What is “Experience”?

Kant, Hume,

Latin experientia (“a trial, proof, experiment, experimental knowledge, experience”), from experiens, present participle of experiri (“to try, put to the test, undertake, undero”), from ex (“out”) + *periri (“to go through”), in past participle peritus (“experienced, expert”); see expert and peril.

I want to think about this word “experience” in depth. I use the word a lot, and it’s not often that I define or interpret it. I have intuitions about it means, and can even cite philosophers that essentially embody what I mean, but I’ve yet to formalize it.

What is experience? Impressions? Memories? Ideas? Feelings?

Is there mental experience that differs from bodily experience? Yes.

What role does reflection play in rendering experience intelligible? Perceptions? Paradigms? Habits? States of being? Meditations?

What role does repetition play? Does repetition make experience more intelligible? Do we become more familiar with the experience and are able to structure and systematize it?

Why is experience better than imagining or theory? For example, why is it better to go through an experience rather than simply reading about it or conversing about it with someone?

Is more experience better? Novelty?

Is there a trade off between broad experience and depth?


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