WE ordinarily think of knowledge as meaning the acquisition of facts or content of experience. But just what is the phenomenon of knowledge? Knowledge consists of knowing, and what we know are ideas. The ideas are the products of experience. The word experience is but a general term for two phenomena, namely, perception and conception. Perception is the receiving of impressions through our receptor senses, the sensations of which ultimately compose the substance of our ideas.genious
Perception can be both voluntary and involuntary. For example, when we are focusing our auditory perception upon it. Or, for further analogy, when we read a book, we are voluntarily perceiving through the sense of sight.
However, we can have certain sensations which are involuntary perceptions. We may feel intestinal pain. The pain was not sought; that is, the sense of feeling was not made responsive voluntarily. Nevertheless, the experience of pain was one of perception. In other words, the sensation, the feeling of pain, resulted in an idea or a synthesis of related ideas, such as the location, intensity, and duration of the pain. Simply, we had knowledge of pain.
Are we to construe from this that even the most elementary state of consciousness is experience is synonymous with knowledge? One of the fundamental characteristics of all living things is irritability, that is, a sensibility to stimuli. Can, for example, an insect that reacts to the stimulus of heat be said to have had an experience and therefore to know?
An experience is more complex than the simple response to a stimulus. To be an experience, there must be a dual state of consciousness. There must be the awareness of the sensation and, concomitantly, also that which has the sensation. Simply, for an actual experience, there must be both a realization of the personal entity and that which acts upon it. Therefore, in returning to the example of the insect, its mere response to stimuli is not an experience.
If we accept as fact that the nature of experience is a dual form of consciousness, is it necessarily a point of knowledge? For an element of experience to constitute knowledge, it must have reality to the mind. It is not sufficient to perceive something, but that something must also be given a relationship to ourselves or to other things which we assume to know. A thing, to be known, cannot be just perceptual. It cannot, for example, have a dimensional quality only. Even if we perceive an article with the dimensions of 3*3*4, it would not be a point of knowledge other than its dimensional figures. The percept must relate to more than one of the sense qualities to have meaning, to have reality. It must conform to such categories as quality, quantity, and substance.