Inspired Fellowship

Sunnie D. Kidd and Jim Kidd, Ph.D.

This presentation will utilize the Continental Philosophies of Existential Phenomenology and Dialogal Existentialism to uncover and elucidate Inspired Fellowship.  The lack of formalized knowledge of what we will term “Inspired Fellowship,” (from the works of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy) ignores an essential dimension of human reality.  We need a new way to speak about this experience. As we turn to the “meaning” of this experience, we turn to the essential structure, to how it is organized in the field of awareness and in so doing we turn to the individual who is experiencing and who can give a description of the situation in which it is experienced.

Existential Phenomenology

The individual is a being-in-the-world (Martin Heidegger) and gives meaning to as well as derives meaning from one’s life-praxis, one is an active agent in the formation of this world in which one dwells not just a passive recipient. It is from these taken-for-granted meanings from everyday life that one understands oneself, from the “Lebenswelt.”  From Heidegger’s existential analytic, which maps out the constitution of Dasein in Being and Time we discover two fundamental modes of existence, the authentic and the inauthentic.  

The current project is more concerned with the mode of authenticity, i.e., in which Dasein has taken possession of its own possibilities of being.  In this way, Heidegger shows the wholeness of Dasein as it is grasped in a moment towards authenticity, i.e., through the answer to the call to authenticity, of conscience.  For Heidegger, the call to conscience has the character of a summons which is the call of the authentic Self to the self which is lost in the “they.”  

In everydayness Dasein is lost in one’s everyday mode of inauthentic existence, in the “they,” the collective mass.  Consequently, one is swept along with the tide of the masses, unaware of one’s Self.  One must be open to the appeal, to the call.  The call to conscience comes to Dasein from the same Dasein, from the same existent, to step into the freedom to make one’s own choice.  From the everyday taken-for-granted existence comes the call to authenticity, to become aware, to “own” one’s own possibilities.

As a fundamental structure, this possibility of stepping into one’s ownmost possibility and of being open to the call to conscience, is always present.  From Heidegger’s existential analytic on the fundamental structure of Being, as it manifests itself in Dasein, we came to see for ourselves the “meaning” of grasping one’s ownmost possibility, i.e., “death.”  The constant presence of a friend’s death all the while of our relationship reached us at a truly primordial dimension.  It had the effect of “throwing us back upon ourselves,” as Heidegger would say and at the same time, it brought our own death to our full attention, making us face this possibility on our own.  In Being and Time, Heidegger says: “only by authentically Being-their-selves in resoluteness can people authentically be with one another not by ambiguous and jealous stipulations and talkative fraternizing in the “they” and in what ‘they’ want to undertake.”1

This being free to choose by being called back to one’s own self, this fundamental possibility of being appealed to and of the call as a call to authentic existence, uncovers the fundamentals of an “aware” and self-initiated kind of life.  Being called out to the meaning of self-responsibility for this direction, takes us out of the anonymous “they” and delivers us over to a freedom to step into an open future. And of course, with Heidegger being-with-others is another fundamental structure of Dasein’s Being.  From the existential phenomenological view, we are self-responsible, socially, standing open to the appeal to Being.  Heidegger does not mention “inspiration” per se but uncovers the possibility of being appealed to, of being called out, as a fundamental structure of human existence.  Also, since Dasein dwells in the inauthentic mode of existence, most of the time, we are not always “open” to the call but still carry this possibility with us each day.  It “comes upon us” or to us, a call towards Self.

From this basic knowledge of our move towards authenticity and Being-with-others as a fundamental structure of human reality, we moved on to literature which spoke specifically of this capacity.  This involves the structures of co-existence. How do we enter into the social world, what is our access to the co-constituted field of meaning? The capacity to be appealed to implies two things:  Encounter and Presence. It is in this fundamental “we” perspective that we are first addressed not that “you” address “me” but that as you address me, so I respond.

Several avenues open up here from the field of social psychology and philosophy.  Since we began with Heidegger as a philosopher to ground the direction of this inquiry in the field of human existence, the possibilities of the individual as a Being-in-the-world, it seemed necessary now to explore the notion of Being-in-the-world-with-others, sociality.  Then, more specifically, in what ways do we find ourselves as Being-with-others? Just what does this Heideggerian insight mean? How do we “find” ourselves involved? These also seem important questions in psychology. These meaning fields are the ones upon which our individuality grows.  

What we see this moving towards is a field of “expressive conduct”2 (Maurice Merleau-Ponty) and the realization that these all have one underlying structure at least, the embodied subject.  In this area, he seems the most prolific. In the Phenomenology of Perception, he demonstrates that our body is our primary access to the world, that we are a “living body” (Merleau-Ponty).  Our actions are instances of expressive conduct and we are present in our bodies as a being expressing itself in gestures, speech and language.  He is speaking of a doctrine of “incarnated consciousnesses”3 (Herbert Spiegelberg) where subject and world determine each other reciprocally. The body is a human body, for it is “my” body.  With the body, i.e., the embodied subject as a focus of varying perspectives on the world, with each perspective referring to other possibilities, we are interrelated with other human beings and their perspectives of which we are aware in seeing their bodies.

We take an “attitude” towards our existence and towards others.  It is in the co-existence (or the cultural) that the body lives in a transcendental field of meaning.

The “social” perspective is most successfully integrated in the cultural phenomenon of speech and language, i.e., in the form of dialogue.  It is in the return from the dialogue, its recall and integration by which our encounter or “shared presence” becomes a part of my history, of my life’s story.  It is in this integration of the other as a part of my story or history that, presence, remains with me. In this sense we carry others with us a field of felt presence and meaning (as we carry the continuing presence of our friend as an active influence in our on-going constitution of our world).  We still stand open to this presence and direction-giving influence.

From Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty has emerged the capacity for possibilities of an embodied subject to become responsible for one’s existence, to existentialize one’s meanings and to step into an open future through awareness of one’s authentic Self and one’s access to all of these through others.  The field of presence, the existentialized bond of intersubjectivity grounds and concretizes the meaning of the other, it calls us towards Heidegger’s authentic mode of being.

The points here speak to an affirmation of existence, to saying “yes” to what is for me.  The human being is a being-in-the-world, an embodied subjectivity in dialogue with the world.  “This is a man as existent subject, as project, as ‘having to be’, and its execution, as history.  Man is essentially history, as such, he is radically ‘social”4 (William A. Luijpen). He points out here that the authenticity of existence presupposes the existence of others because we are always already participating in a cultural world.  “The proper meaning of the thesis that existence is co-existence lies in the fact that others make me be, so that my being is as being-through-others”5 (Luijpen). In fact, Heidegger describes the mode of being alone as a deficient mode of being-together.

Heidegger’s and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological descriptions of the ways in which “Being” is manifested in the human-world dialectic concretizes the possibility for what we will call “Inspired Fellowship.”  With my body as the characteristic access to my world and to others, through our co-existence we are now free to look at the styles in which we co-exist. More precisely, in the ways we move each other, make each other be.  

Gabriel Marcel reaffirms Merleau-Ponty’s emphasis upon our sense of embodiment not as a body but as my body.  He underscores the importance of the “inner awareness” of my body and concentrates his attention on the “various modalities of our inner experience of our body, stressing the affective unity I have with my body . . .”6 (Marcel).  He speaks of a gap in understanding, if we are each an incarnate being or an “existential orbit,” a center, i.e., a body, how can it be possible to extend our existential participation to an interpersonal communion?  In other words, it is not clear how others can be as intimately related to me as I am to my body.

It is this particular mode of existence which has been so intriguing to us, this gap of knowledge which exists inbetween individuals, this intimacy which Marcel describes as the “affective unity” we have with other selves is “disponsibilite” or availability, i.e., openness, permeability to the other, “spiritual availability.”  This is a psychological connection inbetween the individuals involved.

Marcel expands the perspective of the capacity to be inspired through the other (in consonance with the way in which we have experienced it) to a dimension beyond that which Merleau-Ponty offers.  It seems an essential dimension in the field of psychology, particularly in the area of the current research, to develop this ineffable sensing. Being is “in itself” indefinable but manifests itself through the pathways of embodied subjectivity, as in “expressive conduct.”  But there is another dimension here which calls for further clarification, i.e., it is still “mysterious.” It rests in the field of what Marcel calls “metaproblematics.” “A mystery is something which while insoluble in principle, is not yet senseless7 (Marcel).  The metaproblematic is best described as in opposition to the problematic.   It is a sort of void in knowledge which cannot be filled by an adjustment in linguistics or by lack of knowledge in scientific principle.  “It is an aspect of our experience which is inexpressible, hence inaccessible to communicable knowledge”8 (Marcel). 

The one particular term that Marcel uses which keeps pointing more towards an understanding of our instances of “inspired” experiences by others brings into view another facet of the interpersonal.  Actually, we like two of his terms which go together: “Permeability” and “Reverberation” or as we would like to say Resonance. These two terms open up another field for exploration and at the same time stress the magnetic flow inbetween those involved.  It is kind of a dimension of sonority.  The permeability leaves one open through a certain “incohesion,” a less dense dimension.  This quality of being less dense corresponds with an openness in attitude and the flow inbetween those involved sets up the quality of resonance, i.e., reverberation.  

This also speaks to a certain contagious mode of enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm approaches a “vital” perspective or attitude.  It conveys a sense of “living quality” to interpersonal communion, of inspiration.  It has a motivational feeling, to be enthused is to be engaged, to be excited, to be involved.  But how can we understand the term “enthusiasm” in a psychological sense? What does this mean in interpersonal relationships?  Surely it describes a state or structure already existing in our everyday lives whereby we find ourselves being energetically oriented, excited or moved into participation by others who share in our projects, ideas or aspirations, i.e., this common participation means we are actually “self” involved,  it matters to Dasein (Heidegger). 

Along with this term “inspiration” there is another very important term which precedes it, so to speak, that is “aspiration.”  There is a subtle connection here which is also important. To be inspired, there are certain cases in which one aspires to what one considers a “higher” motivational dimension.  

Dialogal Existentialism

A Dialogal Existentialist, Rosenstock-Huessy speaks particularly to the subject matter of this presentation, the power to respond in an authentic mode to the address by another: “The right words, i.e., ‘names,’ guarantees responsiveness.  Responsiveness is the lying open for being empowered.”9 It is in the magic of naming that one first becomes addressed, to be called out, to respond.  

An appeal is made to the openness of the other through the power of one’s name and because “The name is the right address of a person under which he or she will respond.  The original meaning of language was this very fact that it could be used to make people respond”10 (Rosenstock-Huessy). It is our name which gives us orientation, the disintegration of a society begins with a depletion of the meaning of the words and names on which it has be founded.  Our names are the avenues by which we may be appealed to and the disintegration of the name brings disintegration of the orientation. “Because we need orientation, we wait for our soul to call up our name”11 (Rosenstock-Huessy).

The point is that the name is not a concept, a classification nor a metaphor for existence.  Its power is exclusively used inbetween you and me, i.e., it is “personal.”  It is in the strengthening of the “personality,” it is through this soul path that we are open to the appeal, that we are open to inspiration, that we are given direction, orientation, purpose, destiny.  It is this naming power and the call of our soul upon which give us the courage to be (Paul Tillich), to be the traveler (Marcel, Homo Viator), the journeying self (Maurice Natanson) or to be on the path (Heidegger).

Here is the possibility for being the participant in “Inspired Fellowship.”  Rosenstock-Huessy speaks of the unanimity which resides in our powers to transform one another, to carry one another forward in the face of the possibility of change, it is the creative dimension of soul-making, of everyday living for which we become responsible in our efforts to transform the world, to make each other be, for each new generation which comes forward to respond to the call.  Each generation must find new ways to inspire a regeneration of values. 

“For a person is a man who responds with his whole heart to his calling.  And any element of the universe that whispers to a human being, ‘respond lest I die,’ calls forth this man personally to his human destiny”12 (Rosenstock-Huessy).  For Rosenstock-Huessy the mind is the energy saver, the Ego and the soul is the investor, the savior, the pathway through which the power of an authorized name flows.  It is the “mind” or Ego of contemporary psychology which blocks the flow of creative speech which guarantees individuals an orientation.

Again, we see the open quality, the less dense attitude or atmosphere.  It is this inherent power of “naming” which keeps calling, which describes Heidegger’s call to authenticity, makes sense out of Merleau-Ponty’s “embodied subjectivity,” which provides the resonance of Marcel’s “interpersonal communion.”  This is what flowed inbetween our friend and us. This “Inspired Fellowship” gave us direction, it transformed our world, in thought, action, in deed and in the very core of our being, our souls.  It is the “Inspired Fellowship” which appears to rest at the base, that creates the world anew for each of us each day.  

We need to investigate the conditions under which this phenomenon manifests the qualities which have been described.  It is through the community of speech and the power of the soul (the capacity to surpass mortal fears and to remain at unity through transformation and change) that we must look at this communal spirit of fellowship.  The infinite appeal of the “name” which creates that resides inbetween us, the dimension of unanimity is central to this concern.  “To speak means to believe in unanimity”13 (Rosenstock-Huessy). With this tracing out of our own understanding of how this capacity in our lives as “individuals” in community is possible and how the various perspectives of philosophy and psychology speak to this phenomenon, we can see that this is an integral part of everyday living and one which has really not been dealt with in depth or in the latitude which it deserves.

Notes

  1. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), H. 298-299.
  2. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Structures of Behavior, trans. Alden L. Fisher, foreword John Wild (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967), p. 209.  Also, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, trans. Colin Smith (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1962).
  3. Herbert Spiegelberg, The Movement of Phenomenology (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971), Vol. II, p. 553. 
  4. William A. Luijpen, Existential Phenomenology (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1972), pp. 261-262. The intersubjective for Luijpen is, “The presence of others in my existence implies that my being-man is being through others.”  (Ibid., p. 262.)  “To Exist Is to Co-Exist.” (Ibid., p. 261.)
  5. William A. Luijpen, Ibid., pp. 266-267.
  6. Gabriel Marcel, Creative Fidelity, trans., intro. Robert Rosthal (New York:   Noonday Press, 1970), p. xvi.
  7.  Ibid, p. xxv.
  8.  Ibid, p. xxv.
  9.  Rosenstock-Huessy, I Am An Impure Thinker, foreword W. H. Auden    (Norwich: Argo Books, Inc., 1970), p. 42.
  10.  Ibid., p. 42.
  11.  Ibid., p. 43.
  12.  Ibid., p. 51.
  13.  Rosenstock-Huessy, Speech and Reality, intro. Clinton C. Gardner (Norwich: Argo Books, Inc., 1970), pp. 160-161.

 

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