‘Experience’, ordinary and philosophical: A corpus study

Justin Sytsma, Eugen Fischer

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Abstract

Common arguments for realism about phenomenal consciousness contend that this is a folk concept, with proponents expecting it to be lexicalised in ordinary language. In English, the word ‘experience’ is typically regarded as the best candidate. This predicts that ‘experience’ will be used to refer to mental states and episodes, not only in philosophical but also in ordinary discourse. We conduct a corpus study in order to assess this claim and to understand the actual use of the word in non-academic, academic, and philosophical discourse. In non-academic discourse, uses that refer to knowledge or sources of knowledge, and to public events, are found to dominate. Uses that refer to mental states or episodes dominate only in the philosophy of mind (and not even in philosophy at large).
Original languageEnglish
Article number210
JournalSynthese
Volume201
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • Corpus analysis
  • Experience
  • Folk concept of consciousness
  • Ordinary language philosophy
  • Phenomenal consciousness

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