Jay's *Songs of Experience* [Book Review]

Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (11):125-7 (2007)
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‘Experience is the best teacher’ goes the cliché without ever making clear just want is meant by that slippery first term. ‘Experience is never remembered unaltered’ goes another. Is experience something to be undergone, like a journey, or is it perhaps the relational immediacy between organism and environment? What do we reference when we use the term experience? Martin Jay, renowned intellectual historian from UC Berkeley, here examines these questions in a grand survey of the term’s use throughout the intellectual history of what was once called Western Civilization. Beginning with the ancient Greeks (of course), he reviews the surprising number of variations employed and assumed by philosophers, theologians critical theorists, and right up to the poststructuralists. Jay knows his territory and reading this survey of it — for anyone with any sort of background in the history of philosophy — is often as pleasant as hearing a familiar symphony well-played in a unique way.
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