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EXPERIENTIALISM: A NEW PHILOSOPHY

Experientialism is a new philosophy that seeks simultaneously to extend and transform the phenomenological tradition started by philosophers such as Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre.  It maintains that consciousness is not a medium through which we are aware of the world outside of our own mind (as many philosophies maintain in some form or another); nor is it a level of brain activity (as empirical science maintains); but rather it is a necessary combination of certain components:

1) cognition:         thoughts, ideas, cogitations, under-
                                standings, etc.

2) affect:                feelings, emotions, moods, etc.

3) behvavior:        body in motion:  internal - aspects of
                                physiology; external- comportment

4) sensation:        seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling

5) environment:  physical world

These components are organized in sets or packages.  Without one of these components, all of these components disappear.  None of these components can be reduced to another or a combination of others.  Each has its autonomy, but each is necessarily interconnected with the others.

 

Existential phenomenology seeks to locate consciousness "in the world", a world made of phenomena, i.e. as something that could be investigated by consciousness itself.  Phenomena outside of our mind (e.g. trees, tables, etc.) possess the same ontological status as do phenomena inside of our mind (e.g. thoughts, feelings, etc.)  Each type of phenomenon can be investigated "on its own terms" by consciousness itself, i.e. a consciousness that continuously escapes itself.

 

Experientialism argues that when consciousness, which is defined as a necessary combination of components, is owned [by us], then experience exists, and it is only through experience that we know anything at all.  Such a structure would look like this:

1) cognition:        thoughts, ideas, cogitations, under-
                               standings, etc.

2) affect:               feelings, emotions, moods, etc.

3) behvavior:       body in motion:  internal - aspects of
                                physiology; external- comportment

4) sensation:        seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling

5) environment:  physical world

"I":                          ownership

When we own our own cognitions, affects, behaviors, sensations and environments, then we participate in experience.  And it is experience that determines our reality.  Beyond the experiences within which we participate we cannot go. 

 

As existential phenomenologists argue, we are beings-in-the-world.  Our connection to our environment is inextricable.  We are not beings separate from the world, as empirical science assumes, but beings necessarily attached to the world.  This notion is reflected in experientialism's inclusion of an environmental component in consciousness and experience. 

 

Paradoxically, this philosophy aligns in some important ways with recent developments in the sciences, especially that of neuroscience.  The compartmentalization of the brain into cognitive, affective, behavioral and sensual areas and their interdependence reflects the holistic quality of experientialism.  The important difference is science's tendency to separate mind and body, even when "mind" is equal to brain activity; whereas experientialism argues for inextricable connexity between mind and body.

 

For more on this subject, refer to my publications.

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