experience

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

experience

experience, living through events and the impression on a person or animal of events. In epistemology, a distinction is made between things known inductively, from experience, and those known deductively or theoretically, from a priori principles. The ancients, under the influence of Plato and of Euclidean geometry, tended to prize deductive or theoretical knowledge above that gained through experience. Their influence was dominant through the Renaissance. With the rise of modern empirical science the preference was reversed. Immanuel Kant's critical epistemology, however, emphasized the dependence of all experience on the mediation of the intelligence. Modern thought has tended to agree with Kant; accordingly, discussion has centered on what, if anything, can be said to be immediately experience, and how this experience may be conditioned by social factors affecting the social milieu or by perceptual processes themselves.

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