Through his works on Hutcheson and the South Pacific, Leidhold came to the conclusion that we have to start with a multidimensional structure of experience if we want to understand the way people get in touch with reality. However, this type of multidimensional approach to experience did not exist. This issue must be addressed first. Thus, exploring the nature of experience was the main theme of Wolfgang Leidhold’s book on Political Philosophy.
To define the nature of experience, one must know its components. After combing through the relevant literature, Leidhold found that in the history of the term to date, no adequate definition of experience existed. The German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer confirmed his suspicions, saying “However paradoxical it may seem, the concept of experience seems to me one of the most obscure we have” (Truth and Method: p. 341). Following his suspicion that no adequate definition exists, Leidhold moves onto dealing with the concept of experience. In the end, Leidhold suggests defining experience as “conscious participation.” Since there are several ways of participating in reality, there are also several varieties of experience. What all varieties have in common is that participation becomes an experience the moment we become aware of it. The result of this analysis was a typology of experience including: sensual perception, imagination and creativity, spirituality and contemplation, self-reflection and consciousness. In the remainder of the book, Leidhold demonstrates how this theory of experience affects our understanding of consciousness and religion, metaphysics (especially that of time), anthropology and the reality of the person, and – finally – of political reality alike.