Experiences write mental models for change, inspiration and empathy. We write our (and our client’s) stories into experiences, design experiential environments and use them in social interactions to foster deeper connections.
Yet, to be human means that we can never really understand what another person is experiencing.
Our inner world is complex and multi–dimensional. Our cognition is made of consciousness and unconscious forces, some logical and some behavioral. We all share the same world, clearly – but our perception of that world could be very different.
In his 1974 essay ‘What is it Like to be a Bat?’, the philosopher Thomas Nagel claims that we have no way of knowing what a bat experience is like (or that we can’t grasp bat-ness) because our mental world is filled with human experiences.
Our own experience provides the basic material for our imagination, whose range is therefore limited.
I want to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat. Yet if I try to imagine this,I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task.
I cannot perform it either by imagining additions to my present experience, or by imagining segments gradually subtracted from it, or by imagining some combination of additions, subtractions, and modifications
Being human means perceiving the world in our subjectivity. When creating experience we should resist the urge to universalize the human experience, and remember that there are technologies that allow us to reject standardization, and allow radical context. To be human means that we can never really know what another person is experiencing.