• Waya
    1k
    I've noticed a trend that many people seem to be violently opposed to subjectivity; advocating that objectivity is significantly superior. Having just finished Kierkegaard's Provocations, I am now inclined that it is possible to embrace an objective truth through subjectivity without essentially distorting that truth. Also, it seems likely that it is the only way to actually view anything, no matter what subject.

    For example, an insect is crawling along the floor. A child observes it, but views it as nothing more than a bug and perhaps a thing with which he might play. A parent observes that bug, and sees it as a pest. A scientist observes the bug and wishes to perform an experiment on it. Each of these different perspectives are subjective, right? Yet, the insect itself is an objective fact that doesn't change. From my understanding of what Kierkegaard meant, then subjectivity seems to be more a relationship to the objective.
    Any thoughts or guidance on the matter would be much appreciated.
  • Valentinus
    504
    One of the themes that Kierkegaard approached from many different angles was the importance to understand behavior and conditions "psychologically" while also positing a limit to such explanations as either a narrative that included everything in the world or what is happening in or for a person.

    So, yeah, he would not consider making the subjective and objective an absolute difference an advance to our understanding.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    I think the notion of subjectivity and objectivity is specifically characteristic of the modern epoch. It is part of the transition away from the 'I-thou' relationship which characterised pre-modern thought, where the world is understood as an expression of the divine intelligence manifesting as a sense of relationship, or relatedness, to the sacramental order, which underlies and animates the world. Whereas with the advent of modernity, man begins to see himself as a subject in a realm of objects, bracketing out or putting aside metaphysics or 'first philosophy', which increasingly becomes seen as a cultural artifact rather than an expression of higher truth. (See Wikipedia article on disenchantment.)

    This is bound up with the displacement of the 'grand medieval synthesis' by the Copernican (or scientific) revolution. Whereas previously the Earth was believed to be at the centre of the Universe, and humankind created 'imago dei', after this period man's estimation of himself was inverted. Freud was to remark that ‘the self-love of mankind has been three times wounded by science’, referring to the Copernican revolution, Darwin’s discovery of evolution, and Nietzsche’s declaration of the Death of God. This was the subject of essays like Bertrand Russell's early paean to the Enlightenment, A Free Man's Worship.

    However, I also think the heyday of that kind of brutalist scientific materialism - the idea that humankind is simply, in Russell's words, 'the outcome of the accidental collocation of atoms'. has also had its day, Of course it is still a major influence in the modern world but I think Kierkegaard was one of its early and most perceptive critics. That would be my reading.
  • thewonder
    377

    It's been forever since I've read Kierkegaard, but he does declare that "Subjectivity is Truth" in Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments uner the pseudonym Johannes Climacus. I agree, but you'd have to give it a couple of months before I could adequately respond to this. I'm of the opinion that it should be emphasized that all knowledge is situated by subjective experience. I actually reject objective truth altogether, but haven't quite hashed this all out well enough to deliver a decent argument.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    I'm of the opinion that it should be emphasized that all knowledge is situated by subjective experience. I actually reject objective truth altogether, but haven't quite hashed this all out well enough to deliver a decent argument.thewonder

    You might find this essay of interest.
  • Valentinus
    504

    I actually reject objective truth altogether, but haven't quite hashed this all out well enough to deliver a decent argument.thewonder

    The people you are reading don't necessarily care about your problem. It is not germane to what they are struggling with.
  • fresco
    434

    I agree with your objection if it amounts to dismissal of the functionality of a non-contextual dichotomy between 'subjective' and 'objective'. I mean by this, that in context 'objectivity' means 'shared assumptions' versus individual views. The synthetic scenario of 'the bug' above is an example of what I call 'seminaritis'...a contrived situation beloved of philosophers which rarely occurs in 'real life'.
    The general issue of the dichotomy is bound up with a 'reality debate' which Pragmatist's (like Rorty) have dismissed as futile.
  • Galuchat
    659

    Awareness is both objective (fact-based) and subjective (value-based).
  • thewonder
    377

    Well, I just picked up Philosophical Fragments and Concluding Unscientific Postscripts. Are you saying that I won't find what I'm looking for in those texts? Drat! Concluding Unscientific Postscripts was kind of expensive, too. I'll still read them anyways, I guess.


    That is not necessarily what my objection is. I am suggesting that what we understand as "objective truths" are merely shared assumptions. I reject that "truth" can be discovered and question whether the attempt to do so can at all result in anything either meaningful or relevent. I'm not necessarily making a "'reality debate'". That "there is no truth" can easily be reduced to the absurd. A person who makes such claims can easily be dismissed as either a proposterous Skeptic or Nihilist. I am neither, but, as I've only recently developed this theory, I doubt that I can effectively prove otherwise.
  • Arne
    416
    Objectivity is an illusion. You cannot be more on the inside than we. Objectivity is not intended to be a space in which to live. Instead, it is intended to be a disposition adopted for the sole purpose of examining a particular proposition. People who mistakenly believe they can live within the adopted disposition of objectivity are essentially on the inside thinking they are on the outside looking in. And that is a formula for overwhelming cognitive dissonance. And he we are.
  • thewonder
    377

    Neurophenomenology sounds pretty far-out! I'll have to remember to look back into this if I ever take another class on Philosophy of Mind.
  • fresco
    434

    The word 'truth' doesn't come into it except in negotiation of what is agreed 'to be the case'. The 'reality debate' concerns the more general issue of whether 'things-in-themselves' can be separated from 'observers'. It also concerns the status of 'facts' which pragmatists see as 'social constructions'. The futility of 'the reality debate' is perhaps summarized by Nietzsche's point that 'descriptions' are all we can ever have, some being more useful than others according to context.
  • Valentinus
    504

    Good point.
    In regard to Nietzsche, he didn't ask that the "objectivity" be demonstrated in various perspectives but did refer to the natural as being what it was whether one paid attention to it or not.
    He called for the pursuit of science but did not seem compelled to depict how it worked.
  • thewonder
    377

    Well, the status of "'facts'" and negotiations of what is agreed "'to be the case'" is kind of the same thing. I would argue that "'things-in-themselves'" can not be meaningfully separated from "'observers'".

    Where does Nietzsche bring this up? I've read a number of texts by Nietzsche, but am unsure as to where it is that he makes this point about "'descriptions'".
  • fresco
    434
    My citing of Nietzsche's position comes second hand from Rorty's comments* on 'truth'.
    But this direct quote refers to that position....
    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/404275-we-say-it-is-explanation-but-it-is-only-in

    *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzynRPP9XkY
  • fresco
    434

    'How science works' is indeed a philosophical problem involving our human preoccupation with 'prediction and control' and the dubious epistemological status of 'causality' (as suggested by the Nietzsche quote above, and by physicists themselves), . Other than a 'naive realistic' approach to 'the laws of nature', the only philosophers I am aware of who concern themselves with this issue are those 'deep ecologists' like Fritjof Capra, who question whether science does 'work', from a holistic pov, and shift attention from 'explaining mechanisms' to 'the politics of control' (...shades of Nietzsche's 'Will to Power' perhaps... ?).
  • Valentinus
    504

    Perhaps Kierkegaard and Nietzsche set off an epistemological firestorm but both of them are peculiarly similar in the way that they did not see that circumstance as an impediment to finding out what was the case and reporting on their findings.
    They both argued for a simplicity of observation that many of their descendants denied to themselves.
  • thewonder
    377

    Thanks fresco. I guess I'll have to reread The Gay Science then. I spent too much time analyzing Nietzsche's decision to amply utilize aphorisms and emphasis when I decided to get into him.
  • Waya
    1k
    Thank you for your input!


    I think the notion of subjectivity and objectivity is specifically characteristic of the modern epoch. It is part of the transition away from the 'I-thou' relationship which characterised pre-modern thought, where the world is understood as an expression of the divine intelligence manifesting as a sense of relationship, or relatedness, to the sacramental order, which underlies and animates the world. Whereas with the advent of modernity, man begins to see himself as a subject in a realm of objects, bracketing out or putting aside metaphysics or 'first philosophy', which increasingly becomes seen as a cultural artifact rather than an expression of higher truth. (See Wikipedia article on disenchantment.)Wayfarer
    Interesting. Kierkegaard seems to use subjectivity in that manner of the relationship between man and God; which makes sense in terms of the relationship between man and objects (not in the same manner as one supposedly has a relationship with God though).


    It's been forever since I've read Kierkegaard, but he does declare that "Subjectivity is Truth" in Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments uner the pseudonym Johannes Climacus. I agree, but you'd have to give it a couple of months before I could adequately respond to this. I'm of the opinion that it should be emphasized that all knowledge is situated by subjective experience. I actually reject objective truth altogether, but haven't quite hashed this all out well enough to deliver a decent argument.thewonder
    Okay.
  • Dzung
    53
    Also, it seems likely that it is the only way to actually view anything, no matter what subject.Waya

    Yes, I concur. But if this is true, then objectivity is just another form of subjectivity, is it not?
    Objectivity is most popular in the science community that spreads out into the outter world. Now I have a feeling, like yours maybe, that the latter is now a crazy fan even more than the former originator. Therefore most discussions tend to pray on "objectivity" over and over.
  • 3017amen
    155
    A few years back I made a case for subjective truth vis-à-vis the existence of God. I tried to parse objective truth v. subjective truth (I will try to find some of the arguments). Remembering Maslow, he preached we all have an unfortunate disposition of 'defaulting to' the dichotomization of everything (politics of course is one example). However, I think it's safe to say the so called reality of living this life incorporates both A and B not either/or... . For example engineering is mostly A or B. If the formula is applied incorrectly, it won't work. But the phenomena of living life/the human condition and pretty much most of our perception is more often A and B. Vocationally speaking, and in a funny way, that also explains why managing people is generally considered 'more difficult' than doing engineering work lol. Needless to say, human sentience plays a big role there... .

    So I would submit truth is relative to a gradient scale. That said, I believe 'truth' is both subjective and objective, however, more specifically I believe 'truth' to be .333 Objective; .667 Subjective. And that's the truth!
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