ABSTRACT

During the fi nal days of his life, Sigmund Freud, who had spent his entire career researching psyche and the unconscious, suggests that the human psyche, heretofore thought as something immaterial, actually is spread out.1 “‘Psyche’ is body,” Nancy (2006, p. 22) notes, “and it is precisely that which escapes it.” It is precisely this escape, the process of the escape that constitutes the psyche. What is it in or of the living human body that might play this central role in who we are and what we know? Numerous phenomenological philosophers of the late 20th century discuss the fl esh as the foundation and medium of tact, itself the foundation of all senses.2 Others, often coming from the arts, theater, and dance, have joined in the celebration of the living body and aliveness as the fundamental aspect of being that enables all forms of knowing, including the intellectual forms (e.g., Sheets-Johnstone, 2009). Tact relates human beings to the world, as apparent in all those concepts that are based on the same Latin root word tangēre, to touch: contact, contingency, contagion, contagious, contiguous, contiguity, contaminate, touching, tact (beat), tactile, tangent (line, distance, point, length), tangent (function), or co-tangent. Tact is the general sense. It is synonymous with sensibility itself, thereby constituting the sense of all the senses, any sense we can make, and the sense of sense itself. Psyche, the fl esh, the senses, and mathematics come to be irremediably and intricately woven into a complex lacework. And it is precisely the connateness of tact with contact, contingency, contagion, and musical tact that makes our experience inherently embodied, shared, and intersubjective rather than metaphysical, monadic, subjective, and singular.