Follow by email

Objective and Subjective

objective adj. & n. - adj. 1 external to the mind; actually existing; real. 2 (of a person, writing, art, etc.) dealing with outward things or exhibiting facts uncoloured by feelings or opinions; not subjective. 3 Gram. (of a case or word) constructed as or appropriate to the object of a transitive verb or preposition (cf. ACCUSATIVE). 4 aimed at (objective point). 5 (of symptoms) observed by another and not only felt by the patient. - n. 1 something sought or aimed at; an objective point. 2 Gram. The objective case. 3 = object-glass.
subjective adj. & n. - adj. 1 (of art, literature, written history, a person’s views, etc.) proceeding from personal idiosyncrasy or individuality; not impartial or literal. 2 esp. Philos. proceeding from or belonging to the individual consciousness or perception; imaginary, partial, or distorted. 3 Gram. of or concerning the subject. - n. Gram. the subjective case.
 (Concise Oxford Dictionary 1992.)

The use that I wish to make of these words is at variance with their traditional uses as stipulated in dictionary definitions and in much philosophical discourse. Although my use is unconventional, I believe it to eliminate some of the confusion that arises in discussions about experience. My use of these words will therefore require some explanation.

Mait Edey writes in his paper Subject and Object 1 that:

For purposes of this discussion, let the term 'object' refer to anything anyone might be aware of or pay attention to. The term refers, then, not only to 'physical' objects, including whatever material processes, states, or conditions one might discriminate, but also to such 'mental' or immaterial entities or processes as pains, sensations, memories, images, dreams and daydreams, emotions, thoughts, plans, numbers, concepts, moods, desires and so on. Whatever we may think about their ontological or epistemological status in other respects, I hope we can agree at least that any of these may be objects of attention or pass in and out of awareness.

The field of experience is comprised of such "objects", which fall into categories with one such category being that of “people”. The world of objects comprising the field of experience gives an appearance that is consistent with the perspective taken by an entity that is itself embedded in that world, specifically an entity that is conceived to be a member of the category of “people”, and moreover a member that is unique amongst the members of that category inasmuch as it is a conceptual member rather than a perceptual member. This unique member of the category of “people” will be referred to as the “self-as-person”.

Some of the constituents of the field of experience (e.g. trees) are evident to all people that are in a position to observe them, as is indicated by their behaviour - e.g. two or more people looking at the same tree will normally agree that they are looking at a tree (even when one of those individuals is the conceived self-as-person). This particular set of constituents (comprised not only of people but also of all of the other objects that are evident to all people in a position to observe them, along with their relationships to each other) constitute what is conventionally referred to as the “objective world”, and this convention will be adhered to for the purpose of this discussion. Given Mait Edey's description of the word "object" as outlined above, the word "objective" can no longer be considered a derivative. In an attempt to adhere to the more intuitively obvious use of these words I will reserve the word "object" for those constituents of the field of experience that comprise the objective world.

The objective world, then, is the world with which people are acquainted by virtue of those of their sense organs that are directed towards their immediate environment, and in the case of the conceptual self-as-person, the world that appears as that category of experiences conventionally referred to as “external sense data”. (I qualify these latter experiences as “external” only to distinguish them from those experiences associated with “internal” senses like proprioception, the feelings of thirst and hunger, etc.) Data acquired through the external sense organs are described as “empirical”, and it is by virtue of the common form of external sense organs amongst members of our species that aspects of the objective world may be considered “shared” or “public”. For this reason the phrases “objective aspects of experience” and “empirical data of experience” will be treated as synonymous for the purpose of this discussion.
                                                    
Some of the constituents of the field of experience (e.g. pain, hunger, etc.) are not parts of the objective world unless divulged via some kind of objective behaviour such as language, pain behaviour, etc. Such constituents relate only to the conceived self-as-person, and comprise what is conventionally referred to as the “subjective world”. To continue with the use of words as stipulated above, subjective experiences are non-empirical. On these definitions, and at variance with common use, the terms “objective” and “subjective” identify certain categories into which the constituents of the field of experience fall.

No comments:

Post a Comment