Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Experience and commonality

We all use language to connect with each other. In fact, that seems to be the only method we have. When initiating conversations, we often start by comparing experiences. This is a way of determining whether we have anything in common with the other person, attempting to forge a bond and deciding whether the interaction is worth continuing.

But everyone's life is different. And if that's true, then no two people can ever have the exact same experience. No matter how much we have in common with another person, we can never experience life the same way they do because their background is 100% different from ours. Therefore, all experiences are inherently unique.

Almost all of human interaction is us trying to convince each other we share any kind of common ground. But how can I say I know what anyone else is talking about when I'm still trying to interpret the implications of my own life's events? Not that it's all down to people's backgrounds, but I wonder if empathy is just a way to pretend that everybody experiences life the same way we do. That there are any universals. We might speak the same language, but we all experience a subjective dialect.



Scott Abbott said...

This is one side of the issue, as I see it. We're isolated monads basically unable to crack each other's shell. And, we're creatures of the language we speak together, and that language speaks us all in basically the same ways.

Evolutionary Adaption of Revolutionary Adaptation said...

I think everyone runs this through their head multiple times in life. If we all experience everything so differently, which we do, isn't it still amazing that we can usually seem to find common ground? I think so.