Two Senses of `Experience`, Representation and What Is It Like

In past posts I was attacking the philosophers’ sense of experience (p-sense), and arguing that if we talk about any experience at all, it should be in the sense of  ‘experience’ where it refers to events in the world in which subject is participating, and which is one of the most common ways it is used (this one I call np-sense). I want to here see what issues motivate the assumptions that there is p-sense experience, and to talk (although I will probably repeat mostly what I’ve already wrote) how one can address those issues.

In the p-sense of experience, usually it is supposed that this experience is 1)characterized by what is it like to have that experience, and that 2)the experience is taken to represent the state of affairs in the world, and that it can be veridical or not. Both those characterizations have their motives.

The motivations of this second characterization are I think those… We are aware of the cases of illusions, hallucinations, dreams and so on, and based on the idea that it might be impossible to distinguish hallucination from the real thing, a common element is assumed in both – namely the experience. In the case of normal seeing, the experience represents to us the states of affairs as they are, in the case of hallucination the experience represents the state of affairs as they are not. However, I think that we don’t need p-sense of experience to make sense of those phenomena. What is needed is just to allow that in different np-sense experiences (where ‘experience’ refers to events in the world in which the subject is participating) different states of affairs might appear same to the subject. That is because the appearance is constituted by (or maybe the better word is ‘depends on’, I should probably stay away from complex words) the things in the world, but also on the characteristics of the access (be it seeing, hearing, or whatever), and possible complications (fog, glasses, mirrors, and so on). As for explaining hallucinations and dreams, one idea is that there is some kind of ‘seeing affector’ which also affects the act of seeing, but I think there are some other possibilities.

Be as it might be, the first characterization of p-sense experience is a separate issue to be addressed. In this sense experience is connected to what is it likeness of having that experience. So, how can we deal with this problem if p-sense experience is denied. I think what motivates the talk about the what-is-it-likeness, is that the most philosophers buy the picture of the world as reduced to some basic physical components. However thinking about the world in this way we are confronted with the gap between this picture and further thing what we are aware of, like colors, sounds, and so on. So, it is taken that the explanation of this what-is-it-likeness has to do with the special thing the brain is (and possibly some psycho-physical laws). However, if we see the physics (and other sciences) as putting attention just to specific aspects of the world, namely those which are open to measurement and quantification, we approach the whole thing in such way that the issue of what-is-it-likeness doesn’t appear.

It is in our experiences (np-sense) that we approach those aspects of the world of which physics is interested. However we can say that we are aware of other aspects of the world which physics by its nature has to ignore. Those are the aspects that show up as problematic in the aforementioned gap. Because of that ignoring they don’t feature in the final picture that physics gives of our world. You get what you put into it, and what we put into physics are just limited number of notions which are susceptible for physics.