Socrates is showing a boy geometry. He draws this figure in the sand:
Here, a two-unit square with four little squares inside:
Then he asks the boy to notice: Each side is two. They get two squares from the top line, but since there are also two units down the side, you have another two. So there are four little squares inside, right?
Now Socrates asks the boy to draw a square twice as large as this one, so it contains eight squares. The boy thinks he knows the answer, and says to draw the line twice as long, which is four. When they do it, however, they find:
Here, a four-unit square with sixteen small squares inside:
Counting up they see they got four from the top line, and four layers down the side, so they get sixteen little squares.
Now the boy understands that four is too big, and answers "three," and now:
Here, a three-unit square with nine little ones inside:
Counting, up that gives nine. Now the boy grasps the situation. To get twice the area of the two-unit square, three is already too big. This time when Socrates repeats the question, the boy says, "I don't know."
Socrates now asks Meno who has been observing: "Isn't the boy in a much better position now, in relation to what he does not know?"
The point here is not only that he doesn't know the answer, but that he does know that the answer is more than two, but three is already too large, so the answer has to be between two and three. In saying "I don't know" the boy does not draw a blank. Rather, he has a felt sense of the answer.
Rather than saying "I don't know," the boy might have said:
"I don't know ....., uh, uh ....."
Or, speaking from this "....." the boy might have said:
"I do know the answer is between two and three, but Socrates, there is no way to say it because there is no number between two and three!!"
The boy does know, but what he knows is more than he can say. And this is not because it simply can never be said. Rather, he cannot say it in the usual words and numbers. To go on from his "....." one must change the usual way of saying such things. One must devise new terms like "the square root of eight" or one must break up the little boxes.
Socrates then shows that if we break some of the little boxes, we can make a new square with a diagonal across each quarter of the big square that has sixteen boxes:
Earlier Meno had asked Socrates about the following puzzle: If we don't know something how can we even ask about it? We wouldn't know what we are asking about. But if we already know it, why ask about it? So it seems we cannot inquire into anything, since we must either know it or not know it. Socrates had answered the puzzle by saying that the soul has lived before and knows all things. We need only "recollect" them.
When the boy says "I don't know", Socrates shows what sort of a thing it is, which we do know in a way, but not in another way. It is what the boy has there, when he does know, but cannot yet formulate it—a kind of knowing and not knowing that is more than what we simply know.
Since Socrates only asked the boy leading questions, the boy really did understand from himself that two is too small and three is too large, so there is no sense proposing more numbers. Of course we call this "good teaching," rather than rote learning. But Socrates now turns to Meno and asks: Did anyone ever teach this boy geometry? He has lived in your house since birth, so you would surely know. Meno says no, nobody taught the boy geometry. Socrates asks: So, do you agree that his soul must have learned everything in a previous life, so that he is only "recollecting" it now? Meno says "Somehow I believe you are right." But now Socrates says "I wouldn't swear by it myself, but I am sure that we can and should inquire into what we don't yet know." (86b)
We can say that the myth of recollection is a way to point to our inwardly arising capacity to understand more and more. The puzzle of either knowing or just not knowing is solved because we can think on the edge of what we know, and enter there.
PHILOSOPHY QUESTIONS THE EXISTING WAY WE SAY THINGS.
IT LETS US THINK TO AN EDGE WHERE WE KNOW MORE THAN WE CAN SAY IN THE USUAL WAY.
TO THINK FURTHER FROM OUR MORE-THAN-VERBAL KNOWING AT THE EDGE OF WHAT WE CAN SAY, WE NEED TO BREAK UP THE USUAL CONCEPTS AND UNITS, AND LET NEW ONES COME.
To go on from the edge, and devise new ways of saying this, one must of course use the same old language, the same old English words as before, but: PHILOSOPHY USES THE SAME OLD WORDS BUT IT LETS THEM SAY AND MEAN SOMETHING MORE, SOMETHING NEW. EACH NEW PHILOSOPHY REPOSITIONS THE MAIN WORDS.
Plato kept on thinking on the edge. He would define something but then give an example in which the definition could not possibly hold. For example, someone leaves a weapon with you for safe-keeping. Months later the person comes and asks you to return it. Is it fair and just to give it back? Yes. All right, but what if the person is obviously berserk and crazed with anger just now? If you return the weapon, you harm the person. Is that fair and just? And if returning a person's property that was left in trust with you is not fair and just, what is? Now we are thinking on the edge of what we know again. Plato does this sort of thing on almost every page.
When we think on the edge, our concepts and definitions keep changing, but this doesn't mean there is no truth. On the edge we know more than we can as yet say, not less. Socrates and Plato saw that people cannot avoid noticing when what they know makes their definitions break down. Socrates often talks with hostile characters who will not admit it out loud, but when their position breaks down, it's obvious that they have recognized it. Rather than trying to think further from the edge, they call Socrates nasty names. "Socrates, you just confuse people. You are an inkfish that spreads darkness all over."
If one thinks on the edge, the concepts change all the time. So Plato never arrives at a theory. He never gets a set of concepts that stay put.
Aristotle took care of our need for stable concepts. Yes, we must think on the edge, like Socrates. We need to think beyond any concepts and beyond the usual phrases. But we also need concepts and theory.
To be able like Plato to let words and concepts change and new meanings emerge, and also in another way to keep good concepts fixed, so they can be used—this is one of the powers of this new philosophy of experiencing which I am introducing here.
Concepts let us rearrange our situations. They let us build airplanes and calculate exactly how much weight a given wing at a given airspeed can carry, and still stay up. Concepts let us improve our practices. Concepts build the world!
Aristotle kept the best concepts he could create or find in every field. Where there was no existing field, he created one. He is the originator of many of our current sciences and disciplines. After 2500 years we are still using some concepts that are not so different from the ones he made.
Then, separately, Aristotle wrote a whole book consisting of strategies by which he said one could undermine every possible definition of anything. He knew what Socrates and Plato had shown, that the truth does not lie in definitions, that all definitions can be overthrown.
But in what way is there truth, there without the activity of measuring and thinking? Instead, he said that our understanding, and all understandable relationships, are part of the active ordering of nature and the cosmos.
So also with perception. If you hit a bronze gong, you will get the true sound of bronze, not the sound of lead or wood. But the bronze and wood don't have this sound unless something hits it and some animal listens. In the bronze alone there is no sound. And, if you measure and compare it to some other things, you will get something different, but always something orderly.
Aristotle didn't think of nature as "obeying" laws. He thought that nature includes its own organizing activities including living and perceiving. Nature and our thinking have time, but they arrange themselves in accord with the active world ordering that is all at once, and not in time.
What makes truth is not this or that measure or way of defining. It is rather the activity of active understanding, thinking, perceiving, and living. Concepts and proportions are only products of activity.
Aristotle therefore made a big point of saying that our thinking activity always remains superior to any of the concepts that it makes (De Anima, III-4-8).
The Sophist Protagoras had made the famous statement: "Humans are the measure of all things." Aristotle gave this a completely different meaning. Protagoras meant that everything is arbitrary and we can construct it any way we like. Aristotle said: "Protagoras seems to have said a big thing, but really what he said is obvious" (Metaph X, 1053a36). A tree doesn't measure itself, but if you do measure it, then it is true that it is taller than that other tree, and not as high as the moon. If you compare it, then it is true that it differs from many other things in just certain ways. The animals are already "measures of all things" because they perceive. The tree doesn't perceive that it is green and not blue. It doesn't "measure" (compare) its own color. Only the animals perceive and thereby "measure." And humans do that and, on top of it, we compare by thinking. To perceive and think is to do what Aristotle calls "measuring." Then we always get something orderly, and some statement that is true or false. In this way Aristotle upheld the order of nature and the cosmos, but he assumed neither that it is only what we construct, nor that it is just there without the activity of measuring and thinking. Instead, he understood us and our thinking as an inherent active "measuring" and ordering activity of nature and the cosmos.
So also with perception. If you hit a bronze gong, you will get the true sound of bronze, not the sound of lead or wood. But the bronze and wood don't have this sound unless something hits it and some animal listens. In the bronze alone there is no sound. If you measure or compare it some other way you will get something still different, but always something orderly.
Aristotle didn't think of nature as "obeying" laws. He thought that nature includes its own organizing activities such as living, perceiving, and thinking.
What makes truth is not this or that measure or way of defining. It is rather the activity. Nature includes us and our measuring activity, our thinking, perceiving and living and action. Concepts and proportions are only products of our activity in nature.
Aristotle therefore made a big point of saying that our thinking activity always remains superior to any of the concepts that it makes (De Anima, III-4-8).
Galileo and Descartes
Galileo began the great advance in Western science by the radical—seemingly insane—concept that everything in nature is ordered by numbers. All order could be reduced to mathematics. But Galileo also believed in experiments. You remember, he was the professor who got fired from the University of Pisa because of his scandalous non-academic behavior in the public square, dropping two balls from the tower of Pisa to prove that the light one landed at the same moment as the heavy one. He wouldn't quit this sort of thing and was eventually disgraced by the Inquisition and placed under permanent house arrest.
Descartes made concepts and theories out of clearly defined simple terms and units. He said he could make several such theories for anything. Experiments were useful only to choose the most convenient of his constructions. To him science was a made-up thing. He made it very clear that science is hypothetical.
Descartes did not think that the world in which we live is the one understood and presented by science. In life he said he wished to be an ethical person, to live quietly and decently among other people along the lines of the Greek Stoics. But science could be made up. It seemed to be an invention like mathematics. He thought it could be completed as arithmetic or analytic geometry are complete in a certain sense. Descartes said that he was well on the way, and would personally complete science, if people would only leave him in peace for a couple of years. (Discourse on Method, 64-68)
Today many philosophers again think of science as pure construction. But the fact that the science of Galileo and Descartes went on developing unendingly and unstoppably, shows something about experiments: They give back more detail, more specifics, more intricacy than the hypothetical concepts with which we design them. The response of nature to experiments breaks up the concepts and theories with which we came, and forces the researcher onto the edge. Of course sometimes the data just says "yes" or "no," but much more often it results in a puzzling group of more specific results that lead to new concepts. Where there was one scientific concept ten years ago now there are 23 in two or three lines of development, and the concept of five years ago is no longer employed.
Nature is not something we construct hypothetically, as if it were putty or did not exist. But neither is nature organized like a cognitive system, as if it were already conceptualized in some one way so that we only need to get it right. Nature is not what our theories said ten years ago—nor what they say now either. Its order is not the kind of order that cognitive systems have. It is rather that more intricate order which responds always in a regular and orderly way, but with ever more intricacy than we could have deduced from our concepts.
Continuity, Cultural Differences, and Universality
In philosophy a human being was long thought of chiefly as a rational process. Emotions and desires were discussed, of course, but the human being was chiefly the source of the kind of connections which move from 2+2 to 4. Kant pointed out that 2+ 2 is just 2, and at the next moment again 2, and then still only 2, unless there is a unifying continuity that keeps the first 2 and unites it with the next 2, and makes a new unity, the 4. The number series requires keeping and continuing.
(In science this continuity is now purely theoretical; it is called "the idealized observer".)
This view of humans has some great advantages. For example, it implies the inherent equality of all human individuals. You can see it in the inherent "unalienable" and "self-evident" equality in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. After completing this historical sketch, I will take up the question how we can preserve logic and equality within the wider order of experiencing ......
In the 19th Century there was a great rebellion against this thin rational notion of human beings. Myth and culture seemed to go much deeper than rationality. Culture and language are always implicit in a human being's body and situation, but in our living interactions our experiencing is always again wider and more intricate. However, it seemed that the whole multifaceted human beings we are were created by culture—that meant by the various cultures. Now it seemed that humans were nothing like equal at all. They seemed more different from each other than the individuals of any other animal species. It seemed that humans are not a species at all. Humans sleep, eat, build nests, raise their young in wildly different ways in different cultures. If you were Hungarian you might think that Romanians (or any other culture) did not develop real human beings. Dostoevsky thought Germans, Jews, and Poles had superficial souls.
It is now generally agreed that there is no universal human content, nothing or very little that you can say or conceptualize, which would be true of people in all cultures.
Wilhelm Dilthey at the start of the 20th Century held that in spite of utter diversity, "anything human is in principle understandable," if we enter into the other's experiencing with our own. The two are not the same but they enrich each other.
The American Pragmatists (Peirce, Dewey, Mead) showed how one can think from how practice and theory affect each other mutually.
Much needs to be said here about the pioneers among the 20th Century philosophers, especially Wittgenstein, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, McKeon, Foucault and Derrida.) They each contribute something to the discovery of what I call the "intricacy" of experiencing, and a thinking with-and-beyond conceptual patterns and cultural forms.
An understanding of human beings that applies universally has now again been found when we work with the edge, the ....., the more-than-we-can-say, and with the process of speaking-from and thinking-from the edge. Then it turns out that we can follow anyone from any other culture who enters there, and speaks from the little steps of differentiating the experiencing that comes there. In passing the person might have to fill us in on this or that, but in the main we can follow. When people speak and act as part of their cultural group, you cannot understand another culture, but when individuals enter into the ..... and differentiate its intricacy, and speak from it, you can!
Inherent Equality as an Example of Logical Connections
We need both the "....." and the sharp logical clarity of 2+2=4, not just for mathematics but for our theoretical thinking. Let me first show more clearly why logically linked concepts can do more. Then I will show how we can make concepts that are both logical and experimental.
The following example shows how a logical linkage can establish something, for example universal human equality in a much stronger way than merely asserting that people are created equal. It also shows something else, which will be discussed afterwards.
In the famous sentence in the Declaration of Independence, each of the italicized words is already logically and inherently linked to all the other italicized words. Below we will show that you can derive each of them from any of the others.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [read humans] are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Jefferson did not just assert one thing after another; rather each italicized term logically implies all of the others. If you go into any one of them you will find all the rest of them already built into it. For example, take "unalienable." A piece of property can be given away because you would still be human even without it. Property is alienable. "Unalienable rights" are those which are inherent in human nature so that it is logically impossible for a human to be without them. If we have these rights by being humans, then we are obviously all equal in regard to them. Conversely, anything we have just by being human is unalienable. "Their creator" is whatever endowed us with this nature. Now if "happiness" were defined as this or that, here, there would be no liberty to pursue something else. It follows logically that "happiness" must necessarily be whatever a human pursues, and "pursue" must mean whatever humans do in regard to happiness, and "liberty" is just this unalienable right to pursue. And these linkages come because each of these concepts already involves the others. Since the linkages do not depend on something else, they are "self-evident" and that is ultimately what truths are and mean, and we are human and are the ones saying this.
When a few concepts are logically interlinked in this way one can ask such concepts a question and they can generate answers. So Jefferson asked them if they could logically derive (like 4 from 2+2) what "government" is.
"—that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government."
Can these logically linked concepts say what government is? Those who govern have power over other people; isn't this simply a violation of equality? How could a rightful government possibly follow logically from unalienable rights and equality? So a rightful and just government cannot be divinely ordained or inherited; it must be something instituted, and of course by equal people (since all people are equal). So if its powers over people are just, they must derive from the unalienable rights of the equals who instituted it.
But why would equal people ever do so. Ah—government can make their rights secure (by providing a common defense, and limiting each of us so we don't violate the rights of others). And look what else follows logically! If government fails to do those two things, it has no validity at all. The equal people have the right to "abolish" it.
By deriving "government" from the words in the first part of the sentence Jefferson could logically derive the right of revolution.
The whole long chain can be derived logically from each single one of these concepts. They are all logically linked so that the whole chain is curled up inside each one of them.
Jefferson could write this sentence because he was very well acquainted with the philosophy which had developed this kind of thinking for more than a century.
Notice how different this is from the famous "Declaration of Rights" which was issued a few years later (1793) during the French Revolution:
The Government of France hereby declares that all citizens shall henceforth have the following rights:
- 1 (citizen's right #1)
- 2 (citizen's right #2)
- 3 (citizen's right #3)
- 4 (citizen's right #4)
Of course we can feel how much more secure inherent rights are, compared to rights granted by a government. You cannot lose inherent rights. The government can at any time revoke what it grants.
But the example is also intended to show the power of the conceptual side of philosophy to analyze and articulate the insides of concepts, so that they can be logically linked. Then further conclusions can follow logically, as Jefferson's conclusions about government follow, here.
In the same way as Jefferson asks himself: "In terms of these linked concepts, what is government?" You can ask about anything else as well, here. From these linked concepts, what is psychotherapy? Clearly, it must be something that makes humans more able to pursue (with all that this includes, above), than they were before therapy. The word "therapy" means healing, so if we let logic operate as Jefferson did, then it is therapy only if it maximizes or at least restores a person's inherent nature. And about this nature we don't know any content, only the equality and right to pursue. It follows that psychotherapy enacts and maximizes one's inherent equality, first between therapist and client. So it must enable clients to recognize and exercise their equal nature. Notice that even these few logically-linked concepts can guide us to a lot! They help us to articulate what anything (for instance therapy) is.
We can go on. Equality implies an equal right to pursue happiness, which logically means happiness must remain undefined so as not to limit someone's right to pursue. So the therapist cannot impose any content, since then there would be no equal right to pursue. Psychotherapy must develop the persons ability to pursue. As you ponder how you might "derive" psychotherapy here, notice that the two orders I mentioned are now both at work: The logic of the linked concepts is at work, but also your experiential sense of psychotherapy, life and people, the "....." which the logical inferences can help you articulate. The logical inferences "bite" into the mass of experience you have here, but they do not create further steps alone. You will not let them say anything that doesn't also speak from your experience. You require that they articulate your experience, i.e., that your experience will "flow into" what you will say, or is "opened up" further, carried forward by what you say. In many places I say a great deal about "carrying forward" ("speaking from", "flowing into" .....) but they can never be defined—because they speak from an experienced relationship between experience and definition.
In the kind of thinking most people were taught, conceptual articulation often constricted and even "killed" the experiential felt sense. This has never been the best kind of thinking. Philosophers were able to arrive at new and more deep-going thinking only because they employed both logical inference and the felt sense of a human organism that lives interactionally in the world.
How the logical and the experiential orders work together is a main new philosophical question (the new version of an ancient question).
We see that these rational concepts are not bad! But they are far too thin to enable us to think about many human dimensions we need to think about. Certainly we need more good concepts and more good theory, not only but certainly including the kind of theory which consists of concepts that are inherently linked. This is not the only way to fashion concepts, but it is one vital way.
But new and better theory and linked concepts can come only after we first think from out of experiencing. The early stages of such thinking cannot yet have such linked concepts. And when we have built them, we must employ them with both logic and experiencing.
Concepts and logic never encompass experience and situations: practice .....
A zig-zag movement back and forth is needed between them. Let me show how we can move with both logic and the ..... at the edge.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF EXPERIENCING: The logical and experiential orders.
Humans within nature.
From the foregoing, let us take along at least two conclusions:
- 1) The logical kind of order can be employed within the wider experiential order, so that logical inferences can articulate and further unfold an experiential felt sense (the .....). We can employ, but we can also break and remake the logical boxes.
- 2) Our thinking and our persons-and-bodies are part of nature. Nature is not only something that we analyze or construct. We want to think about living bodies in a new way, so that we can grasp how one of them could be ours.
1) The logical order within the wider experiential order:
Philosophers (other than Plato) have not usually acknowledged that they are speaking from a ..... (a felt sense). They have usually claimed "pure" logic or observation as their basis. But we can see that everything depends on the ,,,,, which is being logically articulated by a theory. The ..... comes if we attend in a certain way to our bodily experiencing which is our interaction in situations and the cosmos ......
Jefferson (and the philosophers on whom he built) had a deep and thoroughgoing sense that in regard to reason and value people are inherently equal.. Every word in their work brings this along. Other philosophers (for example, Hobbes) could be just as logical but they articulated a different sense of people and things, and they arrived at different conclusions. The logic articulates the felt sense, carries it forward, and builds a whole world from it, but the logic does not determine the felt sense.
Take another example: Freud began with a conceptual proposition then current, that living things keep themselves balanced. All his concepts articulate his central postulate of a "homeostatic" organism that balances itself by satisfying its tensions and needs by itself. He called this the "pleasure principle." Only when this doesn't suffice is this organism driven to encounter "reality," other individuals and the outside world. This "reality principle." comes second, and reluctantly. Freud's living things are not inherently interactional with their environment and other creatures. They are inherently autistic and only the pressure of need forces them to meet others. In one brief paper Freud shows how his rudimentary but logically linked concepts acquire the kind of power I showed in Jefferson's sentence. After just a few pages his logically linked concepts enable Freud to derive what art is, derive what religion and education are, and derive perception, memory, and much else. We need to appreciate the excitement of this kind of "deriving," and at the same time recognize that such "deriving" depends not only on postulates and logic, but also on a felt sense that is being articulated, whether both are avowed or not.
The autism Freud assumed at the start continues into every one of his theoretical concepts, with incalculable effect on the practices of generations of psychoanalysts and on the (less than human) outlook of our whole society. Despite this, psychoanalysis is a brilliantly worked out and powerful theory, but we can use it well only if we experientialize it. Freud's concepts are invaluable for leading us to certain experiences,—but then we must let the experiences lead us further, not the concepts. By "experientialize" I mean that when the logic of a theory leads us to something, we do not simply accept the conclusion from the theory; instead we look for the experience which that conclusion names and locates. Then we are led further by the experience, but not only as it is already named, cut and defined by the theory, rather as a ....., the felt sense. From the ..... we can think further in many ways that could not possibly follow from the theory—even though that very theory led us to that experience.
We can "zig-zag" between logical steps and the experiential order of anything we want to think about. This applies also to the concepts and assertions I am setting out right here. What came in the middle of your body just now, in response to my assertion that we can "zig-zag" back and forth between logic and our felt sense? Does it bring you a sense of freeing and opening, or a weight, excitement or uneasiness, or what? Stay with that for a moment and let it give you a further step. From your felt sense you might arrive at more than what follows logically from what I said. And from my own felt sense, so can I. Then we can let logical inference work again, from there.
Logical inference and the "....." lead to different further steps. Together they lead to a new type of theory and conceptual model. Many philosophers no longer build conceptual models. They no longer want to define conceptual constructs and derive further steps. So they lose the far-going articulations and internal linkages that logical inference can provide. Others engage in nothing but logic, and think of everything including themselves as nothing but digital constructions.
In the Process Model there is the excitement, each time, when the logically linked concepts derive the living body (!), awareness, behavior, perception, and much else—in a way that can speak-from what it is about, without encompassing or reducing it. The powers of a conceptual model can be employed within the wider experiential order. We can convey the felt sense which is being articulated, but in itself the conceptual "model" looks orthodox, as if it were only logical. Yet every concept is experiential as well, and can lead one back to its experienced side so that one can move on differently from there.
Another way in which the logical and experiential orders can function together. is when we cross something with something else. The two concepts may not fit together logically, but if each is a felt sense, they can cross. The resulting felt sense is not a common denominator. The result of crossing is more intricate than the two that cross. Any felt sense has a certain kind of truth, since , it is something that a human organism can experience in this world. The result of crossing also has this kind of truth. For example, as a felt sense Freud's autistic self-balancing would soon have crossed with much else. Some of that would have involved other people and the environment, since these are implicit in almost anything we feel or do. In crossing with some other experiences, the autistic felt sense would have developed some linkages; it would have developed further in relation to other things. So it would no longer be autistic (nor would any other concept be autistic to the extent that its felt sense crosses with another). But now this is a promissory note. Only at the end of the Process Model has this way of thinking developed enough concepts so that when it turns around and speaks from itself, it can tell about how crossing and carrying forward work.
This kind of truth can develop further and further. We can see where a long sequence of logical inferences will lead, and then also break the very concepts we were using. Such a breaking is not arbitrary, but guided within the experiential, situational bodily-lived order which is wider and more intricate than the conceptual boxes. To pursue this kind of truth one can begin with any edge, any felt sense, the as yet unclear edge of anything actually experienced by a human organism.
We begin best with something that fascinates or bothers us in a more than clear way, something we wish we could articulate better. The topic need not seem profound at the start, but it does need to be in some field or area of life in which one is experienced. For example, if you are on a trek through the mountains for the first time and something you see—you don't know quite what, makes you uncomfortable, you might safely go on. But if your experienced mountain guide says "We better stop, something about this trail—I don't know quite what—is now making me uneasy," you would not say "Never mind, lets go on." In an area where you are experienced, if something as yet unclear bothers or fascinates your human organism, it will be significant if you articulate it, however private and autistic it might seem to be now. In the Section on Theory Construction I show how we can form an assertion and some easy steps to get such an initial felt sense and speak from it. That can enable us to form new concepts. (Actually it is easy to stand and speak from the intricacy that is greater than the concepts, but quite difficult to devise new concepts. We tend to fall back into old ones.) There you will find some specific moves for this kind of thinking laid out, along with a short example. This example is elaborated in A Process Model, a rather long example—400 pages.
One can also think on from any text by letting the concepts work in both way, whether they were so intended or not. I discuss this in chapter VI of Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning (paperback edition 1997) along with much of what was sketched here.
2) Thinking, interaction, and the person-body within nature:
In our current science, animals and plants are understood as mere machines. Rather than having their own connections and significances, they are studied as all scientific objects are now studied, as if they were only artificial time-and-space constructions of ours. A so-called "idealized observer" imposes all time and space connections on any object of science, as Kant said (2 has to be kept and brought to the next 2, to make 4). Everything consists of inherently meaningless bits whose connections come to them from outside. In our science everything (you, too) is rendered as information at space-time points. The points do not relate to each other on their own accord. The "observer" relates them. Of course "an observer" could relate them only if the observer is a process that has its own internal continuity so that the connections can be brought to the unrelated points. We lose that process if we assume that we and our bodies are objects of science. Then we understand neither ourselves nor science. Then the human world is unconnected to nature. It just floats. It is called "history" or "language" or (as some philosophers now often say), the "language community" which "assigns" meanings to meaningless objects, and itself consists of meaningless objects that somehow speak.
Instead, it is a safe assertion that we are part of nature (the cosmos, the whole thing .....)—since we're here. Nature including life and animals is somehow such that some of it is us. Living bodies are not machines constructed out of observed bits of space which must be given their connections. Living bodies are somehow such that ours is one of them.
This "somehow such" and this internal continuity can be articulated. To do so we have to be willing to open all the boxes, all the conceptual patterns that we have learned—not that they will disappear but that they will become more intricate in crossing and reconceptualizing the .....
We find the continuity of our bodily interactional life in how the felt sense implies (pushes for, tends to, sketches out, needs, demands, forms the phrases to bring about .....) the next bit of living. Human bodies are language-elaborated, but all living bodies imply their own next bit of life. And what they then do or say articulates (opens out, spatializes, explicates .....) the bodily implying, and is also a new bodily implying. This continuity makes (one kind of) time. We can begin to articulate a new theory from how articulation or explication is always also a further living, a further experiencing.
See also A Process Model, and the papers "Crossing and Dipping" and "The Responsive Order" available in the Gendlin On-Line Library.
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- Biographic Note: Eugene T. Gendlin is a seminal American philosopher and psychologist. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Chicago and taught there from 1963 to 1995. His philosophical work is concerned especially with the relationship between logic and implicit intricacy. Philosophy books include Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning, Language Beyond Post-Modernism: Saying and Thinking in Gendlin's Philosophy edited by David Michael Levin, (fourteen commentaries and Gendlin’s replies), and A Process Model. There is a world wide network of applications and practices (http://www.focusing.org) stemming from this philosophy. Gendlin has been honored three times by the American Psychological Association for his development of Experiential Psychotherapy. He was a founder and editor for many years of the Association’s Clinical Division Journal, Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. His book Focusing has sold over half a million copies and has appeared in seventeen languages. His psychology-related books are Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams and Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy.
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- More on Philosophy of the Implicit from the Focusing Institute website.