In one sense it means that experiences things. What are the things we experience?
Stuff like rocks, feelings, light, dreams, words, numbers, trees, people, planets, pictures, history, color, odors, radiation, mistakes, pain, style, fonts, patterns, pressure, acids, sleep, actions, proteins, water, band-aids, time, change, lizards, fictions, evidence.
All this things we experience. Are they real? Do they exist? It seems that if we have an experience, then the thing we experience exists. Even if we dream or hallucinate, or enjoy a private thought, those things exist, if only privately. Nobody experiencing a hallucination says the hallucination does not exist, they just say it's not "real".
So things exist. There are contents.
How do we know anything exists? Because we experience that thing. But not merely experience it. We are aware of it. We are aware of things. Things and the awareness of things are tied together. When we have an awareness we have an experience. And when we have an experience, we have an awareness. And this awareness or this experience is an awareness or an experience of a thing, of content.
I think these two ideas, awareness and experience, are the same idea. I do not mean consciousness or attention. I mean a general awareness. And when we experience something, I mean that we are aware of that something. This does not mean the experience is front and center, it could be at the edge of our consciousness. This does not mean that an experience is reportable. There are many experiences and, many things we are aware of, that we cannot or do not report on. Partly because we do not have the language to do so, and partly because the experiences do not tie into language.
As an example try explaining an intestinal discomfort to someone else. Stomach aches come in all varieties, and these pains, which we can explain as sharp or dull, do not really describe the experience or awareness of the pain. Or try explaining attraction. We can be aware of attraction, and fail to give a good report of what triggers the attraction and what does not. There are all sorts of experiences people have that we can only report on in the grossest sense.
For instance many people may remember the first time they saw a fiery blue. For many people who only see a red or orange flame, the first sight of a blue or green or purple flame is a unique experience. And though it can be described as "fiery blue", the experience is not truly captured with words. this failure of reporting can also be shown in peoples experience of orgasm. Most people can recall their first orgasm, but words are inadequate to describe what an orgasm is like.
You must experience an orgasm directly, it must be something that you have a direct awareness of, otherwise it is only an awareness of reports. Human emotions are like this. An experience, a direct awareness, is different than an experience of reports or ideas or even pictures. Movies are an example that pushes these boundaries by having a direct experience of sights and sounds. But video is not the same as being there.
How can we know and report or share what a pain is like, or an orgasm or any feeling or emotion or sight or sound or smell if we cannot have something like that experience? Empathy and sympathy are the experiences people have where they share an experience. For instance, my feelings of loss are not the same as your feelings of loss, but this similarity of experience provides a basis for sharing and of having a shared experience. Shared experience is critical to the experience of art.
When we read something, or are told about something, or see it in a picture, the direct experience is the sounds, the words, the picture. And from that we make associations to an experience we don't have or we generalize to experiences we do have. So when we read about unicorns, we imagine them as horses with horns. And that imagining is quite a different thing than actually riding a horse. But in both cases there are experiences of things. And some of the things seem to be immediate and direct, as a horse is when riding, and others are a bit removed, such as a unicorn story.
Here is a unicorn story you may like. In it you will learn what unicorns eat:
After watching the video about unicorns would you say that they exist?
In a common sense way, the answer is no. Unicorns are fictional. But there is no denying that you are aware of unicorns, you are aware of what unicorns look like, and where they live and what they eat. How can they not exist?
And the answer to that is they do indeed exist. But not like diapers or birthday cakes, unicorns exist as fictions.
Now if you had never heard of unicorns and someone asked you if unicorns existed you would ask: "What's a unicorn?" And if no answer was forthcoming, you could at best conclude it's this thing, but you don't know what it is, so you don't know if it exists or not.
But you would be wrong.
Anything that is experienced, which means everything you are aware of, exists. There are not things that exist that exist apart from awareness.
This is testable. Are there things we could name, or even refer to that exist of which we are not aware?
and of course the answer is no. Because to name, or refer shows awareness.
there is, in fact, nothing outside of awareness.
If I say that there is something outside of awareness, then I am aware of it. And if I say something does not exist, then I am not being accurate, because I am aware of that thing, and because I am aware of it, it must exist. It may not exist in the form I say it does, but because I am aware of it, it certainly exists. For example, unicorns exist and they are fictions.
All of our experiences, whether they can be reported on or not follow this same rule because our experiences are things we are aware of. We cannot show there are things of which we are unaware without admitting awareness of them. And we cannot show there are things which do not exist, without admitting to an awareness of them, and hence to the fact of their existence.
Now, the obvious response to this is that new things indicate that there are objects outside of awareness that exists. But in fact, this isn't true at all. The minute you suggest there is such a new thing, you have demonstrated that you are aware of it. That something new pre-existed the awareness of the thing is not shown by pointing at something of which you are newly aware and proclaiming that things exists apart from awareness. Because that report demonstrates awareness.
Object permanence, as a concept, is a concept applied after the fact of experience. We believe objects have permanence apart from our experience of those objects, at least for many kinds of contents of experience. But there is no proof of their permanence. The universe may be a computer that is procedurally generating content and it is that generation of content that is awareness, and whatever is being generated at the moment are the objects of awareness, are the experiences.
So here are some first starting points.
experience are the contents of experience
experiences, contents, have differences and similarities
experience means awareness
there are no experiences or objects outside of awareness
awareness effects, or more weakly, correlates to existence of content conversely existence means awareness.