So the skin is the greatest organ of learning (Montagu, 211), even in a spiritual sense. Our language still betrays these connections. We are ‘grasped’– we ‘grasp’. We cannot grasp what does not grasp us. Or we ‘grasp’ only in a grasping, violent sense. Those who keep alive their bodies, their feelings, their skin as levels of communication will find it difficult to fall victim to an abstract ‘grasping’, but will constantly retain bodily thought.
In touching we experience the world and one another. In today’s ecological ethics the skin and the sense of touch associated with it become unusually important. ‘As I touch, so I am touched’ (Meyer-Abich, 252). Experience of self and experience of nature coincide. The Western self bids farewell to manipulation and exposes itself to new experiences.
The most intense form of touch takes place in love. Unadorned skin also allows love to be experienced again. A French feminist has said: ‘We have so often used cosmetics to please him that we have forgotten our skin. Outside our skins we remain far from ourselves. You and I far from one another.’
From the first day to the last day, touching (*the healthy kind) is experienced as assurance, confirmation of the self and healing.
-Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, I Am My Body: a theology of embodiment