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  • Writer's pictureAmir Freimann

Description of vs thoughts about experience

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

Recently I had conversations with a few friends about my interest in exploring people's "background experience": those elements of our experience that are constant and ever-present. And I realized how untrained we are in distinguishing between our direct, immediate experience and our thoughts and comments about, and conceptualizations and explanations of our experience. So it seems to me that first I'd have to try and clarify that distinction.

I'll give an example of the difference between describing our experience and commenting about it.

How would you answer the question: What is your experience of your left foot right now?

Statements relating directly to the experience can be, for example: It's tickling. Slightly warm. Full of life. Something in it is moving. It feels as if it's expanding. There is pressure from inside the foot outwards. I can sense where it ends but not where it begins. It's more relaxed than my right foot. Paying attention to it is having a relaxing effect on me. An image of dunes comes up. I sense there is a dialogue between us.

Statements not relating directly to the experience can be, for example: It's at the end of my left leg. It's quite large and pale. I experience it through receptors in the skin and the muscles, which send impulses to my brain. My experience of it is related to the past, like that time when I stepped on a nail and had to get a tetanus shot.

Do you see the difference between statements of the first and the second type?

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