What Do We Mean by “To Experience”?


Considering the fact that we are consistently experiencing movements or changes of condition from time to time, it is perhaps worthwhile for us to spend some time discussing what we mean by “to experience” here. A sure and easy way to get a clearer explanation about the meaning of the word is, of course, by looking it up in a dictionary. In the Random House Webster’s dictionary, for instance, experience as a verb, is defined as to live through or undergo. The Collins Concise Dictionary Plus defines it as to be moved by or feel, and the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines it as to feel. In fact, there are as many definitions of the word as there are people who think about it.


But let’s now examine the limitations of the existing definitions. “To experience” in general involves two things: the condition of our external environment and that of our bodies. Because we have the five senses, we are certainly able to receive the various external stimuli, which are then instantly passed on to the brain so that we become aware of the presence of something coming from outside of our bodies. The phrase “to experience” is generally associated with our senses, particularly our sense of sight. As it turns out, not all external matter is felt by our senses. There are things that we are just unable to monitor, such as the electromagnetic waves, certain kinds of rays, magnetic fields, and certain pitches of sounds, etc. Apart from these, the failure to feel the presence of external matter can also be attributed to certain functional disorders or abnormalities of the receiving end. Now, what if our bodies receive external stimuli in a manner as described above: Could we still say that we have actually been experiencing something, even if we do not feel it? Are we entitled to say that we had just experienced an operation, despite the fact that we did not feel it because we were then anesthetized? What about those lepers, whose affected parts of their bodies are just unable to feel anything at all, because their nerves have become dysfunctional? Now, what if we are unable to recall certain memories stored in our brains due to amnesia or other causes? Are we justified in saying that we have never experienced such and such a thing? So blurry is the meaning of “to experience” that to establish an accurate definition of the phrase could be a really demanding job.


The phrase “to experience” in this article denotes a state wherein our bodies come into contact with anything external to our bodies; or a state wherein we are dealing with issues that occur within our bodies themselves; or a state wherein we are dealing with issues from within our brains, regardless of whether we feel it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, and whether we are able to recall it or not.


Let’s now see how this word “to experience” relates to the anomalies described below.