We are intersubjective beings – The meaning of connectedness

When we question connectedness, we must also ask how this connectedness works; how does it come about, and what does it look like?

We are intersubjective beings – The meaning of connectedness

Common sense tells us that we generally think of the connection between two people as a kind of mechanical effect.  Accordingly, there is a sender and a receiver, and a means of transmission, generally in the form of a language or sign.  Modern linguistic theory assumes that we communicate through sign systems.  Analogously, according to occidental ontology, e.g. Heidegger, one imagines independent entities who, from the perspective of seclusion, try to convey their messages to one another.

With these concepts, however, it is hardly surprising that related philosophies often conclude that all forms of communication inherently pose problems.  Within modern philosophical systems of post-structuralism and constructivism, for example, we find reference to ourselves in a world of chance and alienation – a world in which the individual is isolated, and concepts of meaning dissolve.  But is there an alternative?

Hints from the quantum world

The phenomenon of quantum entanglement points to the principle of action, in which there is no force acting between two subjects, however, a phase correlation, a coherence takes place.  The Italian quantum physicist, Giuseppe Vitiello, who deals with questions of consciousness, speaks of a kind of syntony, like two musicians playing in unison in an orchestra.[1]

This phenomenon describes the so-called Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox.  Let us assume that an elementary particle decays into two photons.  These twin photons then exhibit the phenomenon of entanglement, i.e. they remain connected even over very large distances, and if the state of one photon is changed by the action of an observer, this has an instantaneous effect on the state of the other photon.  If the change is transmitted by a messenger, that connection would travel faster than the speed of light.

However, travelling faster than the speed of light is impossible according to the laws of classical physics.  Einstein therefore called this phenomenon of entanglement spooky action at a distance.  This kind of entanglement cannot be described by special relativity.  Therefore, in quantum physics there are terms like ‘non-local’ and ‘non-causal’ to describe these effects.  This means that there is no force between two particles, but they are connected by their mutual resonance.  There is no material, spatio-temporal influence, and yet an effect is observed.

Vitiello further points out that there are no isolated entities in the quantum world, because these suggest an ontological isolation that cannot be observed at this level of reality.  In quantum physical terms, there are only open systems.  What is more meaningful is the assumption of fields, which includes the entities, their environment and the mutual exchange of energy in its various forms.  Thus, in quantum physics, there are open systems that are non-locally and non-causally interconnected, yet without a mediating force.

Immediate resonance

This consideration can be applied to philosophical questions: What is a living thing?  How does communication and connection between living beings occur?  According to this paradigm, could two people relate to each other without exchanging messengers, non-locally and non-causally, as in the case of twin photons?  And if so, what would that mean?

The philosopher Walter Benjamin developed a theory of communication that is distinct from the usual notion of language, and works in a similar way to quantum theory.  His essay on language states:

The medial, that is, the immediacy of all mental communication, is the basic problem of the theory of language, and if this immediacy is to be called magical, the primal problem of language is its magic. [2] (emphasis by Benjamin)

Benjamin explains in his essay that the notion of language as a means of connection, is false.  There are no two isolated entities that use language as a means of communication.  According to Benjamin, true communication and connectedness is immediate, magical as it were.  This can be understood as a non-material, non-local effect that works beyond space and time, similar to the entanglement of photons.

This means we not only use language, but we are language, if language is understood in a broader sense in which form, context, and movement are considered the essence of language.  Language is not a means, but an immediacy, a kind of magic, an aspect of our own spiritual being.  The knowledge of the other[3] and the connectedness with him or her is immediate, non-local, non-causal, not mechanistically definable. We show ourselves immediately in language, and without language we would be barren.

The existence of language, however, extends not only over all areas of human mental expression, to which language is always inherent in some sense, but it extends to everything par excellence.  There is no event or thing, either in animate or inanimate nature, that does not participate in some form of language, for it is an essential vehicle for the communication of content. (ibid., p. 140f.)

This is an extended understanding of language, but one that allows us to grasp the nature of human beings more clearly than the conventional understanding.  The most important consequence of this is that man is not a being who can exist in isolation.  Language between people is not just an arbitrary means of conveying information.  Rather, we are language and meaning!  Benjamin says: “… that this spiritual being communicates itself in language and not through language”. (ibid., p. 142).  We become individuals only when we communicate and enter into coherence with the Other.

We are language

We are not isolated systems and, in fact, only become complete beings when we show ourselves and are perceived by the ‘Other’.  Every human being is a consciousness that recognizes itself.  We are both subject and object of cognition.  We are “I-me’s”.  I recognize myself, I perceive myself.  This is doubly reflexive.  But this self-knowledge is only complete when I behave in accordance with it, namely when my inner being corresponds with my outer being: I show my true self.

As soon as my outer behaviour is different from what I am on the inside, I deny myself, and in essence, am living an untruth; I am not real.  The correspondence between inside and outside is therefore essential, and this means that the outside and the other are also constitutive of the self.  The outside ideally connects us to the other, it is communication and being perceived in the other, in the you.  The antidote to disconnectedness is therefore honesty.  We show ourselves honestly.  This creates context to connectedness.

This is what it means to say: we are language.  Language is not a means by which isolated entities exchange messengers, but it is a resonance, a vibrational phenomenon.

If the strings are tuned, then they are in tune.  With mankind, this essentially runs through the voice, i.e. through language, but also through gestures, facial expressions, colour and form.  In this concept, language becomes an essential component of ourselves.

The truest, as Benjamin states, is the most uttered, hence we see a special form of mysticism.  In the innermost core of our being there is something unspoken.  This wants to be expressed and finds its completion in the expression of the innermost.  Here the innermost truth is not something for which there are no words.  “The deeper, i.e., the more existent and real the spirit, the more expressive and pronounced; (ibid., p. 146), it is at the same time the more spiritually pure”. (ibid.)  This leads to the concept of revelation, so central to all major religions, wherein Benjamin sees: “a sufficient condition and marking of the divinity of the spiritual being, that expresses itself in it [the Word, R.E.]” (ibid.), for such a Word is inviolable.

The true self

From this process of showing oneself in the connectedness with another, only individuality arises as self-knowledge and as authentic being.  This individuality is dynamic and not static.  It changes depending on the other person and the cultural framework in which we move.  So we are always different in different relationships.  I am different in relation to my parents than I am in relation to my partner, my friends, children, colleagues, strangers, and so on.

If we are constantly different in these relative connections, it raises the question of who we really are.  What is the true and fixed core of who we are?  Are we a coagulation, a conglomerate of all these relationships?  Or is there perhaps after all, an essential core that exists independently of these other ‘faces’?

But if we are open systems and only become whole when the outer and the inner coincide, and this outer face is our communication with others, then we need this communication and interconnectedness.  What relationship, what interconnectedness, would then be the one that would reveal our true identity?

This leads us to the idea of God.  In addition to these relative identities, there is a true, absolute identity of each individual.  This is revealed in our relationship with God, who is understood as the ‘Absolute’.  Thus, connectedness with God is the ultimate goal of every being, in which it recognizes itself.

Unity and diversity

But there are other important philosophical implications that emerge from these connections.  If we are beings with an inner core and an outer projection that recognize each other in connectedness, this means that individuals will be different in order for communication to have a separate inner and outer value.  If we were not different, there would be no connectedness and we would not need language and form. Thus, the whole phenomenon of life results from the diversity of individual beings and things.  This diversity is not reducible.  The ultimate truth is not indiscriminate unity, but unity in diversity.  We remain individual beings in our connectedness with God and other beings.

Given this premise, it becomes apparent that cultural coherence between people and groups comes about, not by means of acting upon others – which is an imperialistic, patriarchal approach – but on the basis of resonance.  Culture emerges through the sharing of a common thought that binds a community of people together.  The importance of developing a shared cultural environment is that participants have their own vibration, their own phase frequency, but there are always anomalies and exceptions in these open systems.  Spiritually, we are all eternal persons, and God is the supreme eternal personage.

Now interestingly, in quantum theory, complete phase equality or complete coherence as the lowest energy state, is the lowest degree of order, and produces no change or motion.  Therefore, not only is order an important component of aliveness, but so is chaos.  Life is precisely a phenomenon of asymmetry.  Connectedness is thus an interaction of connection and separation, of unity and diversity.  Only then does play emerge, creating movement, joy and attraction.


In quantum physics, coherence arises from attraction.  In fact, the category of attraction is also a highly fruitful category for philosophy, which has very often been forgotten in our technology-driven science, which is mostly driven by profit and domination interests. Normally, science and technology are exclusively focused on enforcing the principle of pressure that makes mechanical effects possible.  This mechanistic conception was also adopted in philosophy.

The effect of attraction generating coherence, on the other hand, could contribute to a new understanding of reality that is much closer to life and can describe the needs of living beings much more accurately.  Attraction is an immediate effect because it is in the being itself.  It establishes itself by itself if one lets it.

This view could succeed in establishing a completely new paradigm, both in the humanities and in the natural sciences.  According to this view, we humans are open systems that need one another to confirm ‘self’.  We do not use material forces to affect others, but vibrate in unison to establish coherence.  The main drive is attraction, not pressure.  This would be a domination-free paradigm that honors individuals in their sovereignty, as well as respects the intersubjective process as indispensable to the constitution of reality.  Communication and connectedness are based on immediate, quasi-magical expressions.  The process of attraction is a mindful, tender approach to the other in a mood of affection and love until they resonate together.



[1] Giuseppe Vitiello: My Double Unveiled – The dissipative quantum model of brain. John Benjamins Publ. Co., Amsterdam 2001
[2] Walter Benjamin: Über die Sprache des Menschen und Sprache überhaupt [1916], in: ders., Gesammelte Schriften, Band II, S. 140–157, Frankfurt M. 1972–1989, hier S. 142f.
[3] In German the “other” is deliberately capitalised here, contrary to the grammatical rule, in order to emphasise the subject status of the other subject.


About the author:

Ronald Engert, born 1961.
1982-88 studied German, Romance languages and literature and philosophy,
1994-96 Indology and Religious Studies at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt/M.
1994 co-founded the magazine Tattva Viveka,
since 1996 publisher and editor-in-chief.
2015-22 Studied cultural studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin.
2022 Master’s thesis on “Mysticism of Language”. Author of “Gut, dass es mich gibt. Diary of a Recovery” and “The Absolute Place. Philosophy of the Subject.”
Blog: Ronald Engerts Logbuch – Suche nach Wahrheit / Journal: Wissenschaft und Spiritualität | Zeitschrift Tattva Viveka

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Date: August 16, 2023
Author: Ronald Engert (Germany)
Photo: creative-Rahul Pandit on Pixabay CCO

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