Experience as a general concept comprises knowledge of or skill in or observation of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event. The history of the word experience aligns it closely with the concept of experiment.
The concept of experience generally refers to know-how or procedural knowledge, rather than propositional knowledge. Philosophers dub knowledge based on experience "empirical knowledge" or "a posteriori knowledge". The interrogation of experience also has a long tradition in continental philosophy. The German term Erfahrung, which is translated as 'experience' into English has, however, a slightly different implication, given that it is associated with the coherency of life's experiences.
A person with considerable experience in a certain field can gain a reputation as an expert.
Certain religious traditions, such as in certain types of Buddhism, Surat Shabd Yoga and mysticism) and educational paradigms with, for example, the conditioning of boot camps, stress the experimental nature of human epistemology. This stands in contrast to traditions of dogma, logic or reasoning. Activities such as tourism, extreme sports and recreational drug use also tend to stress the importance of experience.
Types of experience
The word "experience" may refer, somewhat ambiguously, both mentally
unprocessed immediately-perceived events as well as to the purported wisdom
gained in subsequent reflection
on those events or interpretation of them.
Most wisdom-experience accumulates over a period of time, though one can also experience (and gain general wisdom-experience from) a single specific momentary event.
One may also differentiate between physical, mental, emotional and spiritual experience(s).
Immediacy of experience
Someone able to recount an event they witnessed or took part in has "first hand
experience". First hand experience of the "you had to be there" variety can seem especially valuable and privileged, but it often remains potentially subject to errors in sense
and in personal interpretation
Second-hand experience can offer richer resources: recorded and/or summarised from first hand observers or experiencers or from instruments and potentially expressing multiple points of view..
Third-hand experience, based on indirect and possibly unreliable rumour or hearsay, can potentially stray perilously close to blind honouring of authority.
The Subjective Experience
A state of individual subjectivity, perception
on which one creates their own state of reality
; a reality that is based on one’s interaction
with their environment. The subjective experience
is based on one’s individual
ability to process data
, store and internalize
it, for example: our senses collect data, which is then processed according to biological
programming (genetics), neurological
network relationships and other variables such as relativity
etc., all of which affect our individual experience of any given situation in such a way as to render it subjective.
treat experience (and its acquisition) as an important and valuable commodity. See experience point
The American author Ralph Waldo Emerson
wrote an essay entitled "Experience" (published in 1844
), in which he asks readers to disregard emotions
that could alienate them from the divine; it provides a somewhat pessimistic
representation of the Transcendentalism
associated with Emerson.
The art group Monochrom
organized a series of happenings
that ironically take up the implications of this term: Experience the Experience