INTRODUCTION TO BEING AND EXPERIENCE
ANIL MITRA, © APRIL 2014—June 2014
Also see introduction to being.html
Note that while introduction to being.html introduces and illuminates the concept of being, this document defines being but emphasizes the concept of experience and (the nature of) its interwoven-ness with being.
INTRODUCTION TO BEING AND EXPERIENCE
Introduction to being and experience
Being is that which is.
The first meaning of experience is awareness.
Experience is conscious; it is our first acquaintance with the idea, perhaps metaphorical, of mind (the sense of metaphor here is that of a roughly as if but not real or actual object). There are experiments that suggest that not all awareness is conscious. However the experiments do not show that the awareness in question is not conscious; they show only that it is not conscious of itself.
Consciousness is often used to connote nothing more than consciousness itself. Here, in its first meaning, experience shall connote the entire range of conscious mind (the term mind used as if to refer to an object is perhaps metaphorical) including such ideas as cognition, emotion, conscious attitude (awareness and knowledge of the world) and conscious action.
In the connotation above consciousness is so elementary and fundamental as to need no demonstration that it is or explanation that it is. That is, there is consciousness. Consequently there is experience—that is, on its first meaning, experience has being.
The importance of this conclusion is twofold (a) it refutes the conclusions of those thinkers, often of a materialist bent, who hold that experience is a lesser, e.g. a-causal and ephemeral, mode of matter (of these some go so far as to say that ‘lesser’ means non-existent) and, more importantly (b) the demonstration of the conclusion a process of clarification of the nature of being and experience.
It is worth giving prominence to the conclusion about experience:
Experience has being.
Later, the meaning of ‘experience’ will be consistently extended to a fundamental level. On the fundamental meaning, being and experience will be seen to be essentially and universally interwoven.
Even on the first meaning of experience we note that while experience is not the source of all significance and while it is not the only significant kind of thing, it is the only place of significance. That is, if something matters it matters in experience andor as a result of an effect in experience. Being and experience are closely interwoven in the matter of significance. That is
Significance has meaning only in experience. On a fundamental and extended meaning of experience, being and experience are essentially and universally interwoven.
From the conclusion that experience has being—i.e. that experience is a case of being,
There is being.
Apparently, not all being is experience (on its first meaning). However, it is conceivable that experience of being and the world is illusory and that there is nothing but experience. This position is called ‘solipsism’ and its importance is not that we seriously entertain it in disproving it we clarify and better appreciate the meaning and ‘concreteness’ of being, experience and the idea of a real world (sometimes called ‘the external world’).
It can be shown without significant difficult that
There is a real world (of being) that contains and is known in experience.
Whereas ‘being’ suggests ‘existence in itself’, experience suggests ‘being-in-relation’—i.e., relationship between experiencer and experienced or between knower and known. The terms ‘in itself’, ‘in-relation’, ‘experiencer’, and ‘experienced’ (and of course ‘knower’ and ‘known’) are perhaps no more than metaphor.
On the fundamental meaning of experience mentioned above, the notions of ‘in itself’ and ‘in relation’ will be seen to be relative—i.e., not definitive of ultimate distinction.
The narrative develops a universal metaphysics that perfect—in the sense of faithfulness—though remote knowledge of the universe as ultimate possibility and of realization of that possibility by individual and civilization. This frames what is valid in our cultures, ancient through today, to form a practical metaphysics which is not perfectly faithful but is perfect in the sense of being the best possible knowledge of the universe and instrument of realization.