What Issues Disappear Along With The Experience

In few posts I was arguing that ‘experience’, as philosophers use it is a theoretical notion used to explain a)what-is-it-likeness and b)possibilities of illusions, hallucination, and it is not something that we are directly aware of. In this usage (p-sense) experience is supposed to be something that represents the states of affairs in the world, can be veridical or not, and is characterized by the fact that it is like something to have that experience.

Instead, I was pointing that in one of the traditional uses of the term (np-sense), ‘experience’ refers to the events in the world in which the subject participates, and by which it is affected. In such way experiences are something in the world.

Now, I wrote how some of the issues, like the fallibility of our judgments about our experience are in this view rendered obsolete. When we are subject to change blindness, it is not about some private mental life that we are not noticing, but it is a change in the world that we are not noticing. When we think that we can see things clearly, even when they are 30 degrees from our direction of sight, it is not something about private mental life that we are not noticing, but it is lack of knowledge of our capacity. Instead of ‘clarity of visual field’, we talk about being able to see clearly, and so on…

Other issue that obviously disappears if we remove ‘experience’ in the p-sense, is the issue of what is the content of such experience. What we are left are np-sense experiences (events) in which we participate, and if we can speak of any content here – it is the events themselves, along with the constituents of those events (things, their properties and their relations). In such way, what we have is the world, and our acts of perceptual access to it (seeing, hearing, smelling, and so on). The target of the access are the aspects of the world that we put attention to. The attention is an abstraction – when attending to particular aspects we are ignoring some other. Those aspects can then be subject of our other intentional acts.

Because the nature of the act of attention as an act of abstraction, what is abstracted from might not implicitly nor explicitly appear as a subject of awareness. In such way, we can become aware of aspects in the world, without being aware that they are not self-subsistent, or how they relate to other aspects of the world.

Wild Speculation About Imagery

An idea about how imagery works… (this post is motivated by Eric’s post ‘Can You Directly Will Sensory Experiences?’)

The perception is full with noise. Imagery then consist in making part of the noise more salient, and pushing other part of the noise in the background.

So, it would be similar to how when you look at the clouds you can “see” different faces, animals and objects. Or how when you look at a wall with rough bumpy surface, you can also “see” different things.

If this is true, imagery would be in fact real – a specific part of the present noise. (Of course by real, I don’t mean that image of banana would be a banana, just that it is part of a real noise, and not something produced by the mind – it would be just putting attention on something, while ignoring other things).

The consequence is that if we can affect this noise then it would result also with affecting our imagery.

Per Perky subjects reported that bananas they imagined on a screen started to rotate when in fact a real, but very dim image of banana was projected on the screen. Also, the subjects apparently didn’t notice the image of banana, though it was clearly visible to the other observers. I think both of this things can be explained by the assumption that imagery is produced by selective focus. Because selective focus depends on what is in perception, the imaginary banana was affected, and because the attention was on specific part of the noise, people failed to see the dim projection of the banana on the screen.