The Social Structure of Experience

Philosophy 36 (137):97 - 111 (1961)
In many contemporary philosophical writings, what is most surprising to me is not the things asserted, nor those denied, but those not even mentioned . Several of these slighted topics are summed up in the title of this essay. At the age of twenty, when I was not reading any technical philosophers, nor any author who held an essentially social view of experience, I attempted to persuade myself of the adequacy of a non-social view, expressed partly in a self-interest theory of motivation, and partly in an idea of perception as experience of things not themselves constituted by any sort of experiences. So far from succeeding in this attempt, I began to find reasons for regarding both motivation and perception as manifestations of a single principle, that of the overlapping or inter-individual unity of minds, not simply of human minds, but of mind on various levels of, nature, including inorganic nature. This overlapping I thought I found in experience itself, and not merely through speculation or postulation. Subsequent reading in philosophy has not shown me a basic error in Hhis early philosophizing, but only a vagueness and blurring of dis; Jinctions which, when taken into account, strengthen rather than weaken the case
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