Experience and the World
For The Way of Being | A Journey
Anil Mitra, Copyright © January 2, 2019—April 14, 2020
Experience and the World
The focus is experience and the dimensions of the world; it does not develop the real metaphysics of the main essays.
The development here is in two parts (i) general, which does not assume the metaphysics—or any worldview at all (ii) and implications of the metaphysics.
Experience is subjective awareness or aware consciousness in all its forms.
The concept of experience will be revised to expand its scope.
Experience will also be used in a related sense as in “it is consistent with experience that there is a world”. Except where needed, the distinction will not be noted.
There is experience—for there seems to be experience; and seeming is experience. To say that experience is an illusion is to admit experience for an illusion is an experience
There is experience of experience—otherwise we would neither know nor talk of it.
1. It is marked it is marked by the feel of things—what it is like to experience something.
2. It can be illustrated by example but before exemplifying recall that experience is awareness in all is forms and so we would like examples to be suggestive of the range of experience. Some examples are the shape, color, and smell of a flower; feeling pain; inner body feeling; emotion; having thought and forming concepts, willing, choosing.
3. It seems pure, active, and attitudinal. The active is in relation to action, and the attitudinal is oriented to knowledge of the world; i.e. the active and the attitudinal are between experiencer and experienced. But even the pure is internally and potentially active andor attitudinal; i.e., relational. Thus experience is relational.
4. Without it we are as if robotic, inert. It is the place of our meaning and being though not their entire source.
5. Experience is (at least as-if) of the world which contains experience and self, others, environment; and (experiential) conception, anticipation of possible futures, and choice (free will).
6. In an ultimate sense, the world is the world as in experience; this point is elaborated below. A critical question arises—given this, what is the most effective view of the real and how may the world be seen as real?
I.e. what is the real nature of experience?
A related meta-question asks what the previous question means. One meaning is to ask what experience is in terms of something fundamental.
There are two possibilities—(i) experience really something else at root or (ii) it is fundamental or part of something fundamental.
If experience is not fundamental, it is ‘really’ something else. For example, in materialism, matter—the physical—is held fundamental. But if matter is all there is and mind is not material at all, there can be no experience; mind cannot even be emergent. If we do not want to jettison materialism entirely, we must give up the idea that mind is not material at all (i.e. we must give up strict materialism). What are the alternatives to experience (mind) as fundamental and matter as fundamental? Perhaps (i) there is no fundamental kind (ii) being (existence) is fundamental. Of course there is no prohibition against taking being as fundamental but the question is then whether that would empower understanding.
These issues will be addressed in what follows.
There is a sense in terms of which we never get out of experience. Imagine seeing a mountain—we have the sense that the mountain is there, that it exists. What is the nature of that knowledge? It seems like the same mountain from different vantage points; it was there yesterday; we walk up its slopes, feeling it; others confirm it is there; there are descriptions of mountains as physical and geological entities. But all that occurs within our experience—we experience climbing, we experience others reports, we experience the subjects of physics and geology which, again, are, at root, founded in experience. That is the sense in which we never get outside experience
But note that that is not to say that everything is experience, that experience creates itself or the world or that the world is dependent on exp, that there is no world, or that there is no objectivity.
However, that we do not getting outside experience requires us to ask some questions if we are to truly understand the world. Some pertinent questions are (i) what does it mean to ask what experience and what is experience in those terms, (ii) what is the relation between experience and the world, (iii) what is objectivity and can we be objective, and is objectivity an all or nothing affair or are there gradations of it.
As in the real metaphysics where there was pure knowledge—perfect by abstraction; and pragmatic knowledge, valid relative to limited if significant purposes—yet also instrumentally perfect relative to the ideal and value revealed by the pure.
A concept is an experiential content. A referential concept is one in the form of or intended to refer. In the remainder of this section ‘concept’ shall mean ‘referential concept’.
Without iconic content, a concept cannot refer. Simple symbols refer only by association with icons; compound symbols, e.g. in language, refer by association with icons and by the form of the compound. A concept may be pure iconic or iconic-symbolic.
Meaning is comprised of a concept and its potential objects. Knowledge is meaning realized.
To have free will is to have the ability to see and make choices from among alternatives. That is free will at a basic level. At a higher level there is an ability to conceive and create choice.
In a deterministic world there are no options; there can be no free will; it is not even reasonable to claim that an illusion of free will could arise in such a world.
Free will is employed not only in ‘physical’ action but also in the creation of knowledge. Without free will there is no true knowledge.
I.e. the real and the nature of the real consistent with experience—or the concept-object real—or simply the real
A common interpretation of experience and the world, above, is of a (material substance, objective in itself) world populated with individuals, all with a sense of self – other – environment, in the world-environment or universe. As substance, the matter of the world is not experiential in its fundamental nature. This is the standard secular view, or ‘secularism’, or SSV.
If the world is truly as in secularism, we are robots. This secularism, SSV, is inconsistent with experience.
However consider alternatives to secularism (SSV)—
1. The largest framework consistent with experience is world as a field of being with experience (abbreviated FOB, world as field of being with experience will also be referred to as the field-view of the world). This allows the limitless world of the real metaphysics, the one in which the individual realizes peak being. Certainly, we have not proven FOB (the field-view) (we are not assuming any metaphysics), but neither is FOB (the field-view) ruled out by experience (which includes reason).
2. Experience has form and form is body. In a single substance FOB world, higher experience is comprised of primitive elements that are the constituents of higher experience. This is the sense in which experience has a generalized meaning. Actual FOB worlds need not be single substance and such worlds may be complex. It does seem, however, that our world is essentially single substance.
3. There is a special case of the field-view (FOB), in which the extent of the known world is that of our empirical universe, individuals are experiential, the environment is not non-experiential but its experientiality is too low to register to us (or zero but not null). This is an extended standard secular view or extended secularism, ESSV, which mimics secularism but is consistent with experience.
Being or existence is the most effective foundation of the world and its understanding.
The universe is all being over all extension and duration. There is one universe which has no creator or effective cause.
The void is the ‘zero’ being—the being that contains no beings. The void may be thought of as the null being provided ‘null’ does not mean nonexistent.
The fundamental principle of metaphysics (FP)—the universe is the greatest possible. ‘Greatest’ includes but is not the same as ‘best’.
The greatest possibility is logical possibility.
FP is demonstrated and true; it is also shown that the greatest possibility is logical possibility.
FP implies that the universe is limitless in extent, duration, variety, peak, and dissolution—it hypercycles in parallel multiple loops of limitless number, variety and duration; that this universe has identity; that the individual realizes this state of the universe; and that there are paths from apparently limited being to really limitless being; and that there is an imperative to be on and continue development of an intelligent and committed path.
Our cosmos is an infinitesimal part of the universe.
FP is consistent with what is valid in science and experience.
FP leads to a universal or real metaphysics, also referred to as the metaphysics—which has a pure part, exemplified above, true by abstraction; and a pragmatic part, what is valid in our systems of culture and knowledge, perfect in the sense of being the best available instrument, instrumental toward living in the world and realization of the ultimate.
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Being is relational and experience is the mode of relation (as seen, interaction at an elementary level is of the same kind as experience at the animal level). Identity is sense of sameness (of beings including self). The most elementary experience is sameness-difference. Duration marks difference in but not of identity (sameness with difference). Extension is marked by difference of identity. The distinction between the difference that marks extension and the difference that marks duration is not always definite. Form requires extension. Quality is marked by mode of interaction. Though form can be constant—as if eternal—in some worlds, from FP there can be no form without formation. FP implies that change need no interactive dynamics. Where there is dynamics, relations or interactions among forms are correlated with change in form (which may be interpreted and perhaps assigned as causal). Dynamics, mechanics, or mechanism is change in form, mediated by relation (while classical dynamics in physics is deterministic, the concept of dynamics here is not restricted to the physical and not essentially deterministic).
FP implies that from a given state, it is not necessarily the case that any particular other state should arise (e.g. as specified in a mechanics). The world is essentially indeterministic. But ‘essential indeterminism’ is not the same as ‘random’. If no structure arose, some states would be ruled out and the world would not be entirely indeterminist. For newness in a formed world there must be some indeterminism which is responsible for transition between stable forms; and between one state of knowledge and a higher state—via hypotheses whose formation have an indeterminist element (this is what creativity is and how it is possible).
Space and time are measures of extension over identity or form and duration over change; space and time, extension and duration, are part of and immanent in large scale identity or being.
Because, as noted above, the distinction between the difference that marks extension and the difference that marks duration is not always definite, extension and duration—i.e., space, time, and being are interwoven. While the void is absolutely indeterministic, form has residual indeterminism. These are, tentatively, sources of mechanism—the relativistic and quantum—in modern physics.
Reason employs all faculties in forming and acting on value; it subsumes action and is not mere reflection; it is usually and may be channeled but not limited by normative reason; it includes the linear and the ‘rational’ in balance with the dynamic and elements of abandon.
1. Worlds according to secularism exist but they are dead; ours may seem to be such a world but is not.
2. Our world may be a mesh of many kinds; but, minimally, with respect to kind it is locally a world according to extended secularism (ESSV); often thought isolated, it meshes with the universe.
3. The universe is a field—as in the field-view (FOB). It contains limitless worlds of extended secularism (ESSV) (and worlds according to secularism or SSV) which hypercycle with limitless, extension, duration, variety, and peak.
The world is the world as in experience. The aim in this division is (i) to set up ways to talk about the world with realism and (ii) to map the experiential world.
A normative world
The experienced world is one of selves and others in an environment.
In detail—The minimal common normative world is one of experiential selves (I—experience itself, body) and environment (other selves—you, they; experientially inert environment from the immediate to the end of the universe).
About normative reality
To say our sense of the real is normative is to speak, primarily, of how we arrive at that sense. We are psychologically constituted so be strongly influenced in our sense of the real by the persons—the community—with whom we live and interact. This is not just psychological but it is also adaptive and functional. The function is of course adaption to the environment in which we live. However, we do not live in a fixed environment. Change is typical, and therefore the normative is not fixed. The normative does include its own critique for that too is functional. This may be described by saying our psyches are constituted to live in tension between standard and changing norms.
To say our sense of the real is normative is not to say that the normative is unreal or that the real is unattainable. The question of the real itself is a normative question. But, so far as the normative is concerned, given that the standard norm does not achieve full reality, the question arises To what extent can the dynamic norm or individual knowledge attain the real.
The metaphysics developed so far gives us an answer—there is universal realm of perfect knowledge in the sense of faithfulness; and a local realm in which knowledge is pragmatic; further, relative to the universal ideal, the pragmatic is instrumentally faithful.
The general interpretation is universe as in the field view (field of being with experience).
Our world, often seen as the empirical cosmos, is a world of extended secularism (ESSV) world; secularism (SSV) is a pragmatic interpretation. Nested in the field-view universe, there are paths—Atman to Brahman. The paths are direct, rare, via experience-being, intrinsic and instrumental; and indirect, common, via death, diffusion, and re-emergence.
But there is a real abstract which, by abstraction, is ideal in the sense of being known with perfect faithfulness—
Ideal or pure dimensions
General—universe as in the field-view—being-experience.
Our world—world (with experience)-experience.
Experience, being, beings, universe, void, possibility, necessity.
The elements enable construction of the metaphysics.
Pragmatic dimensions and elements
These are influenced by culture.
Natural (relatively unconstructed)
Living (complex, built of the physical in that no further elements seem necessary).
Experiential (mind, psyche as object, perhaps always in association with life—at least in its known advanced forms; the physical and the elementary experiential are two aspects of the natural).
Social (group, relatively constructed)
Culture (knowledge, value; neutrality to distinction between knowledge and value)—language and communication, generation, transmission.
Organization (groups)—small (the individual, family, community) and large and institutional (political, economic—and technology and military, research and education, art and the religious).
Universe—includes the unknown—as in the field-view: Atman, Brahman; nests extended secular (ESSV) worlds: self to Brahman.
The world is a field of experience—(i) centers of experience or experiencers (which phase in and out of the One), (ii) relations of experience (the experienced, the contents—e.g. the field-view universe that nests the extended secular—ESSV—and the normative world)—and change.
From FP there are no true elements. In fact any being may be ‘the’ element (in the ideal one is sufficient even though the pragmatic requires ‘many’).
However, within the universe as in the field-view, ‘unit experiences’ may be identified for pragmatic purposes. These are compound (there are no ultimate units), which enables and explains relation (interaction) and process (and are thus an improvement on the Leibnizian monads and roughly the actual occasions of Whitehead’s metaphysics of organism). Regarding process, they have form and formation; which allows for dynamics. They may enable building a pragmatic metaphysics of our world but this task is not taken up here and now.
Consider and implement requirements to build a pragmatic metaphysics of our world.
Psychological or pragmatic dimensions of experience for our world
The following are axes of experience
The attitude – pure – action axis
In modern philosophy of mind, three ‘axes’ of the mental have been identified—the attitudinal or intentional of how mind refers to objects, the experiential which is seen as pure, and the active or direction of exertion or control over the world, particularly on the body.
Here, we see that experience itself is (associated with) attitude and action and that there is no essentially pure experience. For practical purposes, i.e. for the individual, there is pure experience but (i) it is degenerate with attitude and action not absent but influencing and pending and (ii) purity is relative to the self (‘I’) which is normatively the individual but in fact the normative and seeming pure experience of the individual is relational among the elements of the individual.
Thus in the following where we talk of the senses and their organs, we add as is done in Yoga psychology, the actions (breath, expression, movement and more) and their organs.
The inner – outer axes
As noted above, the individual is normative; the inner – outer distinction is relative to the individual under consideration; here it is the human individual.
The free – bound continuum
Some elements or aspects of human experience are bound to the world—perception is of the object, as is autonomous aspects of motor control.
On the other hand there is freedom of thought and action.
The distinction just above defines the free – bound continuum.
The intensity continuum
It is functional for some experience to be intense in the sense of imperative to action (of which non-action is a case).
And for other experience to be of low intensity; for this is the root of reflection and foresight.
Yet, there is no experience of zero intensity; i.e. associated with no feeling.
This keeps reflection rooted in the world.
Form and property
Form is that which requires extension; property is intensive (and primary or secondary).
Symbol and feeling
Symbol is associated with form; feeling with quality; the two occur together.
Yet, the symbol may be dissociated from feeling.
Which is adaptive to some contexts; dissociative in others.
Form and formation
Eternal forms are abstractions; they have Being but omit dynamics; their approximations have minimal dynamics.
Pragmatic forms are associated with formation and dynamics; in which space and time or spacetime are immanent.
Psyche: pragmatic dimensions of psyche
I.e., relatively bound
Spatial (form)—inner (primitive feeling, primitive motor action without autonomy; and aggregate feeling and action) and outer (sense, action on the world).
Note—perception is the result of perceptual intuition (i.e. in the sense of Immanuel Kant: capacity for formed experience of the world, informed by concept formation), action is the result of intuition of action (capacity for forming action, informed also by concept formation). Thus thought-emotion (concept formation) partakes of or is in a continuum with sense and action, with the inner and the outer.
Temporal (change)—intuition of time, recall (memory).
Relatively free (including concept formation)
Body—inner—feeling with degrees of freedom.
World—outer—iconic and symbolic concepts; and conceptual intuition or capacity for concept formation (emotion is a join of conception and free and primitive feeling).
Spatiotemporal—concept of space; concept of time, past – present – future and will and sense of purpose; concepts of science, philosophy, and the transcendent.
Aesthetic—syntheses of the ‘elements’ that speak to the ‘being’ of the individual or person.
Synthesis—‘mind’ in an expansive sense—perception, thought, concept formation, and feeling (emotion) come together in realism regarding the world.