• darthbarracuda
    1.8k
    This is a follow-up thread on the one about suffering being all we ever experience (basically, "pleasure" is merely a lesser-amount of pain which we grow accustomed to experiencing and see as "good"), which I personally am highly skeptical of.

    I found the underlying notion to be that we can be mistaken about what we experience; what I see to be a great feeling is apparently actually just another negative experience. In other words, is it possible for our beliefs about our experiences to be different from the experience itself?

    This obviously has connections to the oft-quoted "illusory" nature of x. When people say something is an "illusion" in this way, they mean that it somehow doesn't exist despite how much we believe it to.

    But can experience itself be illusory? What would that even entail? Is it seriously even possible to believe that the experience of the color of the apple is red but really be experiencing the color green? Can it really be possible to think something as pleasurable but in reality be suffering incredibly? (Let's not forget about the fact that doubting one is having a pleasurable experience immediately makes the pleasurable experience cease being truly pleasurable...)

    I don't see how this is possible. How could it be that belief in experience is separate from the experience itself? Is it not the case that to experience x means to believe that one is experiencing x?, i.e. one cannot experience something without believing they are experiencing something?

    At first glance, it may seem as though no experience can possibly be doubted. And, true, I would say it is uncontentious that the belief that one is experiencing something, the belief that one has any sort of experience, cannot be false.

    Then there's the example of the color of an apple. I believe I see the apple to be red, but what if I actually see it to be green? This is an example of an experience that I suspect could never be doubted, but for whatever reason I'm not sure.

    But there are some experiences that also seem to be capable of being doubted or mistaken. Say I have never felt love before, and suddenly fall head-over-heels for a woman down the street. How am I to understand what I am feeling? Perhaps I go to another person, whom I trust as an authority, and learn that this experience is called "love" and that it is a very powerful and good feeling. There is an example of a new experience causing confusion.

    What about ambiguous experiences? Like when you taste something new, or listen to a strange song. You're not sure if you like it or hate it. Can it be said that you already liked or hated it before you consciously understood that you liked or hated it? Does this even make sense?

    What about cases in which people don't realize they are suffering until they get out of their habitual behavior, such as the case with addiction? What is going on here that allows a person to "suffer" but not realize that they are "suffering" until after the fact?
  • TheMadFool
    353
    Yes, we can be mistaken about our experiences. Isn't this fact the basis of philosophy?

    Also, what of masochists and sadists? A warped view of the pain-pleasure complex?
  • Bitter Crank
    2.1k
    Yes, we can be mistaken about our experiences. Isn't this fact the basis of philosophy?TheMadFool

    Exactly.



    You can dither over the question of whether the apple is actually red or green till the cows come home, but such dithering yields little of value--UNLESS you are getting feedback that other members of your species are perceiving the apples much differently than you are. If three apples are said to be yellow, red, and green respectively, and you can't tell the difference, then you have a problem that's worth thinking about.

    What about cases in which people don't realize they are suffering until they get out of their habitual behavior, such as the case with addiction? What is going on here that allows a person to "suffer" but not realize that they are "suffering" until after the fact?darthbarracuda

    One of our problems is that we can not externalize our self-perceptions and see ourselves as other people see us. We can become quite unraveled, and if it happens gradually, we may not understand that we have become dis-arranged. We may be suffering and know it, but we can't see the cause within our complexly confused self-picture.

    It is quite possible for our dis-arranged confused self to be eventually be taken (by us) as normal. If we do not receive some kind of acceptable objective feedback, or if life doesn't change for us we may never catch on to how messed up we are -- we will just keep suffering and suppose that it is because there is something wrong with the world.

    As a counselor, I could give objective feedback to other people (about their conditions) without seeing how dysfunctional I was becoming. It was a huge discovery, once I quit working and could "re-ravel" myself back together, that I had been in quite a bit less than optimal shape for a long time.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    What you can't be mistaken about is (1) your present phenomenal experience as your present phenomenal experience, and (2) your present evaluations/assessments as your present evaluations/assessments.
  • andrewk
    362
    I don't think we can be mistaken about our current experiences, but we can be mistaken about past ones. That is, we can believe we had a past experience that we never actually had. 'Recovered Memory' is the famous example of that. 'Last Tuesdayism' is another (more far-fetched) example - where we recall experiencing last Monday, but actually our memories of that were implanted when the world was created on Tuesday.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    1.2k
    What you can't be mistaken about is (1) your present phenomenal experience as your present phenomenal experience, and (2) your present evaluations/assessments as your present evaluations/assessments.Terrapin Station

    What do you man by "present" here?

    I don't think we can be mistaken about our current experiences, but we can be mistaken about past ones.andrewk

    Every experience, by the time it has occurred, is in the past. This, along with your statement as a premise, produces the logical conclusion that we can be mistaken about all experiences.
  • Moliere
    637
    I would maintain there is a distinction between beliefs and experiences. We are mistaken when we believe false statements. So if we believe a false statement which is about our own experiences then we would be mistaken about our own experiences.

    That doesn't answer the question, but I think the answer to your question would be found in the relationship between belief and experience. And, as you note, there are types of experiences which seem more liable to be mistake-prone, and types of experiences which aren't. So perhaps it's not even the relationship between belief and experiences, but belief and types of experiences.
  • jamalrob
    1k
    I think you experience your experiences, and we can distinguish these: memory and first-hand. Memory is part of experience, but the transient experience of seeing a strange shape can be recalled--and become part of the fabric of one's experience--as that time I saw a ghost.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    What do you man by "present" here?Metaphysician Undercover

    Not past or future relative to a frame of reference.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    1.2k
    As far as I understand, time is included within a frame of reference, so there is no such thing as neither past nor future relative to a frame of reference, that would require an non-temporal frame of reference.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    As far as I understand, time is included within a frame of reference, so there is no such thing as neither past nor future relative to a frame of reference, that would require an non-temporal frame of reference.Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm not endorsing a particular view of physics. I'm giving you MY view. In MY view, time IS included in a frame of reference. it's the changes/motion that's occurring in the frame of reference rather than the changes/motion that occurred but are no longer occurring, or the changes/motions that will occur but haven't occurred yet,
  • aletheist
    480
    What you can't be mistaken about is (1) your present phenomenal experience as your present phenomenal experience, and (2) your present evaluations/assessments as your present evaluations/assessments.Terrapin Station

    If what you mean is that we cannot help but perceive whatever we perceive, and then (initially) judge it to be whatever we judge it to be, then I am inclined to agree. In this sense, we cannot be mistaken about a percept itself (say, a green chair) or the corresponding perceptual judgment ("I am perceiving a green chair"). However, we can be mistaken in all of our subsequent reasonings about them (I am convinced that I really saw a green chair, but I was actually hallucinating).
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    However, we can be mistaken in all of our subsequent reasonings about them (I am convinced that I really saw a green chair, but I was actually hallucinating).aletheist

    That latter part would be about how the phenomenal experience hooks up with something that's not the phenomenal experience (specifically, how does the phenomenal experience relate to what caused it or to things in the external world?), which is different than the phenomenal experience as the phenomenal experience.
  • aletheist
    480


    Agreed, I just wanted to clarify that distinction.
  • Rich
    266
    I would say that our experiences are our own and are subject to change as is all memory. There could of course be disagreements with others which can change the nature of an experience. Everything is constantly evolving and in flux. Nothing can be said to be concrete.
  • Real Gone Cat
    86
    What you can't be mistaken about is (1) your present phenomenal experience as your present phenomenal experience, and (2) your present evaluations/assessments as your present evaluations/assessments.Terrapin Station

    I don't think we can be mistaken about our current experiences, but we can be mistaken about past ones.andrewk

    Reply :

    Every experience, by the time it has occurred, is in the past. This, along with your statement as a premise, produces the logical conclusion that we can be mistaken about all experiences.Metaphysician Undercover

    The problem that MU has identified re past and present can be stated another way : All knowledge is narrative. We have no direct access to present phenomenal experience. Our only knowledge of this experience is what we know of it from narrative. When we consider "present" phenomena, we are in fact telling ourselves a story. "Oh look, a tree."
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    I know I had this discussion with Metaphysician Undercover before--maybe in the old place. At any rate, so MU and Real Gone Cat, are you claiming that your awareness is in the past? Are you saying, "Oh look-a tree" in the past?
  • Real Gone Cat
    86


    No, the narrative ("Oh look, a tree.") may be in the present, but knowledge of the experience we believe we are presently having cannot be direct, and so the experience must be in the past. We must first place the experience (if it actually occurs) into narrative to be aware of it.

    EDIT : I see this level of skepticism as a logical conclusion of anti-realism. Not only must we doubt that qualia give us information about some outside world, we must also doubt that even the qualia exist! All we can really be sure of is narrative.

    Perhaps reality is nothing more than the scrolling of a novel that we tell ourselves.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    No, the narrative ("Oh look, a tree.") may be in the present,Real Gone Cat

    Okay, but that's what I'm talking about--the present mental content, whatever it is.
  • Real Gone Cat
    86


    But doesn't this argument suggest that experience may be doubted? Narrative-of-a-supposed-experience (which may be in the present) is not the same as the experience itself.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    But doesn't this argument suggest that experience may be doubted?Real Gone Cat

    How? What I'm talking about, that present mental content, whatever it is, is the phenomenal experience I'm talking about.
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