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Embodied Self
and Other
Marc Applebaum, PhD
Saybrook University, Itlaq Foundation
31st Annual Congress of Psychology
July 26, 2016
Yokohama, Japan
Layers of the ego
 I will speak from my twenty years of studying
phenomenological psychology while
practicing a meditative path in Sufism
 As Dr. Ferrarello told us, for Husserl, the
“Ego” has multiple layers ranging from the
reflective, personal, psychical ego to the
underlying, pre-reflective layers which are
called pre-egoic by Husserl, by which he
means they are prior to the personal or
psychical ego.
Self as a You
 Dr. Ferrarello has said that the Self (capital
“S”), is an Other for me, an Other that
transcends me and to whom I am related,
and which I incorporate in an ongoing way
as my sense of “my self” (small “s”), what
Husserl calls the personal ego.
 An implication of this statement is that the
essential Self is an Other—that is, it is
experienced as a You, and it is in ongoing
relation to this You that my sense of my “I”
takes shape.
“The You is older than I”
 This You could still be framed as my
projection, a kind of interior object that
belongs to me as a strictly bounded self. In
contrast, phenomenology claims that the
You is irreducible to a mental object that is
still “mine,” merely the property and creation
of my ego.
 For this reason Strasser (1969),
summarizing Husserl’s phenomenology,
wrote: “The ‘you’ does not come into my
world; it already is there, for the ‘you’ is
older than I. More precisely speaking, we
should say that the ‘you’ is already a
‘you’ with respect to me before I am an
Ego” (p. 52).
Primordial empathy
 Hart (1992) in his discussion of Husserl
writes that being recognized as an Other by
the Other grants me a full sense of my “I.”
Hart writes that the Other extends himself
toward me in what he (1992) refers to as a
“gracious regard”: I-ness is a kind of gift
given through a primordially caring
relationship.
 For Husserl, the origin of the I in a You is
reflected in a “primordial” or “instinctual”
empathy, a pre-personal empathy that is the
ground for the empathic relations in
everyday life between people.
Pre-egoic ground of care
 Thus lived-experiences of empathy between
personal Egos have, for the empathizing
empirical Ego, an anonymous, pre-empirical
nucleus that is enfolded within the self-
narrating flow of the personal Ego.
 Dr. Tanaka invited us to explore how the self
and other are interlaced, and how this
relates to embodied interactions. Husserl’s
egology points us toward the pre-personal
ground of the “I” in an instinctively caring
relationality which, precisely because it is
pre-egoic, makes a fundamental claim upon
the human being.
Body and hyletic flow
 The pre-egoic vital life of the body is
embodiment par excellence: it is the hyletic
(material) flow of which Dr. Ferrarello spoke-
-the flowing bodily and affective life of the
locus of consciousness that discovers itself
as this or that person at the level of the
psychical ego.
Awakening of the pure ego
 For Husserl, “Ego” implies layers from the
personal, psychical ego to the “pure” or
transcendental ego. This transcendental ego
awakens through bracketing and withholding
from affirming the ontological status of the
personal ego and its objects of consciousness
as factual “things”.
 The inquirer discovers the layers underlying his
personal ego when an observing dimension of
his “I” turns back toward its own origin in the
flux described by Ferrarello, and recognizes
itself and its world as dynamically constituted in
relation to a witnessing “You.” As this
bracketing occurs, the locus of the inquirer’s
identity shifts to other layers or strata of the
Self.
Nishitani Keiji (1900-1990)
 Nishitani Keiji’s work offers an example of
the awakening of witnessing the personal
ego from a perspective that transcends it
 “The traditional view of personality has
looked at personality from the point of view
of personality itself: as a personality
grasping itself from itself. This means that up
until now, our view of personality has been
constituted within a self-centered prehension
of personality as its nucleus” (1982, p. 95).
A calling
 An inquirer discovers the ground of his
empathic relations with others by tracing the
instinct back to its pre-egoic ground. The
primordiality of finding oneself in relating to the
Other has a strong purchase on the human
person precisely because its ground is pre-
egoic.
 The call to caring relations in a community of
others is not exclusively addressed to our
person egos, but speaks to our pre-personal
origins, since we are already interlaced with
others at the level of our hyletic and affective
lives. This call is integrated into the lives of our
personal egos when we struggle with the
ethical choices implied in awakening to the call
of a You that is older than the “I.”
Nishida Kitaro (1870-1945)
 Nishida Kitaro addressed the ethical
implications of the retracing of the origins of
the self to a transcending of the personal
ego:
 “From the perspective of objective logic, the
saying of Zen masters may seem to be
saying that one simply becomes nothing or
loses one’s distinct identity. But to say that
the self transcends itself at its own depths
does not mean that it becomes nothing;
rather it becomes the self-expressing point
of the world, the real individual, the real self.
Real knowledge and morality stem from this
standpoint” (1987 p. 108)
Inquiry and mysticism
 Does this make the phenomenologist into a
mystic? Not if mysticism requires adhering to
a particular religious dogma. Husserl
remarked that as a phenomenologist he
could agree with whole pages from the
writings of Christian mystic Meister
Eckhart—but distinguished sharply between
scientific practice and mysticism
 Similarly, the Nishitani (1991) reports
Nishida warned him to avoid a “careless
conflation” of his Zen practice with his
philosophical studies (p. 21). Both sides
were respected, and yet distinguished from
each other.
Praxis
 In my case, I have worked with my colleague
phenomenologist and psychologist Yannis
Toussulis for over twenty years with a group
of meditative practitioners in Sufism to,
alongside their meditative practice, train
them in recognizing and phenomenologically
describe the shifts in consciousness that
occur within their practice.
 The limits of time today do not allow me to
describe this work in detail, except to say
that its aim is wakeful communalization, to
borrow a phrase from Husserl!
Contact:
mapplebaum@saybrook.edu
www.phenomenologyblog.com
References
 Dorion Cairns (1976). Conversations with Husserl and Fink.
(Richard Zaner, Ed.). The Hague: Nartinus Nijhoff.
 Nishida Kitaro (1987). Last Writings: Nothingness and the
Religious Worldview. (David Dilworth, Trans.). Honolulu:
University of Hawaii Press.
 Nishitani Keiji (1991). Nishida Kitaro. (Yamamoto Seisaku &
James Heisig, Trans.). Berkeley: University of California
Press.
 Stephen Strasser (1969). The Idea of Dialogal
Phenomenology. Duquesne University Press.

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Embodied Self and Other--A Phenomenological Perspective

  • 1. Embodied Self and Other Marc Applebaum, PhD Saybrook University, Itlaq Foundation 31st Annual Congress of Psychology July 26, 2016 Yokohama, Japan
  • 2. Layers of the ego  I will speak from my twenty years of studying phenomenological psychology while practicing a meditative path in Sufism  As Dr. Ferrarello told us, for Husserl, the “Ego” has multiple layers ranging from the reflective, personal, psychical ego to the underlying, pre-reflective layers which are called pre-egoic by Husserl, by which he means they are prior to the personal or psychical ego.
  • 3. Self as a You  Dr. Ferrarello has said that the Self (capital “S”), is an Other for me, an Other that transcends me and to whom I am related, and which I incorporate in an ongoing way as my sense of “my self” (small “s”), what Husserl calls the personal ego.  An implication of this statement is that the essential Self is an Other—that is, it is experienced as a You, and it is in ongoing relation to this You that my sense of my “I” takes shape.
  • 4. “The You is older than I”  This You could still be framed as my projection, a kind of interior object that belongs to me as a strictly bounded self. In contrast, phenomenology claims that the You is irreducible to a mental object that is still “mine,” merely the property and creation of my ego.  For this reason Strasser (1969), summarizing Husserl’s phenomenology, wrote: “The ‘you’ does not come into my world; it already is there, for the ‘you’ is older than I. More precisely speaking, we should say that the ‘you’ is already a ‘you’ with respect to me before I am an Ego” (p. 52).
  • 5. Primordial empathy  Hart (1992) in his discussion of Husserl writes that being recognized as an Other by the Other grants me a full sense of my “I.” Hart writes that the Other extends himself toward me in what he (1992) refers to as a “gracious regard”: I-ness is a kind of gift given through a primordially caring relationship.  For Husserl, the origin of the I in a You is reflected in a “primordial” or “instinctual” empathy, a pre-personal empathy that is the ground for the empathic relations in everyday life between people.
  • 6. Pre-egoic ground of care  Thus lived-experiences of empathy between personal Egos have, for the empathizing empirical Ego, an anonymous, pre-empirical nucleus that is enfolded within the self- narrating flow of the personal Ego.  Dr. Tanaka invited us to explore how the self and other are interlaced, and how this relates to embodied interactions. Husserl’s egology points us toward the pre-personal ground of the “I” in an instinctively caring relationality which, precisely because it is pre-egoic, makes a fundamental claim upon the human being.
  • 7. Body and hyletic flow  The pre-egoic vital life of the body is embodiment par excellence: it is the hyletic (material) flow of which Dr. Ferrarello spoke- -the flowing bodily and affective life of the locus of consciousness that discovers itself as this or that person at the level of the psychical ego.
  • 8. Awakening of the pure ego  For Husserl, “Ego” implies layers from the personal, psychical ego to the “pure” or transcendental ego. This transcendental ego awakens through bracketing and withholding from affirming the ontological status of the personal ego and its objects of consciousness as factual “things”.  The inquirer discovers the layers underlying his personal ego when an observing dimension of his “I” turns back toward its own origin in the flux described by Ferrarello, and recognizes itself and its world as dynamically constituted in relation to a witnessing “You.” As this bracketing occurs, the locus of the inquirer’s identity shifts to other layers or strata of the Self.
  • 9. Nishitani Keiji (1900-1990)  Nishitani Keiji’s work offers an example of the awakening of witnessing the personal ego from a perspective that transcends it  “The traditional view of personality has looked at personality from the point of view of personality itself: as a personality grasping itself from itself. This means that up until now, our view of personality has been constituted within a self-centered prehension of personality as its nucleus” (1982, p. 95).
  • 10. A calling  An inquirer discovers the ground of his empathic relations with others by tracing the instinct back to its pre-egoic ground. The primordiality of finding oneself in relating to the Other has a strong purchase on the human person precisely because its ground is pre- egoic.  The call to caring relations in a community of others is not exclusively addressed to our person egos, but speaks to our pre-personal origins, since we are already interlaced with others at the level of our hyletic and affective lives. This call is integrated into the lives of our personal egos when we struggle with the ethical choices implied in awakening to the call of a You that is older than the “I.”
  • 11. Nishida Kitaro (1870-1945)  Nishida Kitaro addressed the ethical implications of the retracing of the origins of the self to a transcending of the personal ego:  “From the perspective of objective logic, the saying of Zen masters may seem to be saying that one simply becomes nothing or loses one’s distinct identity. But to say that the self transcends itself at its own depths does not mean that it becomes nothing; rather it becomes the self-expressing point of the world, the real individual, the real self. Real knowledge and morality stem from this standpoint” (1987 p. 108)
  • 12. Inquiry and mysticism  Does this make the phenomenologist into a mystic? Not if mysticism requires adhering to a particular religious dogma. Husserl remarked that as a phenomenologist he could agree with whole pages from the writings of Christian mystic Meister Eckhart—but distinguished sharply between scientific practice and mysticism  Similarly, the Nishitani (1991) reports Nishida warned him to avoid a “careless conflation” of his Zen practice with his philosophical studies (p. 21). Both sides were respected, and yet distinguished from each other.
  • 13. Praxis  In my case, I have worked with my colleague phenomenologist and psychologist Yannis Toussulis for over twenty years with a group of meditative practitioners in Sufism to, alongside their meditative practice, train them in recognizing and phenomenologically describe the shifts in consciousness that occur within their practice.  The limits of time today do not allow me to describe this work in detail, except to say that its aim is wakeful communalization, to borrow a phrase from Husserl!
  • 14. Contact: mapplebaum@saybrook.edu www.phenomenologyblog.com References  Dorion Cairns (1976). Conversations with Husserl and Fink. (Richard Zaner, Ed.). The Hague: Nartinus Nijhoff.  Nishida Kitaro (1987). Last Writings: Nothingness and the Religious Worldview. (David Dilworth, Trans.). Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.  Nishitani Keiji (1991). Nishida Kitaro. (Yamamoto Seisaku & James Heisig, Trans.). Berkeley: University of California Press.  Stephen Strasser (1969). The Idea of Dialogal Phenomenology. Duquesne University Press.