Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ownership of Experience

Can I say, "the climb was mine," or, at least, "the climb experience was mine"?  To answer this question we need to define the terms "experience" and "I."  In the pragmatist tradition, the self is defined as the sort of conversation between "I" and "me."  (Sometimes viewed as "inner theater")  That is, there is always an agential part "I" who is the author of consciousness.  On the other hand, there is a passive party, who is rather an hidden owner of "emotion," or the deaf body.  

The question to the pragmatic tradition is: Can we assert the ownership of "me" to the self?  

Heidegger once wrote: "It is not I or you who feel uncanny ... it is rather 'someone'".  The phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty points out, in his posthumous manuscript (The Visible and the Invisible), the unknown owner who feel uncanny is to be unknown since his identity is prior to consciousness/object dichotomy.

Let me put this into the working definition of experience. An instance of experience in its initial form derives its ownership rather to the unknown, someone who are not an object of "I".  Philosopher Karen Barad's argument would be appropriate here in order to progress our inquiry into the "ownership" of experience.  She argues that there is no boundary between you and me, this and that, one and the other, only if the identifier does not identify each. Initially they ARE one.

What can be called "my climb on Mt. Everest" is, therefore, not exactly mine.  Whenever it become endowed meaning in social life the ownership, if there is, elongates itself to the mind of all the signifiers.  All the people around the mountaineering signify the mountaineering, identifying oneself to the agent of the object.  If we have no capacity to identify oneself to another the mind cannot work since it would fall into agnosticism, for example.  

This may be heard a weird philosophy.  But my poor intention was to recognize that we the people in a certain intellectual tradition have assumed the author of consciousness as the owner of the unknown (by definition) "me" and the world.

People welcome the climbers at the airport

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