5 Patterns of Experience

As human beings we are very sensitive and receptive with the use of our senses to which information presents itself -- as if calling for attention -- thereby making us always open to information in our daily experiences. This information is always an interpreted datum which means that it is appealing to us with significance and is patterned in a certain way. This is what we call the patterns of experience namely: biological, aesthetic, practical, mystical, dramatic, and intellectual patterns of experience.

Biological Pattern of Experience

The biological pattern of experience is that which is basic for every human being. This pertains to food, shelter, clothing, drink, sleep or rest, self-defense, and care. All these are necessary for our daily living... the basics for survival... the essentials of life. Furthermore, they respond to our need for "health and strength, grace and vigor (B. Lovett)" in order to live and survive.

Aesthetic Pattern of Experience

This pattern of experience is our emotional experience which makes us feel good, enthusiastic, or joyful towards ourselves, others, and the world. This enhances our way of life, orienting us how to live in a human world where emotions and feelings vary. When we relate and interact with one another, we bring with us -- we generate -- we experience emotions. Lonergan says that "the personal drive for self transcendence is affective at its very core... giving our intentional consciousness its mass and momentum, its drive and power." This pattern is essential in the way we relate to things and persons; the way we make choices and act upon them; and the way we live life with all its ups and downs.

Practical Pattern of Experience

Practical pattern of experience guides us how to deal and act in a particular situation that we are confronted with. We are directed by this pattern of experience not only to enable us to act and accomplish but also and most importantly to enable us to act appropriately and reasonably according to what the situation demands. This is important because everyday, we are confronted with myriad situations (which may also involve both our biological and aesthetic patterns of experience) in which we have to know how to surpass in order to live and survive.

Mystical Pattern of Experience

This pattern of experience explains that our life is not all about the movements that occur in relation to oneself, to others, and to the world. We also, amidst actions, withdraw from them and revert to silence because we feel the need to communicate to and with the Divine. This pattern of experience is vital because we believe that everything we have come from and is sustained by Someone who is in our midst, enabling us to live with meaning and purpose at all circumstances. Furthermore, this is important for the fact that when we are in touch with the Divine, we are also becoming in touch with ourselves and with others, and gain strength to face the ordeals that we encounter.

Dramatic Pattern of Experience

This shows what we are as persons by what we do. The way we relate is who we are. Our choices and actions demonstrates what we value, believe, and understand; how we look at life, people, and creation; and how we relate to God. The way we live sheds light to our very being and uniqueness.

These first five patterns of experience, all showing who and what we are, belong in the category of common sense. They point to how we relate to ourselves, to others, and to the world -- as well as how we perceive others and the world in relation to us. They are primarily directed towards our needs as persons -- as human beings. They are important because they basically are concerned with how we live with our human needs.

Intellectual Pattern of Experience

This concerns our attempts to understand things, situations, events, people, and the world as they really are and as they relate to each other. Unlike the first five patterns of experience, this moves towards understanding the truth which is or may not necessarily be similar with our needs. This is the act of human understanding which makes us go beyond our needs, beyond what our senses receive, beyond our satisfaction towards understanding our desires and their meaning in our lives. According to Lonergan this is the "heart of the matter".

This pattern of experience does not belong to common sense rather, it embraces them. It helps us correlate and comprehend the different patterns of our experience. We begin to ask significant questions in our desire to understand what lies beneath our experience, its truth, its meaning, its value -- which will eventually lead us to a wider perspective; to a new horizon; to a reasonable judgement; and to actions rooted in values, reality, and truth.

Having known all these, we will be able to choose what is good with freedom and responsibility.

Link to another post:
Why do we call something beautiful?