Understanding that is gained through Experience
Knowledge is the understanding that is gained through our experiences
- Premise 1: If experience is our contact & observation of events
- Premise 2: And if we are able to recount, describe or make sense of our experience
- Premise 3: And if we are able to apply connections from our past experiences to our new experiences
- Then knowledge is the understanding that is gained through our experiences.
Everyone’s perception of knowledge varies yet are somewhat similar in a sense. My proposition suggests that knowledge is the balance between Empiricism and Rationalism, where the idea of “experiences” contrasts the “understanding.” Various philosophers contributed to the different parts of my syllogism, each building on or debating against other’s beliefs.
Premise 1: If experience is our contact & observation of events
Experience definition: Experience consists of knowledge of or skill of something/event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing/event.
With this definition in mind, it can be considered that experience is only possible through our interactions with situations we find ourselves in.
According to Kant, experience is empirical knowledge. Empirical knowledge is knowledge that is gained through our senses: observation and experimentation.
Human understanding is the source of the general laws of nature that structure all our experience (x)
He believed that all of our knowledge begins with our senses which leads to our understanding of it and results in our reasoning. Our contact and observation of events is the very “senses” that Kant believes in.
Through experiencing events, we take note of what we experience(with a lack of a better word). Different types of experiences may cause us to take different things from it, however it all results in the observation of the event. Observation would entail that you have gained some sort of information, either new or conformational.
Premise 2: And if we are able to recount, describe or make sense of our experience
By being able to recount our experience, it means that the experience has stuck with you. It is not necessary for you to understand what has occurred, but your ability to talk about the event means that you have processed it. By being able to describe what you have experienced, it entails that you are one step further than recounting, as you are able to go into more detail.
By describing something, you understand the basis of the the situation and know what has occurred. Similar to being able to describe your experience, by being able to make sense of it, brings you another level further. Being able to make sense of something implies your further understanding of the subject, not only knowing what has happened, but why it has happened as well.
William James recognized the distinction between reasoning and understanding (that Ralph Waldo Emerson and Samuel Taylor Coleridge proposed(xx)), but he felt that understanding was ultimately a special case of experiencing. William James’ proposition is more related to my syllogism where through understanding, you having an experience of understanding.
Premise 3: And if we are able to apply connections from our past experiences to our new experiences
Connecting past experiences to new experiences allows us to expand what we know based on our previous knowledge. Only by having previous ideas from the events we’ve seen, we can build upon them and expand on that idea. David Hume is a philosopher whose ideas contrast Kant’s beliefs that I covered in my first premise. They had contrasting ideas on the “Necessary Connection” that Hume has proposed(a website covers their contrasting points).
“that instances of which we have had no experience, must resemble those of which we have had experience, and that the course of nature continues always uniformly the same.”
Hume’s belief is the middle premise that links the two ideas together. While his ideas contrast the idea of experience, I believe that the connection of the ideas(rationalism) are useful for the experiences(empiricism) that we go through.
If experience is our contact & observation of events
And if we are able to recount, describe or make sense of our experience
And if we are able to apply connections from our past experiences to our new experiences
Knowledge is a complicated topic where the definition of knowledge can vary depending on the person who describes it. I believe that knowledge is only formed through what we gain from the different experiences we encounter. Through the new experiences, we build on our previous experiences, and that results in new knowledge or the expansion of what we previously knew.
In other words, I believe that knowledge is the understanding that is gained through our experiences.