Radical Knowing: Understanding Consciousness through Relationship

Radical Knowing: Understanding Consciousness through Relationship


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Radical Knowing: Understanding Consciousness through Relationship by Christian de Quincey, Christian Quincey

A radical reassessment of what we mean by "consciousness" and how we experience it in relation to others

• Shows the importance of integrating different ways of knowing—such as feeling and intuition, reason and the senses—in our approach to life

• Discusses the technique of Bohmian Dialogue where you can learn not only to "feel your thinking," but also to experience true communion with others

In Radical Knowing Christian de Quincey makes a provocative claim: We are not who we think we are. Instead, we are what we feel. Giving disciplined attention to feelings reveals the most fundamental fact of life and reality: We are our relationships. Most of us think we are individuals first and foremost who then come together to form relationships. De Quincey turns this "obvious fact" on its head and shows that relationship comes first, and that our individual sense of self—our "private" consciousness—actually arises from shared consciousness. This shared, collective consciousness is at the heart of indigenous ways of life and their worldviews.

De Quincey explains that participating in shared consciousness literally builds the fabric of reality, and that understanding this process is key to unlocking our potential for higher consciousness and spiritual evolution. He presents the technique of Bohmian Dialogue, developed by groundbreaking quantum physicist David Bohm, as one method for experiencing this powerful process. He also explores the mystery of synchronicity, offering a new understanding of the relationship between matter and mind and the underlying nature of reality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594770791
Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date: 09/02/2005
Series: Radical Consciousness Series
Edition description: Original
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,279,724
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Christian de Quincey, Ph.D., is a professor of consciousness studies at John F. Kennedy University; cofounder of The Visionary Edge, committed to transforming global consciousness by transforming mass media; and an international speaker on consciousness, cosmology, and spirituality. He is also the award-winning author of Radical Nature and the coauthor of The Scientific Exploration of Consciousness. He lives in Half Moon Bay, California.

Read an Excerpt


And since you know you cannot see yourself,
so well as by reflection, I, your glass,
will modestly discover to yourself
that of yourself which you yet know not of.

—William Shakespeare

I wrote this book to help liberate people from deeply held beliefs, well-worn grooves of thought about who we are, about the nature of consciousness and what it means to be in relationship. We are now living through a time of great uncertainty about so much that previous generations took for granted. Based on philosophical explorations and personal experiences beyond the borders of academic learning, I offer a radically different view of what it means to be human, of how we know anything about ourselves, about body and soul, and about sharing a world with others.

Radical Knowing explores the nature of consciousness and knowing how we know using different lenses that will help bring this elusive aspect of our lives into sharper focus.

In order to explore consciousness we need to cultivate other ways of knowing beyond reason and the senses. In short, we need to balance “four gifts” that we have been given: the Philosopher's Gift of reason; the Scientist's Gift of the senses (and methodology); the Shaman’s Gift of participatory knowing through feeling; and the Mystic’s Gift of sacred silence or direct spiritual experience. In this book, I focus on two of these gifts in particular, the Philosopher’s Gift of reason and the Shaman’s Gift of participatory knowing. I show that in order to know who we are, and to find deep meaning in our lives, we need to engage in “radical knowing”—by which I mean we need to learn to feel our thinking (not merely think our thoughts). When we are able to do this, we discover that we exist in a web of interconnection. In a very literal sense we are our relationships. Philosophers call this “intersubjectivity.”

I explore this idea of intersubjectivity more fully by identifying three complementary ways to integrate the science and spirit of consciousness. These are subjectivity (first-person meditation and contemplation), intersubjectivity (for example, second-person dialogue), and objectivity (third-person study of the brain and nervous system). I pay special attention to intersubjectivity (abbreviated “I - I” and pronounced “I-to-I”). Intersubjectivity is “knowing through relationship”—a form of non-sensory, nonlinguistic connection through presence and meaning, rather than through mechanism or exchanges of energy. Radical Knowing makes a case for intersubjectivity (“consciousness as communion”) as the foundation for all other modes of knowing.

Throughout the book, I use the power of personal narrative to show how two very different ways of relating to the world and to each other have profound effects on human relationships and our connection with nature. I discuss the distinction between “preconquest” (feeling-based) consciousness typical of indigenous peoples and “postconquest” (reason-based) consciousness typical of modern “civilized” cultures. Many of us may recognize the tension between feeling and reason as a source of misunderstanding and conflict in our personal and business relationships. In this book, we will explore why people who rely more on feeling as a guide for decision-making often seem at odds with people who rely more on intellect and reason. Understanding these tensions will go a long way toward resolving them. We will learn about a new way to balance thinking and feeling, head and heart, in ways that can restore power and even “magic” to our personal and professional relationships.

Finally, we go right to the heart of consciousness by following the example of great sages and mystics. Here, we learn to experience the value and potency of silence by simply being present. In a short chapter on a special form of dialogue developed by quantum physicist David Bohm, I describe an effective way to explore consciousness and relationship communally using the intersubjectivity of sacred silence. Knowing our own consciousness involves “feeling our thinking” rather than habitually “thinking our thoughts.” When we learn to feel our thinking in this way, we allow the wisdom of silence to find its unforced natural expression in appropriate and evocative language.

Table of Contents


Foreword by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.


Part 1: Personal Transformation

1 Relationship: How Are You Connected?

2 Consciousness: Truth or Wisdom?

3 Evolution: Up in Arms about Being Put Down

4 Paradigms: Intention Creating Reality

5 Transformation: Experience Beyond Belief

Part 2: Ways of Knowing

6 Meanings: Clarifying Consciousness

7 Synchronicity-1: Beyond Energy

8 Synchronicity-2: Reality without a Cause

9 Knowing-1: Shafts of Wisdom

10 Knowing-2: Radical Science

11 Knowing-3: Beyond Intuition

12 Grounding: Embodied Meaning

13 Dialogue: Consciousness and Cosmology

Part 3: Collective Wisdom

14 Participation: Engaging Presence

15 Intersubjectivity-1: We Are the World

16 Intersubjectivity-2: Steps Along the Way

17 Origins: Evolution of Consciousness

18 Radical Knowing: The Four Gifts

Epilogue: Cosmos and Communion

Afterword by Linda Kohanov


1 What Jung Meant by “Synchronicity”

2 Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity

3 Wilber and de Quincey: I-to-I

4 Integrating Worldviews

5 The Philosopher’s Stone




What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The first book from a philosopher to address consciousness from such a multidimensional point of view."

“A better understanding of the nature of consciousness may be the best, and perhaps the only, way we can move out of the morass of crisis, chaos, and violence in these troubled times. We need to feel our way (rather than just ‘know our way’) to a more sustainable and peaceful world. Anyone who wants to be part of the solution rather than part of today’s problem should read this gem of a book.”

“One of the most readable books of philosophy I have ever encountered, from a philosopher equally at home with mystics, shamans, and scientists. Christian de Quincey is one of those rare visionaries who blends scientific rigor and deep metaphysical insights for transforming consciousness. Immensely inspiring as well as informative, Radical Knowing offers a surprising, yet solid, foundation for exploring the alchemy of relationships. This may be the first book to focus the power of philosophy on the joy and challenges of being in relationship.”

“A ground-breaking book. Christian de Quincey brings a lifetime of studying consciousness to a little-explored aspect of the subject—its essential role in all our relationships. More than just philosophy simply explained, Radical Knowing offers valuable guidance on how to put spirituality into practice in our lives.”

“The most mysterious question confronting us is consciousness—its nature, origin, and destiny. Radical Knowing reveals dimensions that are crucial for anyone in our third millennium. Highly recommended!”

“Animals naturally do what Christian de Quincey recommends we humans do: forge an unobstructed dialogue between the mind and the heart, and ‘feel our thinking.’ We are not alone; we are part of an infinite web of relationships. In cultivating the art of relationship, we reunite mind and heart, becoming conscious collaborators with the mysteries that stir within us, around us, and beyond us. In Radical Knowing, de Quincey shows us how it is ultimately through conscious, consensual relationships that we mine the depths of what it means to be a human tuner and receiver for a much vaster intelligence, ultimately fulfilling our destiny: that of ‘giving voice to the cosmos.’”

“When it comes to the subject of consciousness, Christian de Quincey is like a dragon on fire. His evocative, lively, and remarkably engaging prose is a bracing antidote to the glum academicism of most philosophical writing. With new and penetrating insights into ever-topical and pesky questions, de Quincey invites us to feel our way into consciousness in ways that transform the reader. The split between inner and outer knowing is healed, and we are awakened to the sky-high possibilities of enlightenment as a manifestation of universal mind. This book alters energy patterns and installs new microchips into the philosopher’s stone.”

“If interconnectivity is an inherent feature of life, as both ancient wisdom and postmodern science suggest, then relationships are primary to the human experience, not secondary additions to ‘our lives.’ Starting here, Radical Knowing takes the reader on a provocative journey beyond the boundaries of traditional philosophy. Expect reversals of perspective, innovative formulations, and, most importantly, opportunities to experience anew the integral fabric of consciousness.”

“In this wonderful new book Christian de Quincey shares personal experiences to reveal the central importance of consciousness in our relationships. Consciousness isn’t simply a lonely, isolating subjectivity. In all its multi-faceted majesty, consciousness is shared, like the precious air we breath. Relationships naturally begin and exist within our shared consciousness—and de Quincey teaches us to use our relationships for exploration and understanding of consciousness itself.”

Radical Knowing deals with one of the most important, and neglected, subjects: how we know what we know. Christian de Quincey writes in joyfully simple language and thinks through complicated questions with great clarity. As soon as I heard about this book it went straight to the top of my must-read pile.”

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