One can argue that the concept of experience should never be used regarding human learning. Why? A teacher cannot access a student's experience of learning/training. The text below is an extract from R.D. Laing's book The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradice. Normatively, the literature on human learning regards experience as something that suitable inquiry can access, where “learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”, Kolb, David A. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J. (1984, p. 38). What is the "transformation of experience"? Moreover, crucially, is it the same for everyone?

After reading it, can you say we can include experience as contributing to an explanation of human learning?

Or, could we account for it differently to the received explanations?


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We can see other people"s behaviour, but not their experience. This has led some people to insist that psychology has nothing to do with the other person"s experience, but only with his
behaviour.

The other person's behaviour is an experience of mine. My behaviour is an experience of the other. The task of social
phenomenology is to relate my experience of the other"s behaviour to the other"s experience of my behaviour. Its study is the relation between experience and experience: its true field is inter-experience.

I see you, and you see me. I experience you, and you experience me. I see your behaviour. You see my behaviour. But I do not and never have and never will see your experience of me. Just as you cannot "see" my experience of you. My experience of you is not "inside" me. It is simply you, as I experience you. And I do not experience you as inside me. Similarly, I take it that you do not experience me as inside you.

"My experience of you" is just another form of words for "youas-l-experience-you", and "your experience of me" equals "meas-you-experience-me". Your experience of me is not inside you and my experience of you is not inside me, but your experience of me is invisible to me and my experience of you is invisible to you.

I cannot experience your experience. You cannot experience my experience. We are both invisible men. All men are invisible to one another. Experience used to be called The Soul. Experience as invisibility of man to man is at the same time more evident than anything. Only experience is evident. Experience is the only evidence. Psychology is the logos of experience. Psychology is the structure of the evidence, and hence psychology is the science of sciences. If, however. experience is evidence, how can one ever study the experience of the other? For the experience of the other is not
evident to me, as it is not and never can be an experience of mine.

I cannot avoid trying to understand your experience, because although I do not experience your experience, which is invisible to me (and non-tastable, non-touchable, non-smellable, and inaudible), yet I experience you as experiencing.
I do not experience your experience. But I experience you as experiencing. I experience myself as experienced by you. And I experience you as experiencing yourself as experienced by me.

And so on.

The study of the experience of others, is based on inferences I make, from my experience of you experiencing me, about how you are experiencing me experiencing you experiencing me . . . . Social phenomenology is the science of my own and of others' experience. It is concerned with the relation between my experience of you and your experience of me. That is, with inter-experience. It is concerned with your behaviour and my behaviour as I experience it, and your and my behaviour as you experience it. Since your and their experience is invisible to me as mine is to you and them, I seek to make evident to the others, through their experience of my behaviour, what I infer of your experience, through my experience of your behaviour. This is the crux of social phenomenology.

The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradice. R.D. Laing. Penguin Books, 1967, p15 – 17.

RD Laing

R. D. Laing
1927 – 1989