Conscious Experience

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Various different connotation of consciousness exist, cf. the page on consciousness. This page provides a general definition of conscious experience and seeks to describe the relation to other connotations of consciousness. The general definition is inspired by the phenomenological reading of phenomenal consciousness.


In informal terms, the goal of the following definition is to refer to the totality of how "the world" appears to us at a particular instant of time. One could also paraphrase this as referring to how we find ourselves at a particular instant of time, or as referring to the experience which reveals itself at a particular instant of time. 'Instant' can be taken as a variable that refers either to a psychological or to a physical conception thereof.

We define conscious experience to refer to the totality of impressions, feelings, thoughts, perceptions, etc. which an experiencing subject lives through at a particular instant of time.

The definition is thus relative to experiencing subjects and the reference changes with time. Another, possibly more useful way of stating the same idea could be:[1]

Phenomenal experience is not merely a succession of qualitatively distinguished sensory ideas, but rather the organized cognitive experience of a world of objects and of ourselves as subject within that world.


  1. Conscious experiences can be viewed as a subclass of events.[2] "Events may be understood as involving things which instantiate properties. (...) The subclass of experiences can be characterized by saying that the individuals involved are experiencing subjects who instantiate experiential properties", according to the proposal of (Nida-Rümelin, 2016).[2]

Relation to other connotations of consciousness

The following sections mirror the distinctions of the various concepts on the page consciousness.

Conscious perception of a stimulus

Conscious mechanism

Phenomenal consciousness


Chalmers definition

Access consciousness

Conscious and unconscious processing


Level of consciousness

  1. Van Gulick, Understanding the Phenomenal Mind: Are We all Just Armadillos?, 1993
  2. 2.0 2.1 Martine Nida-Rümelin, The experience property frame work, 2016