• Sam26
    1.1k
    This subject has come up in another of my threads as it relates to epistemology.

    The problem with discussing whether something is subjective or objective is that there are not always clear lines between between these two concepts. The concepts themselves are vague, and they have overlapping features, so it's hard to be dogmatic about their meanings. In order to get clear on these concepts it's important to look at them as they're used in particular contexts, and not to make overarching pronouncements about their meaning. In other words, we have to be careful about drawing boundaries where there are no clear boundaries of meaning.

    In many cases, there is both a subjective view and an objective view. How we see it will be based largely on what we're emphasizing, not always, but in many cases. This is true of many of the concepts we use, which is why philosophers try to be as clear as possible about the concepts in their arguments.

    One of the definitions I use when referencing what's an objective fact, for example, is that which is mind-independent. This definition doesn't cover every use of the word, but generally covers a large swath of uses.

    I have referenced facts, let me give another definition as part of the discussion. A fact is a state-of-affairs referenced in our world or our reality. This too, tends to be vague and not as clear as some might want, but as philosophers we generally agree this is the case.

    Let's start the discussion based on these two concepts to see if we can agree on anything. I suspect that as usual we will not get a consensus even here. Furthermore, let's not just pull things out of the air because it sounds good, at least put some effort into it, that is, have a good argument.
  • apokrisis
    4.4k
    So is the issue that there are claims we might make about the state of the world and claims we might make about the state of our mind, and it is always some mind making these different categories of claim?

    My general definition of “subjective” would be claims that are viewpoint dependent, and “objective” would be claims that are viewpoint independent. So the problem arises when there is some collective of minds, and thus potential viewpoints, involved in judging claims about a shared world.

    To the degree the minds are alike, as when speaking the same language in a historically constrained fashion, then they are essentially speaking for the one viewpoint. That seems pretty subjective, even if many minds might also appear capable of many views.

    Yet also we can conclude that for language use to arrive at a historically constrained stability, there must be something invariant or mind independent to force a collection of viewpoints to a position where meanings are shared. Or at least shared to a point where the remaining uncertainties make no practical difference.

    Ergo, a pragmatic account of truth claims.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    My general definition of “subjective” would be claims that are viewpoint dependent, and “objective” would be claims that are viewpoint independent.apokrisis

    I'm interested in your choice of wording. I say mind-independent or mind-dependent. Are you saying there is a significant or even a difference between my wording and your wording, that is, your choice of viewpoint dependent or viewpoint independent?
  • Valentinus
    59
    One context where making the distinction happens is between events that are disclosed to all who are close enough to perceive it and events that can be hidden from others because it happens to a particular individual. Of course, when I put it that way, all events are equally real in so far as they are experienced.
    So the argument against private language in Wittgenstein, for instance, is not a denial of the reality of private experiences. It just puts talking about them in a particular light. Also, many of our language games play on the theme that what seems private may be easily perceptible by others.
    Many choose silence as the way to be alone.
  • apokrisis
    4.4k
    Yeah. To speak of “mind” is to slip into a substance ontology. It treats the mental as some kind of dualistic realm or stuff. I would take a process ontology view where “minding” is an embodied action. The brain is conscious in that it is continually forming a series of distinctive attentional viewpoints.

    So my choice of words here would reflect my neuroscience. The mind is not a thing but a succession of views.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    So, and you would be right, especially as it concerns my views, mind invokes a particular philosophical dualistic idea, although not necessarily, but certainly it has a tendency to point to something in back of the brain, something metaphysical. So your way of separating this is what leads to your choice of words?

    While it's true that I'm a dualist it doesn't really effect what I'm saying, mind could simply be a reference to the brain, and in fact it's often used as a synonym for brain activities. I'm not trying to evoke anything metaphysical here. In fact, my argument can easily stay within the realm of the physical universe. At least at this point in the discussion.
  • Wayfarer
    6.8k
    my argument can easily stay within the realm of the physical universe. At least at this point in the discussion.Sam26

    But the question is, what role does 'the observer' play?

    The problem of including the observer in our description of physical reality arises most insistently when it comes to the subject of quantum cosmology - the application of quantum mechanics to the universe as a whole - because, by definition, 'the universe' must include any observers.

    Andrei Linde has given a deep reason for why observers enter into quantum cosmology in a fundamental way. It has to do with the nature of time. The passage of time is not absolute; it always involves a change of one physical system relative to another, for example, how many times the hands of the clock go around relative to the rotation of the Earth. When it comes to the Universe as a whole, time loses its meaning, for there is nothing else relative to which the universe may be said to change. This 'vanishing' of time for the entire universe becomes very explicit in quantum cosmology, where the time variable simply drops out of the quantum description. It may readily be restored by considering the Universe to be separated into two subsystems: an observer with a clock, and the rest of the Universe. So the observer plays an absolutely crucial role in this respect.

    Linde expresses it graphically: 'thus we see that without introducing an observer, we have a dead universe, which does not evolve in time', and, 'we are together, the Universe and us. The moment you say the Universe exists without any observers, I cannot make any sense out of that. I cannot imagine a consistent theory of everything that ignores consciousness...in the absence of observers, our universe is dead'.

    (Paul Davies, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life, p 271)
  • apokrisis
    4.4k
    I see a conflict if you want to both use dualistic terminology and yet claim that you might as well just be talking physicalism. This is what leads to all the problems with theories of truth.

    A triadic modelling relations approach - semiotics - is the consistent way to make sense of what is going on. Rather than the mind receiving the truths of the outer world into its inner world, minding is about forming embodied and adaptive points of view. Mindfulness is the larger thing of that relation in action.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    One context where making the distinction happens is between events that are disclosed to all who are close enough to perceive it and events that can be hidden from others because it happens to a particular individual. Of course, when I put it that way, all events are equally real in so far as they are experienced.Valentinus

    The problem I have with the first part of this statement, is that proximity may have nothing to do with whether something is objective or subjective. For example, one could make the argument that there are objective facts that have nothing to do with my proximity to them, or nothing to do with the fact that they may be hidden.

    I do agree that all experiences are real. So even if your experience is a hallucination it still is a real experience, maybe not objectively real, but real nonetheless, at least subjectively real.

    So the argument against private language in Wittgenstein, for instance, is not a denial of the reality of private experiences. It just puts talking about them in a particular light. Also, many of our language games play on the theme that what seems private may be easily perceptible by others. Many choose silence as the way to be alone.Valentinus

    I agree with this, but what was the point of it as it relates to my opening remarks? Was you referring to my other thread where I referenced Wittgenstein?
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    I see a conflict if you want to both use dualistic terminology and yet claim that you might as well just be talking physicalism. This is what leads to all the problems with theories of truth.apokrisis

    It's not necessarily dualistic. In fact, many non-dualists will use this kind of terminology. For the purpose of our discussion I have no problem with the term viewpoint. I don't think you can escape the metaphysical by choosing those words though.

    A triadic modelling relations approach - semiotics - is the consistent way to make sense of what is going on. Rather than the mind receiving the truths of the outer world into its inner world minding is about forming embodied and adaptive points of view. Mindfulness is the larger thing of that relation in action.apokrisis

    Are you saying that I'm saying, by using the word mind in reference to my particular epistemological view, that it receives truths from the metaphysical? I don't understand your point.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    But the question is, what role does 'the observer' play?Wayfarer

    Actually my question has to do with the concepts of objective and subjective. What do these concepts mean. Already people are going way beyond the opening statement, which is understandable, but I'm trying to reach a consensus on the use of these words.
  • Valentinus
    59
    I take your point regarding proximity not being a valid determinant of what is objective or subjective. In raising it as "one context" (that you asked for), I hoped to point out how the distinction is used in many instances.
    In regards to your opening remarks, I am not trying to reference other discussions (which are interesting) but trying to understand what epistemology is supposed to mean in your version of the word.
  • apokrisis
    4.4k
    It's not necessarily dualistic.Sam26

    If you are talking as if there really is a fundamental division between the mental and the real, the self and the world, the subjective and the objective, then it is dualistic until you can explain how it is not.

    If you instead employ it as a common manner of speaking, and don't in fact accept the standard ontic committment that motivates it, then - like me - you could present the alternative ontology you would defend, and hence the alternative language you would prefer to employ in serious discussion.

    I don't think you can escape the metaphysical by choosing those words though.Sam26

    Escape? I am being explicit about the metaphysics which I am making an ontic commitment to in expressing a linguistic preference here.
  • Wayfarer
    6.8k
    Already people are going way beyond the opening statement, which is understandable, but I'm trying to reach a consensus on the use of these words.Sam26

    Fair enough, but it's the tip of an iceberg.

    In any case, a google search on the etymology of 'objective' yields the following:

    Objective, adj.

    1610s, originally in the philosophical sense of "considered in relation to its object" (opposite of subjective), formed on pattern of Medieval Latin objectivus, from objectum "object" (see object (n.)) + -ive. Meaning "impersonal, unbiased" is first found 1855, influenced by German objektiv. Related: Objectively.

    objective (n.)

    1738, "something objective to the mind," from objective (adj.). Meaning "goal, aim" (1881) is from military term objective point (1852), reflecting a sense evolution in French.

    One point I notice about this is the relatively recent origin of the term.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    I guess another way to talk about objective facts for instance, is to say they are independent of my thoughts, feelings, perceptions, intuitions, etc. Can we agree on this definition?

    If we can't generally agree on a basic definition there is no way to continue the discussion, is there?
  • Wayfarer
    6.8k
    Actually that passage I quoted from Davies was in response to the point in the OP about ‘what is objective is mind-independent’. I know it seems far out, but the point is that even in cutting-edge science, there is now the recognition that ‘the subject’ plays a fundamental role. And that says something important about the subject at hand, specifically in regard to the notion of ‘mind-independence’.

    But, yes, I do agree with your usage above, with the caveat than when discussing it in the context of philosophy, there are underlying issues, which give rise to these deep questions of epistemology and metaphysics.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    there are underlying issues, which give rise to these deep questions of epistemology and metaphysics.Wayfarer

    I agree Wayfarer, but I was trying to find a baseline in which to proceed. My metaphysics when pushed, is that at the bottom of reality is consciousness. I believe it to be the unifying principle of reality in all its forms. So I agree with Max Planck.
  • apokrisis
    4.4k
    If we can't generally agree on a basic definition there is no way to continue the discussion, is there?Sam26

    But are you looking for some everyday meaning - when everyday meanings are never sharply demarcated anyway? Or are you seeking a well-founded philosophical distinction? In which case clearly it is the metaphysical-strength claims the words might invoke that are in contention. You can't avoid that by some kind of ordinary speech manoeuvre.

    By entymology, they are a technical contrast, not everyday terms. Didn't they gain their modern understanding by Kant problematising the issue?
  • Banno
    3.5k


    I'm going over there - you stay here. "Here" and "there" are useful terms despite there inherent ambiguity.

    Why shouldn't it be the same for "objective" and "subjective"?

    SO I agree with you that we should not draw boundaries were they are not needed.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    But are you looking for some everyday meaning - when everyday meanings are never sharply demarcated anyway? Or are you seeking a well-founded philosophical distinction? In which case clearly it is the metaphysical-strength claims the words might invoke that are in contention. You can't avoid that by some kind of ordinary speech manoeuvre.apokrisis

    There is no definition that will cover every correct use of many of our words, so I think the pursuit of exactness, in many ways, is an illusion. Especially when discussing subjectivity and objectivity. That's why I usually say that it's generally the case that... I take a Wittgensteinian approach to the study of these subjects, especially as it relates to epistemology. And everyday use doesn't mean that we take what the man on the street says. It means that words develop in everyday uses, and those uses can tell us much about what words/concepts mean. It's the very logic in back of the development of words and language.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    Exactly, that's what I've been saying.
  • Banno
    3.5k
    objective fact, for example, is that which is mind-independent.Sam26

    I take this to mean that an objective fact will stay the same regardless of the attitude adopted towards it - adopting the word attitude from the notion of a propositional attitude.

    This draws the notion of objective fact into the mire of Frege's puzzle and its descendants. That is, the ambiguity is built in to the very distinction between subjective and objective.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    I can't tell if you're agreeing or disagreeing. Read the second sentence of my original post.
  • Banno
    3.5k
    Another approach worth considering is that first person statements are subjective, while statements in the third person are objective.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    Another approach worth considering is that first person statements are subjective, while statements in the third person are objective.Banno

    So, "I live on the planet Earth," is subjective? Say what?
  • Banno
    3.5k
    Neither - just building on your foundation.

    In previous discussions I have argued that the best way to proceed is often to just drop the distinction between objective and subjective.
  • Banno
    3.5k
    Contrast "I live on the planet Earth" and "Sam lives on planet Earth". The former is tied to a speaker by its grammatical structure; the latter is not.
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    Contrast "I live on the planet Earth" and "Sam lives on planet Earth". The former is tied to a speaker by its grammatical structure; the latter is not.Banno

    I see both of these as objective facts, and both can be tied to speakers, but in different ways.
  • apokrisis
    4.4k
    It means that words develop in everyday uses, and those uses can tell us much about what words/concepts mean.Sam26

    So a pair of technical terms are developed within metaphysical discourse. And instead of applying dichotomous rigour to clarify the intelligible basis of those terms, we should ... go listen to ordinary folk to see how they bumble about with them?

    Sounds legit. :lol:
  • Sam26
    1.1k
    So a pair of technical terms are developed within metaphysical discourse. And instead of applying dichotomous rigour to clarify the intelligible basis of those terms, we should ... go listen to ordinary folk to see how they bumble about with them?apokrisis

    Did you even read this part, or do you see what you want?

    And everyday use doesn't mean that we take what the man on the street says. It means that words develop in everyday uses, and those uses can tell us much about what words/concepts mean. It's the very logic in back of the development of words and language.
  • apokrisis
    4.4k
    Yeah. Anything to avoid admitting we need to do metaphysics when using metaphysical terms in our good old "everyday".
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