Examining Subjectivity Objectively

Subjectivity is your own unique point of view, the way you see things somewhere inside your skull. What you see subjectively may be the outer world from your eyes or the world inside you from your mind’s eye. What you see of the outer world is partial but unique. What you see of your inner world is unique and almost complete. The reason it’s not completely complete is that you can’t see yourself seeing yourself. This has some implications, such as you can’t experience the discontinuity of your own thought processes or know that what you are currently experiencing is a dream rather than reality or know when you are losing your marbles. But what we can see of our inner world is something no one else can see.

This brings us to objectivity. Objectivity is not subjectivity. It is nowhere, everywhere, and somewhere in between. It is usually thought of as some kind of statistical average, median, standard deviation, summary, etc. of all the subjective points of view. It might be better to think of it as a mathematical distillation of every possible or every rational point of view, whether or not there’s a real subject behind those points of view. Maybe it’s best to think of it as the single true fact regardless of anyone’s subjective point of view. The only intelligent thing I can say about objectivity is that it can’t say anything intelligent about what is going on in your inner world. So much for objectivity.

So how can we talk to each other about anything besides the weather or sports? How can we share inner experiences? How can we help each other get through tough inner conflicts? For a start, not by being objective, but by being as subjective as we can.

Unfortunately many of us don’t really know ourselves very well. Such people are not well acquainted with what’s going on inside them, how they work on the inside. They know well enough what’s going on outside them and how things work in the outer world, but they are strangers to themselves.

How can being as subjective as we can help someone else? When we experience things deeply, we grow another set of ears that help us to hear others with similar experiences better. When we’ve experienced an inner conflict and then someone else experiences a similar conflict, we lessen their load even if we haven’t figured out how to resolve that conflict ourselves. We know others only by knowing ourselves.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel



Filed under Essays, Dilemmas, & Philosophy, Prose

7 responses to “Examining Subjectivity Objectively

  1. Now I know why all those men in the sauna talk about sports figures. I am having trouble objectively reading this post. Maybe it’s because I need to know myself better. I also want to know why we all have so much trouble changing our positions about anything. It seems like it’s all decided by the time we’re 22 or so.

  2. Victoria Stone

    To me, you have eloquently explained non-dualism. There is a vast difference between what we know and what we feel… I think the most authentic communication between people is when the things they know allow them to speak from that place deep inside to that place in another person… not filtered thru ego or the addiction to our “words or feelings.”
    The more deeply I explore the depths of my soul, the less I need to define myself to others. That space doesn’t need to be proven because it simply is… I’m quite sure that if ego’s were taken out of the equation, we humans would “get” how simple it really is to co-exist and thrive. Even if this is not what you were talking about… it’s how I “heard it.”… and I am neither subjective nor objective about you and your work… it always resonates with me, like the strings of a spiritual guitar..

    • I didn’t really mean to write about dualism, but I feel the same about it that you do. Dualism IMHO is a Victorian pose, a self-imposed belief that there’s some sort of veneer between their banal civilized selves and the chaotic universe around them. Half the universe is outside us and half of it is inside us. We’re unique at the upper layers of our inner selves but very deep down, probably at the quantum level, our roots are joined together. We would probably look like some sort of strange plant to a being with omni-dimensional vision. 🙂

  3. You two are definitely cut from the same cloth.

  4. Interesting!

    So basically, one cannot say anything intelligent and objective, because that would be adding one’s subjective intellect to the object. This would imply that there is no real value in true objectivity. Objectivity is something that just is.

    And anyone who claims to be objective about some matter, is either lying to you, to himself, or has a weak grasp of what objectivity really means…

    • I didn’t say objectivity has no value. I just said nobody can say anything intelligent and objective about what’s going on inside somebody else, but he probably can’t say anything intelligent and objective about what going on outside either.

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