This Is Not … a Pipe: On the Complexity of Experience

  • Paul Stenner
Part of the Studies in the Psychosocial book series (STIP)


This chapter follows Chap. 3 in being structured around the contemplation of an art object from which a number of theoretical distinctions, and indeed the makings of an ontology, are unfurled. In this case the art object is René Magritte’s well-known painting called Ceci n’est pas une pipe. The stable visible form of the painting captures felt insights for a theory of experience richer than that typically considered by social scientists. Usually (outside of psychology and neuroscience) experience is treated in a rather one-dimensional way that is informed by a long-standing bifurcation of nature into a physical world of pure meaningless matter and a mental world of pure matterless meaning. On this assumption, experience is falsely equated with the conscious experience of adult humans, and the more primordial modes of experience at large throughout nature are ignored. This black and white picture in which object and subject of experience are cleaved apart gives rise to a shallow empiricism which grossly distorts our knowledge. An alternative deep empiricism is proposed.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Stenner
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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