Thinking At the Edge (TAE) is a second practice, alongside Focusing, developed from Eugene Gendlin’s Philosophy of the Implicit. TAE is a systematic way to think about our world and ourselves by directly referring to a felt sense.
The TAE process starts from a knowing of that which we do not yet have words to talk about. For instance, if we are a person experienced in a certain field of endeavor, we might have a vague but persistent feeling of having something to say about our area of expertise that no one is saying. During a conversation or while reading, we might sense that the statements of others in the field do not quite fit our experience. Yet we cannot exactly say how.
When we try to explicate our unique experience and our tacit knowledge, we notice that existing concepts won't do. The TAE steps encourage us to develop a fresh use of language, such that our "experiential intricacy" can be expressed. We find precise words that fit what we want to say by letting them emerge from the felt sense and by checking back with the felt sense.
Allowing ourselves to develop and use language in our own way frees us from being trapped by the usual assumptions. We become freed from the constraint of defined concepts. Newly-generated phrases can point to aspects of experience that cannot otherwise be formulated.
From relevant situations we can find new relationships which can then be generalized. Such instances support the TAE way of thinking, in which the implicit intricacy continues to function in what we say.
Within our freshly generated sentences, we can then find and separate out new terms which are themselves internally related in a new pattern. This can be the starting point for a kind of theory which is both logical and experiential.
Based on Gendlin’s University of Chicago course on "Theory Construction," the 14 TAE steps were formulated within a five-year project, in which Eugene Gendlin, Kye Nelson, Mary Hendricks-Gendlin, Teresa Dawson and Nada Lou participated.
“Making this method systematic is not only useful in thinking, but reveals a whole new field of rules, a new kind of logic, a new way of understanding what the powers of thinking always were, and strong additions to these powers.” (Gendlin, A Process Model, p. 206)
TAE Steps Short Form (English)
Nada Lou, A Bird's-Eye View on TAE STEPS
Gendlin, E. Introduction to Thinking at the Edge 2004, The International Focusing Institute Folio
Kevin C. Krycka (2006) Thinking at the Edge: Where Theory and Practice Meet to Create Fresh Understandings, Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, 6:sup1, 1-10, DOI: 10.1080/20797222.2006.11433935
GRASSROOTS INTRODUCTION TO TAE MANUAL by Nada Lou
This 95 pages Manual combines theory, stories, personal experiences, and practical work sheets. It will explore some of Dr. Gendlin’s philosophy so that your TAE work will be embraced by and built on his tradition.
Thinking At The Edge: From Helplessness To Hope And Clarity
by Merilyn Mayhew
TAE Steps Introduction
(Info by producer) This DVD was originally produced in 2002, the first time TAE (in 14 Steps) was taught as Gene Gendlin's second philosophical practice. Mary Hendricks-Gendlin introduces the video. She was Director of The Focusing Institute at that time. The full video is now available in DVD format