Thursday, July 9, 2009

The 12 Senses

It occurred to me that, since I had mentioned the twelve senses in a prior post, I should take some more time to explain this subject. There is a very nice basic write up of Steiner's 12 senses in Beyond the Rainbow Bridge : Nurturing our children from birth to seven. Of course, I don't have it with me so here are some links & other notes.

The Twelve Senses of the Human Being

Touch - the internal response to a contact with the outside world

Life - this sense is the internal feeling of well-being, of being alive

Movement - being inwardly aware of the way body parts move in relationship to each other

Balance - this sense orients us to the world with respect to up, down, right, and left

Smell - the sense that allows one to come in contact with the outside world via odors carried by the air

Taste - a deeper connection with the outside world in which flavors are directly sampled

Sight - the sense that takes in the exterior images of the outside world

Warmth - with this sense we are aware directly of the warmth of another body

Hearing - this sense can tell us more about the inner structure of an object than sight. When an object resonates, we learn about its deep structure from the sound we hear.

Speech - the sense of speech or word or tone - which is the hearing that involves meaningful words

Thought - this refers to the deeper sense of entering the being speaking through their words

Ego - this is the sense of ego or I which enables us to turn our thinking towards the being of another and to behold their I, their unique individuality directly

After presenting the twelve senses, Steiner explains that his intent is not to overturn the senses as understood by materialistic science, but to expand them.

[from The Riddle of Humanity: The Spiritual Background of Human History, page 86]

"As you know, I have never spoken of materialistic science without acknowledging its truth and its greatness. I have given lectures here that were for the express purpose of appreciating materialistic science fully. But, having appreciated it, one must deepen one's knowledge of materialistic science so lovingly that one can also hold up its shadow side with a loving hand. The materialistic science of today is just beginning to bring its thoughts about the senses into some kind of order of life, of movement and of balance from one another, and they have begun to treat the senses of warmth and touch separately. The other senses about which we have been speaking are not recognized by our externally-orientated, material science. And so I ask you to carefully distinguish the ability to be aware of another I from the ability you could call the consciousness oneself. With respect to this distinction, my deep love of material science forces me to make an observation, for a deep love material science also enables one to see what is going on: today's material science is afflicted with stupidity. It turns stupid when it tries to describe what happens when someone uses his ego sense. Our material science would have us believe that when one person meets another he unconsciously deduces from the other's gestures, facial expressions, and the like, that there is another I present - that the awareness of another I is really the subconscious deduction. This is utter nonsense! In truth, when we meet someone and perceive their I we perceive it just as directly as we perceive a colour. It really is thick-headed to believe that the presence of another I is deduced from bodily perception, for this obscures the truth that humans have a special, higher sense for perceiving the I of another."

This book is not available for sale at SteinerBooks or any other location I could find; however, you can read it online for free at the Rudolf Steiner Archive.

Here also is an interesting article by Jeff Green called "Sensing the World and Ourselves".

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