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The feeling of being

Moment #3
Touch is not simply a matter of ‘touching’.
‘Not touching’ is often a very real part of the experience
and sometimes the most conspicuous part.


(...) where ‘not touching’ can incorporate a distinctive feeling of absence, often combined with a kind of bodily anticipation of touching something. It also applies to passive touch, to the absence of being touched. If you take off your clothes and walk around the room (even a warm room), the sense of not being touched is often quite pronounced. The touch of one’s clothes is not ordinarily at the forefront of  awareness but their absence can be, at least for a short time following their removal. Furthermore, I am not sure that there is ever a complete absence of touch.


When swimming in the sea,
after a time the touch of the water against one’s body
is no longer a salient object of awareness.


As one’s leg brushes against some unanticipated seaweed, it might seem as though a part of the body that was not touching anything at all has suddenly come into contact with an object. Yet the touch of the water is surely not something that is wholly absent from one’s phenomenology, as exemplified by the contrast between how the body feels when immersed and when exposed to the air again, or between the feel of the hand that smoothly glides through the water and the hand that is impeded by a strong current. Not touching any thing does not amount to having no tactile feeling. (...)


No part of the body is ever in a tactile ‘nowhere’.



“The phenomenology of touch”  by Matthew Ratcliffe