Every such signifier has a human meaning that transcends its significance as a natural-scientific term. Its fundamental significance cannot be reduced to its significance in denoting a particular natural phenomenon. Instead the deeper significance of the observed physical phenomenon which it refers to can only be understood through the corresponding psychical phenomena that constitutes the human meaning of the signifier.
As a signifier, the term 'warmth' for example, refers both to a measurable, physical phenomenon and to an immeasurable psychical phenomenon. The psychical phenomenon is not the warmth of any natural body, not even the human body, but the inner 'soul warmth' of a human being. We have a direct felt sense of the psychical warmth or coolness, levity or gravity, light or darkness of a human being. Our entire relation to our own being and to other human beings is built on this awareness of human psychical or soul qualities, each of which in turn corresponds to a particular outwardly observed physical phenomenon of nature. The feeling cognition of inergetic warmth - the inner soul warmth we feel within ourselves and others - is no more and no less 'subjective' than our awareness of the physical temperature of our own bodies or those of others. The difference is only that the latter is something measurable and quantifiable.
Marx's vision of a single, fundamental science that constitutes both a "human science of nature" and a "natural science of man" can only be realized through studying the human body and brain as a natural phenomenon like any other. It can only come about through an acknowledgement of our specifically human nature - the manner in which specific natural qualities such as light, warmth, gravity etc. are felt within the human being.
Any scientific term in the form of a verbal signifier such as 'warmth' points in two directions simultaneously. It has two basic vectors of signification. On the one hand it has a physical signification - referring to an outward property of natural bodies. On the other hand it has a metaphysical denotation, signifying an inner property of human beings. On the one hand it signifies an observable physical phenomenon. On the other hand it signifies an experienced psychical phenomenon. On the one hand it refers to a measurable physical quantity. On the other hand, to a felt psychical quality. On the one hand it describes a form of energy. On the other hand a form of inner energy or 'inergy'.
It is of fundamental importance to recognize however, that inergetic qualities are not phenomena in the ordinary sense of 'things' that we are consciously aware of but are themselves qualities of awareness. When we feel the inner warmth of another human being for example, what we are feeling is warmth that belongs to their own felt awareness of the world and their own felt relation to other people - a felt awareness and a felt relation that we ourselves feel bathed in and warmed by. Physical phenomena are the expression of energetic relationships between bodies in space time. Similarly, psychical phenomena are the expression of relationships between beings, relationships whose very medium is not energy but inergy - qualitative tones, textures, densities and intensities of awareness itself.
To understand our nature as human beings, it is not enough to simply import concepts borrowed from the natural sciences or scientific technologies and apply them to the human body. The way in which today, practitioners of alternative medicine speak about 'life energies', the human 'energy body' or about healing as a 'balancing' of energies constitutes an importation of the term 'energy' from physical science which relies totally on its physical signification, and completely fails to recognize the fundamental distinction between physical energies on the one hand and their psychical or inergetic counterparts on the other.
The confusion between measurable physical quantities and felt psychical qualities, has a long history. No sooner, for example, had natural science begun to give pride of place to the concepts of magnetism and electricity, than these concepts were applied to the understanding of living organisms and to the human being. Already in the late eighteenth century, Mesmer spoke of 'vital' or 'animal' magnetism', just as, later, others would speak of the body's vital electricity or vital 'energy' in general. The use of new scientific concepts or technologies as models of human nature (for example seeing the brain as 'computer') is a creative process but at the same time a very one-sided approach to the relation of natural phenomena and human nature. For it involves transferring to the human being the physical signification of these concepts in a way that completely ignores their own non-physical or psychical dimension of signification that is central to an understanding of the human being. As a result, the concepts themselves, whilst invariably treated as fundamental to an understanding of human nature, are not themselves transformed into fundamental concepts.
To transform concepts such as 'magnetism', 'electricity', 'warmth', 'light', 'gravity' etc into fundamental concepts means grasping their twofold significance - not just as signifiers of observable physical phenomena but as signifiers of independent psychical phenomena. Their fundamental significance is not grasped by interpreting human nature in terms of their physical signification alone. Applying concepts drawn from the natural sciences to understand our own human nature does indeed lead to a 'natural science of man'. But this must be complemented by a type of research that proceeds in quite the opposite direction and leads towards a 'human science of nature'. This is a science that enriches our understanding of natural-scientific concepts and of the very physical phenomena they refer to through a direct psychical exploration of our own human nature. The method of research that leads to a natural science of man is physical observation of the human being as an expression of natural phenomena. The method of research that leads to a human science of nature is the human being's own inner feeling cognition of nature as the expression of psychical phenomena and psychical reality - of patterned tones and textures, densities and intensities, directions and flows of awareness as such. For within these are to be found the 'archetypes' or inner field-patterns of significance, which find expression not only in the basic signifiers of science but in the physical phenomena they refer to.
Fundamental Research is based on a feeling cognition of the inner psychical counterparts to the physical phenomena signified by basic scientific terms. But it takes as its starting point not just specific scientific terms but the linguistic field of signifiers surrounding them and the fundamental polarities associated with them. Taking 'warmth' as our example, the fundamental polarity is warmth and coldness. The field of signifiers includes phrases connecting psychic warmth and coldness with the heart and with the blood - phrases such as 'warm-hearted', 'cold-hearted', 'hot-blooded' or 'cold-blooded' for example. These in turn have their own physical-scientific significance - for we know that as mammals we are warm-blooded and that we owe this bodily warm-bloodedness to the functioning of our hearts. But warmth and coolness as qualities of the human being rather than the human body are associated with inner closeness and distance, that is to say with a basic polarity of intensional space. Inner warmth and coolness also have a dynamic character - the experience signified by expressions such as "warming to someone" or "going cold on someone". To regard an expression such as 'inner warmth' as merely metaphorical is to assume such experiences are less real than the experience of physical warming up in front of a fire, or cooling down on a wintry day. To seek some scientific or esoteric phenomenon 'behind' such experiences is to assume that they are only real if they can be identified with some physical or quasi-physical force or energy.
For refugees or camp inmates of a Siberian labour camp abandoned to winter cold their bodily survival is dependent as much - if not more - on the inner warmth of their human contact with one another as on the warming effects of their bodies on the air around them. Terms such as 'inner warmth', 'inner light' etc. are not metaphorical signifiers. Nor are they literal signifiers of a physical or quasi-physical energy. Our sense of the inner tone and timbre, warmth and coldness, lightness and heaviness, distance or closeness of another being is something so close to us, so intimate a part of our everyday 'exoteric' experience that science ignores it and theosophy treats it as something esoteric. Ultimately it requires no abstruse theosophical terms such as 'warmth ether' or 'aura' to feel the intensional reality of inner warmth and inner light. And yet they are the very medium of Fundamental Research.
Physical science takes as its object physical warmth and coldness. Fundamental Research has as its object intensional, inergetic or inner warmth and coldness. It knows this object not through physical observation but through feeling cognition. But this subjective or feeling cognition then in turn facilitates a no less 'objective' observation and description of inwardly cognized psychical phenomena than that which physical science offers for outwardly perceived physical phenomena. But it also brings with it something more - a feeling cognition of the correspondences between different psychical phenomena, which can add to and illuminate the relation between their outer physical counterparts. In our awareness of a human being, for example, felt qualities of darkness, density, heaviness and gravity go together. So also do their polar complements - qualities of 'lightness' in the form of airiness, levity and transparent lucidity or brightness of spirit. For the physical scientist does not begin by taking heed of language. It seems of no consequence that the verbal signifier 'light' has a double sense of luminosity and levity, still less that our felt sense of luminosity and expansion goes together with a felt sense of lightness and levity. As a result, despite the inherently impersonal and collective nature of physical-scientific research it required the extraordinary personal and psychological qualities of an individual scientist - Einstein - to intellectually intuit an inner connection between light and gravity.
© Peter Wilberg 2002