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Duration video: 5 min. 58 sec.
Experience is a mechanism. While we watch bumblebees flying against a window, exploring a border which the animal cannot see, two people talk about how they experience reality being confronted with a condition called Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Because of going blind later in life, both people have pseudo-hallucinations, phantom visions not related to other sensory input in that moment. These people have no prior history of dementia or cognitive impairment, have never had any hallucinations in the past and are not taking medications known to have hallucinations as one of their side effects. Thus, for these persons to function, they have to detach their hallucinations from other senses and cognitive experiences.
Experience is a synchronization of sensory stimuli and cognitive experiences into a here and now. This is a solid robust representation, giving us a ‘reality.’ We only experience the interface of our phenomenal world, not the wiring system and neural activity serving us this image. Therefor we could say our phenomenal experience is transparent. Animals behave in a transparent world, not knowing why they do the things they do. Humans also construct their subjectivity in transparency most of the time, not knowing how its perception is manufactured. We see the world but not the window we look through. Only when we are aware of its failure do we get an idea of its true nature.
“When the window is dirty or cracked, we immediately realize that conscious perception is only an interface, and we become aware of the medium itself. If the book in your hands lost its transparency, you would experience it as a state of your mind rather than as an element of the outside world. You would immediately doubt its independent existence. Precisely this happens in various situations—for example, in visual hallucinations during which the patient is aware of hallucinating.” Thomas Metzinger
Sound postproduction: Charly van Rest
Thanks to: Ignace Van de Velde, Marianne Matthijsen, Henk Battem
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