The "primitive" awareness or consciousness in
which mankind once believed--in a pre-logical, pre-mythical manner--that
"there stands behind the phenomena, and on the other side of them from
me, a represented which is of the same nature as me . . . of the same nature
as the perceiving self, inasmuch as it is not mechanical or accidental,
but psychic and voluntary" (SA 42), a mindset in which we feel ourselves
to be "functioning member[s] of the natural world, as a finger is a member
of the physical body" (RCA 230)--original participation has been
eliminated by the evolution of consciousness.
"A perspective which reveals more and more
of perception and less and less of thought" (HGH 24), original participation
is, Barfield explains in History, Guilt and Habit,
Evidence of the existence of original participation
is apparent in the testament of language: "The farther back language as
a whole is traced," Barfield notes in History in English Words,
"the more poetical and animated do its sources appear, until it seems at
last to dissolve into a kind of mist of myth. The beneficence or malignance--which
might be called soul-qualities--of natural phenomena, such as clouds, plants
or animals, make a more vivid impression at this time than their outer
shapes and appearances" (83-84).
a kind of consciousness for which
it was impossible to perceive unfiguratively. But what does one mean when
one speaks of perceiving figuratively? One means a kind of consciousness
which does not, which cannot, perceive the material merely as such, which
in perceiving its environment, perceives at the same time an immaterial
within or through, or expressed by it. . . . a kind of consciousness for
which there is no such thing as a merely "outer" world" (46).1
In original participation "the represented
is felt to be on the other side of the phenomena from the perceiving self.
At the same time, it is felt to be linked with, or related to, that self
otherwise than through the senses. The self, so far as there yet is one,
is still aware that it and the phenomena derive from the same supersensible
source" (SA 122-23).
|See in particular
the Appearances, Chaps. IV, V, VI.
|1For 20th Century
minds the "logic" of Original Participation seems unfathomable. As Barfield
notes in Saving the Appearances, "To make no class distinction between
the sun and a white cockatoo, but to feel instantly and sharply a world
of difference between both of these natural phenomena and a black cockatoo
is, it is felt, a state of mind at which it would be difficult to arrive
by inference" (SA 30).