Experience

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Experience is the knowledge or mastery of an event or subject gained through involvement in or exposure to it. [1] Terms in philosophy such as "empirical knowledge" or "a posteriori knowledge" are used to refer to knowledge based on experience. A person with considerable experience in a specific field can gain a reputation as an expert. The concept of experience generally refers to know-how or procedural knowledge, rather than propositional knowledge: on-the-job training rather than book-learning.

Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning.

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Expert someone who has a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field; person with considerable experience and/or reputation in a specific field

An expert is someone who has a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field. Informally, an expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study. An expert can be believed, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially rely upon the individual's opinion. Historically, an expert was referred to as a sage (Sophos). The individual was usually a profound thinker distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.

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The interrogation of experience has a long term tradition in continental philosophy. Experience plays an important role in the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. The German term Erfahrung , often translated into English as "experience", has a slightly different implication, connoting the coherency of life's experiences.

The philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard has been a major influence in the development of 20th-century philosophy, especially existentialism and postmodernism. Kierkegaard was a 19th-century Danish philosopher who has been labeled by many as the "Father of Existentialism", although there are some in the field who express doubt in labeling him an existentialist to begin with. His philosophy also influenced the development of existential psychology.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Personal life course of an individuals life, especially when viewed as the sum of personal choices contributing to ones personal identity

Personal life is the course of an individual's life, especially when viewed as the sum of personal choices contributing to one's personal identity.

Certain religious traditions (such as Buddhism, Surat Shabd Yoga, mysticism and Pentecostalism) and educational paradigms with, for example, the conditioning of military recruit-training (also known as "boot camps"), stress the experiential nature of human epistemology. This stands in contrast to alternatives: traditions of dogma, logic or reasoning. Participants in activities such as tourism, extreme sports and recreational drug-use also tend to stress the importance of experience.

Buddhism World religion, founded by the Buddha

Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognised by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana.

Surat Shabd Yoga or Surat Shabda Yoga is a type of spiritual yoga practice in the Sant Mat tradition.

Mysticism Practice of religious experiences during alternate states of consciousness

Mysticism is the practice of religious ecstasies, together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them. It may also refer to the attainment of insight in ultimate or hidden truths, and to human transformation supported by various practices and experiences.

The history of the word experience aligns it closely with the concept of experiment.

Experiment Scientific procedure performed to validate a hypothesis.

An experiment is a procedure carried out to support, refute, or validate a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results. There also exists natural experimental studies.

Types of experience

The word "experience" may refer, somewhat ambiguously, both to mentally unprocessed immediately perceived events as well as to the purported wisdom gained in subsequent reflection on those events or interpretation of them.

Mind Combination of cognitive faculties that provide consciousness, thinking, reasoning, perception and judgement

The mind is the set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory, which is housed in the brain. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity's thoughts and consciousness. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.

Wisdom The ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight

Wisdom, sapience, or sagacity is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. Wisdom is associated with attributes such as unbiased judgment, compassion, experiential self-knowledge, self-transcendence and non-attachment, and virtues such as ethics and benevolence.

An interpretation is an assignment of meaning to the symbols of a formal language. Many formal languages used in mathematics, logic, and theoretical computer science are defined in solely syntactic terms, and as such do not have any meaning until they are given some interpretation. The general study of interpretations of formal languages is called formal semantics.

Some wisdom-experience accumulates over a period of time, [2] though one can also experience (and gain general wisdom-experience from) a single specific momentary event.

Time dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future

Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, to the future. Time is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change of quantities in material reality or in the conscious experience. Time is often referred to as a fourth dimension, along with three spatial dimensions.

One may also differentiate between (for example) physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, vicarious and virtual experience(s).

Physical

Physical experience occurs whenever an object or environment changes. [3] In other words, physical experiences relate to observables. They need not involve modal properties nor mental experiences.

Mental

Mental experience involves the aspect of intellect and consciousness experienced as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will [ citation needed ] and imagination, including all unconscious cognitive processes. The term can refer, by implication, to a thought process. Mental experience and its relation to the physical brain form an area of philosophical debate: some identity theorists originally argued that the identity of brain and mental states held only for a few sensations. Most theorists, however, generalized the view to cover all mental experience. [4]

Mathematicians can exemplify cumulative mental experience in the approaches and skills with which they work. Mathematical realism, like realism in general, holds that mathematical entities exist independently of the human mind. Thus humans do not invent mathematics, but rather discover and experience it, and any other intelligent beings in the universe would presumably do the same. This point of view regards only one sort of mathematics as discoverable; it sees triangles, right angles, and curves, for example, as real entities, not just the creations of the human mind. Some working mathematicians have espoused mathematical realism as they see themselves experiencing naturally occurring objects. Examples include Paul Erdős and Kurt Gödel. Gödel believed in an objective mathematical reality that could be perceived in a manner analogous to sense perception. Certain principles (for example: for any two objects, there is a collection of objects consisting of precisely those two objects) could be directly seen to be true, but some conjectures, like the continuum hypothesis, might prove undecidable just on the basis of such principles. Gödel suggested that quasi-empirical methodology such as experience could provide sufficient evidence to be able to reasonably assume such a conjecture. With experience, there are distinctions depending on what sort of existence one takes mathematical entities to have, and how we know about them.[ citation needed ]

Emotional

Humans can rationalize falling in (and out of) love as "emotional experience". Societies which lack institutional arranged marriages can call on emotional experience in individuals to influence mate-selection. [5] The concept of emotional experience also appears in the notion of empathy.

Spiritual

Newberg and Newberg provide a view on spiritual experience. [6]

Religious

Mystics can describe their visions as "spiritual experiences". However, psychology and neuropsychology [7] may explain the same experiences in terms of altered states of consciousness, which may come about accidentally through (for example) very high fever, infections such as meningitis, sleep deprivation, fasting, oxygen deprivation, nitrogen narcosis (deep diving), psychosis, temporal-lobe epilepsy, or a traumatic accident. People can likewise achieve such experiences more deliberately through recognized mystical practices such as sensory deprivation or mind-control techniques, hypnosis, meditation, prayer, or mystical disciplines such as mantra meditation, yoga, Sufism, dream yoga, or surat shabda yoga. Some practices encourage spiritual experiences through the ingestion of psychoactive drugs such as alcohol and opiates, but more commonly with entheogenic plants and substances such as cannabis, salvia divinorum , psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, DXM, ayahuasca, or datura . Another way to induce spiritual experience through an altered state of consciousness involves psychoacoustics, binaural beats, or light-and-sound stimulation.

Social

Growing up and living within a society can foster the development and observation of social experience. [8]

Social experience provides individuals with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own societies, as a society itself is formed[ citation needed ] through a plurality of shared experiences forming norms, customs, values, traditions, social roles, symbols and languages. Experience plays an important role in experiential groups. [9]

Virtual and simulation

Using computer simulations can enable a person or groups of persons to have virtual experiences in virtual reality. [10] Role-playing games treat "experience" (and its acquisition) as an important, measurable, and valuable commodity. Many role-playing video games, for instance, feature units of measurement used to quantify or assist a player-character's progression through the game - called experience points or XP.

Subjective

Subjective experience can involve a state of individual subjectivity, perception on which one builds one's own state of reality; a reality based on one's interaction with one's environment. The subjectiveexperience depends on one's individual ability to process data, to store and internalize it. For example: our senses collect data, which we then process according to biological programming (genetics), neurological network-relationships and other variables such as relativity etc.,[ clarification needed ] all of which affect our individual experience of any given situation in such a way as to render it subjective.

Immediacy of experience

Someone able to recount an event they witnessed or took part in has "first hand experience". First hand experience of the "you had to be there" variety can seem especially valuable and privileged, but it often remains potentially subject to errors in sense-perception and in personal interpretation.

Second-hand experience can offer richer resources: recorded and/or summarised from first-hand observers or experiencers or from instruments, and potentially expressing multiple points of view.

Third-hand experience, based on indirect and possibly unreliable rumour or hearsay, can (even given reliable accounts) potentially stray perilously close to blind honouring of authority.

Changes through history

Some post-modernists suggest that the nature of human experiencing (quite apart from the details of the experienced surrounds) has undergone qualitative change during transition from the pre-modern through the modern to the post-modern. [11]

Alternatives to experience

Immanuel Kant contrasted experience with reason:

"Nothing, indeed, can be more harmful or more unworthy of the philosopher, than the vulgar appeal to so-called experience. Such experience would never have existed at all, if at the proper time, those institutions had been established in accordance with ideas." [12]

These views of Kant are mirrored in the research of ideasthesia, which demonstrates that one can experience the world only if one has the appropriate concepts (i.e., the ideas) about the objects that are being experienced.

Writing

American author Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay entitled "Experience" (published in 1844), in which he asks readers to disregard emotions that could alienate them from the divine; it provides a somewhat pessimistic representation of the transcendentalism associated with Emerson.

See also

Related Research Articles

Cognitive science interdisciplinary scientific study of the mind and its processes

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition. Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform information. Mental faculties of concern to cognitive scientists include language, perception, memory, attention, reasoning, and emotion; to understand these faculties, cognitive scientists borrow from fields such as linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology. The typical analysis of cognitive science spans many levels of organization, from learning and decision to logic and planning; from neural circuitry to modular brain organization. The fundamental concept of cognitive science is that "thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures."

Emotion is a mental state associated with the nervous system brought on by chemical changes variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure or displeasure. There is currently no scientific consensus on a definition. Emotion is often intertwined with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation.

In philosophy, idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies that assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In contrast to materialism, idealism asserts the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of material phenomena. According to this view, consciousness exists before and is the pre-condition of material existence. Consciousness creates and determines the material and not vice versa. Idealism believes consciousness and mind to be the origin of the material world and aims to explain the existing world according to these principles.

Philosophy of perception

The philosophy of perception is concerned with the nature of perceptual experience and the status of perceptual data, in particular how they relate to beliefs about, or knowledge of, the world. Any explicit account of perception requires a commitment to one of a variety of ontological or metaphysical views. Philosophers distinguish internalist accounts, which assume that perceptions of objects, and knowledge or beliefs about them, are aspects of an individual's mind, and externalist accounts, which state that they constitute real aspects of the world external to the individual. The position of naïve realism—the 'everyday' impression of physical objects constituting what is perceived—is to some extent contradicted by the occurrence of perceptual illusions and hallucinations and the relativity of perceptual experience as well as certain insights in science. Realist conceptions include phenomenalism and direct and indirect realism. Anti-realist conceptions include idealism and skepticism.

Perception Organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment

Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information, or the environment.

Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent, as opposed to that which is merely imaginary. The term is also used to refer to the ontological status of things, indicating their existence. In physical terms, reality is the totality of the universe, known and unknown. Philosophical questions about the nature of reality or existence or being are considered under the rubric of ontology, which is a major branch of metaphysics in the Western philosophical tradition. Ontological questions also feature in diverse branches of philosophy, including the philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophical logic. These include questions about whether only physical objects are real, whether reality is fundamentally immaterial, whether hypothetical unobservable entities posited by scientific theories exist, whether God exists, whether numbers and other abstract objects exist, and whether possible worlds exist.

Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind.

Eliminative materialism Philosophical view that states-of-mind as commonly understood do not exist

Eliminative materialism is the claim that people's common-sense understanding of the mind is false and that certain classes of mental states that most people believe in do not exist. It is a materialist position in the philosophy of mind. Some supporters of eliminativism argue that no coherent neural basis will be found for many everyday psychological concepts such as belief or desire, since they are poorly defined. Rather, they argue that psychological concepts of behaviour and experience should be judged by how well they reduce to the biological level. Other versions entail the non-existence of conscious mental states such as pain and visual perceptions.

A mental image or mental picture is an experience that, on most occasions, significantly resembles the experience of perceiving some object, event, or scene, but occurs when the relevant object, event, or scene is not actually present to the senses. There are sometimes episodes, particularly on falling asleep and waking up (hypnopompic), when the mental imagery, being of a rapid, phantasmagoric and involuntary character, defies perception, presenting a kaleidoscopic field, in which no distinct object can be discerned. Mental imagery can sometimes produce the same effects as would be produced by the behavior or experience imagined.

A religious experience is a subjective experience which is interpreted within a religious framework. The concept originated in the 19th century, as a defense against the growing rationalism of Western society. William James popularised the concept.

Scholarly approaches to mysticism include typologies of mysticism and the explanation of mystical states. Since the 19th century, mystical experience has evolved as a distinctive concept. It is closely related to "mysticism" but lays sole emphasis on the experiential aspect, be it spontaneous or induced by human behavior, whereas mysticism encompasses a broad range of practices aiming at a transformation of the person, not just inducing mystical experiences.

Type physicalism in the philosophy of mind, a physicalist theory asserting that mental events can be grouped into types, and can then be correlated with types of physical events in the brain

Type physicalism is a physicalist theory, in the philosophy of mind. It asserts that mental events can be grouped into types, and can then be correlated with types of physical events in the brain. For example, one type of mental event, such as "mental pains" will, presumably, turn out to be describing one type of physical event.

<i>The Philosophy of Freedom</i> The fundamental work by the Austrian philosopher and esotericist Rudolf Steiner

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A mental representation, in philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science, is a hypothetical internal cognitive symbol that represents external reality, or else a mental process that makes use of such a symbol: "a formal system for making explicit certain entities or types of information, together with a specification of how the system does this".

The problem of mental causation is a conceptual issue in the philosophy of mind. That problem, in short, is how to account for the common-sense idea that intentional thoughts or intentional mental states are causes of intentional actions. The problem divides into several distinct sub-problems, including the problem of causal exclusion, the problem of anomalism, and the problem of externalism. However, the sub-problem which has attracted most attention in the philosophical literature is arguably the exclusion problem.

Philosophy of mind Branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of the mind

Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology and nature of the mind and its relationship with the body. The mind–body problem is a paradigm issue in philosophy of mind, although other issues are addressed, such as the hard problem of consciousness, and the nature of particular mental states. Aspects of the mind that are studied include mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness, the ontology of the mind, the nature of thought, and the relationship of the mind to the body.

Enactivism argues that cognition arises through a dynamic interaction between an acting organism and its environment. It claims that our environment is one which we selectively create through our capacities to interact with the world. "Organisms do not passively receive information from their environments, which they then translate into internal representations. Natural cognitive systems...participate in the generation of meaning ...engaging in transformational and not merely informational interactions: they enact a world." These authors suggest that the increasing emphasis upon enactive terminology presages a new era in thinking about cognitive science. How the actions involved in enactivism relate to age-old questions about free will remains a topic of active debate.

Outline of thought Overview of and topical guide to thought

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to thought (thinking):

Mind–body problem Open question in philosophy of how abstract minds interact with physical bodies

The mind–body problem is an unsolved problem concerning the relationship between thought and consciousness in the human mind, and the brain as part of the physical body. It is distinct from the question of how mind and body function chemically and physiologically since that question presupposes an interactionist account of mind-body relations. This question arises when mind and body are considered as distinct, based on the premise that the mind and the body are fundamentally different in nature.

References

  1. Compare various contemporary definitions given in the OED (2nd edition, 1989): "[...] 3. The actual observation of facts or events, considered as a source of knowledge.[...] 4. a. The fact of being consciously the subject of a state or condition, or of being consciously affected by an event. [...] b. In religious use: A state of mind or feeling forming part of the inner religious life; the mental history (of a person) with regard to religious emotion. [...] 6. What has been experienced; the events that have taken place within the knowledge of an individual, a community, mankind at large, either during a particular period or generally. [...] 7. a. Knowledge resulting from actual observation or from what one has undergone. [...] 8. The state of having been occupied in any department of study or practice, in affairs generally, or in the intercourse of life; the extent to which, or the length of time during which, one has been so occupied; the aptitudes, skill, judgement, etc. thereby acquired."
  2. Note for example Levitt, Heidi M. (1999). "The Development of Wisdom: An Analysis of Tibetan Buddhist Experience". Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 39 (2): 86–105. doi:10.1177/0022167899392006 . Retrieved 2010-01-21. Instead of significant events, however, they spoke of gradual experiences, such as learning through teachings day by day.
  3. Compare: Popper, Karl R.; Eccles, John C. (1977). The self and its brain. Berlin: Springer International. p. 425. ISBN   3-540-08307-3. You would agree, I think, that in our experience of the world everything comes to us through the senses [...]
  4. Christensen, Scott M.; Turner, Dale R. (1993). Folk psychology and the philosophy of mind. Routledge. p. xxi. ISBN   978-0-8058-0931-2 . Retrieved 2009-12-01. Some identity theorists originally argued that the identity of brain and mental states held only for a few sensations. Most theorists, however, generalized the view to cover all mental experience.
  5. Kim, Jungsik; Elaine Hatfield (2004). "Love types and subjective well-being: a cross-cultural study" (PDF). Social Behavior and Personality. Society for Personality Research. 32 (2): 173–182. doi:10.2224/sbp.2004.32.2.173. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2009-12-01. Evolutionary theory theorizes that love is just one of the emotional experiences which have been selected during the evolution process since it has helped humans find mates for reproduction [...]
  6. Newberg, Andrew B.; Newberg, Stephanie K. (2005), "The Neuropsychology of Religious and Spiritual Experience", in Paloutzian, Raymond F.; Park, Crystal L. (eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality, New York: Guilford Press, pp. 199–215, ISBN   978-1-57230-922-7
  7. Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality, New York: Guilford Press, pp. 199–215, ISBN   978-1-57230-922-7
  8. Compare: Blumin, Stuart M. (1989). The emergence of the middle class: social experience in the American city, 1760-1900. Interdisciplinary perspectives on modern history. Cambridge University Press. p. 434. ISBN   978-0-521-37612-9 . Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  9. Brown, Nina W. (2003) [1998]. Psychoeducational groups: process and practice (2 ed.). Routledge. p. 103. ISBN   978-0-415-94602-5 . Retrieved 2010-03-06. Experiential group activities can be effective parts of psychoeducational groups.
  10. Compare: Popper, Karl R.; Eccles, John C. (1977). The self and its brain. Berlin: Springer International. p. 401. ISBN   3-540-08307-3. With the advent of computers, simulations can be done to provide for virtual reality [...]
  11. Compare: Nowotny, Helga; Plaice, Neville (1996). Time: The Modern and Postmodern Experience. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 192. ISBN   978-0-7456-1837-1 . Retrieved 2010-01-21.
  12. Kant, Immanuel (1781). "Book 1, Section 1". The Critique of Pure Reason.