Man and World

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 383-411

First online:

The responsive order: A new empiricism

  • E.T. GendlinAffiliated withCommittee on Human Development, University of Chicago

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The uniqueness of logic is upheld and contrasted with twenty roles of a wider “responsive order” that includes us and our procedures. Empirical responses are precise, but different in different approaches. Procedures and findings are independent of (not separable from) “their” concepts. Two-way feedback obviates a top-down derivation of findings from assumptions, hypotheses, history, or language. The postmodern problems of “interpretation,” “conditions of appearances” and relativism involve the ancient error of making perception the model-instance of experience. Instead, bodily interaction functions in language and precedes perception and interpretation. Logic, space time locations and individuated referents involve positional relations derived from comparing. Beyond Kuhn, Feyerabend, Newton and Einstein, if we can give interaction priority over comparing, the “responsive objectivity” of both can be upheld. A new empiricism, neither naive nor constructivist, uses the words “order,” “explication,” “truth,” and “exactly” to build on Wittgenstein and on Dilthey's hermeneutic. Natural language is metaphor-like, “originally crossed.” Logic must ignore its assumptions. It must render everything as a machine and drop humans and animals out. A new discipline is proposed, to move between the logical and the responsive orders, to deal with the machine/human interface and the social uses of science such as bioengineering.