and forth between felt needs, impulses and intents on the one hand, and different bodily ways of expressing or enacting them. To do so requires that we focus on how resonant a particular mode of bodily expression is with our sensed body as a whole, — not just how resonant it is with a specific sensation, emotion or impulse. Focussing requires an act of restraint – a capacity to suspend automatic use of habitual words and phrases, and choose language in resonance with bodily sense. Doubling also requires restraint – the capacity to suspend automatic or habitual modes of bodily self-expression, hold back habitual ‘autonomic’ impulses, and choose actions or responses in resonance with the sensed body. Only in this way do we become truly free and autonomous in deed as well as word – for by learning to act in resonance with our felt body as a whole we learn to respond to our felt self as a whole and to body that self.  

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