The aesthetic in experience: Problems, possibility, process
The notion "Experience" presents itself as a frequently used and ubiquitous term. Therefore, as often as not, its true conceptual significance and its precise weight of meaning usually remain hidden or ambiguous. The ubiquity, ancient and modern, still renders the notion somewhat unclear, whether as a reference of language or of ontology. This inquiry, seeking to add an increment of clarity to the use of the notion: endeavours to address the "Question of Experience" through a consideration of "Select Problems" of experience-theory, and works towards an understanding of the concept and its reality by way of an expose of the "aesthetic character" of experience. First, it overviews some philosophical approaches which centralize the elucidation of the Experience Question and examines the notion's tradition of use in the writings of some representative thinkers. Second, by way of Descartes and Locke, it explores the opposition in the perspectives of use inherent to the Rationalist and Empiricist traditions. Third, the "Main Problematic" is given preliminary rendering and amplification through a discussion of some relevant Humean Doctrines, which serve to focus the "Special Problems" of modern experience-theory. Further, these problems, irresolvable in the questionable and logically argumentative context of a naive Empiricism, are shown to be received and rehashed by Ayer and the Late Modern Empiricists and Positivists, but without resolution or the achievement of an inclusive and comprehensive Theory of Experience. Here, the inquiry stages itself towards a synthesis of views, and reviews the impasse inherent to the tradition of (merely) empirical experience theories. This is effected in part by the discussion of Kant's critique of Descartes' "Cogito Principle" and Kant's statement of his own "Principle of Experiential Reference." Further, it presents Kant's theory that "A Priori Judgements" are native to essential experience formation and indispensable to any understanding of the experience notion and reality itself. Taking a "pragmatic turn," it addresses the contribution of the American Pragmatists to the revolt against the logicism, abstractions and strictures of the tradition, and goes on to contour their insights into a view of experience, at once connected and concrete and driven by real internal relations and a sense of experienceable valuations. The final reaches of the inquiry, by restating the Main Problematic for aesthetic and constitutive resolution, presents a view of "Experience" as "Process": first, by the development of a "Schematic and Synthetic Analysis"; second, by the development of an "Interpretive Focus." The former presents and discusses some primary elements of Whitehead's Process Ontology and draws these into the semblance of a "Genetic Model" of experience. The latter demonstrates the fact of the "archaeo-aesthetic character" of experience as the real constitution of experiential becoming, and extends the development of this concept in relation to insights of Aristotle, Kant and Jung.