By Bob Corbett
November 1968

A note from Bob Corbett, January 2004

I found this paper among some old papers I have written. I have always thought this topic was one worthy of more investigation and somehow just never got back to it. In scanning it and re-reading it I was very tempted to make changes but decided against it. I do want to acknowldege that the hardest decision was not to change the sexist language of the "man" and "he" business which dominates the paper, but decided that was the way I talked and wrote yet in 1968 and that I would leave the paper as I found it.


In my everyday experience I discover myself in the world. There are two ways in which I may mean "world" in that first sentence: The world as planet Earth or world as an orientation toward my environment. The former world, the physical world, is not an everyday experience in its totality. It is a reflective and cognitive construction of my relationship to physical objects. I do not directly experience the globe as globe. But even in a sense of partial world, my orientation is not primarily and ordinarily toward this "objective" world. The second sense of world is world as I live it and live in it: my lived-world. The is the world of meaning for me. It is a world organized and interpreted according to my meanings. This is the primary everyday experience that each of us has of world.

These two senses of "in the world" radically differ from one another. I will call this first, the physical world, as simply "the world". I will call the latter "the lived world". To simplify things the German expression "Lebenswelt" is probably a better term for the lived-world. It has the virtue of calling attention to itself in English, and is also a term that is often not translated in the world of many philosophers who have significantly influenced me and these remarks. The Lebenswelt refers to that subject center – me -- around which and from the center of which the world (that is, the physical spacio-temporal world) takes on meaning. Not only am I now in a world whose environment includes a table, some chairs, two lights and the sound of a clock, but, more importantly for me, I am in a Lebenswelt. I am at MY dining room table, in MY house. I know that clock and its idiosyncratic noises. I know this house beyond my immediate sensory awareness. I know of my five children, my wife asleep in the bedrooms. I know of these six people and myself as "we" the family. I know our plans for this house in the future. I am not simply surrounded by alien objects. I am surrounded by familiar objects which fit into my world of meaning. The world of my meaning is not the world of space-time in its entirety. Not even a large part of this latter world. My world of meaning is fairly compact., fluid. It contracts and expands. It is not continuous. A labor dispute in Detroit enters my world. Detroit becomes close at hand because I am contemplating a new car purchase. But all the space between Detroit and my house remains in the world, but not in my Lebenswelt. My Lebenswelt, then, is not "the" space-time world. It is the my world of my interpretation and meaning.

In the first paragraph I stated my orientation "is not primarily and ordinarily toward this "objective world." My meaning is that objects do not generally present themselves to me as simply objects. Rather I perceive them as meaning-objects within the field of my Lebenswelt.

There is a Lebenswelt for each human being. No two are identical. Many overlap. Are any totally private? It would seem not. The overlapping of Lebenswelts I shall call intersubjectivity. To what degree is my perceptual world -- this table, these chairs, that clock -- an intersubjective Lebenswelt for my wife and me? Some unquantifiable but quite high degree I suppose. My casual friend and I? Less than the former instance, but no doubt significantly intersubjective. It is clear, from our lived experience, that our various Lebenswelts can and indeed do overlap in varying (although seemingly unquantifiable) degrees.

Man, then, is a being in a world with a Lebenswelt. Further he is a being whose Lebenswelt is an object of concern for him. His life centers around his Lebenswelt, he is constantly concerned about it; concerned in many ways.

  1. To preserve it. I like my community as I live in it. I don't want to change it, better it (whatever better may mean), update it or in any otherwise tamper with it. Others may criticize it. That's their Lebenswelt. Mine is such that I just want to (i.e. am concerned with) preserving this status quo.
  2. To advance it. I like my community, but it could be better. We could move toward more fair-housing -- even on my block -- we could support our school district with a higher tax. Others are calling for entrenchment. That is their Lebenswelt. Mine calls for (i.e. is concerned with) improving the community.
  3. Unconcern is also possible. One's community, in the more formal governmental sense used above, is not everyone's concern. Your Lebenswelt is your own and your governmental community may or may not be your concern. But concern of some kind for something is essential to each Lebenswelt. This is my point.

Time and Space

I have spoken of the world as physical temporal-spatial: Is not the lived-world also temporally and spatially oriented? Yes, but we must distinguish two senses of time and space.

  1. Physical space and time. Space in a measurable abstract sense. Time in a clock sense . Four miles, a thousand yards, an inch. Two hours, a year, a minute. This sense of time and space is the most familiar to us, at least in terms of the words time and space.
  2. Lived space and lived time. How close is Vietnam? 12,000 miles of physical space. Near to my lived world. How far was Detroit in the above example? Closer than Chicago? Closer than downtown St. Louis? In my lived-world example -- yes. When will I face the issue of college education for my children? In thirteen physical years. Now in my lived-world. Now while I sign this insurance policy for their college education. How long ago was your act of kindness to me? Six days ago physically. It is still present to my lived-world. Such time and space is a reference to my orientation toward my lived-world. It is not a measurable objective referent.

Attitude Toward.. Meaning

I have discussed man, then, as essentially concerned with his Lebenswelt. Is this necessity of concern an eternal moral decree? I speak here neither of necessities in any strict sense, and certainly not of morality. Rather the suggestion is that man needs meaning (concern within his Lebenswelt) in order to allow him to live toward death rather than be dead though living. Let us explain this esoteric sounding language.

Man is faced ultimately with death. This is a psychobiological fact of the world. But my comportment toward death may be two-fold:

  1. I may live unto death.
  2. I may die before death.
  1. One may live, engage into projects in the world, from the point of view of one's Lebenswelt. In this sense my life has meaning, orientation, a reason for continuing. Biologically one has life until biological death. Not so psychologically. One has life when one has meaning. When meaning is gone so is life.

  2. One may die, in terms of meaning, before biological death. Such meaninglessness can be considered a deficient mode of concern within one's Lebenswelt.

This living unto death and death within living are the positive and negative modes of concern within one's Lebenswelt. Man, then, is a being in a world with concern with his Lebenswelt. But to what is this concern directed? Toward projects? Certainly at times. I want to paint my house. This becomes my concern; my project. Towards humanity? Certainly at times. I search for a cure to cancer. I do not myself have cancer; I am concerned with mankind in general. Toward a specific other? Certainly at times. I wish to do this act for you because I care for you. I want to be-with you. You are my concern. It is this latter concern, concern for a particular other to which I wish to address my remarks. Two points, however, must be kept in mind as you read the rest of this paper:

  1. These remarks will be made within the frame of the above descriptions of man's way to be toward his world.

  2. This interpersonal concern (care for a specific other) is only one type of care among others. I make no claim to any form of superiority of this mode of care over any other. Yet it is one --and an important and major -- kind of concern. As such it merits our investigation. At this stage I shall simply describe with a view to understanding in mind. I will not attempt to approach the question of the meaning of interpersonal care. This latter issue is an important one, certainly of a higher priority than understanding. I hope that a later more sophisticated study might approach this question of the meaning of interpersonal relations.

Interpersonal Concern vs. Humanism

I hope in this section to examine certain phenomena fairly common to all men. What I propose to do is examine different structures - classification, if you will - into which these various phenomena fall. I propose this approach so that I may bring to light, for our consideration, the hidden assumptions of much of everyday living.

First, I would like to point out a difference between what I would term "humanism" or "humanitarianism" and what I am considering as interpersonal relationship. "Humanism", as I am using the term has to do with my response to a human being simply because he is a human. This attitude is characterized by the simple respect for and common decency toward the human organism. Interpersonal relationship goes beyond humanism. It is that unique relationship between you and me. Between him and me. Between her and me. Between us. Self recognizes other not primarily nor simply as human thing but as this one and only unique other. Humanism, as described above, is not my concern. At this point I naively accept a generalized and ambiguous concept of common decency toward human being as an acceptable goal. But humanism would need to become an issue before it was either grounded or unambiguous for me. My concern is interpersonal relationship.

Limits on Relationships

  1. When two humans meet in an ordinary everyday situation what kinds of a priori limitations are there to their relationship? Many. Frequently, we meet not simply Mr. Smith, but Mr. Smith the grocer. Grocer defines a number of things about Mr. Smith - his sphere of interests, his economic class, his educational level, etc. All of these, or some of these may be false in fact, but they are expectations placed on Mr. Smith. In a more general sense Mr. Smith, all the Mr. Smiths, you and I, have many expectations placed upon us because of the society in which we live and the functions or roles we play in that society. This is true even of those who attempt to move out of or away from the society. Hippies, for example, are expected to behave in certain ways which others in the society are not expected to mimic or may even be expected to condemn. We may identify as second source of expectation on our behavior. Our past. If I have led you to believe that I enjoy a cup of tea then it is probable that you will expect my love of tea to continue in the future, and to be operative at this present. Thus three major sources of external expectations on our behavior:
    1. The value system of the society in which we live,
    2. The functions we fulfill in that society,
    3. Our past life as an indication of our future.

    To some degree each of us is aware of the various expectations. Frequently, if not even usually, these expectations act as limitations on our behavior toward others.

  2. A second source of limitation on our relationships is our concern with the other's response. If I act with unbounded generosity toward you on this occasion I am aware that you may expect this behavior of me in the future. How many are the stories of people who projected a false self-image when they first met someone and then got caught in the need to continue to live the make-believe character? Such experiences push us toward both caution and consistency. Caution, in that we do not give rise to wildly false images which we cannot continue to live. Consistency, in that what our caution lets freely occur, is that self which we know we can be again in the future.

We can identify, then, two major poles of limitation or expectation on our human relationships. A three-fold external and an internal source. Let us contrast this to the fluid nature of relationships themselves.

The Phenomenon of Changing Relationships

Suppose that I am in a relationship with you and my perception is that this relationship has a certain limit "A" on it. Whether or not this limitation "A" exists is irrelevant. "A" may indeed exist such that without its observance, the relationship would die. For example interpret "A" to mean "He doesn't want me to ask to borrow money from him," Suppose that this is exactly his state of mind. Further he feels this so strongly that if I ask to borrow money from him he would never speak to me again. But suppose again that "A" is but a fiction of my mind. If I asked he would gladly make me whatever loan he could. Regardless of the actual situation the determining limitation is my perception. If I am convinced that "A" is a necessary limitation beyond which I will destroy this relationship and if I want this relationship more than "A." then I am at a limit of the relationship. Certainly the situation might be completely reversed. I perceive "A" to be no limit. For my friend "A" is the absolute limit. Since I see no limit I plunge into "A" and destroy the relationship.

Some limits, then, are limits which hold our relationships static. Yet relationships change and it is within the changing relationship that we arrive at the central theme of these notes. The first source of change is what I shall call a non-risk change. My relationship with Mr. Jones has never gone into area "C". Now, for some unknown reason, "C" becomes my desire. If I reflect that Mr. Jones too will readily accept "C" and the world at large will accept Mr. Jones and I related in manner "C", then the movement toward "C" is an obvious move to fulfill a desire which I am confident will be accepted. Certainly I may be mistaken as above. Mr. Jones may not approve, etc. But the key issue in terms of initiating change is my perception of the status of my desire as risk-free or non-risk change. Non-risk change allows for immediate and trouble free change. This presents no great problem to human being-with. The risk situation is more problematic.

The Phenomenon of Risk

We now come to the experience of risk and its function as a limitation on human being-with other.

Suppose that I perceive that my desire to being-with Mr. White in manner "D", is risky, that is, "D" may put the relationship into strain of non-existence. Experientially each of us is familiar with such risk situations and further each of us knows that in many, if not most, everyday situations, such perception of risk deters movement in the relationship. Let us consider three sources of risk: (Be certain to recall we are speaking of risk as a lived-experience, not a factual state - Risk in Lebenswelt, not world)

  1. Risk from the other. In this experience I am concerned that the other will reject my movement. Consider T. S. Eliot's, J. Alfred Prufrock's risk situations.
    "I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
    And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

    And in short, I was afraid.
    And would it have been worth it, after all,

    After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
    Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
    Would it have been worth while,
    To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
    To have squeezed the universe into a ball
    To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
    To say: 'I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
    Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all" –
    If one, settling a pillow by her head,
    Should say: 'That is not what I meant at all;
    That is not it, at all.'
    And would it have been worth it, after all,
    Would it have been worth while,
    After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
    After the novels, after the teacups, and the skirts that trail along the floor-
    And this, and so much more?-
    It is impossible to say just what I mean!
    But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
    Would it have been worth while
    If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
    And turning toward the window, should say:
    'That is not it at all,
    That is not what I meant, at all."
    No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
    Am an attendant lord, one that will do
    To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
    Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
    Deferential, glad to be of use,
    Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
    Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
    At times, indeed, almost ridiculous-
    Almost at times, the Fool."
  2. Risk from the "they." In this experience I am concerned not that you -- the specific other -- will reject my movement, but that the world at large, that mysterious, impersonal, unidentifiable "they" will reject me if I move toward you in the proposed fashion. My wife and I recently spoke of moving away from the entire Christmas celebration in protest of its gross materialistic exploitation of those who can least afford it by Madison Avenue and the American department store merchants. We were in agreement. There was no risk from or to each other. But we raised the question of even the possibility of succeeding in moving our children away from this fact of our culture. "They" would still bombard our children with expectations. "They" would keep them informed of when and what was Christmas according to "them." The risk in this case is the ambiguity, the confusion we would force our children into because of the conflict between us and "them."

  3. The third source of risk is the most powerful of the three. It is the conjunction of one and two. Both you and "they" will reject my move. Suppose in the example I used in #2 above that I was in violent disagreement with my wife. She wished to make this radical anti-Christmas move and I wanted to live within the traditions. Our being-with is at stake. Not only does she face this prospect, but also the scorn and opposition of the "they." Such a position is experienced by most of us as extraordinarily deterring in bringing about a change in our relationship to the world or this particular other.

Ontological Foundations of Limits

What is the "ground," the root of these limiting forces? To explore this question we may limit ourselves to an explanation of the "they" as a root of limitation and "this other" as a root of limitation. Since the third class is simply a conjunction of these two the conclusions will be obvious with regard to this third class.

  1. The "they"

    Ontologically the power of the "they" rests in one of three positions:
    1. The "they" is a source of "true" or "good" rules of public behavior.
    2. The "they" is simply powerful and not necessarily true or good. Its power rests in its ability to ostracize. Acceptance with our community is I mportant to most men.
    3. Some combination of the above two positions.

    A philosophical investigation raises strong questions about the adequacy of the first position. That the "they" has any insight into that which is innately good or true is simply not philosophically defensible. To show this is not the intent of this paper. Even a cursory glance at the history of ethics or the issues in contemporary ethical philosophy will show this to be the case.

    However, the second position - the power of "they" is an experienced reality. The implications of these two facts are worthy of consideration. A lived-situation of risk is examinable. One may reflectively examine one's own position of risk, or as is common in today's society, one may entrust such an examination to a psychiatrist or psychologist or simply a trusted friend or advisor. What the claim here is, however, is that such an examination that reveals risk grounded in a moral maxim is a risk seen as ungrounded. This fact or awareness may not alter the risk experience at all. Unless I, the person in a risk situation, can live this moral rule as questionable, then the whole question of the risk remains static. If on the other hand, the moral maxim itself becomes a living issue to one, the risk is called into question, may be even overcome.

  2. The other.

The experienced case of the root of risk in the other is more stubborn.

The fact of the experienced risk points out that you are important to me in the regard in question. The power you have is frightful. Consider again the Prufrock example. "She" is important to him. He wishes to have a sexual being-with relationship. His fear - the risk - is that if he actualizes or makes known to her his desire, she will reject him. At least in his present state of anguish he is not rejected. He has hope. He has possibility. But risk can result in the death of hope - rejection. But one may again ask -- this time of the other -- why do I perceive you to be ready to reject me? If my answer is because of your moral maxims then may I not raise issue with these on objective grounds? Again, how do I create this as your issue? But if the root of risk is not a rule axiom, but a preference of the other - the risk then is grounded and unavoidable.

Being-with as a Value

Certainly between the lines of these reflections lies the question, if not the answer, is being-with to be considered a value? In any philosophical sense this question has no answer. But if one chooses - without ground - that being-with is a meaningful goal of human existence, then barriers to being-with become important considerations. I submit to you a question. I am not certain if I mean this question rhetorically or actually as a question. At any rate I have no answer to give you that I can demonstrate. Question: Are not the major limitations to human being-with the moral and social rules of one’s culture? If the answer to this question is yes, then these reflections conclude a major challenge. If both these reflections are sound and the answer to the above question yes; then the major barriers toward human being-with have been shown to be groundless. Such a position would demand a serious re-examination of our attitudes toward human being-with and a serious re-examination of our rule systems of expected behavior.

Towards Re-valuation: the question of sexuality.

What kinds of questions would be raised in such a frame of mind as that described above? I am not certain that one can know the full implication or radicality of what I am suggesting, but let me take just one small area of human being-with and raise two questions. The area of concern will be human sexuality. The questions I shall raise are:

  1. the question of the phenomenon of touch and human being-with,
  2. the question of intimacy as opposed to sexuality as a distinct mode of being-with.

The question of touch is extremely rule bound within our society. A father may kiss his small son, but not his close male friend. A wife may have close friends among her husband's peers, but to tenderly touch them would not be with "their" approval. A college man may be quite close to his coed sweetheart, but "they" would not approve his having sexual intercourse with her. Yet each of these examples may be argued to be possible modes of closer being-with. Why are they excluded by rule? The issue is not any of these three examples, not any of the hundreds of examples one may generate like them. The issue is the phenomenon of touch and its role in human being-with. As a general description one might well argue that touch in situations where there is no-risk from the other, is a movement toward greater being-with. Were this true, then the burden of argument against more open use of the experience of touch to achieve greater being-with, lies with the rule system.

One might argue that such a principle makes human being-with too sexually oriented. To this I would respond with my second question. Might the experiential evidence suggest that the present implied dichotomy of sexual and non-sexual is an inaccurate categorizing? At present "they" assume the absence of touch is the absence of sexuality. Secondly, there are certain innocuous forms of touch - the handshake, the fleeting embrace; the back slap, etc., which are non-sexual. And thirdly all other touch is sexually oriented. I would suggest at least two different experiences within the latter class. One I propose to call sexual properly, the other intimacy. The sexual would differ from the intimate in terms of attitude more than action. With touch experience I believe one can identify two related but differing attitudes: the response to an object, the response to this other. Touch that I call sexual tends toward the former. The center of the experience is me. The goal of the experience is my pleasure. The pleasure itself need not be sexual. My power over you. Your enslaving response. Touch that I call intimate tends toward the other and toward the experience of "us." The creating of an atmosphere of communion, a combined giving of both selves toward the unity of us. It seems to me that any act of touch, from the most fleeting of caresses to sexual intercourse may be attitudinally directed toward one or the other, but not both at the same time, of these two experiences. The first, the sexual, is the antithesis of being-with.

In this sexual experience, which is much easier to achieve than the latter because it only demands your own attitude and not the unity with the other, the complaint of "they" seems somewhat grounded. In the latter experience, being-with is the heart of the experience. Touch is the tool. Here the complaint of "they" is groundless. But is not the latter an ideal, a seldom realized phenomenon? Is not this ideal the ground of much "mis-use" of touch? To this charge one might cry out: How do I know? I have heard little about the use of touch toward being- with from "them." I have been indoctrinated with the myth of the forbidden fruit . It is time to re-solve; re-open the issue. The stakes are high. The being-with of others may indeed be the key to meaningful existence. If I must flirt with danger to discover or reject unexplored ways into being-with, then the danger of such exploration is a worthy risk. But risk is a powerful prohibition. How does one overcome the phenomenon of risk?

Minimal-risk: the Path of Exploration

The first word is to the question of risk. Prufrock takes the position that risk, the experience of risk, is the ultimate deterrent to action, that one in a state of risk is condemned to static ness.

"Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
'That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."'
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-gulls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

What has caused Prufrock's fear? The phenomenon of risk or a misunderstanding of his alternatives? I opt for the latter answer. How does he expect one could overcome the risky situation?

"And would it have been worth it, after all, After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: 'I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all,'-
If one, settling a pillow by her head
Should say: 'That is not what I meant at all,
That is not it, at all!'"

But, we might challenge Prufrock, why must you be so blunt? Are you not capable of subtlety?

"To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question...."

Certainly it's not surprising that someone would hesitate to take such an extraordinary risk! But can one not generally circumvent such a direct and overwhelming confrontation?

Let us consider two alternative possibilities.

  1. Eric Berne in his popular book Games People Play suggests that people unconsciously find subtle ways of circumventing risk and yet moving toward more intimate being-with. He suggests, however, that such game playing has its limits written into it. The important point, here, however, is that "overwhelming questions" are avoided.
    "In everyday terms, what can people do after they have exchanged greetings, whether the greeting consists of a collegiate "Hi."" or an Oriental ritual lasting several hours? After stimulus-hunger and recognition-hunger comes structure-hunger. The perennial problem of adolescents is: 'What do you say to her (him) them?" And to many people besides adolescents, nothing is more uncomfortable than a social hiatus, a period of silent, unstructured time when no one present can think of anything more interesting to say than: "Don't you think the walls are perpendicular tonight?" The eternal problem of the human being is how to structure his waking hours. In this existential sense, the function of all living is to lend mutual assistance for this project.

    "As people become better acquainted, more and more individual programming creeps in, so that "incidents" begin to occur. These incidents superficially appear to be adventitious, and may be so described by the parties concerned, but careful scrutiny reveals that they tend to follow definite patterns which are amenable to sorting and classification, and that the sequence is circumscribed by unspoken rules and regulations. These regulations remain latent as long as the amities or hostilities proceed according to Hoyle, but they become manifest if an illegal move is made, giving rise to a symbolic, verbal or legal cry of "Foul."' Such sequences, which in contrast to pastimes are based more on individual than on social programming, may be called games. Family life and married life, as well as life in organizations of various kinds, may year after year be based on variations of the same game.

    "To say that the bulk of social activity consists of playing games does not necessarily mean that it is mostly "fun" or that the parties are not seriously engaged in the relationship. On the one hand, "playing" football and other athletic "games" may not be fun at all, and the players may be intensely grim; and such games share with gambling and other forms of "play" the potentiality for being very serious indeed, sometimes fatal. On the other hand, some authors, for instance Huizinga, include under "play" such serious things as cannibal feasts. Hence calling such tragic behavior as suicide, alcohol and drug addiction, criminality or schizophrenia "playing games" is not irresponsible, facetious or barbaric. The essential characteristic or human plan is not that the emotions are spurious, but that they are regulated. This is revealed when sanctions are imposed on an illegitimate emotional display. Play may be grimly serious, or even fatally serious, but the social sanctions are serious only if the rules are broken.

    "Pastimes and games are substitutes for the real living of real intimacy. Because of this they may be regarded as preliminary engagements rather than as unions, which is why they are characterized as poignant forms of play. Intimacy begins when individual (usually instinctual) programming becomes more intense, and both social pattering and ulterior restrictions and motives begin to give way. It is the only completely satisfying answer to stimulus-hunger, recognition-hunger and structure-hunger. Its prototype is the act of loving impregnation."

    What has taken place in the "game" situation is a mutual attempt, instinctually perceived to help one another over the risk situation. The game still has limits, rules, but as the game progresses the rules change and one approaches the essence of total being-with -- rulelessness.

  2. What actually has taken place in "game playing" is what I would term the prudence of taking the minimal risk. Certainly risk by definition of the experience is dangerous and frightful ground. But can we not find that possibility which contains the smallest risk possible, enabling us to retreat if a warning sign is posted? Consider certain aspects of the phenomenon of asking for a date. Joe wants to date Sally. However, he is uncertain, even doubtful as to whether or not Sally will respond to his desire or coldly refuse his invitation. He is in a grave risk situation because he has everything to lose. Sally controls the power to unmercifully destroy his ego. From his Lebenswelt the risk is immense. However, he considers the possibility of eliminating some of the variables. By subtle questioning he finds out something Sally likes very much to do. Again, by subtle means, he finds out if she has plans for the date in question. He may even be quite casual -- "Oh, by the way I am going to see that play next week, you’re welcome to come along." What does he risk? He has minimalized the destruction to his ego that a refusal can perpetrate. Compare a bumbling Prufrock: "Sally, I am utterly mad about you. If you don't go to this play with me next Friday my world will be crushed;. Overdrawn - yes. But the point may best be seen by contrast. Minimal risk is a manner of lessening risk, thereby making movement toward being-with more probable.


In conclusion, then, I have claimed to have examined the ordinary everyday manner of human interpersonal relationship. I have claimed to have identified certain structures which are revealed to operate in our lived-experience. Some of these I have identified as limiting of the possibilities of human being-with. Without defending human being-with as a value, I have suggested that some of these limitations are ungrounded in inauthentic ontology. Further, I have suggested certain ways in which one who held the value of human being-with might endeavor to overcome some of the inauthentic limitations on being-with. Certainly this position is exploratory and partial. It may indeed be more carefully grounded by future study, but by nature the aspects treated will always be partial. Human interrelationship is simply too varied and too complex to ever be fully treated from one point of view.

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Bob Corbett