As the body, the soul also sustains itself and grows through getting energy from the environment. There are two types of ‘food' for the soul: information and experience. Information can be defined as a comprehended relation between the objects of attention. Experience is a comprehended relation between the subject and the object.
Both, information and experience, can affect the soul. Information affects the surface, which allows accumulative change. Experience, on the other hand, affects a deeper or inner configuration of the soul, which brings a qualitative change. Thus, information has a horizontal trajectory, while experience has an ‘in-depth' trajectory.
Information involves understanding, while experience involves quale (singular of qualia). Therefore, information is usually cognised (belongs to the cognitive domain), while experience is felt (belongs to the affective domain). Experience is more direct but less constructed and precise than information, which is why it is easier to share information than experience. This is not to say that information and experience can be strictly demarcated. Information can be transformed into experience and vice versa, but they should not be identified. Information is possible without experience, and experience is possible without information. For example, scenery may be experienced with disregard to its informational content, or the pieces of information can be gathered about the scenery without experiencing much. Nevertheless, they often go together - an event can provide an experience and information at the same time.
To summarise, the soul is either enlarged by expanding its surface through the inclusion of new information, or it is qualitatively modified by incorporating new experiences. There is also a third way of strengthening the soul, which is exercising intent, in a similar way to how physical exercises make the body stronger.
Some possible questions
Is information an intrinsic property of energy?
Awareness is necessary for sensations to be transformed into experience and information. Nothing is information if it is not perceived, if somebody is not aware of it. Computers are not aware, and cannot feel or understand, so the electrical impulses passing through them really become information only when perceived by a user. This means that information can only be a potential rather than an intrinsic property of energy (which does not mean that this potential does not objectively exist, even in the absence of an observer).
What determines the quality of experience?
Experiences create energy shifts in the soul. In other words, they are vibrations or a set of vibrations that can be sensed or felt. If these vibrations are harmonious, they are perceived as agreeable, if not, they are perceived as disagreeable. An orchestra could be used as an analogy. At any point some instruments can add a new tune (perhaps due to external factors), which may or may not fit well with the rest. This is experienced (by the conductor or the self) as being in tune or not, being pleasant or not.
Are all experiences ‘deep'?
Most experiences are close to the soul surface, so they are in a sense superficial. Deeper experiences (that should be distinguished from strong emotional reactions) require quieting the mind, a contemplative state. This is because such states allow more direct, and therefore more penetrating experiences.
Does every incorporated experience remains linked to information?
Experience has more energy than information, so it may remain even if the associated information is lost (which may lead to distorted or even false interpretations).
Are all information and experiences useful?
The soul is not facilitated by any information or experience. Some of them are useful, some are not (the intrinsic energy of stimuli, such as a photon emission bouncing from a printed material, for example, can be considered irrelevant in this respect). Only information that is incorporated can expand the surface of the soul, and the same applies to experiences. The factor that enables this will be discussed next.
- . Using the term ‘subjective experience' is common, but adding subjective does not seem necessary. Every experience must be subjective, because it requires a subject that is experiencing.
- . For the difference between the parts of the brain that process information and experience see, for example, Block, 1998, p.329.