Reversing The “Eclipse of Relationality”
An Ontology and Phenomenology of Healing Culture
Keywords:phenomenological sensibility, ensouling the world, individuation, dialogue, self and other
The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber talked about, living under the shadow of Auschwitz, that humanity lived with the ‘eclipse of God’. I now wonder if we have moved beyond this ‘eclipse of God’ to a time of the ‘eclipse of relationality’.
This article argues that the eclipse of relationality is enabled through a predominant worldview in which the world is understood as mechanical and dead – observed and experienced in increasingly abstract form. In this way of being, the world and the ‘other’, cannot be loved.
In light of this eclipse, this article offers two pathways back to life, particularly for practitioners concerned with healing culture. The first is ontological – a new way of being that is experienced through a living polarity between the ideas enfolded within Jung’s theory of individuation and Buber’s dialogical theorising. The second is phenomenological – a new kind of social and ecological practice linked to a perceptivity of living process, traced from Carl Jung and James Hillman, to Mary Watkins, Henri Bortoft and Allan Kaplan. The key wisdom from this article, from travelling down these two pathways - the key theorising of a way forward for cultural healers - is that people increasingly spend so much of their life separated, a-part, lacking intimacy with another, or with the world, or the manifestations of the world that are all around them, and within them. Something is then missing – call it connection, which ensouls the world – the aliveness that invites an anticipatory and participatory relationship with the world, and importantly, a world experienced as both profound Otherness, as well as deeply Oneness. The consequences for people and the world are profound – for the experience of alienation enables abstractions to flourish, exclusions to expand, and rushed interventions to proliferate – the ‘eclipse of relationality’ beckons.
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