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
The question raised by Fundamental Science is about 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 Fundamental Science is a recognition of the fundamentally non-local or field character of awareness or subjectivity itself. Fundamental Science is field-phenomenological science based on a field-dynamic phenomenology. 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 Fundamental 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. Put in other words, subjectivity is nothing neutral - entirely dependent on an external source of sensory stimuli. Awareness 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', 'bodily sense' or 'felt bodily sense' 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 body motion in response not just to actual perceptions and motion patterns of others bodies 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 hyperdifferentiated. If it is the void, it is a hypervoid in continual ferment. " 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.
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 awareness - not only human ego-awareness but beings whose awareness has a pre-egoic, pre-conceptual, pre-perceptual and indeed pre-physical character? Fundamental Science, as field-phenomenological 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. 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 Fundamental 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)." 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'.
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." 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.
© Peter Wilberg 2002