Natural Inclusionality — A New Natural Philosophy of Sense & Sensibility

By Alan Rayner

‘Vernal Illuninations’ (Oil painting on board by Alan Rayner, 1999)

Sense & Sensibility
Two ways of knowing, Combine to create a Third
Sense knows Form, Sensibility knows Formlessness
Compassion and Creativity know The natural inclusion of Each in the Other Motion in Stillness, Stillness in Motion
Sense without Sensibility Breeds the Indifference, Sensibility without Sense Breeds the Thoughtlessness, At the root of the Pride & Prejudice, Which collide on the Field of Human Conflict, Where Ignorance & Cruelty Abound, Causing endless Distress, At the expense of Loving Concern

The above lines arose from my continuing feeling, in these desperately muddled and unpleasant socio-political times, of the urgent need to bring the thoughtful awareness (‘sense and sensibility’) of natural inclusionality into the appreciative understanding of ‘The Many as well as the Few’.

Natural inclusionality is a philosophy that brings our human awareness of two distinct occurrences in Nature — Matter and Space — into mutually inclusive relationship with one another instead of either treating them as mutually exclusive opposites (as in abstract philosophical ‘dualism’) or one and the same thing (as in abstract philosophical ‘monism’).

This philosophy of ‘natural inclusion’ combines our ‘Sense’ — our sensory and mental ability to detect and reason from our knowledge of the existence of bounded material form — with our ‘Sensibility’ — our heartfelt awareness of the unbounded, friction-free presence of space everywhere within, throughout and beyond the surfaces of all material bodies. By so doing, it enables us to to recognise the dynamic role of a third kind of occurrence, Energy, as it circulates around local gravitational centres of Space, in the formation of material bodies, ultimately from subatomic scale upwards. We recognise that all natural material forms are dynamically bounded within the continuous friction-free stillness and transparency of space, not immobilised within a rigidly definitive structural freeze-frame analogous to a photographic snapshot. The transparent ‘darkness’ of space and the energetic play of ‘light’ are appreciated to be mutually inclusive and co-creative presences, not adversaries in opposition to each another.

By contrast, rationalistic philosophies that depend on Sense alone, while excluding Sensibility, have the effect of Objectifying Nature: i.e. perceiving Nature, including human beings, as a set of definitively bounded objects isolated from one another by space and hence only capable of being moved by external force and of communicating with one another by some means of physical connection. There is no room or explanation in such intrinsically rigid and indifferent philosophies for what they perceive as ‘subjective’ emotion, imagination or sentience, and reasoning based on the latter is commonly characterised as ‘irrational’, ‘romantic’ or ‘mystic’. In this form of ‘Pride & Prejudice’, Compassionate ‘feeling for others’ is hence ruled out along with creative imagination, and great cruelty may be tolerated or even encouraged in the idealistic pursuit of some fixed notion or another of ‘material perfection’. ‘The end justifies the means’ in this way of thinking. Suffering, if it is acknowledged at all, is perceived as a product of imperfection in need of removal, not an inevitable condition of life. Both ancient and recent human history records many examples of such idealistic pursuits at the expense of countless human lives.

By the same token, philosophies that depend on Sensibility alone have a tendency to become nihilistic, i.e. to deny the very existence of bodily form, and hence also self-identity, as ‘illusory’ — a mere ‘appearance’ configured by the senses and mental projection working together as a conspiracy designed to delude us. Suffering is seen as a consequence of this conspiracy and can be avoided — in effect anaesthetised — by eliminating egoistic ‘desire’ from our immaterial Being. In this form of Pride & Prejudice, Compassion is reserved for the ‘unenlightened’ who haven’t yet dispensed with their bodily existence, and creativity is subsumed by passivity, which offers no resistance or inventiveness when challenged by adversity.

These two alternative forms of Pride & Prejudice combine to produce a competitive culture of ‘bullies and victims’, ‘winners and losers’ incapable of living together in creative natural communion. Life is perceived as a ‘struggle for existence’, a ‘battleground’, not an expression of natural energy flow in common space.

Only when we combine — instead of confronting — our ‘Sense & Sensibility’, by replacing abstract rationalistic and nihilistic philosophies with natural inclusional awareness, will it be possible to escape this adverse perception and live together as sustainably and lovingly as we can.

You might, however, question whether or not a philosophy of natural inclusion can ever ‘play on the popular stage’. Certainly it won’t play on the undemocratic, divisive political stage of adversarial ‘populism’ and ‘majority rule’. For here, the appeal is to the Pride & Prejudice that empowers one partial view at the expense of another instead of seeking the common ground that can bring all valid (i.e. truthful) views together.

But I think it can appeal to the common humanity that values kindness, reasonableness and honesty. And that is what gets my ‘vote’ — always has done and always will do, no matter how ‘unpopular’. And that too is what I have always worked for, especially with regard to my efforts to communicate the meaning and implications of natural inclusion.
For further expositions of natural inclusionality, see www.spanglefish.com/exploringnaturalinclusion/

Alan Rayner is an evolutionary ecologist, writer and artist, who is pioneering the philosophy of natural inclusion