What is understanding and what is experiencing?

Les Voyageurs statues by Bruno Catalano

The figure above confirmed my idea that there is some mechanism in our human psyche that must limit and modify our sensory perceptions so that they can be handled with very simple and idiot-proof tools. These idiot-proof instruments, like cognition, create a conceptually-focused world of classes and types that we call human reality.

It is an obvious forgery, but it is still difficult for us to see what is wrong.

I don’t think our senses are lying, but our minds do. Our minds can also be said to supplement or broaden the observations. Our tendency to supplement observations is often defined as the merit of our intelligence. Because of our intelligence, we only perceive wholes, changes, and differences, because intelligence does not deal with individual and unique things. Instead of individual things, we only see species, classes, types, races, peoples, tribes, trends, lines, formulas, series, patterns, shapes, variations, etc. The intellect does not understand individual things, but places them as “variables” in many different categories. Things that have no class, type, etc., are intellectually irrelevant. Similarly, variables are irrelevant without their equations. This is not a particularly positive thing. This way life becomes dry and theoretical.

So how does intelligence work? Understanding is the basic function of the intellect. By comparing, our intelligence creates understanding through categories and types and the changes and differences between them. What cannot be compared cannot be understood. Because individual things cannot be compared, neither can the intellect create an understanding of individual things. However, sensing an individual thing is the ultimate basis of all meaningfulness. We call sensing an individual thing an experience. Understanding and experiencing are practically mutually exclusive phenomena.

Admittedly, we claim to experience things, but hardly that happens. Experiencing is not just about being at the scene. As long as a person tries to understand his observations, he will not be able to experience them. And when he experiences, he is unable to use his understanding. These are incompatible phenomena. This can be seen e.g. in the context of psychedelics when experiences cannot be verbalised.

This is the nature of experience: experience is always the perception of uniqueness. For the same reason, it is the absence of intellect and understanding and the abandonment of all classification and typing. The reason why we can’t experience the beauty of the rose or the intensity of the now-moment is precisely because we can’t give up our attempts to understand what we sense. Even if we look at the rose, we don’t see it. Although we listen to the wind in the meadow, we do not hear it. We only understand uniqueness in retrospect, never when it is present.

Published by Jukka

Freelance writer and philosopher of irrational

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