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World without Opposite/Flesh of the World


(A Carnal Introduction)


Elizabeth A. Behnke



Study Project in

Phenomenology of the Body

P. O. Box 66

Ferndale, WA  98248 U.S.A.




Ninth Annual Meeting,

Merleau-Ponty Circle

Concordia University

Montréal, Sept. 1984













Table of Contents


Author’s Preface to the 2002 Edition


Aim of the Investigation


Methodological Note


Introduction to the Problem                                                 


Phenomenological Description #l:

  A Visible Thing    





Phenomenological Description #2:

        Bodily Awareness


Eliciting the phenomenon—Qualitative

(self)-sensing ‘from within’—Dynamism—

“Spread” and “Depth”—Dilation of the

localized “self”—Summary


Phenomenological Description #3:


“Customary” functional zones—Initiation—

Bodily intentionality/Bodily reflexivity—

Qualitative correlations—Reversibility of



Phenomenological Description #4:

Touching/Being Touched/Touching-Through                                               

Reciprocity—Flexible interface—

Diakinaisthesis—Articulation without

opposition—Intertextual commentary


Phenomenological Description #5:

Integrative Body Work/Movement Re-education                                           



Closing Reflections                                                                                  




A.   Touch/Kinaesthesis/Body Feeling                                              

        B.   “Inner-Outer”/‘From Within’                                                         

        C.   “Bodily Intentionality”/ “Bodily Reflexivity”                                        

        D.   On that which cannot be made into an “object”                                    

        E.   Description and Evidence                                                                

        F.    Perception and Paradigm                                                                



* * * *




Author’s Preface to the 2002 Edition


The following paper is based on research begun in the 1970s, and especially on my work from around 1977 to 1983. It was initially presented at the 1984 meeting of the Merleau-Ponty Circle in Montréal and was first published under the imprint of the California Center for Jean Gebser Studies (1984), with reprints after 1990 appearing under the auspices of the Study Project in Phenomenology of the Body.

Shortly after the work first appeared, I came across a fascinating article that seemed to have important points of connection with my own essay: “Trigant Burrow and the Phylobiological Perspective,” Somatics 5:1 (Autumn/Winter 1984–1985), 56–61. I wrote the author and sent her a copy of my paper. This author—Alfreda S. Galt—turned out not only to be a remarkable scholar in her own right, but also to be the mother of George Galt, a friend from my high school and college days who had wound up living only a few miles from where I was located at the time. Thus for a number of years I was able to meet with Alfreda (and practice cotention together!) whenever she came to California for family visits.

I well remember my first encounter with Alfreda: we sat under an apple tree on a lovely warm day, and somehow her ability to set the “I-persona” out of play created a calm and generous atmosphere where I too could speak of matters I cared deeply about without feeling I had to “defend” them or prove that I was “right.” One of the fruits of this and subsequent discussions was the volume Toward Integral Consciousness for an Integral World, published in 1987 by the California Center for Jean Gebser Studies with the support of The Lifwynn Foundation and including essays by Georg Feuerstein and Alfreda S. Galt, as well as contributions of my own. Moreover, it was through Alfreda that I was later also able to meet Mary Alice Roche for further work in communal proprioception—eventually leading to a joint presentation with Mary Alice at another Merleau-Ponty Circle meeting.

Although the paper offered below is framed in terms of the language and concerns of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961) and Jean Gebser (1905–1973), the descriptive research on which it is based stems from an attitude and approach derived from the founder of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl (1859–1938). (For more on the phenomenological tradition, see the website of the Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology at or consult the Encyclopedia of Phenomenology, edited by Lester Embree et al. and published by Kluwer Academic Publishers in 1997.) This paper opened a research trajectory that I am still working out today, including several conference presentations, guest lectures, and workshops on the lucidly lived body; further publications along this path include “Matching,” Somatics 6:4 (Spring/Summer 1988), 24–32, rpt. in Bone, Breath, and Gesture, ed. Don Hanlon Johnson (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1995), 317–37; “Ghost Gestures: Phenomenological Investigations of Bodily Micromovements and their Intercorporeal Implications,” Study Project in Phenomenology of the Body Newsletter 7:2 (Fall 1994), 19–41, rev. in Human Studies 20:2 (April 1997), 181–201; and “From Merleau-Ponty’s Concept of Nature to an Interspecies Practice of Peace,” in Animal Others: On Ethics, Ontology, and Animal Life, ed. H. Peter Steeves (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1999), 93–116 (the latter essay also refers to the work of Trigant Burrow). More recently, I have taken up the intertwined themes of the turn to experiential evidence in general and the exploration of bodily awareness in particular by way of a series of experiments in phenomenological practice; one of these has been published as Part II of “Phenomenology of Embodiment/Embodied Phenomenology: Emerging Work,” Chapter 5 in The Reach of Reflection: Issues for Phenomenology’s Second Century, ed. Steven Crowell, Lester Embree, and Samuel J. Julian, published in 2001 by the Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology through (available for purchase at that site).

The Study Project in Phenomenology of the Body is now located in the Pacific Northwest; my current research interests include phenomenological methodology, embodied ethics, and the intersection of phenomenological practice and transformative somatic practice. I would like to thank Lloyd Gilden for making this work available here, and I encourage all readers to test the phenomenological research findings presented below against the touchstone of your own lived experience, confirming or correcting these findings accordingly.


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Aim of the Investigation


This paper stems from a mute and “pre-theoretical” conviction that when Jean Gebser wrote of  “die Welt ohne Gegenüber” and Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote of “la chair du monde” they were “talking about the same thing.” In exploring this possibility of convergence between the two thinkers, I have been guided by the attitude expressed in the following words of Husserl:


Obviously, one cannot read and understand [a phenomenological work] in the way one does a newspaper.  One can understand descriptions only if he knows that which is described, and he can only know what is described if he has brought it into clear intuitive experience.  Therefore, it is this intuitive experience which demands a step-by-step presentation, the whole effort and technique of which consists precisely in directing [the reader] ... to the production of intuitive experience ....


Let the reader try just once to read every assertion which I make in phenomenological contexts just as he reads a zoological or botanical description of an object—thus as an expression standing for something intuitively experienced or intuitively experienceable and as something that is really originally understandable only through direct intuitive experience.


The entire being and life of phenomenology is nothing more than the most radical inwardness in the description of purely intuitive givens.


[Thus] phenomenology demands a direct personal production of the pertinent phenomenon .... (1)


The thesis that “flesh of the world” and “world without opposite” are two ways of describing the same complex of phenomena ought then to be approached by way of the researcher’s “direct personal production” of the pertinent phenomena.  But the success of the enterprise is by no means guaranteed in advance.


“La chair”—the flesh: What does Merleau-Ponty mean by this word?  Is there really a possible experience of the “flesh” or only an experience of one’s own body? (2)



In other words, can la chair du monde and die Welt ohne Gegenüber themselves be given leibhaft (in, of course, the mode appropriate to their essential meaning), or are they mere “concepts” or “poetic images”?  Can they be “cashed in” for firsthand experiential evidence?




According to Spiegelberg, Husserl himself  “insisted on the need of carrying the ‘small change’ (Kleingeld) of specific examples.” (3) Thus although both “flesh” and “world without opposite” are terms claiming a high degree of universality, I will attempt to proceed toward them by way of a series of descriptions of concrete perceptual experiences: looking at a visible thing; bodily awareness while lying quietly; touching oneself; touching and being touched by a tangible thing, as well as touching one thing “through” another; and touching and being touched by another person in body work.  The description of each of these experiences is necessarily limited in this context, but taken together they sketch out a path toward the “direct intuitive experience” wherein something named by both Gebser and Merleau-Ponty may itself be given “in the flesh.”

      Finally, this essay provides some hints toward a concrete experiential praxis arising from the themes that are discussed and the structures that the descriptions are meant to elucidate.


Methodological Note


The process of writing this essay involved a “zig-zag,” beginning as simply as possible with an experiential example, then attempting its phenomenological elucidation, then returning to the experiencing process to confirm, correct, fine-tune, or abandon the descriptive schematization. (Each of the descriptions offered here is, of course, still open to experiential correction.) The notes and textual sections that relate my researches to the work of other phenomenologists, and to further issues in the field, were written last. (4)  The reader is urged to “actively produce the phenomena in himself/herself” as a guide to understanding what it is that such references hope to clarify.


Introduction to the Problem


The “working problem” addressed by many phenomenological studies is the way we live the world in the natural attitude. (5) The particular focus of my own efforts is the corporeal foundation sustaining the natural attitude itself, sustaining at the same time the correlative world of everyday life. (6) More specifically, I am investigating the correlation between the typical perceptual style of the lived body, as it is habitually lived in a given historical and cultural context, and the pervasive structural features of the lifeworld (again, in the given historical and cultural context).  The term “perceptual style” necessarily carries several related meanings here.  By “perceptual style of the lived body,” I mean its habitual—and nearly always tacit—style of perceiving. (7) Yet “perceptual style” can also refer to the perceived world itself. (8)  Finally, since the body not only perceives, but can also be perceived, the “typical perceptual style of the lived body” can refer to our habitual way of experiencing this lived body itself.  In short, the general “style” of the world in which I live is necessarily, and intimately, interwoven with my style of corporeal existence and my habitual style of perceiving. (9)

        “To perceive,” says Merleau-Ponty, “is to render oneself present to something through the body” (Primacy, 42).  Yet within the natural attitude, this very “rendering oneself present through the body” is silent, operative.  Perceiving, and its bodily roots, are passed over in favor of the perceived, so that we tend to live at the term of our intentional arc, with the things themselves, oblivious to our complicity with their givenness.  I see my black cat flash by, but I am not normally aware of the quick turn of my head that her movement elicited, nor of the narrowing of my eyes as I peer into the foliage to see what she has pounced on.  I experience the train of thought I am struggling to follow as I write, but I am not normally aware of the nervous eagerness with which my fingers grasp the pen I write with, nor of the way I hold my breath when I’m on the brink of finding just the right word.  I pick up a small bottle and turn it over to look at the bottom side of it, but the movements of my hand remain outside the focus of my awareness. I palpate the object, and I discover its slightly resilient hardness, but in the natural attitude, I am seldom aware of the way my thumb must oppose my fingers in order to squeeze the object, or of the slightly uncomfortable feeling inside my thumb as I exert pressure

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while squeezing, or of the lingering “afterecho” of this feeling in my thumb after I have set the object down.  “The body,” says Merleau-Ponty,  “is our general medium for having a world” (PP, 171/146); the lived body is pivotal for all experience.  Yet for the most part, it is “passed over in silence.” Everyday life does offer us several types of situations in which this “silence” is broken: for example, the times when, due to illness or injury, my body will no longer obey me; the awkward surge of self-consciousness when the look of the other impales me; the way I become “other” for myself, when looking in the mirror, for example, or scrutinizing the calluses on my hands. (10) Such occasions do bring the body thematically to awareness. But they display a common structure, in which the body becomes an object for a subject.  What is the typical perceptual style sustaining this structure?




Phenomenological Description #1: A Visible Thing


There is sufficient light.  I am at the proper distance from it.  I can see it plainly: it is a ball, round, primarily red, with other colors (yellow, blue) in a pattern on its surface.  It shows up quite plainly against its background.  I move closer, move around, look at it from various angles, obtaining a different view from each position I take up.  Its weight, its consistency, its texture, the sounds it might make and the way it might move if I drop it, and indeed the various ways I might manipulate it (rolling it, tossing it up and catching it, dropping it, etc.)—these are already given to me as I see it, without my needing to calculate them (and if I am proved wrong when I pick it up—for example, if it turns out to be steel instead of rubber—my surprise already testifies to the ubiquitousness of my tacit expectations).  I perceive this object as a real ball, here in the room with me, in no way a mere figment of my imagination or trick of the light; though I know that I can be mistaken with regard to individual cases, I know what “real” and “illusory” mean, a knowing that may be tacit and vague, but which nevertheless serves to guide everyday business.


If I now turn to a description of the invariant structures shaping my experience of this round, red (and yellow and blue) ball resting on its background, I find that I can see several such structures (in a different sense than that in which I see the ball itself, but clearly nonetheless).  I will specify these structures by referring to typicality, perspectivity, distance, alienation, and staticity.


p. 4


Typicality: I see quite clearly that I could have chosen a ball that is primarily blue, or green; for purposes of my description, its exact color is irrelevant.  Furthermore, I need not have chosen a ball; its roundness is not an essential condition of its visibility.  This ball, here, is merely an example of a thing that is seen.  Some examples—for example, my black cat in a very dark room—may prove to be limit cases, but to the extent that the ball is a typical example of a visible thing (replaceable at will by other examples, real and imagined), my description is not a description of it, but of a style of perceiving.  It is not the object per se, but its mode of givenness that is at stake, and this mode of givenness has its own typical structure—a power that “seeing” exercises over the “seen.” Thus the structures to be specified in the description are those that are swung into play whenever a certain perceptual style is at work; they are features not so much of a certain class of things as of a certain style of rendering oneself present to the things.

Perspectivity: From here, I can see three slivers of color appearing against the overall red of the ball: yellow, then blue, then yellow again. I move, and now see blue, yellow, blue.  I move again, and obtain yet another aspect.  It would be inaccurate to say that one view absolutely or irrevocably hides the others, for each implies another.  Yet only a certain aspect at a time can have full visual givenness, and what I can see shifts in correlation with my own changes in standpoint.  I do not suspect for a moment that such perspectivity is peculiar to this ball, but can readily confirm that no matter what vantage point I adopt, only a sector of the visible world faces me.

Distance: Continuing (necessarily) to respect the rule of correlation between standpoint and view, I bend over the ball until my forehead and nose embrace its curve, or, alternatively (and perhaps more typically), I pick it up and bring it as near to one eye as possible.  Though I have lost my range of  “proper distances” from which to render myself present to the ball as a visible thing, I can still see “something,” even when the proximity of the ball occludes the light I need to make out its details. Yet


p. 5

this “something” is still at a distance.  Even if I close my eyes, cup my palms over them to block light, and place in brackets the “fact that” I “must” actually be seeing the backs of my eyelids, the experiential field present to me as I continue to adopt the perceptual style of “seeing” retains its character of being “over there.” Seeing “opens upon” a visual field that “spreads away” from me even when there is nothing to look at; there is always distance between seer and seen.

Alienation: The ball that I see is not only spatially distant from me, separate from me in that I am “here” and it is “over there,” it is also separate from me in another way: it is alien, other, not-me, not merely thrust apart from me, but set over-against-me, object to my subjectivity.  Insofar as I give myself over fully to the perceptual style of seeing, as described here, even parts of my own body can become alien, other, not-me: I stare at my hands as I type, and as they become visual objects for me, as they fall prey to the alienating regard, they cease to function—they stiffen involuntarily, and no longer transmit the flow of thought onto the page.  To the extent that I render myself present to them through this perceptual style, they are no longer on the side of my subjectivity; I am estranged from myself.  Or I may sit in a doctor’s office, and as I listen to my own body being discussed by the pathologist or the physical therapist, I become an object-for-myself, dispassionately and “objectively” contemplating my own body with that curious calmness familiar to victims of crisis.  At such times, what is here termed “alienation” can be exquisitely comforting, appearing as “detachment” rather than “estrangement.” Even parts of my body that I cannot literally see, or see only under extreme conditions (such as my own viscera), can appear to me as if from the perspective of the other (e.g., the anatomist), distant and alien and invested with the style of givenness characteristic of the typical visible thing—for, as the description thus far has indicated, the “typicality” derives from a style or mode of perceiving, and it is this style that governs the perceptual object, whatever it may be.


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Staticity: I roll the ball, or I toss it in my hands, but I cannot see it clearly until it comes to rest.  I move this way and that way to see the ball from this or that perspective, but each time, I arrest my own motion in order to focus on the chosen view.  I decide to take my hand as an example of a visible thing, and not only do I bring it before me, into my range of vision, I also hold both my hand and my head as still as possible.  Gradually I detect the lived bodily style of comportment sustaining the constitutive style responsible for the typical visual object, and find that when I am looking at a visible thing—especially when I am trying to make out its details—I often find myself freezing my own motion, holding myself still.  In short, there is a typical bodily attitude of being-toward-the-other, over there.  The visible body constituted by the objectivating regard is sustained, not merely by this perceptual style, but more fundamentally by a constituting body whose typical movement style here is one of “arrest.”  Despite the fact that I move this way and that to attain various perspectives on the thing, the movement takes place between, not during, the views; the prototypical staticity of the thing seen is matched by that of the seer. (11)

Summary: The typical perceptual style emerging in this description is one in which a subject faces an object, over there and other, in such a way that the subject is limited to a perspective.  Both subject and object are typically static, and the style as a whole is a general manner of rendering oneself present to something through the body; its typicality is that of a pervasive and operative style of corporeal constitution.  Several remarks are now in order.

(1) Not all visual experience conforms to the model of such a “separative” seeing; the descriptions of vision given by Merleau-Ponty in The Visible and the Invisible or “Eye and Mind,” for example, display another structure.  Thus the typical kind of of seeing I have described here—for which I will use the term “separative seeing”—is one major variant of visual experience, not its only possible style.

(2) The separative style is therefore not coextensive with vision per se, and indeed may be manifested in other sensory fields. For instance, both


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sight and touch may let us “confront the world as a surface over against our face, or beneath our palm, riveted with the gaze, nailed with the digit” (12)—as a fixed object, resistant and alien to the perceiving subject.

        (3) A perceptual style may become the paradigm not only for more than one sensory field, but also for other cultural institutions as well.  For instance, David Levin links what I have called separative seeing with the capacity “to encounter beings in a detached, calculative, instrumental way” (e.g., in science and technology) and with the habit of representational thinking analyzed by Heidegger, pointing out that “our everyday manner of seeing embodies, and tends to perpetuate, precisely this re-presentational attitude ....” (13) At the same time, however, “it is not only theoretical science, but our everyday seeing itself, which, charmed and enthralled by the scientific world-view, begins to function in this very same hostile and aggressive manner” (14)—i.e., bringing everything that exists under the calculating control of “a looking-at that sunders and compartmentalizes.” (15) Such an attitude thrusts everything that is experienced into an enforced distance from a subject that is itself conceived as yet another object, and the separative style thereby permeates the whole of the everyday world.



Conventional modes of perception invariably carry with them the experience of separation, isolation, and limitation .... Our habitual mode of perception is the ultimate source of the alienation and estrangement of everyday life.  In ordinary reality, we are constantly bombarded with the “fact” that we are stuck in an “environment” which wholly consists of what is other, distant, and separate from ourselves. (16)


Thus given the separative style, the entire world of everyday life will testify to dualism.  In other words, the lifeworld and the reigning perceptual style display the same pervasive structural features. (17)


        (4) It must be noted that the possibility of detachment and distance has a “positive” as well as a “negative” side. (18) What is implicitly criticized in my presentation is the rigidification of this capability to the exclusion of all other possibilities, not the distancing power of sight (and thought) per se.


p. 8

        “The body is our general medium for having a world.” But in the natural attitude, the constitutive corporeality responsible for a habitual perceptual style is typically operative, passed over in silence; or else, in our inherited historical and cultural context, this silence may be ruptured, and the constitutive body reduced to a constituted body that is an impoverished thing among things.  Insofar as the typical perceptual style described is not only typical, but habitual and paradigmatic, alternative perceptual styles are suppressed; furthermore, the very project of description can perpetuate the reigning paradigm, so that, for example, one decides to pay attention to this body “passed ever in silence,” only to find that the attending regard disrupts the very process it hoped to elucidate, “freezing it in its tracks,” as it were, by importing, with its style of attending, the alienation and staticity typical of separative seeing. (19) Clearly, the further elucidation of the operative, constitutive body requires a release from the “hegemony of vision” (20) and the adoption of an alternative style of awareness—one that can diaphanize the silence without rupturing it, that can thematize the operative without stopping it.


Phenomenological Description #2: Bodily Awareness


I lie down and close my eyes.  At first, I notice that merely lying down does not automatically enable me to abandon upright posture completely.  There is an “attitude” of uprightness that can persist even while supine.  Similarly, I notice that merely closing my eyes does not always enable me to give up the habit of “looking-at”; I “carry its perceptual style with me” into the project of “paying attention” to somatic experience.  With practice, though, I can set this habit aside, just as I set out of play the being-busied-with-the-world that lingered along with the attitude of uprightness.  I take a quick inventory of my tactile experience—the feel of what I’m lying on, the temperature and texture of clothes and air against my skin—and for the moment, I set all this aside as well, in search of bodily awareness itself.


I notice immediately that I am pulsing.  The pulsing, however, is pervaded by something more subtle, which I do not immediately have a name for; I try out metaphors such as “a general diffuse dull glow or buzz of presence,” though this does not literally shine or hum.  Rather, the “glow” is one of “warmth,” and the “buzz” is a quasi-textural ongoing process.  Within this shimmer or stream of diffuse yet dynamic “thereness,” various events spontaneously emerge,


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though all the while “I” lie in “stillness.” Some of these events might be called a coming-to-awareness of tension or “blocks,” while others feel like a pleasurable “release.” The bodily awareness as a whole is an ongoing, qualitative process, within which such “saliencies” spring up and fade away.  Besides this dynamic, temporal quality to the experience, there is also a sense of “spread,” a hazy “being-extended”—though no sharply defined “edges” appear unless I return to the tactile experience of my “interface” with the world (e.g., where I stop and what I’m lying on begins) or imagine what I must look like from the outside.  If these sorts of experiences are once more set aside and I am fully given over to my “body sense,” I sense myself “finite” (the domain or spread of this sensing does not go on “forever”), but not clearly “bounded.”


As I continue merely to “lie still,” exploring possible invariant structures of this bodily awareness, I sense its “depth” or “volume” as well as its “expanse.” Often—though perhaps not necessarily—there is a qualitative difference between my left and right “sides.” I sense here, however, that I may have begun to experience and to describe something having to do with incipient or potential movement, distinguishable, albeit inseparable, from the bodily awareness first described.


Throughout, the experience of a purely bodily awareness is somewhat difficult to sustain.  I seem to shuttle between having an experience “of” my own body, presented “to” an experiencing agent that seems to be located somewhere in my head (roughly behind my eyes), and dissolving this habitual placement of “myself” in such a way that my own lived flesh, or some vaguely specified “region” of it (which may vary) is itself suffused with awareness.


Eliciting the phenomenon: In the natural attitude, we are busied with things and projects; our own body is habitually “passed ever in silence.” Against this background, bodily awareness appears as a “special case,” a phenomenon that is “always there” to be elicited, but is normally ignored. (21)  In the example described, bodily awareness was voluntarily achieved (in contrast, say, to the unexpected “rupturing” of the “silence” of the body by a sudden sharp pain) after certain preliminary steps: lying down, closing my eyes, setting tactile experience aside, lying still.  Are these essential for the emergence of the phenomenon in question?  Further variation finds that bodily awareness is indeed possible in other postures and while moving; and, as subsequent descriptions will show, it can also be attained, in varying degrees under various circumstances, in conjunction with tactile experience.  Lying down, lying still, and placing tactile


p. 10

experience in brackets are strategic moves to help elicit the phenomenon, not essential conditions of it. (22) However, as noted in the description, merely physically closing my eyes is by itself not an adequate strategy.  In the first place, I may find “that closing the eyes has by no means ended the attempt to see, and that behind closed lids the eyes have remained very active.” (23) And in the second place, so long as the style of separative seeing persists, and is manifested across other sensory fields, I may indeed “feel something”—e.g., a tension in “my” foot—but I feel it from an “outsider’s perspective.” The phenomenon I have described under the title “bodily awareness” is not itself-given in such a mode, though it may be “foreshadowed” or “incipiently given,” or serve as a prelude or preliminary step to more fully “inhabiting” the phenomenon in question.  What is required for this phenomenon itself is thus a peculiar shift of consciousness from experiencing an object known as “my own lived body” to actively “living-in” this “body sense.” (24)

Qualitative (self)-sensing ‘from within’: If the perceptual style of the first example, separative seeing, may be characterized as “from the outside,” the alternative style presented in this second description may be termed ‘from within’. (25) While this style of awareness does embrace features of bodily experience previously noted by phenomenologists—such as the “mineness” of one’s own lived body and the motility that both Husserl and Merleau-Ponty referred to with the phrase “I can” (cf., e.g., PP, 160/137)—what I wish to emphasize with the term ‘from within’ is that the very manner of givenness differs from the habitual style of apprehending an object “over there” and separate from “me.” The general style of awareness ‘from within’ admits of qualitative variation.  Whether or not such awareness is possible only in the case of one’s own lived body is deferred to later descriptions.

        Dynamism: Even when I am “lying still,” without any “voluntary movement” or explicit focus on the movements “I can” potentially execute—and even if I place the movements of breathing out of consideration—I sense myself pervaded with dynamic, temporal process.  This may encompass qualitatively different types of processes, such as


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rhythmic pulsing; irregular and spontaneous “coming-to-salience” of “moments” of tension, release, etc.; and a background “presencing” akin to what Michotte has termed, in another context, “internal flux” or “microkinesis.” (26)  The dynamism, and particularly this background “microkinesis,” has the sense of being global and diffuse, and of having been present “all along” (27) whether or not it is thematized as an object or lived through “from within.” It can be experientially distinguished from the lived sense of the “I-can,” which feels less like an ongoing “background” and more like a “potency.” (28)  Such potency is not only lived as the power to mobilize any part of one’s own lived body, but may also be constitutive of its articulation into “parts,” e.g., the felt difference between left and right “sides”; this cannot be pursued here.

“Spread” and “Depth”: The spatial or quasi-spatial feature of bodily awareness ‘from within’ may be described as “extension without edges.” The sense of “spread” is meant structurally here, whether I feel myself comfortably “spreading” or uncomfortably “compressed” in any area; the sense of “depth” is meant as a lived sense of “volume,” a “fullness” that is not merely “superficial.” However, it is not yet an explicit consciousness of three-dimensional spatiality.  Nor is any consciousness of my position within my immediate spatial surroundings at stake here, though this can be reinstituted at any moment by the appropriate shift in style of awareness. There are qualitative differences across the spread of my awareness ‘from within’, but neither the “regions” within the expanse of the whole nor the whole itself present a definite spatial shape.  Michotte’s remarks are to the point here:



Whether it is temporarily motionless or whether it is moving, the body [as kinaesthetically perceived] appears as a somewhat shapeless mass or volume. ... There is no clear marking off of the head, trunk, and limbs by precise lines of demarcation. ... Instead of any precise line of demarcation we find a number of regions with extensive connexions between them gradually merging into one another.

We can with some justification look on the body as a sort of kinaesthetic amoeba, a perpetually changing mass with loose connexions between the parts, and with the limbs constituting the pseudopodia.  There are,


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however, very marked differences between this kinaesthetic amoeba and the amoeba seen under the microscope.  The latter has a contour separating it from its background, while this feature is clearly lacking in the case of the body in isolation.  The ‘volume’ of which it consists is not limited by a clearly defined surface, and there is no ‘contour’.  This is a point of considerable interest, and it necessarily follows as a result that the whole of the kinaesthetic field of bodily awareness is filled by the body. (29)


Dilation of the localized “self”: The phenomenon described reveals a feature similar to what Herbert Spiegelberg has discussed in his article “On the Motility of the Ego.” (30)  Without entering into the questions he raises as to ego-“localization” and ego-“identification,” the shift described in the turn to bodily awareness can nevertheless be contrasted with the structure of separative seeing in this regard.  The perspectivity of the latter requires its own unnoticed “vanishing point,” i.e., the fixed standpoint (somewhere “behind my eyes”) from which a sector of the world is surveyed.  Bodily awareness, however, disrupts this usual tacit “location” of the self: it displays a global “field awareness” qualitatively different from the sense of “self” or “consciousness” as a “point” from which awareness “radiates.” The transition between the two styles may sometimes be detected as a “flooding” from a point into a whole or the “shrinking” of a field into a vantage point.  The experience of “dilation” of lived selfhood across the expanse of the aware body is particularly important for analyses of the “prolongation” of one’s own body through things and tools.  Also brought into question, as will be shown in subsequent descriptions, is any tacit or explicit claim that one’s own lived body, as single privileged “content” of a somatic awareness, is after all to be identified with one’s own individual physical organism.

Summary: The “typical” perceptual style emerging in this description would initially seem to be far less pervasive (and far more elusive) than that of separative seeing; indeed, it would seem that awareness ‘from within’ is only given when the separative style is suspended.  And the range or domain of this alternative style of awareness ‘from within’ has yet


p. 13

to be addressed.  It is “typical” in that it is a “style,” not a particular instance or sum of instances, but may or may not be capable of governing the wealth of examples that can manifest the separative style (for which “separative seeing” is the paradigm).  Whereas separative seeing yields static objects “over there,” optimally given as clearly bounded figures against ground, bodily awareness ‘from within’ yields a dynamic “hereness” that displays “spread” without clear “edges.” And while separative seeing transfixes the ego as well as its objects, bodily awareness ‘from within’ moves in a fluid self-awareness that does not require perspectival orientation.  It is characterized by “mineness” rather than alienation and by “living-in” rather than contemplating as an object. In short, bodily awareness ‘from within’—at least as I have presented it here—serves as a radical contrast to our customary cultural style of perceiving both the “subjective” and the “objective.”




Phenomenological Description #3: Touching/Touched


I touch my own face with my own hand.  As I explore its varying surface textures, I realize that I can also feel different structures—harder, softer, more or less resilient—beneath or behind the skin I am touching.  The contours of my face solicit appropriate exploratory moves on the part of my touching hand.  Throughout, my hand is the “toucher” and my face is the “touched.” Can I reverse these roles?


I find, at least at first, that I do not merely “mentally” shift my intent to “live in” one side or the other of the experience, but may adjust the relative spatial position of my body parts.  At the same time, their respective sorts of movement are exchanged: whereas before, I held my head relatively still (or found that it tended to turn or nod slightly, to make some area more accessible to my touching hand), now my head takes on the more mobile, exploratory role that previously characterized my hand, and the hand remains relatively quiet, offering itself conveniently to my touching face.  As I continue to explore this reversibility between actively-touching and allowing-myself-to-be-touched, I realize that the “exploratory intent” of the touching organ can be somewhat localized: it is not simply a question of “hand” or “face” doing the touching, but of a “leading region” such that I can touch my face “with” my fingertips, my palm, the back of my hand, etc.; I can touch my hand “with” my lips, my nose, my cheek, etc.  Though my hand may feel more practiced at touching than does my face, both hand and face have alternatives beyond the habitual in executing the function of touching.



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Up to now, I have been actively moving the organ playing the role of “toucher.” Now I bring my hand and face in contact and maintain the configuration without either of them moving appreciably.  While “living-in” the “hand” side of the configuration, I can still experience myself as touching something, even if having arrested the exploratory touching movements limits my ability to feel the texture of my face (and perhaps enhances my ability to feel its temperature and, at times, its previously imperceptible pulsing beneath my touching hand).  But I can also shift to body awareness, i.e., to the awareness ‘from within’ the hand itself.  Similarly, I can perform the reversibility of role first discussed, so that it is my face that touches my hand, and allow the experience to be primarily an experience-of that which I am touching.  But I can also access my face ‘from within’—and this shift from experience-of to body-awareness, though reversible, is not the same as the shift that exchanges the respective roles of “toucher” and “touchee.” There is “another” reversibility intersecting that of roles.


With relatively “passive” touching—e.g., my hand is resting against my face, and I have endowed my hand with the role of “toucher,” but am not moving it around my face—the shift to awareness ‘from within’ the hand somehow eclipses the feel of what I’m touching.  But when I allow the hand to move while touching, and also check how it feels ‘from within’ while doing so, I find a profound interplay between the bodily quality of the feeling hand ‘from within’; the quality of its movement; the tactile quality of my face as touched; and the quality of the latter experienced ‘from within’ while being touched.



        “Customary” functional zones: The reversibility of toucher-touched roles is commonly discussed in phenomenological literature with the example of the right hand touching the left and vice versa.  The choice of hand-face pairing, and the variations of “leading region” (touching “with” my lips vs. my cheek, my fingertips vs. the back of my hand), makes it clearer that the touching/touched experience is shaped, but not necessarily limited, by the organization of the lived body into privileged “functional zones.” We customarily touch with the hand rather than the head, the dominant hand rather than the non-dominant hand, the palm side of the hand or fingers rather than the back side. That certain functional zones rather than others are “usually” swung into play in executing the “intent” to touch (whether or not any explicit “intent” is separately present) reveals only what is “customary,” not what is “necessary,” for I can deliberately vary the habitual configuration. (31) But the ease with which I



p. 15

can accomplish certain variations and the difficulty of executing others bear witness to a “usual” (and asymmetrical) polarization of the body “passed ever in silence” into zones habituated to the role of “toucher” and zones usually relegated to the role of “touchee.” Nevertheless, reversibility is more primordial than the customary assignment of roles.

Initiation: The factor that seems to be the most important in accomplishing a reversal of a “customary” touching/touched configuration would seem to be the explicit initiation of the movement of touching.  Even when hand and face are held in contact without either of them performing any obviously active, exploratory touching motions, one can invoke a minimal or incipient sense of “initiation”—perhaps by the slightest of actual movements, or even by transforming the experience of a “motionless” organ into the experience of an active “holding still” or arrest of movement—which mobilizes the “I-can” and accomplishes the reversibility in question. (32)

        Bodily intentionality/Bodily reflexivity: The second sort of reversibility discussed may be provisionally expressed as a reversibility between “bodily intentionality” and “bodily reflexivity.” (33) With full intentive directedness-toward the tactile object, the touching hand recedes, is “passed over in silence”; with full “living-in” the touching hand ‘from within’, the object recedes.  Further investigation of the phenomenon reveals that the focus on intentionality—or better, on the intentional object, for “intentionality” per se is discovered only by subsequent phenomenological reflection (34)—is paired with the role of the toucher, i.e., it is the touching organ, not the touched, which opens upon the intentional object. (Were the touched organ to seek to “occupy” the intentive “side” of this second reversibility, it would, by virtue of that very project, become the toucher rather than the touchee.) But the awareness ‘from within’ that I have here termed “bodily reflexivity” is available to either role.  Typically, when a bodily region doing the touching without actively moving accesses the ‘from within’ style of awareness, the reference to an object becomes ambiguous and vague, or “winks out”


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altogether (cf. VI, 194/147–48).  The bodily region being touched, however, can detect ‘from within’ not merely the superficial point(s) of contact (the places “where” one is being touched), but the lived quality of the touched region in depth, perhaps “radiating” from the surface of the skin, perhaps arranging itself into salient “lines of force,” and so on.  Thus the shift to bodily reflexivity can still incorporate a somewhat “shadowy” intentiveness when the relatively motionless contact is lived from the side of the touched. And when the organ playing the role of toucher is moving while reflexively lived-through, the touched part can sometimes be dimly present, though sometimes it vanishes—as it does when one lives the motionless touching organ ‘from within’—and sometimes the shift to awareness ‘from within’ also shifts me out of the “touching,” back to the “being touched.”

Qualitative correlations: Whether or not I am able to simultaneously experience any pair, or more complex combination, of the four “poles” of the double reversibility (role of toucher, role of touched; intentive experience-of, reflexive awareness ‘from within’), I can discern a functional connection between the quality of the touching organ as lived ‘from within’ and the tactile quality of the touched.  This is particularly apparent when the touching organ moves and when the quality of its movement is in harmony with the felt quality ‘from within’.  For instance, I make a fist with one hand, taking time to become clearly aware of its tightness ‘from within’.  Then I strike the tip of the opposite shoulder with my tight fist.  Next I loosen and soften the tight fist, again taking time to vary the quality and to establish the awareness ‘from within’; then I drape my hand over the same region of the shoulder, stroking and caressing where I previously struck.  Not only does each gesture elicit a different experience of my own shoulder as touched “from the outside,” but my shoulder feels differently ‘from within’ in either case, and adopts a different movement style of its own in response (e.g., steeling itself for the blows, or greeting the softer gesture with a more supple motility).

        Reversibility of motivation: The example just presented, where



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touching and touched, intentive and reflexive, and actual or potential movement style displayed a qualitative correlation, points toward yet “another” sort of reversibility (or another distinguishable aspect of a more general “reversibility”).  There is an “if-then” such that “if I harden my hand, I can elicit the hardness of my shoulder” and “if I soften my hand, I can elicit the softness of my shoulder.” Here the “motivation” and variation lie “on the side of” an active toucher.  But the experience initially chosen for description also found that “the contours of my face solicit appropriate exploratory moves on the part of my touching hand.” And were we to interrupt the intentive directedness of the various phases of this experience, we could discover the way the hand lived ‘from within’ adopts the appropriate quality correlative to the movement style solicited by the various tactile possibilities of my face (and perhaps guided by its sensitivity ‘from within’, so that I do not explore more delicate areas with too rough of a touch).  Thus I can explicitly concern myself with “how” I am touching, or I can surrender any active attempt to control or vary the style (or habitual range of possibilities) of my touching, and allow the touched to lead me.

             Summary: The touching/touched experience has been invoked by both Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, each emphasizing various features of the experience and each generating his own statement of the significance of the phenomenological evidence disclosed. (35)  Of the various reversibilities discussed, the most important for the present paper is the possibility of a bodily reflexivity at the heart of bodily intentionality.  By adopting the appropriate perceptual style, one acquires an awareness that neither makes the body into an object, nor construes “bodily subjectivity” on the model of the type of intentional object typically given in separative seeing.  Furthermore, unlike such an objectifying regard—which “ruptures the silence” of the operative lived body and, as I have suggested, “freezes it in its tracks”—the awareness ‘from within’ need not disrupt the activity of touching.

        I now note that the “perspectivity” whereby it seems that “I” can “inhabit” only “one side at a time” of the reversible toucher/touched roles



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may be a carry-over from that perceptual style for which a distance, gap, or gulf between “subject” and “object” (or “ego” and “world”) is mandatory.  What happens if I deliberately ask myself to “live in” both “sides,” the “toucher” and the “touchee,” simultaneously?

When I first experimented with this task, I learned that even giving myself the order could make the touch less superficial and more gently penetrating, more transformative, more healing.  It was as if the “interface” between “toucher” and “touched” sank more deeply into my touched flesh, motivating release even in areas that did not feel “tense” to begin with.  But perhaps this was a way of discovering bodily reflexivity in the first place, not a fulfillment of the command to live both roles simultaneously.  I have subsequently detected a different and more profound change in my experience when I perform this experiment, though I do not seem to be able to sustain the different mode for more than a moment.  I have a sense of “short-circuiting” a habitual “mental” style of experiencing, associated with the separative style in which “I” seem to be located “behind my eyes.” (36)  It is as though by suspending the rule of mono-perspectivity and fulfilling instead the conditions of a lived “aperspectivity” or “multi-perepectivity,” I have rendered a deeply sedimented experiential style not merely “thematic,” but momentarily “inoperative.”

We may now ask whether the structural possibilities of the lived body revealed in the description of bodily awareness and the touching/touched experience may be brought to givenness in other situations as well.  The body is so often operative,  “passed over in silence”; can we render it diaphanous in its commerce with things without interfering with its tacit functioning?  Furthermore, the perceptual style of separative seeing was characterized by a typicality in which the style subsumes an inexhaustible range of possible examples.  Are the findings of the second and third descriptions limited to the privileged case of my own lived body, or can the perceptual style I have termed awareness ‘from within’ serve as a clue to a more general “way” of “world-experiencing-life”? (37)

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Phenomenological Description #4:

Touching/Being Touched/Touching-Through


I return to the ball.  This time I touch it, with my fingers, feeling the slight irregularity of its surface.  Next I halt the small exploratory movements of my fingers and rest my hand on the ball.  I can still feel it.  But when I consult the feeling of the touching hand ‘from within,’ the felt ball fades.  It is otherwise when I regear the situation so that “the ball is touching me,” and my hand is in the role of the touched.  Its contact reverberates through my hand lived ‘from within’.  Finally, I allow my hand to be the touching organ once more, but this time resuming active movement, rather than resting my hand on the ball in relative stillness.  I can not only feel the ball that I am touching, I can be aware of the quality of my touching flesh ‘from within’ and its link with the quality of my movement and with the felt quality of my tactile object.


Now I pick up the ball, and absorb it into my touching hand: I feel “with” and “through” it.  There is a way in which the ball can efface itself, and I can feel the world directly throuh it (as one can sense the quality of the terrain through one’s footgear), and yet there is also a sense in which an incipient “reflexivity” of this borrowed amplification of my hand’s touching power can come into play: I substitute the pencil or the pen for the ball, for example, and can sense, in and through the act of touching, the relative stiffness of the one and resilience of the other, as well as the differences in quality of the same thing touched in two different ways. (So also is the graveled walk different felt through feet in leather shoes and feet in socks, or the violin string felt through an exquisitely balanced bow and an inferior one, etc.)


I return to the ball and begin to play with it, rolling it back and forth with one hand or two, tossing it in the air and catching it, with one hand or two.  Within limits, I can do this without relying on sight at all.  And strangely enough, I can retain a felt connection with the ball even when I am not actually touching it.  For even when it is not touching my skin, the ball is caught up in my bodily sphere of influence; if it escapes me, it is when I have lost the sensible connection that incorporates the ball and its movement into my own “mineness.” Even the look of the ball has changed: it is no longer the separate static object “over there” of the initial description of a visible thing, though I can reestablish that intentional object at will by adopting the style of separative seeing.


Reciprocity: I can touch the ball; reciprocally, the ball can touch me.  I do not feel the ball itself ‘from within’ unless I take it up into my motor project of touching, and perhaps it is my own motor capability of touching


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that I lend to the things when I say “the ball touches me.” Nevertheless, a version of all the reversibilities previously discussed is experientially discernible if I transform the experiential style or structure “my own body”– “vs.– “the thing over there” into a mutual, reciprocal contact.

Flexible interface: The line of demarcation where “I” and “the world” are divided is fluid; as other researchers have noted, a thing may be taken up into my phenomenal body, “extending” my motor schema beyond the limits of the skin that marks “my own” boundary when I myself am seen as a separate visual object. (38) The body visibly confined to its sack of skin is the intentional object of a separative style of perception; the kinaesthetic amoeba is lived ‘from within’ in abstraction from the sensible interface where I touch something other than myself, where I am both toucher and touched.  But the experience of “prolonging” myself through the thing or tool I take up demonstrates that even in commerce with tangible things, the phenomenal body is a protean body, reaching, as it were, “pseudopods” of awareness through those “detachable” members whose inorganic independence from my organic body is so readily recognized and analyzed by separative seeing.  There is thus no absolute or preordained opposition between “sentient subject” and “sensible thing,” not only because I am sensible as well as sentient, but also because I presume upon this kinship with the things to appropriate them into the functional structure of my own lived flesh.

Diakinaisthesis: I have coined this term (as a companion to Gebser’s notion of diaphaneity, not Sartre’s concept of transparency) to specify the awareness ‘from within’ that can, for example, pervade (albeit to different degrees) both the touching hand and the thing that it is “touching-through.” The term is a reference not only to kinaesthesis and aisthesis, but also to the body sense that is a “feeling-through” my lived body (including its appropriated “extensions”).  In other words, the term “diakinaisthesis” names the perceptual style that need not be automatically effaced in favor of the experience-of its object, but rather can also incorporate a concretely reflexive living-through the moving corporeal “conditions” by which we are “rendered present to something.”


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The claim for a diakinaisthetic style of awareness is radical in at least two ways: it rests on a claim for a bodily reflexivity (rather than limiting reflexivity to “consciousness,” understood as “mental,”or denying reflexivity entirely in favor of an absolute intentionality); and it claims that we can be bodily self-aware even in the process of our activities (for unlike the alienating effect of self-observation in the separative style, diakinaisthesis does not “stop the flow” or “rupture the silence,” but illuminates it ‘from within’).  In short, it is a claim that the operative can be thematized and still continue to operate (though it may change).

        Articulation without opposition: As I play with the ball, integrating it into my lived motility and touching-through it, feeling-through it, the ball is no longer an object facing a subject or a dead thing vs. a living being.  It is not opposite to me; but neither is it fused (or confused) with me in total confluence.  Rather than enforcing distance by virtue of its essential structure, as does separative seeing, the style of awareness in question dissolves the experience of ob-ject “over-against-me,” or, perhaps more accurately, dismantles the entire structure of “ego-subject facing object” (for it is not as though I am still a classical “ego” or “mind” simply experiencing “its body” in a new way).  Yet this awareness does not require that I be touching the ball, only that I maintain the “felt connection” with it.  Thus the experiential example described—which offers an instance of a lived awareness that does not posit an “opposite”—already surpasses the purely tactile and raises once again the question of the range of typicality of the perceptual style discussed in the second, third, and fourth descriptions.  If we adopt a global perceptual style that allows for reciprocity and reversibilities, an awareness ‘from within’ that does not confront an alien world from a distance, will we receive visible as well as tangible evidence of a “world without opposite” (just as separative seeing can find its counterpart in manipulative and unfeeling touch)?  And can such a perceptual style become paradigmatic for the lived world as a whole?



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        Intertextual commentary: For Gebser, the locution “world without opposite”—which names not an impoverishing loss, but a release to a new world-openness—refers to a new world-horizon emerging in correlation with a radical mutation of consciousness. (39) He describes its manifestations at length, drawing examples from many areas of modern culture and often focusing on the theme of a “supercession of dualism” (e.g., a subject-object antithesis).  For Gebser, Cézanne was one of the first to accomplish this in painting.  The pictorial image that is governed by classical rules of representation and perspective is “constantly experienced as an opposite,” as an object “for its creator and its observer alike.” (40) But we find Cézanne saying “Je me sense coloré par toutes les nuances de l’Infini.  Je ne fais plus qu’un avec mon tableau.” (4l) Thus the painting-in-progress is not a separate object before the painter—and neither is the scene he or she is painting.  “‘The landscape thinks itself in me,’ he said, ‘and I am its consciousness.’” (42) This consciousness is corporeal (“The painter ‘takes his body with him,’ says Valéry”—Primacy, 162) and capable of the reversibilities that mark the kinship of “my” flesh with the flesh of the world.  


Inevitably the roles between [the painter] and the visible are reversed.  That is why so many painters have said that things look at them.  As André Marchand says, after Klee: “In a forest, I have felt many times over that it was not I who looked at the forest.  Some days I felt that the trees were looking at me, were speaking to me .... (43)


Gebser writes,


Just a few decades ago there existed for us matter, the material world, forming an insurmountable wall of being standing opposite us ... a limit-establishing opposite.  In the meantime, this wall has been demolished.  Painting achieved this through spatial dissolution, through dematerialization, and through its efforts on behalf of nonrepresentationalism.  On its side, nuclear physics has taught us that the components of the ostensible density of materiality themselves consist of atoms whose materiality disappears into the impalpable, the invisible, and the unenvisionable.  (44)


And he says that


Cézanne’s art is the first visible expression of that which bestows new possibilities of realization upon our


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consciousness and by way of which reality and the world begin to emerge into new modes of appearance.  The perspectivally fixed positions, representations, systems and postulates break up.  Their represented opposition collapses in itself and frees the glance ... to the openness of the whole.  It was a question of openness only to those who would be able to catch sight of it with a new manner of becoming aware, and who broke through the quantitative, objective wall of being with a new vision, which was to experience themselves as opening the world itself. (45)


It is thus “a question of a new reality, one which naturally is not representable, and which, because it has ceased to exist as an opposite, we can no longer fix before us.” (46)For Merleau-Ponty, as well, such a “mutation within the relations of man and Being” (Primacy, 179) is not only inscribed in the works of Cézanne or the findings of modern physics, but in the everyday:


As I contemplate the blue of the sky I am not set over against it as an acosmic subject; I do not possess it in thought, or spread out towards it some idea of blue such as might reveal the secret of it, I abandon myself to it and plunge into this mystery, it ‘thinks itself within me’, I am the sky itself as it is drawn together and unified .... (PP, 248/214)


Here “the relation between what I see and I who see is not one of immediate or frontal contradiction; the things attract my look, my gaze caresses the things, it espouses their contours and their reliefs, between it and them we catch sight of a complicity” (VI, 107/76).  The open “secret” is this complicity among sensible and sentient.


Thus the lived body through which I “go unto the heart of the things”


is not itself a thing ... but a sensible for itself ... hence an exemplar sensible, which offers to him who inhabits it and senses it the wherewithal to sense everything that resembles himself on the outside, such that, caught up in the tissue of the things, it draws it entirely to itself, incorporates it, and, with the same movement, communicates to the things upon which it closes over that identity without superposition, that difference without contradiction, that divergence between the within and the without that constitutes its natal secret. ... One can say that we perceive the things themselves,


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that we are the world that thinks itself—or that the world is at the heart of our flesh.  In any case, once a body-world relationship is recognized, there is a ramification of my body and a ramification of the world and a correspondence between its inside and my outside, between my inside and its outside. (VI, 178–79/135–36)


The “identity without superposition,” which is at the same time a “difference without contradiction,” speaks of a body-world articulation that is neither confluence nor opposition. (47) But that we are not opposite to the flesh of the world can itself be given leibhaft only when, like Gebser and Merleau-Ponty, we accept the task of overcoming dualism.  And to the extent that the world without opposite is a task, Merleau-Ponty’s account of the flesh of the world does not merely “describe,” but, perhaps, transforms.  It may then call for a fulfilling praxis.


Phenomenological Description #5:

Integrative Body Work/Movement Re-education


I see Anne down at the bottom of the driveway, visible to me across distance, clearly separate from me. Once she is on the table for her Trager session, I no longer see her that way: vision becomes diffuse and blended with the tactile and the kinaesthetic in a single global style.  I take her limb and for a moment feel its weight, assessing it with respect for the subject whose limb it is, gauging its density through my own lived density.  Then I gather this limb into my own lived body, moving it gently from the whole of me and sensing ‘from within’ its freedom and ease of movement, aware of “holding patterns” where the streaming “glow” of presence falters, where the flow is blocked. Perhaps I relinquish her limb for a moment and find ‘from within’ myself the sense of lightness and mobility I know lived flesh can yield; then I reestablish her limb as moving member of my own body, and move us both, initiating throughout this shared system not only a certain quality or style of movement, but the correlative quality lived ‘from within’ by both of us.


Or it is I who lie an Marky’s table, receiving a Trager session.  I am not an object under her hands, being manipulated from the outside (even at my own command and for my own benefit); rather, I borrow her hands, her skill, her capacity for bodily awareness ‘from within’, to be multifoldly, carnally present.  With some amazement, I realize that I can feel my own body from her hands’ “point of view,” sensing the tangible quality of my own shoulder in precisely the same way as I can feel Anne’s when I give her a session, and at the same time I can partner this sensing with deep awareness ‘from within’, learning anew that this flesh can be flowing self-sentience, not numb thing.


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Even when, after the table work, Marky and I stand face-to-face and move together, confirming and integrating what I learned on the table, I do not confront her separatively; our relation is mutual and “lateral,” not “frontal.” Without mechanically mirroring her actions, I pick up the shape and rhythm of the movement and it passes through us, ripples of a shared wave.


Remarks: Such a description is not merely an account to be read indifferently among other accounts, but a recommendation for a bodily praxis.  I began this essay by asking whether “la chair du monde” could be given leibhaft (in the deepest sense of the latter term—cf. Signs, 167).  I now answer that this is possible, though it may require preparation and training in awakening the numb flesh of one’s own lived body, through “living-in” the awareness ‘from within’ and through the compassionate touch of the other.  By restoring a bodily reflexivity at the heart of bodily intentionality, we find ourselves sentient, sensible, and truly self-sentient as well.  Learning this style of awareness may allow us to mobilize the rigidity born of repression or neglect, to heal the wordless wounds where separative dualism has torn the flesh and to melt these scars.  And we cannot always do this alone.  But we need not see ourselves as alone, for recovering “my” flesh, I find that it is more than “mine.”


It is already the flesh of things that speaks to us of our own flesh, and that speaks to us of the flesh of the other. (VI, 246/193)


... there is not simply a for-Oneself for-the-Other antithesis ... there is not only a me-other rivalry, but a co-funotioning.  We function as one unique body. (VI, 268/215)


[The other and I] are like organs of one single intercorporeality. (Signs, 168)


Were this rather than the separative style the touchstone for our everyday way of being-in-the-world, we might find ourselves involved in win-win, rather than win-lose relationships and negotiations; we might sense ourselves integral participants in the natural world, rather than exploiting its “natural resources” then sending our toxic wastes downstream or across the border.  In short, we might find the “flesh of the world without opposite” given concrete expression not only in modern painting and


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modern physics, but throughout our interpersonal, social, political, and ecological contexture.


Closing Reflections


The act of perceiving—which, in the silent transivity of perceptual faith, constitutes (or co-constitutes) a perceptual object—is an intentional act.  Though others have shown that not all intentionalities need be “acts” in any strict sense, the “directedness” of intentionality itself, as openness toward..., remains a fundamental finding of phenomenological research.  Merleau-Ponty’s insistence that there is a “bodily intentionality” (rather than a solely “mental” intentionality, for which the body can be but an object) does not weaken but rather strengthens this fundamental finding.  The present essay does not dispute intentionality, but does suggest that the notion of the “intentional object” has been tacitly interpreted according to the model of what I have called “separative seeing.” (48) Thus bodily reflexivity has been “overlooked” (yet cannot be found by merely “looking harder”).

        The “natural attitude” embodied in the everyday perceptual style of separative seeing involves us in perspectival (sectorial) and rational-technological (manipulative) confrontation with the “wall of being” that we face everywhere.  Ultimately, the divisive, separative style has the possibility of dominating every aspect of life.  This essay suggests that lived awareness ‘from within’ is an alternative style with equally global possibilities.  This integral possibility of awareness does not preclude other possibilities—for instance, retaining the strengths of our ability to survey the world from a distance and direct it accordingly. (49) Nor does the possibility of making the body “passed over in silence” diaphanous (or better, diakinaisthetic) preclude our living with the things, reaching them on routes of habit, unconscious of the “how” of our actions.  The “alternative” does not lie in choosing either the pre-reflective or the dawning awareness I have termed “bodily reflexivity”; instead, we may say that both are alternatives to the sort of representational consciousness for which movement can only be thought “about” movement (and never the


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pre-reflective immediacy of lived movement, nor its “how” self-sensed ‘from within’). (50)

Representational thought cannot do justice to its own embodied natural attitude, for each time the thinker reflects on his/her body, it becomes an other for the self that is doing the reflecting.  Thus an entire history of alienation and dualism is reinstated even in the very effort to overcome this unhappy legacy.  But Merleau-Ponty explicitly fashions an alternative to such disembodied reflection.


We have relearned to feel our body; we have found underneath the objective and detached knowledge of the body that other knowledge which we have of it in virtue of its always being with us and of the fact that we are our body.  In the same way we shall need to reawaken our experience of the world as it appears to us in so far as we are in the world through our body, and in so far as we perceive the world with our body. (PP, 239/206)


“The body is our general medium for having a world.” But we can live and know our own body in more than one way, and are thereby open to more than one style of lived world, for it is the “deep structure” of corporeal perception that keeps the world in play.


What one senses = the sensible thing, the sensible world = the correlate of my active body, what “responds” to it — — What senses = I cannot posit one sole sensible without positing it as torn from my flesh, lifted off my flesh, and my flesh itself is one of the sensibles in which an inscription of all the others is made, the sensible pivot in which all the others participate, the sensible-key, the dimensional sensible. (VI, 313/259–60)

To be born of the flesh is to be initiated into this corporeal complicity.  And it is by our global perceptual style that we perpetuate the lifeworld we live.


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A. Touch/Kinaesthesis/Body Feeling: There is some ambiguity in the use of such terms as “tactile” and “kinaesthetic” within the literature on sensory perception and bodily awareness.  This derives, in part, from an inherited division of sensory experience into five “senses” (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste), to which a sixth, a “kinaesthetic sense,” is sometimes added.  Some writers—e.g., J. J. Gibson—have challenged this division.  Gibson proposes a schema of perceptual “systems” characterized by the type of environmental “information” they obtain: the visual system, the auditory system, the taste-smell system, the basic-orienting system, and the haptic system.  The basic-orienting system, which is indeed basic to all the others, has to do with upright posture and body equilibrium; it provides orientation with respect to gravity and the ground plane, along with front-back and right-left orientation.  The haptic system refers to the activity of touching, but also includes the inner-bodily sensations commonly named by such terms as “kinaesthetic,” “proprioceptive,” “coenesthetic,” etc. (51) Thus in Gibson’s scheme, the body as a motile “null-point” (52) is described in terms of the basic-orienting system, while other aspects of lived motility—e.g., kinaesthetic “information” concerning movement of one’s own joints and muscles—is categorized as haptic, i.e., as functionally implicated in the tactile perception of an object outside the body (or, in some cases, inside the body—e.g., a fishbone stuck in the throat).  Such an approach is consistent with Gibson’s explicit focus upon perceptual systems as active ways in which an organism obtains “information” about the outside world: for Gibson, proprioception participates in perception, but proprioceptive “sensations” per se are relevant only insofar as they are subsumed in this project of achieving and maintaining perceptual contact with the environment.

Gibson’s presentation of the intertwining of tactile and kinaesthetic aspects in the haptic system can easily find support in the phenomenological analysis of the foundational role of the kinaesthetic field for sensory perception, which is particularly clear in the case of tactile


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experience. (53)  But it does not address the question of the direct experience of one’s own body.  The contrast between the experience of “touch” and “body feeling” may be approached with the following descriptions by Elisabeth Ströker:


In touch the world is manifested in the primordial sense as standing in opposition.  Touch touches something, and indeed something material, something thing-like, which it encounters and which simultaneously confronts it.  This leads to the experience of the thing’s resistance.


Closer consideration of the resistance by virtue of which “something” is first present at all to touch reveals its dual nature: experience not only shows that the tactile thing resists the lived body, but that the touching lived body resists the touched thing.  The lived body thereby experiences itself with respect to its touchability; it is a “physical body,” a thing among things—and yet at the same time, it remains unbridgeably separated from them in that it is a felt body, and indeed, one that is felt “from within” [“von innen”].


Where the lived body itself becomes given, it does so in a way not comparable to any other mode of being given.  In sensation as “corporeal feeling” [“Leibgefühl”] it is present in a specific, qualitatively and intensively unique state.  This state does not signify objectivity.  It is an awareness [Innewerden] of the lived body in a nonthetic mode of consciousness, which, however, has two particular characteristics.  First, consciousness of one’s own lived body is consciousness of the lived body as a whole.  Even with strictly localizable organ sensations, the organ is not sensed alone; rather, the lived body as a whole functions as the phenomenal background of all these single sensations.  Second, each actual consciousness of one’s own lived body already belongs to the latter’s entire existence [Da-sein] prior to all differentiated states.  Each corporeal consciousness already and always assumes the prior being of the entire lived body, which is not exhausted by the singular states given. (54)


In no way do Ströker’s descriptions of a “corporeal feeling from within” contradict the analysis of the constitution of one’s own body as a material thing, and this precisely through the experience of “resistance” mentioned above.


But while it is comparable to things, this does not mean that the lived body thereby becomes a thing among things.  A thing does not experience its thinghood in its



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encounter with others; it does not have any “thing-experience” of “itself.” Yet the self-experience of the corporeal “thing” is entirely different in kind from experiencing all other things.  While apprehending myself as a body,  I am present to myself “in the flesh” [leib-“haftig”] in an incomparable way.  Thus the sensory intuition of my body is not accomplished in the same way as my intuition of other things. ... Rather, my body as a whole is present to me immediately and actually; it is not given objectively, but felt through in an order of depth clearly differentiated according to quality and intensity. (55)


A. Michotte concurs with Ströker’s statement that “the sensory intuition of my body is not accomplished in the same way as my intuition of other things,” pointing out that “‘sensations’ are not experienced in the ordinary way in the case of the body.” (56)  He devotes several pages to describing the experience of one’s own body perceived “kinaesthetically.”


Unfortunately there is some confusion on this subject, since people generally attribute to the ‘sense’ (so-called) of kinaesthesis not only the impressions of movement in our limbs and our postural awareness (stataesthesis), but also our impressions of the resistance, hardness, weight, and shape of external objects.  This approach derives from the traditional theory of sense-perception and the custom of classifying ‘sensations’ according to the different receptor organs by which they are mediated.  In fact, however, the stimulation of the organs of deep sensibility gives impressions of two very distinct types, according to the conditions of the total situation in which they occur, which determine whether they are ‘objective’ or ‘subjective. ...


Somatic impressions, in the strict sense, form a special class, and there is only one object whose boundaries they mark, viz. our own body. (57)



Thus for Michotte, as for Ströker, one’s own body is given in a unique experiential way, despite the fact that it also participates sensuously (and essentially) in the givenness of other objects in tactile (and other perceptual) experience.  Their descriptions distinguish tactility, in the strict sense, from what Ströker calls “corporeal feeling” [Leibgefühl] and Michotte calls “somatic impressions” or “kinaesthesis.”

Husserl, however, has distinguished between kinaesthesis as the pure “I-can” (which, as is well known, plays a crucial role in Merleau-Ponty’s



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presentation of bodily intentionality) and the lived feeling of bodily movement:


What Husserl means by kinaesthesis is not the bodily sensations accompanying movement or muscular tension, or the inner sensations, but rather something volitional or quasi-volitional that remains when one abstracts from such sensations. (58)


A similar distinction is drawn by Richard M. Zaner in his discussion of Marcel’s description of the experience of one’s own body. For Marcel, the body as lived is not an object, but a “felt kernel” (“noyau senti”), a special type of “sentir” referred to as an “Urgefühl. (59) Zaner points out that Marcel only occasionally and tentatively equates “sentir” with coenesthetic sensations. (60) For Zaner, that which plays the primordial role that Marcel assigned the Urgefühl is not coenesthetic “data,” but the kinaesthetic flow-patterns described by Husserl:


... not only are these kinaesthesias, or kinaesthetic flow-patterns, functionally correlated with certain Wahrnehmungsempfindungen ... but also ... these kinaesthetic flow-patterns are themselves, in their correlation with perception, experienced by consciousness, “felt,” as Marcel puts it, in the sense of being urgefühlt. (61)


This “felt nucleus” is not composed of coenesthetic, proprioceptive, or other somatic sensations, but is rather “a unified ensemble of powers or potentialities,” which govern the if-then correlation between the perceiving corporeal consciousness and the things thereby perceived (e.g., if I turn my head to the left, I can see my black cat):



... these organized and unified potencies ... are experienced as that which embodies me but which I cannot make into “objects,” in the etymological sense of the term. ... these potencies are indeed “felt,” but are not specific types of coenesthetic data but rather are kinaesthetic flow-patterns which are experienced or “felt” as that which places me in a world of objects: they embody me “at” the world by actualizing my strivings. ... It is not the case, then, that these kinaesthesias are themselves “objects” for consciousness; rather, it is by means of them that consciousness directs itself to “objects” as transcendent


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to itself; they are lived, not “looked at.” (62)


Such distinctions may be schematized in at least two ways: (1) Bodily intentionality requires some sort of co-perception of one’s own body.  However, the latter cannot be thematized in the same way as are other intentional “objects”; kinaesthesis is not a “datum,” an “object” given for “consciousness,” but a “means.” Thus I have referred to “bodily reflexivity” and “diakinaisthesis” to indicate that the lived body so understood or co-perceived is not, strictly speaking, the object of an intentional act, but is that which is felt-through. (2) If an “object” known as “my own lived body” is given, even given uniquely in its “mineness” through the special experiential class of somatic sensations mentioned earlier, this can only be the body-as-constituted; the body-as-constituting—which is foundational for the mineness of my own lived body (Leib) as felt (Leibgefühl), for the materiality of my body as physical body (Körper) in resistant encounter with the things of the world, for the synthesis of the latter two, and indeed for spatiality and the perceptual fields—can be described with the term “kinaesthesis” in the sense of Zaner, but not in the sense of Michotte.

Several other observations may now be made with respect to the constellation of terms discussed above.

(1) Terminological ambiguities in this area are not simply the result of inherited schemata concerning sensory fields, but are founded in functional interconnections within the phenomena themselves.  For example, any concrete instance whatsoever of touching will necessarily swing kinaesthesis (in the sense of the I-can, as emphasized by Husserl and Zaner) into play, and, given the appropriate experiential shift, a correlative qualitative “corporeal feeling” can also be brought to givenness.

(2) Various experiential disciplines and strategies in the practice of “body work” may focus on one or another of these intertwined aspects (tactility, I-can, Leibgefühl), yet bring about changes in the others as well.  For example, in the Alexander technique, based on the work of F. M. Alexander,

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the practitioner’s touch helps the client change habitual patterns in upright posture as the global field of the pure “I-can”; corporeal feelings of ease or release do occur, though they are not posited as an immediate goal of the process.  Sensory Awareness, developed by Charlotte Selver (based on the work of Elsa Gindler), often uses tactile contact with things to awaken the feel of the lived body itself as well as its motility.  The practice of Awareness Through Movement, developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, improves the functioning of the I-can through awareness of the feel of the “how” of the movement, as well as awareness of how, say, the prone body contacts the floor.  And in Trager Psychophysical Integration, developed by Milton Trager (cf. Phenomenological Description #5 above), the practitioner first evokes the felt quality of freedom and lightness in his or her own living, moving body, then communicates this feeling to the client through touch, eliciting in the recipient not only pleasurable bodily feelings of ease, but an enhanced capacity for light and easy movement as well. (63)  Often ease and freedom of movement is accompanied by a waning of “corporeal feeling,” as though one’s “body sense” is accustomed to a certain degree of “tension” tacitly recognized as “normal.” Nearly all experiential body disciplines emphasize the felt bodily experience of the person over any “intellectualization” of the experience.  Nevertheless, I believe that all such disciplines could benefit from developing experientially-grounded terms capable of articulating the richness of this “non-verbal” realm.

(3) The ultimate court of appeal for all terminological questions must be the phenomena themselves, given leibhaft:


For, with respect to all objects there exists the difference between a simple, empty process of presenting, or reproduction, of merely verbal intention, on the one hand, and the “self-presence” and consciousness of self-givenness corresponding to this self-presence, on the other. (64)

Thus choices between terms can only be decided on the basis of the itself-givenness of that to which the terms refer.  In addition, we must respect the principle


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that every originary presentive intuition is a legitimizing source of cognition,that everything originarily (so to speak, in its “personal” actuality) offered to us in “intuition” is to be accepted simply as what it is presented as being, but also only within the limits in which it is presented there. (65)

Thus no “experience” given leibhaft is to be suppressed on the grounds that it cannot be accomodated by current theories—or even by the “standard” phenomenological descriptions of such experience.  But in addition, no experiential evidence is to be “explained away” or replaced by theoretical or terminological constructs, whatever their source may be.

B. “Inner-Outer”/‘From Within’: In philosophical usage, terms such as “inner” and “outer,” “interior” and “exterior,” tend to carry an implicitly Cartesian history, expressing “the clear distinction between the private ‘internal world’ of mind-spirit and the ‘external world’ of extension.”(66) When “inner perception” and “outer perception” are philosophically discussed, the question is often one of the immediacy, certainty, infallibility, or apodicticity of “inner perception.” (67)  However, these historical overtones of the inner-outer schema are not presupposed, but are rather set out of play, by the experiential “style” for which I have used the technical term ‘from within’. (68)

This latter mode of experience need not imply a mind-body dualism, though in the inherited language of that tradition it might be hinted at by such phrases as the “mind’s body” (corps de l’esprit) or “incarnate cogito. Nor can ‘from within’ be given a merely spatialized sense, as though it meant “from inside the ‘container’ of my own skin.” (69) Lived awareness of one’s own body ‘from within’ is not inimical to the more universal notion of “extension,” but rather exhibits its own sort of “spread” and “depth” (see Phenomenological Description #2).  Yet it is not identical to the experience “of” one’s own body as an object that “I” contemplate, which assumes precisely that style or paradigm of separative seeing from which awareness ‘from within’ diverges by contrast.  Thus neither res cogitans nor res extensa can claim the phenomena revealed by awareness ‘from within’, and the Cartesian schema falls by the wayside. (70)  In


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addition, an absolute dichotomy between the “internal” as “private” and the “external” as “public” is undermined.  But far from being “immediate” or “certain,” as “inner perception” has been claimed to be, lived awareness ‘from within’ is—at least for many people—initially far more elusive than perception of the things of the world. (71)

The term ‘from within’, as used here, refers more to a manner of givenness than to a class of givens.  Erazim Kohák writes,


In Saint Augustine’s or Whitehead’s usage, the distinction of “inward” and “outward” did not suggest a compartmentalization of entities into two categories, the world of objects, conceived as the region of meaningless matter in motion, and the world of meanings, locked within the privacy of each individual’s mind or even brain.  In their usage, both terms apply equally to all being, referring not to classes of entities but to modes of being and modes of understanding anything that is. (72)


In this case “the crucial distinction is not between an ‘outer’ and an ‘inner’ reality but, as Bergson recognized, between understanding any and all reality from within and explaining it superficially from without.” (73) The contrast is thus not only between “understanding” and “explanation,” but also between an “inwardness” and a merely “outward” view.


For better or for worse, though, that is no longer how we understand the terms “inner” and “outer.” In our ordinary usage, those terms have acquired a distinctively spatial significance, as if they designated regions of entities rather than modes of being and understanding. (74)

But the contrast at stake in the present paper is definitely between two perceptual styles or experiential modes rather than two sorts of “entities.” In this connection it is worthwhile to refer to Marcel’s distinction between a “first reflection” and a “second reflection,” as presented in Zaner’s study, The Problem of Embodiment:


First, by treating whatever presents itself to me as an object ..., [first reflection] necessarily sets up to begin with a separation between a “here” which is “subject” and a “there” which is “object” .… Aiming at “pure objectivity,” secondly, it excludes what is “here” (“subject”) from the “there” (“objects”) deeming it a taint on objectivity to have anything “merely


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subjective”.… First reflection is thus at once an act of alienation and of desertion, seeking an ideal non-involvement by the spectator in the spectacle. (75)


But for Marcel, such an approach is not adequate to self or consciousness.  “Accordingly, it becomes necessary to reapproach the entire domain of subjectivity, in order to be able to apprehend it from within .…” (76)

‘From within’, then, can serve to indicate, not something spatially “inside” something else, nor even a class of sensations belonging to a single privileged “object” (e.g., my own lived body), but rather a “style,” “attitude,” or “approach” that may be manifested in various modes of experience—e.g., phenomenological reflection on subjectivity, as well as bodily awareness or diakinaisthesis.  Ultimately, however, the term ‘from within’ is shorthand for its experiential fulfillment, which alone legitimates it as a term or working category.


C. “Bodily Intentionality”/ “Bodily Reflexivity”: Mohanty notes that Husserl may have spoken of a “bodily intentionality” for the first time in the 1925 lectures published as Phenomenological Psychology, (77) but credits Merleau-Ponty with developing this theme, and indeed says that “the notion of bodily intentionality is an original contribution of Merleau-Ponty.” (78) Merleau-Ponty’s description of the role of bodily motility as “basic intentionality” (cf., e.g., PP, 160/137) is in no way challenged, but rather presupposed, by the present essay.  However, the enrichment of the notion of “intentionality” accomplished by the specification of a “bodily intentionality” may be complemented by the parallel enrichment of “reflexivity” by a “bodily reflexivity.” According to Mohanty,


... what we have called ‘reflexivity’ of consciousness has been misconstrued either as inner perception ..., or as the possibility of intentionally directing an act of reflection towards the conscious state in question ..., or as a peculiar doubling back of consciousness upon itself.  But the reflexivity of consciousness is neither of these, it is prior to all these. It is not a function of intentionality, it is not just another mode of it.  The original mode of



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givenness of consciousness to itself is not its being an object of another intentional act.


... this self-givenness without being directed towards itself, this non-positing, pre-reflective self-givenness of consciousness is exactly what we have called its transparence or reflexivity .… (79)


In other words, the term “reflexivity” refers to an awareness that does not open upon an “object,” whether what is meant is an object “other than itself” or “itself qua object,” and whether or not what is reflexively given is (or can be) subsequently made into an object of reflection. (80)

According to Mohanty’s discussion, intentionality is “a necessary condition of reflexivity.” (81) It is in light of his presentation of this priority of intentionality that I have introduced the term “reflexivity” in the context of describing touch and its intentional structure, rather than in discussing bodily awareness per se.  Though I have assumed Mohanty’s presentation of reflexivity in choosing the term “bodily reflexivity,” he himself does not explicitly allow the latter term.  However, it is implied by his discussion of “degrees of intentionality” and “degrees of reflexivity” (82) and his statement that “even the bodily motility is not just in-itself, wholly opaque, lacking self-awareness.” (83)

It must be mentioned that the lived awareness here termed “bodily reflexivity” is not automatically identical with the sense in which the lived body is said to be “reflexively related to itself” (84) solely because it is not only seeing and touching, but tangible and visible to itself.  Despite the importance of this circumstance for both Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, if it is conceived as “a procedure in which the functioning organ must become an Object and the Object a functioning organ,” (85) it is not identical with the reflexive turn wherein, say, the touching hand feels itself ‘from within’.  The difference is that with the latter, “the self-perception (sentiment of oneself, Hegel would say) or perception of perception does not convert what it apprehends into an object ...” (VI, 303/249).  In the same passage from which the latter remark is drawn, Merleau-Ponty equates “the reflexivity of the body” with “the fact that it touches itself touching, sees


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 itself seeing .…” In the language of the present study, however, reflexivity is not merely a “fact,” but may also itself be given leibhaft, e.g., in the case of bodily self-awareness ‘from within’.

My use of the term “reflexivity” should also be distinguished from Zaner’s use of the term in The Context of Self, (86) though I believe his presentation of corporeal experience there to be thoroughly compatible with the present essay.

D. On that which cannot be made into an “object”: As other sections of this essay have suggested, many writers describing the mode of givenness of one’s own body contrast it with that of an “object,” a point which Merleau-Ponty also emphasizes (cf., e.g., PP, Part One).  Scheler, for example, writes: “To live in a lived body does not mean to possess it objectively.” (87) As Marcel says, “there is ... a certain fundamental way of feeling that cannot in any way be converted into an object ,” (88) a point echoed in Zaner’s remark that “coenesthetic, proprioceptive, and kinaesthetic data are not apprehended by me as objects. (89)

But in his discussion of Sartre’s analysis of the body, Zaner writes,


... my body-as-lived by me cannot become an object for me just because, so far as I live it, I am it; and, being my body, I cannot realize the “distance” necessary to make it appear as object over against me, the subject.  The implicit argument here is the same as Marcel’s, and as Merleau-Ponty’s ...: the moment I attempt to grasp my body-as-lived ..., the body I succeed in apprehending reflectively is no longer my body-as-lived, nor is the body I sensuously perceive with other parts of my body, my body-as-lived, but rather only my body-as-object, i.e., for Sartre, the body of the Other. (90)

The structure of experience referred to here—a subject with an object over against it at a distance—is what I have called the separative style, for which separative seeing is an exemplary instance.  According to Zaner, however, the problem whereby the body “cannot become an object”


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involves an unjustified reification of the notion of “object.”


In short, it is to confuse “objectifying” with “objectivating”: to attend to some state of affairs (whatever it may be, and whether reflectively or not) is not necessarily, as Sartre assumes, to make it into an object divorced from the subject. (91)


Using Marcel’s notion of an alternative sort of “reflection” (cf. Appendix B above), Zaner then maintains that “to make any activity ... thematic is by no means to take it as a mere object (in Sartre’s sense, as a Gegenstand, something standing-over-against-me, who am subject) .…” (92) Thus for Zaner the error “is to reify the meaning of object beyond any reasonable sense and to ignore the ‘objective sense’ which this ‘object’ has for me.” (93)

It is true that “thematization” need not be identical with “reification.” However, the problem may not be fully resolved by distinguishing between a “thing-object” and an “intentional object.” It has been noted that “self-perceptions, in many cases, are not what Husserl calls intentional acts.” (94) In other words, one’s own body may be “co-perceived,” “co-present,” “co-experienced” without standing at the term of an intentional arc (though it may, of course, become the object of an intentional act performed by myself or another).  Mohanty points out that the notion of operative intentionality—an important theme in Merleau-Ponty’s reading of Husserl—includes intentionalities that are not acts, e.g., retentions and horizon-intentionalities; they “do not in the strict sense possess an intentional object .…” (95) As Merleau-Ponty says, “the present still holds on to the immediate past without positing it as an object ...” (PP, 83/69).  And with regard to space, he writes: “It is neither an object, nor an act of unification on the subject’s part ...” (PP, 294/254).  His analyses of movement—both of one’s own motility and of the perception of movement—reveal a similar effort to liberate the phenomena from the paradigm of the “objective” (see PP, 127–44/109–24, 309–24/267–80).



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Thus among the “candidates” for that which cannot invariably be considered an “object” we find not only one’s own lived body, but also space, time, and movement. (96) To these must be added what they already imply: world, as phenomenologically understood.


A world is not one object among others; rather it is that which embraces all possible objects of our experience, and functions as the basis for every particular experience.  For this reason it does not attain original givenness in the manner characteristic of particular objects. (97)


But it has its own manner of givenness, which, says Landgrebe, is that of the horizonal, “pervaded by a most general style of being (and a correlative style of experience) ....” (98) Now if lived body, time, space, movement, and world are thus most genuinely given in a manner other than as the “object” of an “intentional act,” then the paradigm of “acts” of an “ego-subject” perspectivally directed toward an “object” (of whatever ontological status) is no longer sufficient for describing experience per se. There must also be room for consciousness that is not an “act,” that need not possess an “object” separate from or opposed to a “subject”-pole, that may be characterized by both reflexivity and intentionality, and that is a “witnessing” to the whole (as horizon or “silent background”) ‘from within’. (Such an alternative paradigm is explored in depth by Gebser under the title “integral consciousness.”) This is not to deny that there is experiential evidence for the familiar ego-cogito-cogitatum scheme; it is rather to suggest that the latter, particularly when conceived using the language that opposes “subject” and “object,” is not the sole and privileged model for all experience whatsoever.

Thus the recurring references to that which cannot be made into an “object” not only indicate certain areas of experience for which the “object” model is not satisfactory, but may also point to a shift in how experience as a whole is understood and lived.  Such a shift then need not be limited to the specific experiential examples mentioned (lived body, space, time, movement, world); it is a transformation of “style” (of both


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“being” and “experience”) that may be displayed across many other examples as well.  The “shift”—which Gebser characterized in a variety of ways, e.g., as the “supercession of dualism”—is manifested in both of the phrases serving to guide the present study, “flesh of the world” and “world without opposite,” and is the experiential foundation making the emergence of such new terms or expressions necessary.


E. Description and Evidence: The difficulty one may experience in eliciting some of the phenomena described in the text, or in “cashing in” terms such as la chair du monde and die Welt ohne Gegenüber in experiential evidence, raises several interesting points with regard to phenomenological description.  First of all, since certain phenomena (or constitutive elements thereof) emerge with clarity only in the retrogressive inquiry (Rückfrage) from our everyday entanglement in the world (Weltbefangenheit), they tend to be given to the practiced rather than the naive “observer.” (99) But are the phenomena thus revealed mere constructs of the investigation?  In other words, if a phenomenon is not to be found in everyday experience in the natural attitude, but only emerges with painstaking phenomenological interrogation, is the phenomenologist’s description of it suspect, because the description does not match the initial experience of most other observers?  Phenomenologically speaking, this question is irrelevant so long as what arises to fulfill a new term or style of investigation (or whatever else has become necessary in the course of the phenomenologist’s labors) is itself-given in the appropriate experiential evidence.  David M. Levin has addressed this question—and indeed, taken it further—in several essays, notably “The Poetic Function of Phenomenological Discourse.” (100) Though certain phenomenological formulations may at first appear to run counter to experience as it is superfically lived in the natural attitude, they are true to our experiential depths, and function transformatively:


Our interpretation of the poetic function in phenomenological discourse invites us to approach that,



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and also how, a poetizing of experience is intended to possess the power, almost magical, to let happen and make true what it describes ..., opening up our essential capacities and our preunderstanding of them and really moving or transporting us.  Articulations that are not true of our experience become true by moving us to change in ways that make them true. (101)


To say, for example, that the other and I “are like organs of one single intereorporeality” (Signs, 168) is, perhaps, not merely “descriptive,” but prescriptive.  “The poetizing descriptions of depth phenomenology prescribe, schematize for us, the goal to be attained.  They belong to the conversation of culture.” (102)

Here Levin’s work finds support in the work of several other thinkers, e.g., in Herbert Spiegelberg’s notion that phenomenological description can enrich human experience; (103) in Landgrebe’s presentation of transcendental subjectivity as directed to an “open future,” such that even “a priori” possibilities “are not possibilities in themselves,” but rather “are constituted through their accomplishment,” in the “execution of freedom”; (104) and in Jean Gebser’s insistence that the “world without opposite” is not a fait accompli, nor an automatic result of the “progress” of some history, but a task of conscious enrichment and integration. (105) What Levin’s point rests on, though, is the profoundly phenomenological claim that descriptions can be “redeemed” leibhaft, fulfilled in experiential givenness.  The difference between a description that transforms the natural attitude and one that merely reinstates it therefore rests on this more fundamental difference, namely, the difference between the way in which something “can be merely intended in speech and the way in which it can be known with insight,” in its “proper mode of being ‘itself-there.’” (106)

This is not to minimize the power of words and descriptive schematizations in general or to set up a dichotomy between a supposed “pre-linguistic” realm and a “linguistic” one: it is to honor the phenomenological commitment to experiential evidence.  Ultimately my claim is not that the terms “separative seeing” and “lived awareness ‘from within’” are the best, or the only, formulations to specify these


p. 42

phenomena.  Rather, I am claiming that an experiential distinction between these two styles is there to be found, and that others who criticize or improve my formulations can legitimately do so only on the basis of their own firsthand acquaintance with the phenomena I have attempted to schematize with my terms. (107)

F. Perception and Paradigm: The entire theme of “perception and paradigm” may be discussed with respect to several interrelated theses:

1. Phenomenological descriptions of perception within a particular sensory field can bring to light “styles” and “structures” characteristic of experience within that sensory modality. (108)

2. These “styles” and “structures,” however, are ways in which experience is structured rather than “contents” of experience (e.g., visual “data,” auditory “data,” etc.): they specify not merely a class of givens, but a manner of givenness, and indicate a possible typical “how” rather than a category of “what’s.” (Note that this remark does not apply to experience in the natural attitude, but to the findings of the appropriate phenomenological investigations.)

3. Thus an experiential style initially discovered as characterizing a particular sensory capacity can also be detected as “transferred” or “translated” to other sensory modalities and fields (or simply “also manifesting” in them, thus deferring the question of any implicit or explicit “transfer” of style from one sensory domain to another). (109) The style in question may become, in other words, a paradigm or model; though often called by the name of its exemplary range of examples (e.g., “visual”), it may shape experience in other sensory fields as well. (Note that the habit of referring to a perceptual style by the name of a traditionally/physiologically conceived “sense” tends to occlude the status of the style as a typical manner of givenness, e.g., “separative.”)

4. In addition, the style (or constellation of structures) in question may become paradigmatic for experience as a whole, as well as


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establishing the typical way in which experience explicitly singled out as “perceptual” is organized (cf. the summary to Phenomenological Description #1 above and the theme of the “primacy of perception” in general).

5. If a single perceptual style becomes predominant in the life of an individual (or of a culture), it may not only act as a paradigm in the manner described—i.e., as a pattern borrowed from one area of experience yet manifested in many—but may also suppress or override other possibilities.

Given these five theses (which cannot be further explored here), the following scheme emerges: In the natural attitude, sensory experience embraces various capacities (touching, smelling, tasting, hearing, seeing, kinaesthetic awareness) normally integrated in synaesthetic perception of objects.  For example, I not only see the violin and hear its sound, I am aware of how it feels to me as I touch it and how this feel of the fiddle is linked with my own movement style lived ‘from within’; at the same time, I can smell its characteristic odors, and it lies within my power to taste it if I wish.  As Merleau-Ponty shows, the object’s intersensorial givenness is not the result of a painstaking synthesis performed by the intellect upon diverse “sense data,” but is founded on an operative and dynamic synthesis of the lived body and its kinaesthetic/sensory capacities.  Phenomenological analysis of the various “senses” (taken simply as given within a particular historical/cultural context) allows us to identify the structures of experience “typical” of each of these sensory capacities—“native” to it, as it were.  For example, when I consider the violin solely as seen, I am struck by its standing out “over there” as a figure against a ground given from a particular spatial perspective, etc.; when I devote myself to the violin solely as heard, I discover myself caught up in a rhythm that is as much “here,” at the site of my own lived body, as it is “over there,” where the visible violin “really is,” etc.  But the structures disclosed by this type of analysis are neither necessarily confined to a single sensory modality nor necessarily uniquely determinative of it.  Thus, for example, instead of simply giving myself over to the ebb and flow of moving sound played by the violin, I may examine a printed score, looking


p. 44

for the formal patterns shaping the music (e.g., “ABA form”), or I may analyze the characteristics of the violin’s sound, studying it visually by way of the oscillograph, and so forth.

There is some empirical research to indicate that individuals tend to prefer a particular sensory mode and that reliance on one mode may damp abilities in other modes. (110)  Other writers have drawn attention to the pervasiveness of the visual in the Western cultural tradition, (111) and some have criticized phenomenology itself for its reliance on a visual paradigm (cf., e.g., the visual language in thesis #1 above). (112)  My own investigations have led me to appreciate the importance of distinguishing between a perceptual style and a particular sensory modality typifying this style.  In addition, the availability of a certain style as an experiential possibility is to be distinguished from its implicit or explicit enforcement as “the” style of experience.  It is true that many disciplines are


apparently still caught up in systems whose key terms are borrowed from the visual, are carried-over (meta-phor) from the vocabulary of sight and thus are imposed on the vocabularies of the other senses, which do exist, but which may have been prevented from flowering because of this imbalance. (113)


Thus the critique of “visual metaphor” may be liberating.  But the kind of experiential enrichment that the present essay ultimately demands cannot be achieved simply by shutting one’s eyes (literally or metaphorically).  It is not a matter of renouncing the separative style, but of gaining fluency in other experiential styles as well.  There are many ways for the body to be a body, many ways for consciousness to be conscious, and in the open world described by Gebser, such ways coexist without contradiction.  They are the very depth of our human possibility and the core of our freedom.



 p. 45



 1) Edmund Husserl, Introduction to the Logical Investigations: A Draft of a Preface to the Logical Investigations (1913), ed.  Eugen Fink, trans.  Philip J. Bossert and Curtis H. Peters (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975), pp. 56, 57, 58, 61.  In this “Preface” (unpublished during his lifetime and intended for the revised second edition of the Logical Investigations), Husserl insists that the attentive reader must have “actively produced the phenomena in himself” (p. 55) in order to understand a phenomenological work and judge its merits.  Such active cooperation of the reader is especially crucial for the present paper. (Note that the term “intuitive” must be taken in a strictly Husserlian sense.)


 2) Françoise Dastur, “Consciousness and Body in the Phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty: Some Remarks Concerning Flesh, Vision, and World in the Late Philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty,” in A.-T. Tymieniecka, ed., Analecta Husserliana, vol. 17 (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1984), 119.


 3) Herbert Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement: A Historical Introduction, 3rd ed., rev. and enl. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1982), p. 697.


 4) Two especially fruitful studies by other phenomenologists must be acknowledged here: David Michael Levin, “The Opening of Vision: Seeing Through the Veil of Tears,” Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry 16: 1/2/3 (1978–79), 113–46, and Tadashi Ogawa, “‘Seeing’ and ‘Touching’ or Overcoming the Soul-Body Dualism,” in A.-T. Tymieniecka, ed., Analecta Husserliana, vol. 16 (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1983), 77–94 (first published in Phenomenology Information Bulletin 4, 1980).  M. C. Dillon, “Merleau-Ponty and the Reversibility Thesis,” Man and World 16:4 (1983), 365–88, should also be mentioned.


5) “The term ‘natürliche Einstellung’ <natural attitude> is dangerous, as suggesting a sort of (arbitrary?) ‘attitude’.  Fink prefers to say ‘Weltbefangenheit’ <entanglement in the world>”—Dorion Cairns, Conversations with Husserl and Fink (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976), p. 95 (Conversation with Fink, 23/9/32).  Landgrebe is also wary of the term “attitude.” See, e.g., Ludwig Landgrebe, The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl: Six Essays, ed.  Donn Welton (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981), p. 35.


 6) Cf. Landgrebe, op. cit. (note 5), p. 189: “The task of a phenomenological clarification of the life-world is to comprehend, first of all, the style of the world-life.”


 7) Cf., e.g., Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception (Paris: Gallimard, 1945), pp. 177–78; Phenomenology of Perception, trans. Colin Smith (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962), pp. 152–53 (henceforth cited as PP, with page numbers first for the French, then for the English translation).



 p. 46

 8) Cf., e.g., Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Primacy of Perception and Other Essays, ed.  James M. Edie (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1964), pp. 5–6, 16 (henceforth cited as Primacy); cf.  Linda Singer, “Merleau-Ponty on the Concept of Style,” Man and World 14:2 (1981), 153–63.


         9) Thus I am assuming, with Merleau-Ponty, both the “primacy of perception” and its foundation in the lived body.  Cf., e.g., Primacy, pp. 3, 5, 25.


10) This is a typically Sartrean analysis; see Being and Nothingness, Part Three, Chapter 2. See also J. H. Van Den Berg, “The Human Body and the Significance of Human Movement: A Phenomenological Study,” in Psychoanalysis and Existential Philosophy, ed. Hendrik M. Ruitenbeek (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1962), pp. 90–129 (first published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 13: 2 [Dec. 1952], 159–83); cf.  Richard M. Zaner,  The Context of Self: A Phenomenological Inquiry Using Medicine as a Clue (Athens, Oh.: Ohio University Press, 1981), Chapter 3; cf. also Herbert Spiegelberg, “On the Motility of the Ego: A Contribution to the Phenomenology of the Ego,” in Conditio Humana: Erwin W. Straus on his 75th birthday, ed. Walter von Baeyer and Richard M. Griffith (Berlin: Springer, 1966), pp. 298–99.


11) Cf. PP, 261/226, on “fixing one’s gaze.” The description of “arrest” in “looking-at” should be construed as an instance of, rather than an exception to, the constitutive role of kinaesthesis for visual perception: see, e.g., Ulrich Claesges, Edmund Husserls Theorie der Raumkonstitution (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964); John J. Drummond, “On Seeing a Material Thing in Space: The Role of Kinaesthesis in Visual Perception,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 40:1 (Sept. 1979), 19–32; and John J. Drummond, “Objects’ Optimal Appearances and the Immediate Awareness of Space in Vision,” Man and World l6:3 (1983), 177–205.  On the notion of the body as constituting (rather than merely as constituted), see Landgrebe, op. cit. (note 5), pp. 44, 56, 60, 63, 160; cf.  Alphonso Lingis, “Intentionality and Corporeity,” in A.-T. Tymieniecka, ed., Analecta Husserliana, vol. 1 (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1970), 75–90; cf. also PP, 171/146.  Throughout this essay, I assume a methodological rather than metaphysical interpretation of “constitution” (cf., e.g., Landgrebe, op. cit., pp. 155–56).


12) John Derrickson McCurdy, Visionary Appropriation (New York: Philosophical Library, 1978), p. 145. See also my Appendix A, and cf. Appendix F.


13) Levin, op. cit. (note 4), p. 122; cf.  Ogawa, op. cit. (note 4), p. 86.


14) Levin, op. cit. (note 4), p. 123.



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15) Martin Heidegger,  The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. William Lovitt (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1977), p. 166; cited in Levin, op. cit. (note 4), p. 124.


16) Arthur Egendorf, “Human Development and Ultimate Reality: The Perceptual Grounds for Transformation,” in Ralph H. Moon and Stephen Randall, eds., Dimensions of Thought: Current Explorations in Time, Space, and Knowledge, vol. 2 (Berkeley, Cal.: Dharma Publishing, 1980), 26–27.


17) Cf. Donald M. Lowe, History of Bourgeois Perception (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), for some concrete work along these lines, and see Appendix F of the present paper.


18) See, for example, Hans Jonas, “The Nobility of Sight: A Study in the Phenomenology of the Senses,” in The Philosophy of the Body: Rejections of Cartesian Dualism, ed.  Stuart F. Spicker (New York: Quadrangle, 1970), pp. 312–33 (also in Hans Jonas, The Phenomenon of Life: Toward a Philosophical Biology [New York: Harper & Row, 1966], pp. 135–56; first published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 14:4 [June 1954], 507–19). For the entire question of pervasive structures of consciousness and their cultural manifestation, and the notion of efficient and deficient modes of such structures, see Jean Gebser, Ursprung und Gegenwart [written 1947/48 and 1951/52, rev. and enl. 1964/65] (Stuttgart: Deutscher Taschenbuch, 1973); English translation by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas, under the title The Ever-Present Origin (Athens, Oh.: Ohio University Press, 1984).


19) Cf. PP, 66–67/54–55 on the “freezing of being.”


20) Lawrence W. Goldfarb, “Sensory Syntax: An Introduction to the Language of Movement” (photocopy, 1984), p. 50.


21) In conversation with Cairns (28/12/31), “Husserl replied that, as we live in the natural attitude, we have no immediate awareness of the already beherrschte <governed, controlled> kinaesthetic fields.  In our decisions we do not direct our conscious active will to the bringing about of certain trains of kinaesthesias but rather to the changes in nature which we desire to bring about. Only through Rückfrage <regressive inquiry, asking back> do we come upon the kinaesthesia” —Cairns, op. cit. (note 5), p. 62.


22) Abandoning upright posture is an excellent strategy for the “Rückfrage” mentioned in the preceding note, for it places in brackets the sedimented basis for nearly all activity in the natural attitude.  See Erwin W. Straus, Phenomenological Psychology: The Selected Papers of Erwin W. Straus, trans.  Erling Eng (New York: Basic Books, 1966), pp. 137–65. (The essay in question—“The Upright Posture”—was first published in Psychiatric Quarterly 26 [1952], 529–61.)


23) Charles V. W. Brooks, Sensory Awareness: The Rediscovery of Experiencing (New York: Viking, 1974), p. 25.



p. 48 

24) On various terms for “bodily awareness,” see Appendix A. I am distinguishing “bodily awareness” from the experience-of the body.  Although in both cases it is a question of Leib rather than Körper, the mode of givenness differs. (See also Appendices C and D.)


25) This term is placed within single quotation marks to indicate its technical status; see Appendix B.


26) A. Michotte, The Perception of Causality, trans. T. R. Miles and Elaine Miles (London: Methuen, 1963), p. 197.


27) Husserl has remarked that kinaesthesis is never totally at a standstill; see Edmund Husserl,  Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität: Texte aus dem Nachlass, vol. 3 (1929–1935), ed. Iso Kern, Husserliana, vol. 15 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973), 652.


28) Cf. the discussion in Appendix A.


29) Michotte, op. cit. (note 26), p. 204.


30) See note 10.  Cf.  Edith Stein, On the Problem of Empathy, trans. Waltraut Stein (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964), p. 40.


31) There are anatomical limits, even for the contortionist, to the configurations in which one part of the body can touch another part.  But any possible configuration can, in principle, display the reversibility of “toucher” and “touched” roles, though some variations are harder to elicit than others.  Cf. Edmund Husserl, Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität: Texte aus dem Nachlass, vol. 2 (1921–1928), ed. Iso Kern, Husserliana, vol. 14 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973), 121.


32) On this “incipient” or “potential” movement (which Merleau-Ponty refers to as the “germ of movement”), see, e.g., PP, 110/94, 126/109; cf. 243/204, 271/234.  On holding-still as a mode of the I-can, see, e.g., Edmund Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy, trans.  David Carr (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1970), pp. 106, 161.


33) See Appendix C.


34) Cf. Jitendra Nath Mohanty, The Concept of Intentionality (St.  Louis: Warren H. Green, 1972), p. 182.


        35) For this example in Husserl, see, e.g., Ideen zur einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie, Zweites Buch: Phänomenologische Untersuchungen zur Konstitution, ed. Marly Biemel, Husserliana, vol. 4 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1952), 144 ff.  Cf.  Husserliana, vol. 15 (note 27), 295 ff., where Husserl uses a moving-moved example as well as the touching-touched example; cf. also, e.g.,


p. 49


Husserliana, vol. 14 (note 31), pp. 75–76, 239, 448–49 (and see 451–53). Merleau-Ponty uses the touching-touched example in a number of places: see, e.g., PP, 108–109/92–93, 364/315; Signs, trans. Richard C. McCleary (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1964), pp. 166, 168, 170 (henceforth cited as Signs); Le visible et l’invisible, ed. Claude Lefort (Paris: Gallimard, 1964) / The Visible and the Invisible, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1968), pp. 164–65/123, 175–76/133–34, 191–92/146, 194/147–48, 257/204, 303/249, 307–309/254–56, 313/260, 214/261 (henceforth cited as VI, with page numbers first for the French, then for the English translation); Primacy, 162–63.


36) Cf.  Spiegelberg, “On the Motility of the Ego” (note 10), p. 291, and cf. the discussion in Phenomenological Description #2.  The “short-circuiting” is qualitatively different from the “flooding” of awareness from a point to a fuller body experience; both, however, set out of play the more usual identification of the “self” with a location somewhere in the head.


37) This question signifies a return to the question posed at the opening of this essay: “Is there really a possible experience of the ‘flesh’ or only an experience of one’s own body?” See also Appendix F.


38) The classic example is the blind man’s cane—see PP, 167/143. Cf.  McCurdy, op. cit. (note 12), e.g., pp. 165–67, 230–32, 254–56.  See also PP, 169–70/145–46 and Elizabeth A. Behnke, “At the Service of the Sonata: Music Lessons with Merleau-Ponty,” Somatics 4:2 (Spring/Summer 1983), 32–34.


39) See Gebser’s Ursprung und Gegenwart (note 18), as well as Jean Gebser, “Die Welt ohne Gegenüber,” Gesamtausgabe V/I (Schaffhausen: Novalis, 1976), 267–81; English translation by Tim Widman (photocopy, n.d.).


40) Ursprung und Gegenwart (note 18), p. 634 (in Part Two, Chapter 9, section 3).


41) Cited in Liliane Brion-Guerry, Cézanne et l’expression de l’espace (Paris: Albin Michel, 1966), p. 226.    Gebser cites the Cézanne quote in Ursprung und Gegenwart (note 18),  p. 635, crediting Brion-Guerry’s 1950 edition of this work (Paris: Flammarion, 1950),  p. 180, and refers to the same quote in other works as well. See, e.g., “Die Probleme in der Kunst,” Gesamtausgabe V/I (Schaffhausen: Novalis, 1976), 131–47; English translation by John Kadela (photocopy, 1984).  It is also interesting that Cézanne is reported as having said, “Let us begin to paint as if we held things in our hands, not as if we were looking at them at all”—cited in Edmund Carpenter,  They Became What They Beheld (New York: Ballantine, 1970), n.p. (section entitled “Keep in Touch”).


42) Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Cézanne’s Doubt,” in his Sense and Non-Sense, trans. Hubert L. Dreyfus and Patricia A. Dreyfus (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1974), p. 17.


43) Primacy, p. 167; cf. p. 169 and VI, 183/139.  But also cf. Dillon, op. cit. (note 4), pp. 372–73.


p. 50


44) Gebser, “The World Without Opposite” (note 39), Eng. trans., p. 16.


45) Gebser, “Problems in Art” (note 41), Eng. trans., p. 5.


46) Gebser, “The World Without Opposite” (note 39), Eng. trans., p. 18.  Cf.  Dastur, op. cit. (note 2), p. 117: “... world and consciousness are no longer opposed ‘face to face’ in a ‘frontal relation’.…”

47) Cf. Ogawa, op. cit. (note 4), pp. 88, 91.


48) Cf. Appendix D and Appendix F, especially note 112.


49) Cf. note 18 above.  Erwin Straus’s notion of “contraposition”—in which a living being first gains its motility by rising up in “opposition” to the ground and the force of gravity—is, as he says, a “connection in separation,” and (I would add) need not be uniformly lived in the separative style.  See, for example, Erwin W. Straus, “Psychiatry and Philosophy,” trans. Erling Eng, in Psychiatry and Philosophy, ed. Maurice Natanson (New York: Springer, 1969), especially pp. 33–38.


50) As Merleau-Ponty says, “... there are several ways for the body to be a body, several ways for consciousness to be consciousness” (PP, 144/124); thus “... we have no right to level all experiences down to a single world, all modalities of existence down to a single consciousness” (PP, 335/290).


51) See James J. Gibson, The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966).  See pp. 33–34 and 110–11 for his critique of the notion of a separate “kinaesthetic sense”; cf. Michotte, op. cit. (note 26), p. 202.


52) Cf., e.g., Husserl, Ideen II (note 35), 56, 158; VI, 302/249, 308/255.


53) See, e.g., PP, 364–66/315–17; cf.  Gibson, op. cit. (note 51), pp. 111–14.


54) Elisabeth Ströker, Philosophische Untersuchungen zum Raum (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1965), pp. 147, 154, 160.  Translation after Algis Mickunas.


55) Ibid., pp. 162–63.


56) Michotte, op. cit. (note 26), p. 205.


57) Ibid., pp. 202, 203.


58) Cairns, op. cit. (note 5), p. 64; see also pp. 4, 7–8 (but cf. pp. 73, 83, 84).  Cf.  VI, 309/255: “the flesh, the Leib, is not a sum of self-touchings (of ‘tactile sensations’), but not a sum of tactile sensations plus ‘kinestheses’ either, it is an ‘I can’...”; cf. PP, 110/94; cf. also Lingis, op. cit. (note 11),  p. 78.


p. 51


59) Richard M. Zaner, The Problem of Embodiment: Some Contributions to a Phenomenology of the Body (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964), pp. 33, 35–38.


60) Ibid., p. 53.


61) Ibid., p. 54.


62) Ibid., p. 55.  Note the contrast between being “lived” and “looked at.” On the kinaestheses as not being “objects,” cf. Appendix D of the present paper.


63) See, e.g., Edward Maisel, ed., The Resurrection of the Body: The Writings of F. Mathias Alexander (New York: University Books, 1969); Charles V. W. Brooks, op. cit. (note 23); Moshe Feldenkrais, Awareness Through Movement: Health Exercises for Personal Growth (New York: Harper & Row, 1972); Deane Juhan, “The Trager Approach: Psychophysical Integration and Mentastics,” in The Bodywork Book, ed.  Nevill Drury (Sherborne, Dorset [England]: Prism Alpha, 1984), pp. 34–47.


64) Landgrebe, op. cit. (note 5), p. 150; cf. Appendix E of the present paper.


65) Edmund Husserl, Ideas pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, First Book: General Introduction to a Pure Phenomenology, trans. F. Kersten (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1982), p. 44 (§ 24).


66) Ogawa, op. cit. (note 4), p. 78.  Cf.  Husserl, Crisis (note 32), § 63, and Psychiatry and Philosophy (see note 49), p. vii.


67) Cf., e.g., Mohanty, op. cit. (note 34), pp. 11 ff.


68) The expression “von innen” is sometimes used by Husserl; see, e.g., Husserliana, vol. 15 (note 27), 300, 301, where the expression is used in context of the “I move” experience, and cf. Ideen II (note 35), p. 161.  For an example of an expanded sense of the expression “von innen her” in Husserl, see Ideen II, p. 180, and cf. Merleau-Ponty’s comment on this passage in Signs, pp. 178–79.


69) Cf. Ströker, op. cit. (note 54), p. 162.


70) For remarks on related dissolution of dualistic inner-outer schemes, see Landgrebe, op. cit. (note 5), pp. 45, 63.  For remarks on the contribution of Leibniz in interpreting the Cartesian dualism of res cogitans and res extensa in terms of inner-outer dualism, see Eugen Fink,  Zur ontologischen Frühgeschichte von Raum-Zeit-Bewegung (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1957), p. 34


71) Cf. Richard Schmitt, “On Knowing One’s Own Body,” in A.-T. Tymieniecka, ed., Analecta Husserliana, vol. 1 (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1970), 161.


p. 52


72) Erazim Kohák, The Embers and the Stars: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Moral Sense of Nature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), p. 206.


73) Ibid., p. 207.


74) Ibid., p. 207.


75) Zaner, Problem of Embodiment (note 59), pp. 6–7.  As Zaner points out, Marcel explicitly links “first reflection” with natural-scientific inquiry; cf.  McCurdy, op. cit. (note 12), p. 210.


76) Zaner, Problem of Embodiment (note 59), p. 7.


77) Mohanty, op. cit. (note 34), p. 152; cf. Edmund Husserl, Phenomenological Psychology: Lectures, Summer Semester, 1925, trans.  John Scanlon (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1977), p. 151.


78) Mohanty, op. cit. (note 34), p. 139; see pp. 137–43.


79) Ibid., pp. 168, 170.


80) Cf. ibid., p. 92.


81) Ibid., p. 174; see pp. 171–74.


82) See ibid., pp. 171 ff.


83) Ibid., p. 167.  The notion of a bodily reflexivity—a “lived reflexivity” of the corporeal self—is invoked, though not explicitly justified, in Ghislaine Florival, “Structure, origine et affectivité: Quelques réflexions à propos de la corporéité,” in Études d’anthropologie philosophique, [ed.  Ghislaine Florival] (Louvain-la-neuve: Éditions de l’institut supérieur de philosophie, 1980), pp. 97–119 (see especially pp. 105, 112, and 114).


84) See, e.g., Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology, trans.  Dorian Cairns (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1960), pp. 97, 116.


85) Ibid., p. 97.


86) See, e.g., Zaner, Context of Self (note 10), pp. 145–51.


87) Max Scheler, Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Wertethik [1916] (Bern/Munich: Francke, 1966), Part II, Ch. VI; trans. Manfred S. Frings, in Spicker, ed. (note 18),  p. 181.


p. 53


88) Gabriel Marcel, Journal Métaphysique (Paris: Gallimard, 1927); trans. Bernard Wall, in Spicker, ed. (note 18), p. 197 (see also p. 195).


89) Zaner, Problem of Embodiment (note 59), p. 81.


90) Ibid., p. 90.


91) Ibid., p. 90.


92) Ibid., p. 110.


93) Ibid., p. 90.


94) Schmitt, op. cit. (note 71), p. 161.


95) Mohanty, op. cit. (note 34), p. 88; cf. pp. 121–23, 137–43.


96) Cf. Fink, op. cit. (note 70), p. 37.  Merleau-Ponty refers to “the corporeal schema, which is the foundation of space and of time” (VI, 244/191), and, as is well known, he takes the corporeal schema to be one of motility.  The four elements mentioned—time, space, movement, and lived body—may thus be shown to be essentially intertwined.  Another approach to that which cannot, strictly speaking, be considered an object is provided by Merleau-Ponty’s turn to “reflections, shadows, levels, and horizons between things” (Signs, p. 160); cf., e.g., Primacy, p. 166.


97) Landgrebe, op. cit. (note 5), p. 138; cf. pp. 94–95.


98) Ibid., p. 138.  This correlation of styles is what Gebser explores as the correlation of “world” and “consciousness-structure,” expressed in terms of structures of time and space.  See Gebser, Ursprung und Gegenwart (note 18).


99) Cf.  Husserl, Introduction to the Logical Investigations (note 1), pp. 56–57.


           100) David Levin, “The Poetic Function in Phenomenological Discourse,” in Phenomenology in a Pluralistic Context, ed.  William L. McBride and Calvin O. Schrag (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983), pp. 216–34; cf. “The Opening of Vision” (note 4), p. 115. See also David Michael Levin, “Tarthang Tulku and Merleau-Ponty: An Intertextual Commentary,” in Ralph H. Moon and Stephen Randall, eds., Dimensions of Thought: Current Explorations in Time, Space, and Knowledge, vol. 1 (Berkeley, Cal.: Dharma Publishing, 1980), 186, 209–10, 214–15.


           101) Levin, “The Poetic Function in Phenomenological Discourse” (note 100), p. 232. I find Levin’s use of the term “transcendental” as roughly equivalent to “transformational” (see, e.g., p. 218 of the same essay) to be somewhat confusing, although I appreciate the point he wishes to make with this terminological shift.


           102) Ibid., p. 233.


           103) See Herbert Spiegelberg, “Existential Uses of Phenomenology,” in his Doing Phenomenology: Essays On and In Phenomenology (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975), pp. 54–71.


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           104) Landgrebe, op. cit. (note 5), pp. 199–200.


           105) See Jean Gebser, “The Integral Consciousness,” Main Currents in Modern Thought 30:3 (Jan.–Feb. 1974), 107–109; see also Ursprung und Gegenwart (note 18).


           106) Landgrebe, op. cit. (note 5),  p. 150.


           107) Cf. E. T. Gendlin, “Two Phenomenologists Do Not Disagree,” in Phenomenology: Dialogues and Bridges, ed.  Ronald Bruzina and Bruce Wilshire (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1982), pp. 321–35.


           108) In addition to the works of Katz cited by Merleau-Ponty in Phenomenology of Perception (Der Aufbau der Tastwelt, 1925; Der Aufbau der Farbwelt, 2nd ed., 1930), works such as the following can be mentioned: Straus, Phenomenological Psychology (note 22), pp. 4–11 (“The Phenomenal Modes of Color and Tone,” in the essay “The Forms of Spatiality,” which was first published in Der Nervenarzt 3 [1930], 633–56), and p. 285, Table 15-1, “Phenomenological Comparisons of Color and Sound”; Jonas, “The Nobility of Sight: A Study in the Phenomenology of the Senses” (note 18); and Don Ihde, Listening and Voice: A Phenomenology of Sound (Athens, Oh.: Ohio University Press, 1976).  See also Ogawa, op. cit. (note 4), e.g., pp. 83, 85–87. Cf.  Martin Heidegger and Eugen Fink, Heraclitus Seminar 1966/67, trans. Charles H. Seibert (University, Ala.; University of Alabama Press, 1979), pp. 139–42, on the difference between sight and hearing (as distance senses) and feeling and touching (as proximity senses) and the ontological implications of such phenomenologically grasped differences.


           109) What is at issue is whether a given sensory modality intrinsically possesses features proper to it, such that these features are manifested in other sensory fields only by some sort of “translation,” or whether “styles” and “structures” refer to experience per se, such that a given style may be manifested in any sensory field.  By adopting the term “paradigm” rather than, say, “metaphor,” I intend to suggest that certain sensory experiences provide “paradigmatic cases” of certain experiential structures; the question about the ultimate “assigning” of an experiential style to a particular sensory capacity is left open.


           110) See, e.g., David Gordon,  Therapeutic Metaphors: Helping Others Through the Looking Glass (Cupertino, Cal.: Meta Publications, 1978), pp. 90–93, 109–11, 135–37, and 218 ff.


           111) See, e.g., Algis Mickunas, “The Primacy of Movement,” Main Currents in Modern Thought 31:1 (Sept.–Oct. 1974), 8–12, especially 8–9; cf. Antonio T. de Nicolas, Meditations through the Rg Veda: Four-Dimensional Man (Boulder, Col.: Shambhala, 1978), pp. 10, 64, 84–85, 103–104, 122–26, 134, 171, 190–92, and see also his Avatara: The Humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad Gita (New York: Nicolas Hays, 1976), pp. 265–70, 316.


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           112) See, e.g., David Michael Levin, “Husserlian Essences Reconsidered,” in Explorations in Phenomenology: Papers of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, ed. David Carr and Edward S. Casey (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973), pp. 168–83 (see especially pp. 173–76); Waltraut J. Stein, “Cosmopathy and Interpersonal Relations,” in Phenomenology in Perspective, ed.  F. J. Smith (The Hague: Martinus Nihhoff, 1970), pp. 217 ff.; Ogawa, op. cit. (note 4), pp. 80, 84, 92 n. 18; and F. Joseph Smith, “A Critique of Visual Metaphor,” in his The Experiencing of Musical Sound: Prelude to a Phenomenology of Music (New York: Gordon and Breach, 1979), pp. 27–64.


           113) Smith, op. cit. (note 112), p. 61.



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