On The Philosophy of Sunnie D. Kidd



Compiled by

James W. Kidd, Ph.D.


Table of Contents


Introduction 4

1—Dialogal Modes of Understanding    5

2—Inbetweenness: The Indivisible Whole   10

3—Inbetweenness: On the Nonduality of Particle and    

Wave    14

4—Inbetweenness: The Condition for the Possibility of

the Universe    18

5—Seashore Philosophy: A Living Example of Taoism   21

6—On the Presence of Simplicity of Thought    36

List of Names    39




I think George C. H. Sun saw the simplicity and elegance in Sunnie’s way when saying: "Just once in a great while you know when you meet someone that you stand in the light of enlightenment." Sunnie made sense of the meaning of it all with a term she coined called: inbetweenness. The two themes of inbetweenness are movement and vibration. Inbetweenness is the cosmic connection of it all.


James W. Kidd, Ph.D.

San Francisco





Sunnie D. Kidd

The presuppositions, for this presentation, of dialogal modes of understanding are:

1) Relationships are reciprocal and not necessarily symmetrical.1

2) Speech is identity and variation.2

3) In authentic dialogue both of us can go where neither of us alone could go.

4) Inbetweenness is the spiritual cosmic connection of it all.

If we consider a reciprocal relationship is not necessarily symmetrical it provides a way to understand the dynamic nature of interpersonal relations. This will allow us to make distinctions in the social context for what I call dialogal modes of understanding. The dialogal situation is a dynamic interplay that gives expression to an inherent interpersonal tension. This is a natural aspect of speaking. Despite the different history that people bring to the dialogal situation, each becomes available for the other. Being available establishes the possibility for a common ground.

The tension that exists in dialogue shifts as participants become attuned to and understand one another. This tension is the enlivening aspect of authentic dialogue. It opens up the worlds of those involved and initiates action. Without this tension, dialogue would soon come to a standstill. Nothing new would ensue. Authentic dialogue moves participants. Without this movement, stagnation sets in and the quality of interpersonal presence deteriorates.

Even though two people share a common time and space, what arises will influence each of them differently. Two persons may be mutually influenced in a relationship that holds particular importance for both. At the same time, this does not mean that one tries to become the other. In authentic dialogue, the participants do not simply conform to one another. The tension that exists in social and personal conditions remains unique to each and provides an enriching common ground. Each may be influenced without mirroring the other.

Tension is inherent in the person and within the interpersonal situation. It opens up reciprocity, a way to see another’s perspective. Through this creative tension, differences in practical and theoretical approaches, limitations, oppositions and even conflicts can stimulate authentic dialogue. They keep social horizons open for the creation of a future together.

This mutual recognition uncovers existential meaning involved in vital dialogal situations, compressing the meaning of history, social, cultural and personal existence into a unique and named way of life together. These speech forms are authentic dialogal modes of presence that are future-founding and establish new horizons that are culturally-transforming.

The eventual outcome of this shared time and space remains to be taken up by each person. These are connecting moments of inbetweenness in that each person participates in the authentic dialogue as opposed to something that happens between two persons that displays more of a physical characteristic. In a dialogal situation it is possible to be different, to become different and change. The participants in a dialogal situation carry each other into future activities. Each participates. Now if consider identity and variation. As soon as something is spoken and it is given back to the other in dialogue, it is transformed, becoming a variation upon the ground of inbetweenness. This allows understanding. Change ensues.

Dialogue allows one the possibility to become different. It is enhanced and renewed with this investment of self by the other. With each personal variation a new facet of meaning is unveiled and reveals new perspectives. In authentic dialogue, both of us can go where neither of us alone could go.

Inbetweenness gives rise to the double possibility of self-transcendence (vertical-horizontal). The human being has the potentiality to go beyond. We are referential beings who clarify meaning in relation to others upon the ground of inbetweenness. This possibility transcends all structural and ideological limitations and barriers.

The dialogal modes of presence in authentic dialogue must also be distinguished from others, such as idle chatter, talk or simple information-giving modes that neither include temporal fronts of action nor achieve the simultaneous height and depth which takes place in a dialogal communion. Authentic speech awakens in us thoughts that form new thought which recasts them all. It stirs the sedimentation of language.

A reciprocal mode of caring for the other extends without conscious thought of one’s own boundaries. This is an existential risk that fosters and strengthens the interpersonal bond. The existential risk is always present as one comes toward another since the modal presence in relationships is reciprocal but not necessarily symmetrical. If relationships were symmetrical we would have nothing to say because without the possibility of variation in speaking everything would be A=A.

Dialogal modes of understanding are not independent of one another. They are related to one another. The personal, local and global situation fit in with one another.


1) Stephan Strasser, The Idea of Dialogal Phenomenology (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969), p. 56.

2) Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Speech and Reality (Norwich: Argo Books, 1970), p. 49.






Sunnie D. Kidd

If we consider consciousness as undivided the distinction between the knower and the known disappears. Experience is complete in itself and is self-assuring. Experience is not the content of a reflective act of consciousness, for then it would be something of which we are conscious; rather it is the act itself. It is something we live in and through, it is the very attitude we take toward life and in which we live.

Experience can become an object of reflection but then it is no longer immediate experience but the object of another act of encounter. Experience exists before the subject-object separation. Separation is itself a model used by reflection. Experience then is not distinguished from perceiving or apprehending itself. Experience represents that direct contact with life, which we may call immediate lived experience. Experience is a realm before subject-object, a realm in which the world and our experience of it are given together.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan1 tells us there is no pure experience independent of interpretation. Mystics of each religion identify religious experience with the ideas and figures of their respective cultures. They also offer different interpretations of their experience to a reality beyond experience. This points to a distinction between the religious experience itself and the interpretation of that experience. Following out this thought one could ask whether religious experiences are necessarily experiences of God. In Buddhism and in Taoism there is no idea of a personal God who creates the universe and who one can pray to. In Hinduism there are interpretations of Brahman which, identify it with a personal God and those who do not.

Interpretation is the most basic act of human thinking; existing itself is its primordial ground. One always stands within a circle of contextual meaning which means that any interpretation is not presuppositionless. This ground upon which we stand in understanding is that which every act of interpretation stands, within its horizon.

We can now ask whether it is ever possible to distinguish experience from the interpretation of it. If not, it is unclear how any experience can be said to be self-assuring. The idea that the religious experience is independent of any interpretation of it can lead to the claim that there is an underlying unity of all religions, that different religions are simply different forms of truth. If religious experience is itself universal and independent of any particular religion’s interpretation of it, then not all religions are derived from the same experience but point to a dimension of existence which is beyond religion itself. This is the spiritual realm of inbetweenness. The spiritual is the fundamental ground of religion and each religion is a different form of it.

Everyone who is in search of the great experience, whatever you want to call it, there will always be someone who can sell you on a way to find it. If you think there is something more that you ought to be than you are, you have divided yourself from reality, from the universe. As Samkara says, that which knows, which is in all beings the knower, is never an object of its own knowledge. This assumes a different reality, one composed of gradients rather than boundaries. Inbetweenness is the absolute wholeness that is the fundamental ground giving rise to the relatedness of the universe. It is not an object presented to knowledge but is the condition of knowledge. Relative knowledge requires a subject and an object; awareness of the Self is absolute and requires no object.

Entities exist but not discretely, waves have individual existence but are continuous with each other and with the ocean that gives rise to them and in which they emerge. Every wave simultaneously is every other wave, inseparable in time and space. This is inbetweenness, an indivisible wholeness of movement and vibration. Inbetweenness is what it is, a universe in which intuition is possible.

The discoveries of modern physics have come to find that the mystics claim that, the world being composed of objects is an illusion, because we tend to divide the world of experience into fixed entities, which we order into fixed categories of time and space. The world is really a flowing activity in which forms appear and disappear, transient patterns in a dynamic living flux, a formlessness mystics call a void or the absolute. Denying all attributes and relations does not mean absolute vacuity. Radhakrishnan put this to clarity: when we call it nothing we mean that it is nothing which created beings can conceive or name and not that it is absolutely nothing.

Mystics claim that the world of isolated objects perceived by our senses is not composed of a linear sequence of events but rather an interrelated organic pattern and simultaneous relationships of which linear relationships form a minor part. For human beings, inbetweenness is a spiritual dimension. Between is physical.2 Inbetweenness is the spiritual dimension in which we reside. Upon this fundamental ground is the possibility that we can resonate with one another.3

The fundamental characteristic of inbetweenness is movement and vibration. The idea is that all developments in nature, the physical world and human situations show cyclic patterns of coming and going, of expansion and contraction.

Cyclic patterns in movement and vibration are generated by the dynamic interplay of inbetweenness. Matter is highly condensed energy, each is a participator within the field of inbetweenness. Moving beyond the observer and the observed to a participator presents a view of reality of innerconnectedness. Mind and matter are different vibrations or ripples in the same pond, a continuum, a spectrum of fields within a field of inbetweenness. Each contributes in the cyclic patterns of movement and vibration.

Elsewhere, beyond time, space and causation, beyond future and past is the absolute field of inbetweenness. This is a plane of being not a place.


1) Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, "Personal Experience of God," An Idealist View of Life (London: Unwin, 1988), pp. 70-81.

  1. Between is a word-object. With inbetweenness there is no physical substance to matter. Matter is vibrations. Inbetweenness is beyond objects as we view them.
  2. 3) Without theory we would not have vision to bring about that which is possible.








    Sunnie D. Kidd

    Waves are very playful. They do a dance of their own. Waves even bend around corners.

    We could consider that a particle is a dot and a wave is spread out with crests and dips. But each is the other. A particle is a wave. A wave is a particle spread out. They are two ways of talking about the same thing.

    Now if we consider the ocean as an exemplar of waves we see that when the crests of the waves meet the crests of other waves larger waves occur. Most consider a wave as a ridge or swell moving along the surface of the ocean. It is also considered that a wave is a periodic motion or disturbance, as in the propagation of sound or light. But a wave is not. It is that which stands out within the whole. It is movement and vibration of the whole.

    When there is a long narrow hollow the water is calm. The interpenetrating patterns are not seen.

    The organic view of energy is that which processes information and acts accordingly. Since both waves and humans are organic, each can affect the other. Each is the other. This is beyond the individuality of each wave to patterns of happenings.1

    Each wave is connected to each other wave. In some places overlapping other waves. In other places canceling each other out. In the first it is intensity. In the second when a crest meets another each is cancelled out.2

    When we observe something we do not observe it in itself. It is something amplified by our way of perceiving. If a being from another planet with eyeballs on its elbows landed here it would observe from its own way of questioning.

    This is interaction. The interaction brings about the reality. This interaction is possible through inbetweenness. Inbetweenness is the absolute reality.

    Everything is connected to everything else. It is the interaction that creates the change only because of the possibility of inbetweenness. Everything is connected to everything else. There is no center.

    What we observe is not the phenomenon in a pure sense but our interaction with the phenomenon itself. The interaction belongs to not the phenomenon or to us. Nothing is independent of us nor are we independent of anything.

    To say that something does not have independent existence implies that is does not exist. Nothing exists independent of itself. We ascribe to a given phenomenon certain qualities that do not belong to the phenomenon itself but to our interaction with it. This means that the phenomenon has no qualities independent of us. This is complementarily. It is inbetweenness that gives rise to complementarily which is characteristic of everything. Wave-particle duality does not exist. It is nonduality, two ways of talking about the same thing.

    Elsewhere determines what happens here and now. Waves act. Each wave processes information accordingly. Nonlocality is inbetweenness, spirituality.

    It is a happening without actualization. Inbetweenness is both possibility and reality. It is reality.

    Waves are patterns, dimensional patterns where diffraction and dispersion reverse.

    Inbetweenness is not independently existing. It is a pattern of relationships that reach out to other things. Nothing exists by itself. All that exists is an unbroken wholeness that presents itself as patterns of relation.

    It is a web of relationships whose meaning arises from relationships to the whole. The wave function describes movement and vibration, particle and wave.

    This speaks to a metaphysics in which each person is connected in some way with everything else and implies a field theory in which no absolute barriers exist between entities but all entities respond within the field of inbetweenness. Leaps to other dimensions are possible in the field of inbetweenness.

    Consciousness is coextensive with it. Consciousness is not bounded by the physical it extends throughout existence. This means that subject and object are one. This dimensional view is one of gradients rather than boundaries. Just as waves stand out but are continuous with each other and with the ocean that gives rise to them, in which they emerge. Every wave is simultaneously every other wave.

    The world is a flow of activity in which forms appear and disappear in a dynamic living flux whose basic building blocks are formless.





    1) Each wave does not go to the same place. We cannot determine the path of individual waves.

    2) Waves both are. This ontological view is consistent with the wholeness of inbetweenness. It is not either or - nor is it and - it is both.









    Sunnie D. Kidd

    We will begin with the assumption that wave function1 describes all possible states of a particle. Now if we consider that wave function could also assume an infinite set of parallel universes this amplifies quantum theory in a different way. This would be as Stephen Hawking calls it wave function of the universe.

    What I understand is that inbetweenness is the wholistic ground for a reductionistic quantum theory. Henrik Casimir showed us that quantum theory could create negative energy with this example: Two large uncharged parallel metal plates when separated have a force between them. There are particles and antiparticles constantly appearing and disappearing. These are called virtual particles that create a net attractive force between the two plates. This is called the Casimir effect. These virtual particles are so fleeting and moving so fast that they are basically unobservable.

    What makes things even more complicated is that an infinite number of all possible universes coexist with one another. Look again at the virtual particles between the two plates. There gone again!

    Let us consider Erwin Schrodinger’s cat.2 To decide whether or not the cat is dead or alive we have to open the box. If we open the box we do not know if the cat was alive or dead before we opened the box. All we really can say is that wave function describes both a live and dead cat.

    Before the observation is made the cat can be either dead or alive. This involves someone making an observation that is a consciousness. We could amplify the thought from a wholistic view and say that inbetweenness explains the existence of any object. All is within the cosmic whole of inbetweenness.

    If we consider again particles, from the framework of an S-matrix, we could be looking at a scattering as an inseparable whole. This would be inbetweenness too!

    Whether we take something apart and look into the meaning from there or leave it intact and ask how things move and interact with one another each gives us information. The one view is reductionism and the other is wholistic. They are not separate they are integral. They are variations within the ground of inbetweenness.

    If we make the move to say that the properties that we ascribe to objects is found in the interaction with the object this means that the object does not exist independently. There is no independent existence. Nothing exists in isolation not even the universe.3

    There are an infinite number of universes coexisting with ours. All are connected and this means that interdimensional movement is possible. I will see you here and there.


    1) Wave function represents call possibilities that can happen when it interacts with an observing.

    2) Schrodinger’s wave theory is non-relativistic. It describes a temporal development of possibilities one of which actualizes. S- matrix provides probabilities. It gives direct probabilities without indication of development. One views probabilities rather than individual actualization.

  3. For anything to be isolated would mean that it would have to be isolated from something. Inbetweenness is the cosmic whole.






Sunnie D. Kidd

This presentation of Taoism will be placed in relation to Hermeneutic Phenomenology. It begins in San Francisco, the western edge. From here where does one go? This is it. Walk the beach to fro and back again. What does all this mean? Standing on the edge of the world wondering what all this is about with no place to go but to fro and back again.

Let us begin with the example of walking along the beach and turning toward the reflecting pond, the ocean. Along the shoreline there is no separation of knowledge from not-knowledge. It is! Back again. Now where? Chinese philosophy not only takes me beyond the opposition of separations presented by western thought but also reveals its non-separation from the outset, it is integral. It is!

On the western edge of this continent here I found myself. I found an openness beyond which I cannot see, much like the vista stretching out to touch other worlds past this side of the sea. I know there is another side another water’s edge but I cannot see it. Finding myself in San Francisco, living at the Ocean Beach was much the same kind of experience. My own future faced me here, a person who reads books and articles, whose life was just as open as that seashore horizon whose edge I wander along each day.

Each morning I walk out to meet the beach, the sun rising at my back. I welcome the day as I walk back and forth on this narrow strip of California coastline and wander my thoughts along. We share this ribbon of foaming, ever-changing edge of the world. We collect together each day. Many familiar faces approach, others are unknown. We are like shells cast upon the beach for only a short time, disappearing as if swept away by the next wave, carried back into the ocean’s depths. We are here for a moment, washed back into the sea of humanity.

I walk along. Some mornings are fogged mirrors, vision limited, cold winds whipping the sand around and about. Some mornings glisten in pristine clarity letting the water sparkle like jewels, tails of red fire seeming to flare atop the waves as the sun shines through its mist. The ocean moves in, moves out. This place where water, sky and earth meet is never the same. The tide comes in, the tide goes out, each returning wave pushing against the incoming swell as it is pulled back into the boundless depths and swallowed into the vastness of an unknown deep.

I walk, wonder and think. Ocean Beach friends are out again today. They approach. We talk, we laugh, we share. Then we go our own ways. We change each other and for each other. What to do? Where to go next? My consciousness drifts out to ride with the rubber-suited surfers bobbing along like corks on top the freezing water, waiting to catch the next big one, paddling like human windmills, arms flailing in an attempt to go with the surging momentum of the incoming wave as it crests and roars beachward, carrying the delighted board-riding enthusiast for a short, wild distance. Suddenly the water upends the board into the sand and brine, crashing on the sandy beach, washing its path, stretching and reaching as far toward the dryness as it can. Momentarily, between in and out, a profound pause and silence, a motionless moment, as if undecided, then reversing its flow, rushing back against itself, pulling sand, shells, pebbles with it into the source from which it welled up and surges toward uniqueness. This motion is endless, relentless, never ending but never the same.

I turn toward this reflecting pond. There is too much to know! I know nothing. Here comes my Ocean Beach characters again, all to my senior, they constantly amaze me. Each offers a new insight. Each suggests an alternative. I have gone scenic with their views. Theirs is the way of experience. Mine is different, the conceptual, philosophical, the abstract. Each is different, sometimes not agreeable to one another but with one another. No one owns this beach to the exclusion of others no matter what the difference. Here we are ourselves. Here where water, sky and earth co-mingle, where separation is an ever-changing illusion. I have followed my own path and it led me here today. The next wave washes in and one finds oneself through reflection, here, I am!

Chuang Tzu breaks the paths, opens the views of knowledge and threatens all values. This is philosophy! For Chuang Tzu:

‘Nothing does it,’ ‘something makes it like this’— these are speculations born out of doubt. I look for the roots of the past, but they extend back and back without end. I search for the termination of the future, but it never stops coming at me.1

For Chuang Tzu, "There is life, there is death, there is a coming out, there is a going back in— yet in the coming out and going back its form is never seen."2

Coming out and going back in is to release oneself into the open-dimension of ongoingness.3 Nothingness and existence are in harmonious change and transformation. The self is an achievement of disclosing one’s own self, it is a becoming in relation to others within one’s environment. There is no dualistic subjective/ objective distinction, it is each into every other.

Pierre Thévenaz, a Swiss phenomenologist, presents a view that seems harmonious with the Chinese. For Thévenaz, "immediately reflexive consciousness of self is a constituting power more original, a fact more primitive, than intentionality."4 Instead of interpreting reflection by means of intentionality, Thévenaz interprets intentionality on the basis of the reflexive consciousness. There is then no loss of continuity.

When considering the yin-yang principle, the yin is the reflexive, the yang is the reflective. This is not a dualism. It is an explicit expressing and implicit unity. The reflexive/reflective resides in dynamic interplay. It is a blended harmony. This is a continuous flow. One without the other chopsticks cannot interplay.

Meanwhile back at the beach, experience is the ground I walk upon! There is no separation between me and my body, between my feet half buried in the sand and my head that sticks up into clouds of fog. For life out here on the edge, the bench in front of the Cliff House is the resting place for some of the Ocean Beach walkers. It is reserved by some unseen sign for the Ocean Beach regulars. For other Ocean Beach regulars the ongoing conversation goes on with one another along the walkway in each moment passing. We meet each day, we flow out to the beach, pull back into daily life. Each day is different we come together then part.

Along the ocean beach wall waves crash relentlessly against the buttressed Sutro Hill in winter where the water retreats at year’s lowest tide leaving sea life stranded on drying rocks and marooned in tidal pools. Caverns beneath the rocks appear revealing their dark mysteries inside filled by water most of the time. A rubberized man pads up beside me, barefoot and oblivious to all but the water’s mood and movements for the day. He is studying the water like a map is engraved on the inside of his eyes, plotting an unseen oceanographer’s chart. All this is done to figure out just where on this western edge to enter the surf, paddling into the waves, surfboard tied to his ankle. The force of the sea can separate them only to a certain extent, just as far as his leash. I wonder, who has whom?

It was then, that I thought an example from Chuang Tzu. Confucius was sight-seeing where the water falls some thirty fathoms and races along so swift that no fish can swim in it. He saw a man dive into the water. Thinking something was wrong, Confucius summoned his disciples to line up on the bank and pull the man out. But after a short distance the man came out and began strolling along the embankment. Confucius then asked what special way did the man stay afloat. The man said:

I have no way. I began with what I was used to, grew up with my nature, and let things come to completion with fate. I go under with the swirls and come out with the eddies, following along the way the water goes and never thinking about myself. That’s how I can stay afloat.5

Seashore philosophy is looking to nature and everyday life experiences. There is no need to find anything it comes naturally. The resounding sea touches true. It is here that Chuang Tzu is so clear, so true:

Make few your needs, lessen your desires, and then you may get along even without rations. You will ford the rivers and drift out upon the sea. Gaze all you may—you cannot see its farther shore; journey on and on—you will never find where it ends. Those who came to see you off will all turn back from the shore and go home, while you move ever farther into the distance.6

Few needs, less desires, this I have found as giving way. Giving way, is not giving up I cannot push the ocean, it gives, it surrounds. It gives it stays. It does not run away. Yet, those who turn their back from the shore will not see. With unfathomable vastness Chuang Tzu says:

You can’t discuss the ocean with a well frog—he’s limited by the space he lives in…You can’t discuss the Way with a cramped scholar—he’s shackled by his doctrines. Now you have come out beyond your banks and borders and have seen the great sea—so you realize your own pettiness. From now on it will be possible to talk to you about the Great Principle.7

The naturalness of the ocean is spontaneity. There is a suddenness yet a gradualness within the flow. While you are here the ocean flows, when you are not here the ocean flows. An unbroken nearness is a long way from nearness. End and beginning is an unbroken round of non-differentiation between motion and rest, change and permanence. Rest is in the midst of motion, motion is comprising of rest. Rest is neither apart from motion nor motion apart from rest. Yin and yang co-exist. These currents are given to interpenetration. Each comes and goes, gathers and poises itself to hurtle beyond its own limits, into boundless exchange. This is an endless alternation of motion and rest, change and transformation. The resounding sea is in with the whirl, out with the swirl. In describing the sea, Chuang Tzu, says it is, "Never to alter or shift, whether for an instant or an eternity; never to advance or recede, whether the quantity of water flowing in is great or small."8

This is knowledge, deep, unfathomable, it ends to begin again, again and again. It is, says Chuang Tzu, "That which can be increased without showing any sign of increase; that which can be diminished without suffering any diminution."9 This depth, subtlety and simplicity are not founded upon purposeful striving. It is a spontaneous natural flow.

Seashore philosophy is a continuous flow of discovering -describing-disclosing ongoing meaning. Foghorns call across the chasm of ocean’s depths, ships answer through gusting shrouds of fog, winding their way into the safety of the bay, under the west’s Golden Gate. It reminds me of us, of people moving along in life, calling out to the depths, across distances beyond, waiting for answers that may never be heard. Lighthouses entrance the rocky crevasse here and across the bay, buoys mark the shipping lanes and tugboats act like butlers who escort the visiting vessels to moor at the waterfront docks. My thoughts have drifted again, I’ve forgotten how long I’ve been walking. Ideas ramble, knocking against one another, I’ve forgotten myself, what a delight! This is it.

Let me, if you please, go backward and forward. This is what I have come to find as existential hermeneutics as I walk along Ocean Beach each morning in San Francisco. I will begin then by saying that Hermeneutic Phenomenology and Taoism emerge in the crosscurrent of interpenetration. The naturalness of the ocean is an unbroken round of motion and rest. Each wave comes and goes, gathers and poises itself to hurtle beyond its own limits, into boundless change.10 Yet, the currents co-exist. Going backward and forward, to fro and back again, is an evocative interplay in dialogue, in the ocean itself.

The philosopher’s thought is already situated. Something is always presupposed. My existence here and now is a co-existence situated from the historical and social view. Other thinkers are present even if I maintain a silence about their presence. A circle, we are before I am, is philosophy reflecting upon the world which includes it.

Philosophy is hermeneutics. Interpretations of the human being, which are perspectival, cannot through-and-through, from beginning to end, unmitigatedly comprehend the sheer inexhaustible richness of its hidden meaning. There will continue to be other thinkers who proceed from different experiences. This in itself further displays the inexhaustible richness. Whether the other is in truth or with truth, so to speak, we are in dialogue. In dialogue both of us can go where neither of us alone could go.

For Martin Heidegger, hermeneutic and phenomenology are but one. Yet, in Being and Time hermeneutics remains in the background with phenomenology unfolding the hermeneutic. Hermeneutics is, says Heidegger, connected with phenomenology. One begins with the given and searches for expressed or unexpressed intentions. This reading of the text is saying in another way or possibly better way what the writer says. Here is where Heidegger came up against himself: can one say in a different or better way what the poet says? With Friedrich Hölderlin as the poet of poets, how could even a poet do an interpretation!

Now, I think Heidegger did make a sound move in maintaining that phenomenology is the approach to ontology and later formulating hermeneutics in another way, otherwise we would be without Being and Time. Hans Georg Gadamer has already made this move in that the effects outside the field of the text are at work. Here is where the first theme of this presentation becomes clear: identity and variation. No matter which thinker it is that has discussed hermeneutics, prior to even me, I cannot from beginning to end obtain the original meaning but only take it up in my own way.

In dialogue, what is taken in from the other is the identity, as it is given back to the other, it is transformed, becoming a variation of its original spokenness. One identifies what the other is saying while placing a given slant or variation on it, as each responds from where they live. This is what I have come to find as dialogal hermeneutics. People do not think the same with different languages. Without variation we would have to bid farewell to culture.

This is so basic, that I would like to say, when considering consciousness and memory one can see the depth of the complexity of identity and variation. When one looks and sees something, looks away and looks back and sees it again, it is different. There is no consciousness without memory11 and no continuation without memory of the past to the present. The sounding-resounding-sea evokes the depths of identity and variation.

Each morning as I walk along Ocean Beach, out here where everything changes and the more it changes it stays the same, life makes sense. I open into the ocean blue depths and on the surface sparkling waterscape reflections resound the sound. The tide is in, breakers are rolling up past the last water’s return. Tides come in, go out. Each time makes a difference within the continuous flow. This narrow ribbon of sand winds down to the rocky buttressed cliff where waves swelling, wear and change their faces, ceaselessly.

This morning’s tide has peaked, releases and turns to the opposite. Now, it pulls everything back into the depths from where it came. Out rushing water rakes through the sand, picking up debris of all kinds. In 20 minutes the beach face has changed to a new look. I stroll further to find a pool teeming with stranded sea creatures left by the out rush, left to perish in channels of water now yards from the safety offered in its luminous brine.

In saunters, a very old man, with shoulders pointed way up high and head hung down ever so low, going this way then that coming back and around again not going anywhere in particular. These are merely what are called, says this unhurried idler, boundless turnings.12 This is a constant flow of change and transformation.13 The depth of the complexity of Hermeneutic Phenomenology is the un-covering-interpretation-of-meanings that is not immediately given. Hermeneutics is fundamental to phenomenological description and integral with philosophical phenomenology. For interpretation to begin some understanding is already-there, one’s presuppositions of that which is to be interpreted. This beginning is given-to-further-meaning as the hermeneutic circle becomes wider.

Follow the Way in your journey, says Chuang Tzu and already you will be there.14 This is not to try to get away but to go to the depth of things. The idea is not to get out of the circle but to move in it. This is not circular reasoning. Hermeneutics is a relatedness backward and forward. It is a reaching into and through, for a wider understanding. The un-covering-interpretation-of-meanings is a working out of these beginnings in relation to the things themselves, to understand a theme. This is a going into, a going on and back which gives forth a present theme. It is possible to hear that which is said and that which is unsaid.

In the Introduction to The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, Burton Watson says:

Often, in the case of ancient Chinese, a different punctuation of the text or a different interpretation of the words will make sense out of what at first glance seemed nonsense.15

In this way the researcher can come to a theme expressing it, although in another way, what the subject presents, to a wider whole. The hermeneutic circle proceeds from a whole to a part then back again, language, words and language again. It is an expanding like a vise that expands with the unscrewing in which it was squeezed. It is always whole yet can spread itself over a wider surface. This is to be open to that which is beyond what was said. That which is left unsaid gives itself toward the present within the context out of which it is to be.

The theme and that which it arises out of the thematic field is co-present. Although in the context but not relevant to a particular theme is the margin, which is co-present. At the wider, is the dimensional field. A theme is that which stands forth. A theme is that which arises for the researcher, although in another way, what the subject presents, to the wider whole. This is to bring the far near. In so doing it is disclosed in a clearer way. Interpretation maintains the quality of self-evidence. This is staying-with the continuity, in going on and back from there to here, to bring it near.

Interpretation is within the context which makes something meaningful. It asks for the meaning. One begins with the given and searches for intentions which are expressed or unexpressed in the context. The researcher comes to a theme expressing it in another way, what the subject presents. A theme can only be understood from the whole and vice versa. Themes are at work within the context. That which resides outside the subject’s intentions is also at work.

Hermeneutic Phenomenology goes beyond the immediately given, when considering immediacy as givenness. In this way meaning is amplified, enriching one’s understanding by bringing forth further relations. Anticipations go beyond what is directly present. This is beyond mere structure and into the dynamics. It is a moving into the dynamic structure. This is phenomenology amplified. Understanding is the theme of knowledge. The question is to understand, at this time, the stance that is responsible for that which constitutes getting there.

Within this composition, the dynamic structure, resides the possible and the actual, the direct and indirect meaning. This is how meaning comes into being and what brings it forth. Yet, the subject is already-in an existing whole that is society. The subject is within the within, woven in. The phenomenon is within and at work accompanied by inclusion and exclusion. The subject is seen as a self-in-relation to the other and the world,16 while changing. A phenomenon brings forth the possibility of different phenomena. Here is where the second theme of this presentation becomes clear: discovering-describing-disclosing. This theme is beyond mere description. For Margaret Chatterjee:

The word "elucidation" used by some of the French phenomenologists indicates rather more happily what the phenomenological way of doing philosophy is like. We elucidate structures of consciousness rather than describe them.17

In dialogue, identity and variation; discovering-describing-disclosing are integral hermeneutic turns. The researcher does an intersubjective thematization of the meaning of the text. This second theme, can be displayed in a clearer way by the hermeneutic see. Along the seashore I find myself discovering a seashell that is before me, immediately I am describing it as I go into beyond just mere appearance of the phenomenon, I find myself disclosing the meaning of it as it is disclosing itself to me.

The sound of waves cresting and breaking in thunderous crashing sounds filled my ears. The rhythmic pounding noises followed by the sound of hissing foam from the saltwater grinding the sand were about the only things I noticed this morning as the path opened up before me step by step. The wet chilling fog so typical of this time of year shrouded each next step in mystery. Far out to my left I could hear the incoming ship, bellowing its low toned call, warning any others on the shipping lane it was on its way into the mouth of the bay.

My thoughts were wandering like my feet on the sands beneath me and it was in the midst of this gray sheer curtain that filtered the sun I knew was above this temporary blanket over the beach. Suddenly my eyes focused quickly. What is it? I wondered. Something half hidden, an unknown obscured by continually swirling sands pushed ever more strongly toward the shore by the incoming tide. It could be any object dumped into the sea, a bottle, a small piece of wood, a rock. No, as I approach its fan-like spined calcium white colored hardness began to crystallize into the image I so often stumble upon in my daily seashore stroll.

But it is not the same. Reaching down I uncover it from its sandy vault to reveal it more fully. The shape is different, its weight and texture tell me it is not the usual shell that is left awash by the outgoing tide. No, this one is complete, whole. It is not the empty domain that once housed a sea creature but is heavy, full of its life. It is home!

This morning’s find is different from the typical companion to wanderers on the sand. It is alive and has to be returned to its natural surroundings that sustain its particular environment for life. A new kind of sea-being was here today, here before I happened upon it and which has now resubmerged its shell into the waterside sands beneath the foaming relentless movement that hides it again.

This self-forgetful involvement is an immerging in the movement of showing. This is self-extending. It is opening up openness. Although Gadamer suggests that all understanding has a moment of loss of self, I who am punning not lost in I-less, sense that the Chinese, especially Chuang Tzu,18 feel that spontaneity is self-forgetful. It is an extending circle of involvement. For Watson:

In the end, the best way to approach Chuang Tzu, I believe, is not to attempt to subject his thought to rational and systematic analysis, but to read and reread his words until one has ceased to think of what he is saying and instead has developed an intuitive sense of the mind moving behind the words, and of the world in which it moves.19

Although the translation did not mention hermeneutics, to read and reread the text and cease to think of what one is saying, yet moving intuitively into the world that moves is the spontaneity of hermeneutics. In developing knowledge the hidden becomes articulated. Knowledge begins with wonder that presupposes an already-there that guides the development of the hermeneutic see. The hermeneutic see is, from one shore to the other, given-to-further-meaning as the circle becomes wider. Although Gadamer wants to speak of concentric circles, I think, it is a dynamic structure. Each participates. Picture the ocean as a reflecting pond. If I throw a pebble into a pond there is movement. Each wave extends the shore from one to the other. This is what I have come to find as the turn of experience, illuminating the passage from the immediately given to the hidden meaning. Only when the axis occupies the center of a circle can things in their infinite complexities be responded to. This is, says Wing-tsit Chan, the synthesis of opposites.20 Never turning back is, for Chuang Tzu, like one who tries to shout an echo into silence or to prove that form can outrun shadow.21 One goes back then again returns to themes and Experiential Expressions and transcends the immediately given, extending understanding, bringing forth further relations in the text. These two themes: 1) identity and variation; 2) discovering-describing-disclosing trade places with each other, as Chuang Tzu would say, gathering-together and scattering bring it all to completion.22


1) The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, trans. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), p. 293.

2) Ibid., pp. 256-257.

3) Coming and going is without end, without stop, without words. The word is not the thing itself. I cannot sit on the word chair. Abstraction of the modern word is derived by a process of distinction and separation. Whereas root metaphor is the image conveyed by the word.

4) Pierre Thévenaz, What is Phenomenology?: and other Essays, trans. James M. Edie, Charles Courtney and Paul Brockelman, ed., intro. James M. Edie, preface John Wild (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1962), p. 131.

5) The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, op. cit., p. 205.

6) Ibid., p. 212.

7) Ibid., pp. 175-176.

8) Ibid., p. 186.

9) Ibid., p. 239.

10) Ibid., p. 97.

11) Henri Bergson, The Introduction to a New Philosophy, trans. Sidney Littman (Boston: John W. Luce and Co., 1912), p. 53.

12) The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, op. cit., p. 181.

13) Ibid., p. 146.

14) Ibid., p. 150.

15) Ibid., p. 21.

16) For Heidegger this is Being-with. This is what I have come to find as Tao-with.

17) Margaret Chatterjee, The Language of Philosophy (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1981), p. 131. At the Colloque Gabriel Marcel, Paris, France, 28-30 Septembre 1988 à La Bibliothèque Nationale, Margaret Chatterjee communicated to me that she had Paul Ricoeur in mind when speaking of French Phenomenologists.

18) The turning that has no direction, that responds to things, says Chuang Tzu, is never at a loss. Chuang Tzu, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, op. cit., p. 160.

19) Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, op. cit., p. 7.

20) Wing-tsit Chan, trans., comp., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), p. 183.

21) The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, op. cit., p. 377.

22) Ibid., p. 292. This is beyond Heidegger’s gathering. For the Taoist taking no action is not doing nothing. It is doing nothing unnatural.









Sunnie D. Kidd

The way one views the world determines what one sees. Take music for example a musician can hear, feel and know beautiful harmonies and resonances when merely looking at a musical score. Consider haiku. Just a few words immediately take the reader into sensation and feeling.

The basic theme is simplicity. Simplicity has a quality of elegance to it. One comes to understand that music, poems, physics and philosophy of life have an elegance all their own. One studies something because of the love of learning and understanding. Most importantly it is to resonate with beauty. One finds delight in these disciplines because they are beautiful. They make life worth living. Thought and beauty mingle with delight.

One finds on higher dimensions that truth can be revealed in simplicity and elegance that takes one to a deeper understanding. These disciplines help us to make sense of it all. Our most basic question is what is the meaning of it all? This is what we do when on a starry night we see the vastness of the universe. But each time I look I do it for the first time.

People who are into technique deal with the known. People who face the unknown and are intrigued by it are in search for understanding. I remember the first time I saw a rainbow. Ever since I have been there.

Not being afraid of the unknown is a boundary one needs to break through to approach the simplicity of it all. We are not separate from the world nor is the world separate from us. I am in the world while studying it. I come to a deeper understanding to the interaction of the world and myself.

In Ivanhoe, CA a very small isolated town with a general store and a gas station is where I first came to understand the beauty of things. This is where I understood the rainbow. This is where I fully came to understand resonation. I learned from Hawks. Growing up with no other children present and no neighbors near by I turned inward and found that I was already there. This guided my whole life. I was now free to just be in the world.

I spent most of my early days growing up in a house with dirt floors. I played outdoors and created my world there. In my special places I would feel most comfortable. Hawks would come up to me and look at me. I did not even feed them at first. It was not until one day that everything changed. My life changed. One day a Hawk landed near me and walked up to me and got real close to my face and peered into my eyes. It got so close it touched my face. It was hurt. Its wing was broken. I took it into the house and fixed its wing the best I could. My mother came home. She was frightened like no other time. She had excitedly told me that Hawks were wild and can be very fierce, to put it politely. I told her Hawkie will not hurt me. I visited with the Hawk many times. I never told her that a few years later the Hawk came back and died in my arms.

I truly understood life, death and love. This I have expressed in the concept that I have lived: inbetweenness. Nothing independently exists. We are in relationship. This is what in physics is currently called entanglement. This is what in philosophy is currently called intersubjectivity which reaches out to other things. Nothing exists by itself. That which exists is an unbroken wholeness. This unbroken wholeness is a pattern of wholeness, of matter and energy, movement and vibration. This is a dimension where each is the other. In Chinese it would be called interpenetration. In this dimension everything is incessant change.

This is being in the flow. This is beyond sensory perception. It is basic interaction. It is an ongoing flow. We are not independent of it. In the interaction each participates. It is an inclusive. I am the Hawk. Now I soar aloft and above and this dimension lets me see things, keeer-r-r.







Bergson, Henri, p. 35.

Casimir, Henrik, p. 18.

Chan, Wing-tsit, pp. 33, 35.

Chatterjee, Margaret, pp. 31, 35.

Chuang Tzu, pp. 23-26, 29-30, 33-35.

Confucius, pp. 24-25.

Gadamer, Hans-Georg, pp. 28, 33.

Hawking, Stephen, p. 18.

Heidegger, Martin, pp. 27-28, 35.

Kidd, James W., pp. 2, 4.

Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, pp. 10, 12-13.

Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen, p. 8.

Samkara, p. 11.

Schrodinger, Erwin, pp. 18-19.

Strasser, Stephan, p. 8.

Sun, George C.H., p. 4.

Thévenaz, Pierre, pp. 23-24, 35.

Watson, Burton, pp. 30, 34.








Cyclic patterns in movement and vibration are generated by the dynamic interplay of inbetweenness. Matter is highly condensed energy, each is a participator within the field of inbetweenness. Moving beyond the observer and the observed to a participator presents a view of reality of innerconnectedness. Mind and matter are different vibrations or ripples in the same pond, a continuum, a spectrum of fields within a field of inbetweenness. Each contributes in the cyclic patterns of movement and vibration.