• intrapersona
    558
    How can you really define the distinction between objective and subjective if we only ever are subjective.

    The objective world remains only ever an inference at best.
  • mcdoodle
    1k
    One starting point would be that you have a reasonable expectation that we will understand your question and the words and grammar that express it. A shared language coaxes us immediately into notions of a shared world, in which we understand some things to be objectively put, such as 'The objective world remains only an inference at best.'
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    Objective and Subjective appear to be the result of judgement, no judgement no division. Holderlin suggested being simpliciter is the ground of judgement, simple and un-analyzable being.
  • Barry Etheridge
    349
    How can you really define the distinction between objective and subjective if we only ever are subjective.intrapersona

    Well what are you actually asking? Defining a distinction doesn't require an ability to experience both or indeed either, surely? X is not-Y requires no further point of reference at all to be verifiable. But I suspect that what you're really asking is how we can know that X (not-Y) is instantiated.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.6k
    There's no proof against solipsism; perhaps the thing of which we are most certain of is actually our own prevailing lack of absolute certainty.

    When you say "inference at best" you're really selling us short though. Inferences on their own can be weak, but with tests they can be strengthened, and with additional corroborating and testable inferences they can be strengthened even further. Even while our experience might be wholly subjective in any sense of the word, there are still consistencies within and between our experiences. The sun will rise tomorrow is a belief held by all humans because of a very strong cumulative argument (inductive reasoning) coming from our experience of it rising each day

    Science does a pretty good job of this. Scientific theories such as those found in astronomy not only constantly agree with our observations of current and past events, but they also give us very reliable predictive power over forecasting future events. This power and utility is what convinces us to accept causality as an axiomatic truth. Even if all knowledge is subjective, we still highly prize it from within this subjective experience.

    To answer your introductory question, we identify the difference between subjective and objective in science through testable hypothetical models of phenomenon. It's not objective in the ultimate sense, but it is a great tool for trying to approximate it. Something that is not objective in science is something that is either falsified through experiment or not falsifiable whatsoever. In broader philosophy, the subjective and the objective are essentially categories relating to the differences between "facts" and "feelings" (for lack of better terms). "The mountain has more mass than the mole hill" is something that could be considered an objective truth describing an "external world". "The mountain is more beautiful than the mole hill" is something that would be considered subjective even while it may or may not reflect some quality of the external world. We are careful about which subjective experiences we use in argumentation because they may or not be shared with everyone else. But if we base our arguments on objective facts we can essentially use the brute force of empiricism and reasoning to necessitate the shared applicability of our conclusions.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.2k
    Even while our experience might be wholly subjective in any sense of the word, there are still consistencies within and between our experiences. The sun will rise tomorrow is a belief held by all humans because of a very strong cumulative argument (inductive reasoning) coming from our experience of it rising each dayVagabondSpectre

    The problem here is that the sun really doesn't rise. The scientific explanation of this phenomenon, the illusion that the sun rises day after day, is that the earth is actually spinning. The sun is really not doing anything in this scenario, therefore it is actually false to say that the sun rises.

    So why would you say "the sun will rise tomorrow is a belief held by all humans", when I in fact think that this is a false belief, so I try to resist the temptation to say what I don't believe. And, I think that the majority of human beings think that this is a false belief. Despite the fact that many human beings might say that they belief that the sun will rise tomorrow, I don't think that they really believe that the sun will do any such thing.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Is it an objective fact that all we ever experience is the subjective?
  • Janus
    8.6k
    Should we think that some-thing must be the case?
  • wuliheron
    440


    Its an objective fact that our words only have demonstrable meaning in specific contexts. For example, if someone says, "She's Hot!" they could be talking about anything from a good looking woman to a hamster with a fever, a boat, or whatever. The more specific and explicit the context, the more explicit the meaning becomes. If you rely upon a dictionary definition it will merely take you in circles because objectivity and subjectivity define one another like up and down, back and front. Whether you wish to call everything being context dependent an objective or subjective fact is always up to the observer.
  • Michael
    8.2k
    The problem here is that the sun really doesn't rise. The scientific explanation of this phenomenon, the illusion that the sun rises day after day, is that the earth is actually spinning. The sun is really not doing anything in this scenario, therefore it is actually false to say that the sun rises.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't see why this means that the sun doesn't rise. If I say that you're sitting to the left of someone else, is what I say false because, from some other perspective, this would be the wrong thing to say? I don't think so. The truth of at least some of our claims must be judged according to the perspective from which they're said, and one such claim is that the sun rises.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.6k
    Despite the fact that many human beings might say that they belief that the sun will rise tomorrow, I don't think that they really believe that the sun will do any such thing.Metaphysician Undercover

    The "sun rising" every day is a great example of a strong cumulative argument.which requires very minimal technical or absolute depth in reasoning or understanding yet which delivers as reliably as any science what it promises; predictive power from experience. This is not a scientific argument, but it does delineate, albieit primitively, the logical shape that scientific theories set out to take.

    Through repeated testing and rigorous precision and accuracy in data gathering scientists seek to strengthen or weaken various hypothesis. While "the sun will rise tomorrow because it has risen every day that I can remember" makes only one single prediction, and has only one premise which is tested and confirmed with each passing day, scientific theories can make a whole host of varying predictions, and themselves can employ other more fundamental scientific theories as parts in a model seeking predictive power. But in order to "confirm" any given hypothesis, scientifically speaking, and thereby make it "an objective scientific fact", what we must do is be able to confirm it through experiment (not being able to prove it wrong essentially) with adequate accuracy, precision and repeatability.

    I guess one way of putting it is that the answer to lacking ultimate and absolute certainty is to instead of seeking to firmly arrive at it, we can seek to approach it by continuously reinforcing what we do know until the remaining doubt regarding specific truths becomes negligible in every respect.
  • jkop
    533


    We can know this, for example, by investigating what's wrong with the question.

    Objective and subjective are categories used for how knowledge is acquired. Our knowledge can be subjective or objective, but to ask whether the things of which we acquire knowledge are subjective or objective is a category error, it makes no sense to ask whether the world is subjective or objective. It is neither.
  • Michael
    8.2k


    You might want to see this. Referring to things (like the world) as either objective or subjective is a thing we do in philosophy.
  • tom
    1.5k
    While "the sun will rise tomorrow because it has risen every day that I can remember"VagabondSpectre

    And prior to the millennium you could guarantee that all years would always begin with the number "19" with the same "logic".

    But in order to "confirm" any given hypothesis, scientifically speaking, and thereby make it "an objective scientific fact", what we must do is be able to confirm it through experiment (not being able to prove it wrong essentially) with adequate accuracy, precision and repeatability.VagabondSpectre

    So we can"confirm" that the sun will rise tomorrow *because* it has done so every day that you can remember?

    I don't think so!
  • Harry Hindu
    2.5k
    How can you really define the distinction between objective and subjective if we only ever are subjective.

    The objective world remains only ever an inference at best.
    intrapersona

    How can you define "subjective" without implying the existence of the objective? If there is no view, or perspective, then there is no subjectivity. If there isn't any more than what exists "subjectively", then what you define as subjective is really the objective because you are saying that what you "experience" is all there is, but then that means "experience" and "you" need to be redefined as well - redefined out of existence.

    I don't understand why it comes naturally to babies when they discover through logical inference that their mothers continue to exist even when they don't experience them. They end up discovering object permanence. Yet when they grow up into adults they begin to question the natural conclusion that all babies end up making - that there is more to what they simply experience.
  • Michael
    8.2k
    How can you define "subjective" without implying the existence of the objective? If there is no view, or perspective, then there is no subjectivity. If there isn't any more than what exists "subjectively", then what you define as subjective is really the objective because you are saying that what you "experience" is all there is, but then that means "experience" and "you" need to be redefined as well - redefined out of existence.Harry Hindu

    I don't see why we need objective things to exist for the word "objective" to mean what it does (and so for the word "subjective" to mean what it does). Words can be meaningful even if they don't refer to real things.

    If we define an objective thing as a thing that continues to exist even when it's not being seen and a subjective thing as a thing that exists only when it's being seen, and if nothing continues to exist when it's not being seen then nothing is an objective thing.

    To say that if nothing continues to exist when it's not being seen then those things that exist only when they're being seen (subjective things) are "really" objective things just doesn't make sense. It's a straightforward contradiction.
  • jkop
    533
    Sloppy use of language won't make the world subjective or objective; being referred to does not amount to being.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    When you think about yourself....what do "you" and "yourself" refer to? Is this a act of thought or? a linguistic manipulation. Do you make yourself the object of your attention.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.2k
    don't see why this means that the sun doesn't rise. If I say that you're sitting to the left of someone else, is what I say false because, from some other perspective, this would be the wrong thing to say?Michael

    That is not at all analogous. "The sun rises" implies that the sun is involved in an activity, rising. But it is false to say that the sun is what is active in such an activity, the activity here is an act of the earth spinning. To employ a principle of relativity, and claim that the earth spinning is actually the very same thing as the sun rising betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of reality because it places the principle of activity within the sun rather than the earth. From this perspective, things far away from earth would be moving faster than the speed of light in their rising and setting.

    The "sun rising" every day is a great example of a strong cumulative argument.which requires very minimal technical or absolute depth in reasoning or understanding yet which delivers as reliably as any science what it promises; predictive power from experience. This is not a scientific argument, but it does delineate, albieit primitively, the logical shape that scientific theories set out to take.VagabondSpectre

    Yeah sure, but this is clear evidence of the fact that "predictive power" does not give us a proper understanding of reality. Ancient people could predict very accurately that the sun would rise, and where exactly on the horizon that the sun would rise, from a particular point of observation, for each day of the year, and this is how they measured the year. Yet they had no idea that this phenomenon was actually the sun being observed from the perspective of a spinning earth.

    The "predictive power" which they had (Thales predicted a solar eclipse) even gave them immense confidence to produce vast theories of cosmology which were completely wrong. So what this indicates is that predictive power does not give us an understanding of what is actually occurring. And when predictive power leads us to believe that this predictive power is actually an understanding of what is going on, such that we produce theories based on this supposed understanding, we are only misleading ourselves.

    But in order to "confirm" any given hypothesis, scientifically speaking, and thereby make it "an objective scientific fact", what we must do is be able to confirm it through experiment (not being able to prove it wrong essentially) with adequate accuracy, precision and repeatability.VagabondSpectre

    The point which I am making then, is that no matter how well we confirm our hypotheses through experimentation which determines the capacity to predict, the only "objective scientific fact" which can be derived is that capacity to predict, under the conditions of the experiments. But the capacity to predict does not provide us with an understanding of what is occurring.

    I guess one way of putting it is that the answer to lacking ultimate and absolute certainty is to instead of seeking to firmly arrive at it, we can seek to approach it by continuously reinforcing what we do know until the remaining doubt regarding specific truths becomes negligible in every respect.VagabondSpectre

    So the problem which I am trying to bring to your attention, is that no matter how far we go with our efforts to produce a power to predict, this cannot give us an understanding of reality. Even if we can predict with near to absolute certainty, the true nature of the activity which we are predicting will lie unknown, beneath the superficial knowledge which the power to predict is a manifestation of.
  • Michael
    8.2k
    That is not at all analogous. "The sun rises" implies that the sun is involved in an activity, rising. But it is false to say that the sun is what is active in such an activity, the activity here is an act of the earth spinning. To employ a principle of relativity, and claim that the earth spinning is actually the very same thing as the sun rising betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of reality because it places the principle of activity within the sun rather than the earth. From this perspective, things far away from earth would be moving faster than the speed of light in their rising and setting.Metaphysician Undercover

    This betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of language. You might as well take issue with the phrase "it's pissing it down" because nobody is urinating from the sky.

    You can't take our everyday claims out of context and then argue that they're false because they wouldn't work when doing astronomy. The truth (or falsity) of the claim that the sun rises has nothing to do with celestial physics.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.2k
    If you want to discuss metaphor, that's fine, but it's not consistent with the op which seeks objective truth.

    "The sun will rise tomorrow" was offered as an objective truth. Now you claim that it is a metaphor. That's fine by me, let's leave it as a metaphor rather then trying to defend it as an objective truth.
  • Michael
    8.2k
    It's not a metaphor. Just as it's not a metaphor when I (correctly) say "I'm not moving" while standing still, despite the fact that I'm hurtling through the universe at hundreds of kilometers a second.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.2k
    Well your example,"it's pissing it down" was clearly metaphorical.

    Just as it's not a metaphor when I (correctly) say "I'm not moving" while standing still, despite the fact that I'm hurtling through the universe at hundreds of kilometers a second.Michael

    So how is it objectively true that you are not moving while you are hurtling through the universe at hundreds of kilometres a second?
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    There is a difference between phenomenological discourse and scientific discourse, which is not to say that they are not related but rather that what is true in one discourse may not hold in the other.
  • Michael
    8.2k
    Well your example,"it's pissing it down" was clearly metaphorical.Metaphysician Undercover

    I wouldn't say that's a metaphor either.

    So how is it objectively true that you are not moving while you are hurtling through the universe at hundreds of kilometres a second?

    Because the movement of the Earth in space is irrelevant to the meaning (and so truth) of the statement. Context matters, and the appropriate context is one that is impartial to astronomical facts. But it's objective because, given the appropriate context, there's only one truth value. It is a fact that, while standing still, I'm not moving.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    How can you really define the distinction between objective and subjective if we only ever are subjective.

    The objective world remains only ever an inference at best.
    intrapersona
    It seems like there's a major increase in idealists/should-be-solipsists-if-you're-to-be-consistent folks running around on philosophy forums lately . . . or is it just one or two guys with a bunch of sock accounts?

    At any rate, I don't at all agree that the objective world "remains only ever an inference at best."

    We can observe the objective world.

    There can rather be no coherent support that we can only know (by acquaintance) our own minds. One either believes that purely on faith, on relatively unimaginative fantasy, or on incoherent empirical or logical support.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.2k
    Because the movement of the Earth in space is irrelevant to the meaning (and so truth) of the statement.Michael

    That may be your claim, and you can assert it all you like, but unless you qualify your statement to indicate this, I really don't see how your assertion could be true.

    If you were sitting in a car which is driving on the highway, and you were keeping still, would you say that the movement of the car is irrelevant to the truth or falsity of your statement "I am not moving"? To someone sitting on the side of the road, your claim is clearly false unless you qualify it.
  • Michael
    8.2k
    If you were sitting in a car which is driving on the highway, and you were keeping still, would you say that the movement of the car is irrelevant to the truth or falsity of your statement "I am not moving"?Metaphysician Undercover

    No, I wouldn't.

    That may be your claim, and you can assert it all you like, but unless you qualify your statement to indicate this, I really don't see how your assertion could be true.

    I don't see why you would think the movement of the Earth relevant. Do you not say of the statue "it's not moving"? I'm sure you do. It would be very strange of you to start telling people that it was moving at hundreds of kilometers a second. And it would certainly be strange if you were to say "it's not moving, but only in a metaphorical sense".
  • Michael
    8.2k
    We can observe the objective world.Terrapin Station

    By this do you mean that we observe things continuing to exist even when they're not being observed?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k


    No. I mean that, for example, I'm observing my kindle right now as I type this.
  • Michael
    8.2k
    No. I mean that, for example, I'm observing my kindle right now as I type this.Terrapin Station

    That doesn't address @intrapersona's claim, which is that that your Kindle is an objective thing "remains only ever an inference at best".
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