Thinking At the Edge (TAE) is a way to articulate what lies deep below words. It is a second practice developed from Eugene Gendlin’s Philosophy of the Implicit. (The first practice is Focusing, which gives direct access to the felt sense.)
Thinking At the Edge
We are facing painfully difficult issues in the world today, and we need new ways forward which are grounded in our tacit wisdom instead of our shared assumptions. TAE can help here. With it we can move beyond old conceptual structures and make a new kind of theory and practice grounded in our deep body knowing: a living logic.
Who is it for?
TAE is for people who need to think with what they know implicitly and want to communicate without being misunderstood. Those who can benefit include:
- Social entrepreneurs who have innovated new ways to respond to the needs of people, and who need to safeguard what is important but not obvious in what they do, so that others have access to that knowing as they carry on the work or found new programs,
- Those writing chapters or papers based on years of practice, who need to form a theoretical structure where existing concepts in the field leave out some key factor,
- Graduate students working on theses and dissertations who want to clarify the unclear edges of their thinking, find patterns, and build a framework from their before-words sense of the territory,
- Supervising faculty who would like their students to have a way to do the above,
- Writers who would like to work from the "feel" of a current book or other project to find the deep structure in rich but still-unstructured material,
- Presenters at conferences and other public events who wish to formulate what they really want to say,
- Executives and board members who need to clarify an emerging sense of what an organization could stand for and could do, better than any other in its field,
- Key people in organizations who sense not-well-defined factors which have contributed to past success and which should not be lost in a restructuring,
- Those who already know Focusing who would like to learn how to use logic and felt sense together.
How can I learn it?
It is best to take a workshop. Like any powerful and subtle process, it is wise, when first learning it, to have personal guidance. At first you will learn a short form of the process; later, as needed, you can return and learn in-depth TAE. To learn the full power and subtlety of the process takes several years, but you can apply the short form right away.
- It allows us to access what we know before words, and to make language work freshly to say what we sense that is new, or new in the world of language. It sensitizes us to the assumptions carried in the words and phrases we usually use.
- It creates new ways of working in our field: new practices, and new modes of teaching. It makes it possible to think further, explore further, and make finer distinctions.
- It makes it possible to build formal theory using language and concepts that have our experiencing built into them: to form concepts beginning from the inside rather than concepts which turn us into objects seen from the outside.
TAE is a new kind of theory-building which begins with the person.
It offers a way to create theories with “magnetism” which, as they attract other people, can restructure thinking so that over time a whole field or culture might shift in subtle but important ways.
Howdoes it happen?
TAE is a process of entering the implicit, evoking our experiencing with language that “brings” someone here, abstracting patterns from the intricacy, deriving a core structure, and developing implications. It moves in a "zigzag" between felt sense and logic so that the logical structures being formed stay closely connected to experiencing.
Where did TAE come from?
Focusing and TAE are practices which developed out of University of Chicago philosopher and psychologist Eugene Gendlin's Philosophy of the Implicit. Gendlin is internationally recognized as a major American philosopher and psychologist, and has been honored three times by the American Psychological Association for his development of Experiential Psychotherapy. His book Focusing has sold over 400,000 copies in ten languages. Other books include Experiencing and the Creation of New Meaning, Thinking Beyond Patterns, and Language Beyond Post-Modernism: Saying and Thinking In Gendlin's Philosophy (edited by David Levin) and he has published over two hundred articles as well. For more about the relation of TAE to the Philosophy of the Implicit, read Gendlin's "Introduction to Thinking At the Edge".
Kye Nelson has collaborated with Eugene Gendlin in formalizing the practice of TAE. Aspects of how situations are represented logically in TAE come from Kye's early work as a programmer and software troubleshooter. Her "other life" as a working painter has also informed TAE, as she has grappled with the problem of teaching people how to shape beautiful theories, beginning from experiences whose intricacy seems impossible to represent in a simple and coherent form. Also from her practice as an artist has come a sensitivity to the importance of the "unimportant" --the small and subtle details-- and this in turn has become part of the practice of TAE.
She is the founder of antheosophia which provides cross-disciplinary support for deep listening, emergent thinking, and embodied action through online resources and discussion; workshops, retreats, and other public offerings; the building of local communities of practice; a magazine published three times yearly which offers support and a forum for emergent thinking on a variety of topics; and a training program for mentors and facilitators.
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