So, there we were, yesterday, in the car, wantonly burning the last few remaining litres of the earth's fossil fuel, on our way back from viewing a collection of fossils in Bathurst, discussing life, the universe, and everything, when there was a sudden and unexplained outbreak of the truth, or, at least, what appeared to be, at first glance, something vaguely resembling a thing which was once mooted to have been mistaken for the truth by a person subsequently dismissed as a patently unreliable witness...
The "objectionable" comment: Something along the lines of "it is through our experiences that we acquire our knowledge".
My objection: "This is utter crap." (As you can see, the discussion quickly got off to a brilliant start.)
Let me explain, dear reader...
But first "let's define our terms" as all good philosophers would caution us to do...
Experience: Our individual experience of an event in our lives. i.e. There is an event, and then there is our experience of that event. e.g. The event: Door unexpectedly and loudly slams shut in pitch black room. My experience of the event: I have an anxiety attack, defecate and urinate into my pants, and collapse into a quivering huddle in the corner of the room, believing I am about to be shot, frantically groping around for a non-existent rifle with which to "protect" myself.
Knowledge: That which is known. That which is knowable. (See the verb "to know".)
Know: (v.) That which can be scientifically or logically demonstrated to be true or factual.
Belief: That which is held to be true or factual, but for which no satisfactory scientific or logical explanation is offered.
*** IMPORTANT: Note the distinction between believing and knowing. ***
As we can see from the above example, our experience of an event often has little to do with the event at all, but has a lot more to do with the psychological and historical framework within which we "perceive" that event.
It is along this line that I extrapolated that our experiences often have a lot more to do with our beliefs than our knowledge, and that our experience often serves to reinforce our beliefs rather than advance our knowledge.
Gary Zukav puts it very well in The Dancing Wu Li Masters:
"Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends upon what we think. What we think depends upon what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. what we take to be true is our reality.
I call this "Zukav's Truth Loop"
To wrap it up: What I know (now) is that the door slammed shut. What I experienced (back then) was a very individual mind-movie which I mistook for "reality" and which utterly obliterated my erstwhile ability to know what was actually happening.
Do you understand now why I say that our experiences do not inform our knowledge, but rather, that they are the products of our beliefs. A handy little corollary here is that if we change our beliefs (or better still, obtain some real knowledge), our experiences will change also. However, if you prefer to live in a fairy tale (or nightmare) of your own creation, then by all means base your "knowledge" on your so-called experience.
Here endeth the rant...