Note: Below is a chapter-extract from part-2 of his Book,' Is Reason a sense organ? A super-mind above the known Mind?'(Amazon.com)Pages 34-37
How does man make 'sense' of his experiences?
This study wishes to look again at the classic concepts of 'sense experience', in order to have better clarity. The broad definition of 'experience' was meant for the knowledge that the mind gathers through the medium of external senses. Immanuel Kant, the most reputed of the modern day philosophers had undertaken the most elaborate study on such subjects. He says, 'pure knowledge' could be only that which the faculty of Reason gathers by itself 'a priori', that is, without the aid of the sensory experience.
This study wishes to abandon these two basic assumptions altogether, as Reason has every 'reason' to be believed as a SENSE ORGAN, similar to our external sense organs. (A detailed study has been offered in one of the following paragraphs, as well as in the previous section of this book). The category it senses is the inherent ORDER and CONSISTENCY in existence, the way the tongue senses the category of taste, the ear that of sound, and the skin that of touch inherent in the phenomenal realm.
This study wishes to also understand EXPERIENCE, however, a bit differently. It would like to relate experience as a term that the layman can understand, i.e. like what he would mean by 'experiencing' love, anger or depression. When his eye encounters a piece of rock, the ear hears thunder or tongue tastes an apple, it need not be classified in the general category of EXPERIENCE.
Sense organs are like openings without doors. It remains open towards the world always, involuntarily. Only sleep, which again visits man involuntarily, keeps the doors of the senses shut. It is the man's mind, an organ that works on its own laws which decides what sensory input is relevant to the unit man, and what is not. The mind digests these inputs, like one’s digestive organs, digest food.
This study wishes to classify only one's emotional encounters as a real 'EXPERIENCE'. Here, the concept of EXPERIENCE BUDS is introduced.
A rose or a piece of rock need not be classified as ‘an experience', but only a passing phenomenon for the mind, in its central course of experiencing life's emotions. Life is more or less a journey for experiencing such emotions, and such objects of the senses have a mere supporting role as accessories for achieving the main purpose.
Such emotions have its ‘experience buds’ (like the taste buds on the tongue) pre-fixed in the mind, so that man could make ‘sense’ out of such experiences, upon encountering them.
Unlike this, his usual sense inputs do not have any such pre-set experience buds hence man has to understand it in his own subjective way. Phenomena consist of this subjective realm. It is a stand-alone, synthetic realm where only the meanings and concepts that man have provided rules. Every age, thus, has its own concept and meaning of life. But, emotions, it seems, stays outside the phenomenon realm, because they do not pass through the external senses.
For example, when someone encounters his first love in life, he would not have been able to make sense of this wonderful experience unless he had a pre-set experience BUD somewhere hidden in his system, to support the relishing of this emotion. There is no chance that he had acquired the knowledge of this experience through his senses, during his lifetime. Unlike a piece of rock or a tree, man need not toil to give subjective meaning to this emotional ‘object’ of the inner sense organ. Such experiences have pre-built experience buds, to make sense of it. It is more or less universal, as every man, and even animals make sense of such emotional inputs naturally.
Similarly, when someone experiences an attack on his self-respect, and self-hood, from a fellow being, or from the collective institutions such as a State, the rage that develops within him is definitely due to a pre-set experience bud. This emotion of self-protection and anger comes naturally to every human being, and even for members of the animal kingdom. We can not produce any evidence to prove that these are products of sense experience.
When closely observed, it appears that the human mind makes sense of such EXPERIENCES the way the tongue makes sense of the different tastes, by its inbuilt taste-bud mechanism as mentioned above. Like the human tongue, which cannot experience a taste outside the range of its buds, we should infer that the mind also would not be able to make sense out of ‘an experience' that has no support of the 'experience bud'.
More on EXPERIENCE BUDS: the craving of the EXPERIENCE BUDS for satiation
It is not that each and every experience has the support of independent pre-set BUDS in the mind, but it seems that these buds are designed in such a way that various sub-experiences of a main category of experience, collectively cater to one main category.
For example, when a man is making love, he is not experiencing the sum total of all his various sense inputs of touch, taste, smell etc., but wholesomely relishing the main category of the experience, i.e. ‘Love’. Such 'experience' buds look similar to the color buds in the brain, various shades of Green, or perhaps Red, go to the same location, to make sense of the main color Green, or Red.
Each experience bud it seems constantly craves for its fulfillment too. Freud's notion of ‘Id’ attains relevance here. He mentioned ‘Id’ as a seat of various inborn cravings. Cravings such as REVENGE, or DEPRESSION, it appears to develop as a result of the bruised, or the chronically dissatisfied original cravings. These appear like negative energies, which could be neutralized, or extinguished in most of the cases when some form of satiation is achieved.
The philosophic relevance of this proposition of pre-designed EXPERIENCE BUDS.
Our new study on the pre-designed experience buds could throw new questions on the great philosophic debate over how much of man's knowledge is ' a priori' (prior to experience) and how much is 'a posterior-i' (after experience). When a seeker finds sense in the above proposition of pre-set experience buds, he will naturally have to accept that there isn't much left to be classified as a posterior-i in man's experience realm, except his realm for synthetic objects of the external senses, such as a piece of rock, or a flower, or a dog. Such routine objects of the external senses enter the realm of the mind by the principle of 'association' and remain in memory in a subjective pictorial representation, or in WORD form when the unit man learns a language.
When our sciences attempt to know only the 'objects' in the world, for their stand-alone reality as PHENOMENA, or in the 'in itself' mode, great philosophic dilemmas arise, as to how far the faculties of our mind, including Reason, could succeed in doing the job. Hence this study has been done to seek more acceptable answers.
Coming back to the experience buds, for a newborn baby, the sensory experience of the nipple of his mother's breast in his mouth, and the sight of the breast may be OBJECTS that he encounters for the first time, but the emotions (sense of safety, and warmth of motherly love etc.) associated with birth were in his system 'a priori'. For a lover, the sight of the well-carved breast of his lady love sends tremors through the spine, and the sight kindles the pre-designed emotions in him. The object - breast - is the same for the newborn baby as well as for the lover, but it arouses different emotions in the two subjects. Similarly, a mother deer is two different objects, one for her calf, and the other for the predator, say a Lion, therefore the emotions attached to the same object is different for the two different subjects.
We should safely assume that, in the mind of a human male, the images of a female’s breast and her other beautifully carved body parts had been vaguely implanted in his system by nature, hence the eternal appetite he has, to watch these objects, and the arousal that follows it. Likewise, the images of the prey's (for example, that of a deer, in the minds of Lions) appetite arousing forms and shapes must have been implanted in the minds of the predator, to make sense of such sights, to arouse a necessary passion, and to compel him to go for the kill.
The routine objects of the external sense organs have very little to do with man's 'emotional experiences, except in its role probably as mere instruments, or 'stimuli' in having emotional experiences. They collectively form materials for the sense world, which he associates his 'self' with.
Man’s EGO is the first and foremost item that emerges from PHENOMENA. Or we can say the emergence of the EGO was the sole purpose behind the scheming of PHENOMENA by nature. It emerges first of all 'as the owner of the experiences he encounters', and as ‘an object among other routine objects around him'. This idea is explained in more detail in one of the foregoing parts of this study.
Life, after all, looks like a saga of man's experiencing a series of EMOTIONS during his lifespan. It has very less to do with the innumerable physical objects he comes across in carrying out the life-process. It serves the purpose of only a stage or a canvas for the main theme to be enacted.
Author: Abraham J. Palakudy
He is a seeker and researcher into subjects like General philosophy, Metaphysics, MInd, and Reason, Spirituality and polity
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