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Experiential knowledge is knowledge gained through experience, as opposed to a priori (before experience) knowledge: it can also be contrasted both with propositional (textbook) knowledge, and with practical knowledge.[1]

Experiential knowledge is cognate to Michael Polanyi's personal knowledge, as well as to Bertrand Russell's contrast of Knowledge by Acquaintance and by Description.[2]

A priori[edit]

In the philosophy of mind, the phrase often refers to knowledge that can only be acquired through experience, such as, for example, the knowledge of what it is like to see colours, which could not be explained to someone born blind: the necessity of experiential knowledge becomes clear if one was asked to explain to a blind person a color like blue.

The question of a priori knowledge might be formulated as: can Adam or Eve know what water feels like on their skin prior to touching it for the first time[citation needed]?

Religion[edit]

Zen emphasises the importance of the experiential element in religious experience,[3] as opposed to what it sees as the trap of conceptualization:[4] as D. T. Suzuki put it, “fire. Mere talking of it will not make the mouth burn”.[5]

Experiential knowledge has also been used in the philosophy of religion as an argument against God's omniscience, questioning whether God could genuinely know everything, since he (supposedly) cannot know what it is like to sin.[6] On the other hand, that God is omniscient squarely lays the foundation of experiential knowledge, lies at its roots and acts as the cornerstone of its theory: In the beginning. It would be impossible for God to relate to a mortal human being with only finite knowledge and capabilities to understand the concept of being God and being omniscient. Therefore, it could be argued that it is the epitome of experiential knowledge.

Ecology[edit]

Writer Barry Lopez writes about experiential knowledge and how it relates back to the environment,[7] arguing that without experiencing nature, one cannot fully "know" and understand the relationships within ecosystems.

Therapy[edit]

Carl Rogers stressed the importance of experiential knowledge both for the therapist formulating his or her theories, and for the client in therapy[8] - both things with which most counsellors would agree.[9]

As defined by Dr. Thomasina Borkman (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, George Mason University) experiential knowledge is the cornerstone of therapy in self-help groups,[10] as opposed to both lay (general) and professional knowledge. Sharing in such groups is the narration of significant life experiences in a process through which the knowledge derived thereof is validated by the group and transformed into a corpus that becomes their fundamental resource and product.

Neville Symington has argued that one of the central features of the narcissist is a shying away from experiential knowledge, in favour of adopting wholesale a ready-made way of living drawn from other people's experience.[11]

Culture[edit]

Helen Vendler has characterised Seamus Heaney's art as, in one respect, recording an experiential learning curve: “we are earthworms of the earth, and all that / has gone through us is what will be our trace”.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Philip Burnard, Counselling Skills for Health Professionals (2005) p. 64
  2. ^ Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (1954) Ch. 5
  3. ^ Dadid K. Reynolds, The Quiet Therapies (1982) p. 95
  4. ^ C. Cheng-Chi, The Practice of Zen (1951) p. 71
  5. ^ Quoted in Reynolds, p. 95
  6. ^ experiential knowledge
  7. ^ Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams (1999)
  8. ^ Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person (1961) p. 184 and p. 103
  9. ^ Burnard, p. 64-5 and p. 78
  10. ^ K. Humphries, Circles of Recovery (2003) p. 15
  11. ^ N. Symington, Narcissism (1993) p. 88
  12. ^ Heaney, quoted in H. Bloom ed., Seamus Heaney (1986) p. 174

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experiential_knowledge — Please support Wikipedia.
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Monthly Review

Monthly Review
Fri, 17 Apr 2015 12:41:15 -0700

His clarity of thought and experiential knowledge of post-reform China made the discussion very distinct. To me and many others, Robert's involvement in political struggles, commitment to justice through active praxis, and courage to take positions in ...

CU Columbia Spectator

CU Columbia Spectator
Thu, 16 Apr 2015 02:50:01 -0700

Heard y'all students got a couple rascals over there, Ben Makansi and Viv Ramakrishnan, who recently won your Columbia College Student Council executive board election by running a satirical campaign. Well, we've got a bit of experiential knowledge and ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Wed, 15 Apr 2015 13:08:12 -0700

SOCARTES teaches at-risk individuals about business, life, and soft skills. My organization provides me with opportunities to share my experiential knowledge used to overcome my educational challenges --- along with my extensive professional experience ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Mon, 13 Apr 2015 05:00:00 -0700

"Ex Machina" asks us if experiential knowledge is essential to consciousness and it seems to answer yes: you need to have a body in order to be human. The central question Nathan is tasked with answering -- can a machine exhibit the intelligence ...

RiverBender.com

RiverBender.com
Tue, 14 Apr 2015 12:18:45 -0700

We often see gardeners take advantage of the experiential knowledge of fellow gardeners to produce a significant amount of food for their household,” said Chris Patton, lead gardener for the Community Cultivators. Benefits of community gardens go ...

Hanford Sentinel

Hanford Sentinel
Sat, 11 Apr 2015 06:07:30 -0700

We all tend to find comfort in our own experiential knowledge but growing up means we must consider things beyond our limited vantage point. This is the realm of faith. All facts of history are passed on to us and require this ingredient. Faith is not ...
 
MIX
Thu, 09 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0700

“We've always considered ourselves partners and educators as much as service professionals, and this is a fantastic opportunity for us to share the experiential knowledge that's made the 'Evergroove sound' a unique voice in the modern recording industry.”.
 
Deccan Herald
Sun, 12 Apr 2015 18:52:30 -0700

Surely, we have met them – those who do not believe in God. They are usually good people who rely on themselves and contribute to society. I also had gaps in my life that were so dark I lost faith in God as I understood Him. I remember railing: If ...
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