Jump to content
Science Forums

Objectivity is Our Shared Subjectivity


coberst
 Share

Recommended Posts

Objectivity is Our Shared Subjectivity

 

Fingerprint and now DNA analysis are what I would call the epitome of objective truth. I say this because these two human characteristics are defining evidence upon which we judge a person guilty and thereby subject to the death penalty.

 

Fingerprints are very subjective in that they can change substantially as result of very subjective circumstances. My fingerprint can change significantly today from what they were yesterday.

 

How is it possible that some things so subjective and unique as DNA and fingerprints can determine objectively whether a person is executed or set free?

 

Fingerprints and DNA objectivity is based upon the structural integrity of both. That is to say that because both human characteristics are structured for every normal human being in exactly the same manner we can identify one unique individual within billions of individuals. So it is with the case of human experience. Because all normal humans structure cognition in the same manner we can identify that which is objective in human thoughts.

 

Objectivity is our shared subjectivity.

 

My second son, Mike, was a blanket boy. He spent a good part of his first 24 months with a thumb in his mouth and a blanket in his arms. If we left the house with Mike we checked and double checked that we did not leave his ‘blanky’ behind. After 24 months the blanky was nothing more than a scrap of shredded cloth. He would not accept a substitute.

 

Absolute truth is our blanky. DickandJane become very anxious when their security blanket, i.e. absolute truth, is not in hand.

 

Objectivism is a fundamentalist philosophy. It believes that reality is something external to the brain and that the task of the brain is to gain knowledge about this external reality.

 

Right/wrong and true/false are considered to be objective criteria rather than subjective criteria. Objectivism posits perfect knowledge and assumes such knowledge is obtainable. I think that such views have been discredited.

 

The myth of objectivism says that: the world is made up of objects that have properties completely independent of those who perceive them; we understand our world through our consciously constructed concepts and categories; “we can say things that are objectively, absolutely true, and unconditionally true and false about it…we cannot rely upon subjective judgments…science can ultimately give a correct, definitive, and general account of reality”; words have fixed meaning that can describe reality correctly. To be objective is to be rational.

 

The myth of subjectivism informs us that our senses and intuition is our best guide. Feelings are the most important elements of our lives. Aesthetic sensibilities and moral practices are all totally subjective. “Art and poetry transcend rationality and objectivity and put us in touch with more important reality of our feelings and intuitions. We gain this awareness through imagination rather than reason…Science is of no use when it comes to the most important things in our lives.”

 

The new paradigm of cognitive science rejects both objectivism and subjectivism. I believe in this new cognitive science, which theorizes that objectivity is a shared subjectivity.

 

Objectivity is shared subjectivity. Objective truth is a misnomer; there is only shared truth/false and there is only shared good/bad.

 

Objectivity is shared subjectivity. We create reality in our brain. If you and I create the same reality then we have a shared subjectivity. We cannot know the thing-in-itself, as Kant informs us and is easily recognized if we focus upon it.

 

I would say that reality comes in two forms; the thing-in-itself is the reality that Kant informs us that we cannot know and then we have the reality that our brain creates. This reality we create is aided by the senses and is congruent with how our body interacts with the thing-in-itself. If the interaction between the thing-in-itself and the creature’s embodied mind is too far off--the creature quickly becomes toast.

 

Most people are objectivist in many ways; do you still comfort yourself with blanky?

 

Quotes from Moral Imagination Mark Johnson (coauthor of Philosophy in the Flesh)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How is objectivity as shared subjectivity significantly different than just objectivism? Did you think objectivists were saying that eyes allowed people to perceive the thing directly as if it were an extension of themselves?

 

I don't agree that objectivism necessitates the belief in definitive answers from science. Objectivists surely must still recognize the potential for there to always be additional information that refutes our previous beliefs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How is objectivity as shared subjectivity significantly different than just objectivism? Did you think objectivists were saying that eyes allowed people to perceive the thing directly as if it were an extension of themselves?

 

I don't agree that objectivism necessitates the belief in definitive answers from science. Objectivists surely must still recognize the potential for there to always be additional information that refutes our previous beliefs.

 

 

 

 

 

What all humans share is our cognitive structuring of our experiences and all of our thinking structures. Anything that we might claim to be objective is based upon our cognitive structuring, which acts upon anything that we might call reality.

 

We have in our Western philosophy a traditional theory of faculty psychology wherein our reasoning is a faculty completely separate from the body. “Reason is seen as independent of perception and bodily movement.” It is this capacity of autonomous reason that is said to make us different in kind from all other animals. I suspect that many fundamental aspects of philosophy and psychology are focused upon declaring, whenever possible, the separateness of our species from all other animals.

 

This tradition of an autonomous reason began long before evolutionary theory and has held strongly since then without consideration, it seems to me, of the theories of Darwin and of biological science. Cognitive science has in the last three decades developed considerable empirical evidence supporting Darwin and not supporting the traditional theories of philosophy and psychology regarding the autonomy of reason. Cognitive science has focused a great deal of empirical science toward discovering the nature of the embodied mind.

 

The three major findings of cognitive science are:

The mind is inherently embodied.

Thought is mostly unconscious.

Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.

 

“These findings of cognitive science are profoundly disquieting [for traditional thinking] in two respects. First, they tell us that human reason is a form of animal reason, a reason inextricably tied to our bodies and the peculiarities of our brains. Second, these results tell us that our bodies, brains, and interactions with our environment provide the mostly unconscious basis for our everyday metaphysics, that is, our sense of what is real.”

 

All living creatures categorize. All creatures, as a minimum, separate eat from no eat and friend from foe. As neural creatures tadpole and wo/man categorize.

 

Our categories are what we consider to be real in the world: tree, rock, animal…Our concepts are what we use to structure our reasoning about these categories. Concepts are neural structures that are the fundamental means by which we reason about categories.

 

Quotes from Philosophy in the Flesh by Lakoff and Johnson

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have in our Western philosophy a traditional theory of faculty psychology wherein our reasoning is a faculty completely separate from the body.
This appears to be in error on two counts.

 

Firstly, faculty psychology is the notion that thought/cognition/reasoning is achieved by discrete areas of the brain undertaking specific tasks. It is not the separation of mind and body that you have alleged.

 

Secondly, it is incorrect to claim, as you appear to do, that Western philosphy is primarily dualist. Hobbes and Spinoza, for exanple, do not seem to fall into that category. Perhaps you meant that dualism is one thread of Western philosophy. If so this was not clear.

 

Would you like to comment on either of these apparent errors?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Objectivity is Our Shared Subjectivity

It is true that words only mean what we chose them to mean, but I'm having difficulty seeing any benefit in defining "objectivity" as shared subjectivity.

 

If you acknowledge that objective reality exists outside our subjective perception of it, then the claim that it is somehow subjective (whether shared or otherwise) is nonense.

 

Equally, although it may be hoped that our shared subjective views match objective reality, there is no reason to presume that is automatically the case. Take for example a group of Christians, their shared sujective view of reality inludes Jesus Christ as God their saviour. Whilst the shared subjective view of a group of atheists is that there is no god, Jesus Christ or otherwise. Both these shared subjective views cannot match objective reality. So, no, objectivity is not our shared subjectivity.

 

However, I'm also having difficulty finding any reference backing up a number of your claims:

 

1:

Fingerprints are very subjective in that they can change substantially as result of very subjective circumstances. My fingerprint can change significantly today from what they were yesterday.

????

 

2:

Because all normal humans structure cognition in the same manner we can identify that which is objective in human thoughts.

????

 

Claims about objectivism...

 

3:

Objectivism is a fundamentalist philosophy. It believes that reality is something external to the brain and that the task of the brain is to gain knowledge about this external reality.

????

 

4:

Objectivism posits perfect knowledge and assumes such knowledge is obtainable.

????

 

5:

(Objectivism posits) words have fixed meaning that can describe reality correctly.

????

 

6:

(Objectivism posits) To be objective is to be rational.

????

 

Unless you can justify claims 3 to 6, you appear to be arguing against a straw man version of objectivism.

 

7:

I would say that reality comes in two forms; the thing-in-itself is the reality that Kant informs us that we cannot know and then we have the reality that our brain creates.

I would say that using the term "reality" to describe our subjective view of reality is not useful. I would define:

- reality is what exists whether we are aware of it or not.

- imaginary is what exists only in our minds.

- physical is the material and electromagnetic universe, and gravity.

- abstract is non-physical.

- existence includes entities that are real, imaginary, physical and abstract.

 

That makes sense to me. Calling our subjective view of reality (that is imaginary) reality is not a useful terminology.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

jedaisoul,

perhaps one problem with this thread of cobert's is his failure to distinguish between philosphy and science, or rather this tendency to mix the two indiscrimantely. In my understanding science is methodologically naturalistic, which not only means that it will only explore natural phenomena and ignore supernatural phenomena, but also that it will assume 'reality' can be identified and measured. The latter is also done on methodlogical grounds. In other words science does not say we can identify and measure reality, but that we will assume that we can and act accordingly.

 

Coberst then explores the issues of whether or not our perception of reality matches 'true' reality or not but invokes scientific concepts to explorte these philosphical questions. It just seems to me to be an unhealthy and unhelpful mismash of techniques and perspectives. What are your thoughts?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This appears to be in error on two counts.

 

Firstly, faculty psychology is the notion that thought/cognition/reasoning is achieved by discrete areas of the brain undertaking specific tasks. It is not the separation of mind and body that you have alleged.

 

Secondly, it is incorrect to claim, as you appear to do, that Western philosphy is primarily dualist. Hobbes and Spinoza, for exanple, do not seem to fall into that category. Perhaps you meant that dualism is one thread of Western philosophy. If so this was not clear.

 

Would you like to comment on either of these apparent errors?

 

Faculty psychology is the notion that there is an autonomous faculty of reason that functions independent of the body capacities such as perception and movement. Within this autonomous faculty of reason there is supposed to exist somewhat separate modules such as imagination and perception.

 

SGCS informs us that reason is embodied; that is to say that there is no mind/body dichotomy. Human reason is a form of animal reason. We have a body-mind gestalt.

 

We can see today that Western philosophy is basically an adherent to this Cartesian mind/body dichotomy. Christianity, well aided by philosophy, teaches us that the body and mind (soul) are separate, which makes it possible for our soul to have life everlasting while our separate body becomes dust. This is evident also in analytic philosophy, which was "influenced by the writings of Gottlob Frege...His attack on "psychologism", the view that mathematics is a result of the structure of the human mind rather than an objective mind-independent reality, led him to adopt a view of all meaning and thought as disembodied and formal...Nowhere in this picture of language is there any place for embodiment or imagination in conceptualization, reasoning, or knowledge."

 

Quote from Philosophy in the Flesh Lakoff and Johnson

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jedaisoul

 

Speaking about reality is a problem because Western culture has been either objectivist or subjectivist about this that we do not have a sufficiently sophisticated vocabulary.

 

We constantly make subjective judgments regarding abstract things, such as morality, difficulty, importance; we also have subjective experiences such as affection, desire, and achievement.

 

The manner in which we reason, and visualize about these matters comes from other domains of experience. “These other domains are mostly sensorimotor domains…as when we conceptualize understanding an idea (subjective experience) in terms of grasping an object (sensorimotor experience)…The cognitive mechanism for such conceptualizations is conceptual metaphor, which allows us to use the physical logic of grasping to reason about understanding.”

 

Metaphor is pervasive throughout thought and language. Primary metaphors might properly be considered to be the fundamental building blocks for our thinking and our communication through language.

 

The theory of primary metaphors has four parts:

1) Johnson’s theory of conflation—in the early years of childhood the sensorimotor experiences are often conflated with the subjective (nonsensorimotor) experiences and judgments. An example might be when a newborn experiences the warmth of the embrace by its mother and that literal experience becomes conflated with a later subjective experience of affection. That is why our feeling of affection is accompanied by a sense of warmth. “During the early period of conflation, associations are automatically built up between the two domains. Later, during a period of differentiation, children then able to separate out the domains, but the cross-domain associations persist.”

 

2) Grady’s theory of primary metaphor—complex metaphors are like molecular structure with primary metaphors as the atomic elements.

 

3) Narayanan’s neural theory of metaphor—the associations made during conflation “are realized neurally in simultaneous activations that result in permanent neural connections being made across the neural networks that define conceptual domains…that constitute metaphorical entailments.”

 

4) Fauconnier and Turner’s theory of conceptual blending—Distinct separate conceptual domains can be coactivated thereby creating a blending, which creates new and unique conceptual blends.

 

“The integrated theory –the four parts together—has an overwhelming implication: We acquire a large system of primary metaphors automatically and unconsciously simply by functioning in the most ordinary of ways in the everyday world from our earliest days…we all naturally think using hundreds of primary metaphors.”

 

In summation, we have many hundreds of primary metaphors, which together provide a rich inferential structure, imagery, and qualitative feel. These primary metaphors permit our sensorimotor experiences to be used to create subjective experiences. Thus abstract ideas are created that are grounded in everyday experiences.

 

Do you have any idea how abstract ideas might be created other wise?

 

Quotes from Philosophy in the Flesh” by Lakoff and Johnson

 

Fauconnier, G “Mappings in Thought and Language”

 

Grady, J “Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language”

 

Narayanan, S Dissertation Department of Computer Science University of Calif

 

 

“Most postmodern philosophers and other post-Kuhnian philosophers of science deny that cognitive science can have “truths” that could provide a basis for criticizing a particular philosophical view…they argue, cognitive science can neither function as the basis for a critique of existing philosophy nor provide the basis for an alternative philosophical theory.”

 

There are at least two versions of cognitive science: a first-generation that has assumed most of the fundamental tenets of traditional Anglo-American philosophy and a second generation that has called most of these same tenets into question on empirical grounds.

 

First generation cognitive science evolved in the 1950s and 60s centering their concern about symbol-manipulation, which accepted without question the disembodied nature of reason. The mind from this functionalist view was seen to resemble a computer program that could run on any appropriate hardware. “This was philosophy without flesh…This was a modern version of Cartesian view that reason is transcendental, universal, disembodied, and literal.”

 

The realist views of first generation cognitive science are based upon specific a priori commitments such as:

 

• Functionalism: The mind is disembodied, meaning that mind can be studied without concern about the brain and the rest of the body.

• Symbol Manipulation: Cognition operates upon symbols without regard to the meaning of those symbols.

• Representational theory of meaning: Mental representations are merely symbolic without inherent meaning

• Classical categories: Categories are consciously defined by that which is necessary and sufficient.

• Literal Meaning: All meaning is literal without imaginative or metaphorical content.

 

SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science)is committed

to what might be called ESR (Embodied Scientific Realism).

 

Disembodied scientific realism is committed to at least three scientific claims: 1) There is a world independent of our perception and comprehension of it, 2) We can have a stable knowledge of this independent world, and 3) That our manner and structure of thinking are unaffected by our bodies but is determined completely by the external world and that these external truths are absolute.

 

ESR accepts (1) and (2) while rejecting (3). “At the heart of embodied realism is our physical engagement with an environment in an ongoing series of interactions…Our embodied system of basic level concepts has evolved to “fit” the ways in which our bodies, over the course of evolution, have been coupled to our environment, partly for the sake of survival, partly for the sake of human flourishing beyond mere survival, and partly by chance…The basic level of conceptualization is the cornerstone of embodied realism.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

eclogite

 

 

I am mixing philosophy and science. I have a BSEE and an MA in philosophy, perhaps this is why I have become attracted to these new cognitive theories that breach the separation between these two domains of knowledge. I recognize that this new cognitive theory is vital to our comprehension of our world and I think that ever responsible citizen of a democratic nation needs to examine this matter also.

 

I have studied SGCS using the book Philosophy in the Flesh by Lakoff and Johnson. Lakoff is a linguist and Johnson a professor of philosophy.

 

This new theory challenges Western a priori philosophy and justifies his challenge because philosophy is an a priori practice and the experimentalist cognitive science has discovered empirical evidence that indicates a priori philosophy is all wet in a most fundamental aspect of human understanding.

 

I do not know whether philosophy has chosen to accept this challenge and perhaps philosophy is in no position to react to a challenge of this nature.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

jedaisoul,

perhaps one problem with this thread of cobert's is his failure to distinguish between philosphy and science, or rather this tendency to mix the two indiscrimantely. In my understanding science is methodologically naturalistic, which not only means that it will only explore natural phenomena and ignore supernatural phenomena, but also that it will assume 'reality' can be identified and measured. The latter is also done on methodlogical grounds. In other words science does not say we can identify and measure reality, but that we will assume that we can and act accordingly.

 

Coberst then explores the issues of whether or not our perception of reality matches 'true' reality or not but invokes scientific concepts to explorte these philosphical questions. It just seems to me to be an unhealthy and unhelpful mismash of techniques and perspectives. What are your thoughts?

I see your point. When empirical results are confirmed by other experimenters, science says "what we have measured with our instruments is objective reality". Of course, philosophically that is not true, as every observation is unavoidably subjective. I.e. The act of reading and interpreting the measurements introduces an element of subjectivity. If scientists in general are prone to the same subjective view, then their observations may agree irrespective of whether they match objective reality. An example, perhaps, is the "canals" on Mars.

 

As you say, Coberst has used a scientific definition of objectivity as if it were philosophically appropriate. I must watch out to see if I am guilty of the same, as I frequently use scientific evidence to support philosophic arguments!

 

However, my main objection to his post is the string of unsupported claims, particularly those relating to objectivism. I find it difficult to reconcile them to any references known to me. I will read his reply with interest...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Coberst, I fail to recognize a single answer to any of my points in your rather long post #8. I do hope that you were not trying to obfuscate the matter with an apparently irrelevant display of erudition? :Exclamati

 

So please, where are the answers to my specific points? If they are in #8 then I apologize, but I would be grateful for clarification...

 

Oh, congrats on the MA, is that a recent achievement?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see your point. When empirical results are confirmed by other experimenters, science says "what we have measured with our instruments is objective reality". Of course, philosophically that is not true, as every observation is unavoidably subjective. I.e. The act of reading and interpreting the measurements introduces an element of subjectivity. If scientists in general are prone to the same subjective view, then their observations may agree irrespective of whether they match objective reality. An example, perhaps, is the "canals" on Mars.

 

As you say, Coberst has used a scientific definition of objectivity as if it were philosophically appropriate. I must watch out to see if I am guilty of the same, as I frequently use scientific evidence to support philosophic arguments!

 

However, my main objection to his post is the string of unsupported claims, particularly those relating to objectivism. I find it difficult to reconcile them to any references known to me. I will read his reply with interest...

 

 

SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) has brought together empirical data from many domains of knowledge and one can find the location of these data in the very numerous references contained in the Lakoff books Philosophy in the Flesh and Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things.

 

I am convinced that these new theories will become fundamental knowledge in the next several generations. Unfortunately new theories in the human sciences take generations to peculate down to DickandJane. This is not true of the natural sciences. This is why technology moves very rapidly forward while human understanding moves at a snails pace. This is why we most likely will self destruct because we will never be able to adapt to our changing world fast enough to survive.

 

I have been studying and writing about this new science for four years and this is only the beginning of my understanding.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Coberst, I fail to recognize a single answer to any of my points in your rather long post #8. I do hope that you were not trying to obfuscate the matter with an apparently irrelevant display of erudition? :Exclamati

 

So please, where are the answers to my specific points? If they are in #8 then I apologize, but I would be grateful for clarification...

 

I would have to write a book to provide you with understandable answers to your specific questions. The best that I can do is to awaken your curiosity sufficiently for you to go to the books for your answers. You cannot comprehend these matters without a great deal of study. I have posted many threads about these matters on this forum but you cannot comprehend these matters by reading a dozen paragraphs here and there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) has brought together empirical data from many domains of knowledge and one can find the location of these data in the very numerous references contained in the Lakoff books Philosophy in the Flesh and Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things.

I do not regard that as an acceptable reply to my request for references. So I'll take the points one by one. Please justify your claim:

 

Fingerprints are very subjective in that they can change substantially as result of very subjective circumstances. My fingerprint can change significantly today from what they were yesterday.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would have to write a book to provide you with understandable answers to your specific questions. The best that I can do is to awaken your curiosity sufficiently for you to go to the books for your answers. You cannot comprehend these matters without a great deal of study. I have posted many threads about these matters on this forum but you cannot comprehend these matters by reading a dozen paragraphs here and there.

Please. Save me the condescension. Ok. If the claim that your fingerprints change from day to day is too advanced for me to understand the reasoning, Try explaining:

 

Because all normal humans structure cognition in the same manner we can identify that which is objective in human thoughts.

On second thoughts, perhaps that is too obvious. I would not want to waste your time explaining something so simple. The scientific definition of "objective" is our shared subjective, so the statement is a tautology.

 

So lets try the next one. Try explaining:

 

Objectivism is a fundamentalist philosophy. It believes that reality is something external to the brain and that the task of the brain is to gain knowledge about this external reality.

Where does the definition of objectivism include the claim that "the task of the brain is to gain knowledge about this external reality"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do not regard that as an acceptable reply to my request for references. So I'll take the points one by one. Please justify your claim:

 

 

Quickie from Wiki:

 

“Fingerprint identification (sometimes referred to as dactyloscopy[5]) or palm print identification is the process of comparing questioned and known friction skin ridge impressions (see Minutiae) from fingers or palms or even toes to determine if the impressions are from the same finger or palm. The flexibility of friction ridge skin means that no two finger or palm prints are ever exactly alike (never identical in every detail), even two impressions recorded immediately after each other.”

 

“When friction ridges come in contact with a surface that is receptive to a print, material on the ridges, such as perspiration, oil, grease, ink, etc. can be transferred to the item. The factors which affect friction ridge impressions are numerous, thereby requiring examiners to undergo extensive and objective study in order to be trained to competency. Pliability of the skin, deposition pressure, slippage, the matrix, the surface, and the development medium are just some of the various factors which can cause a latent print to appear differently from the known recording of the same friction ridges. Indeed, the conditions of friction ridge deposition are unique and never duplicated”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...