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Passions in Poetry

How do you define objective?

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Brad
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25 posted 07-23-2001 12:14 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Huh?

I don't understand that.

Brad
Ron
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26 posted 07-23-2001 12:28 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Objective: Anything I say that is modeled on reality rather than based on opinion.

Subjective: Anything someone else says that I think is wrong.


jbouder
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27 posted 07-23-2001 01:31 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Local Reb:

"Jesus Christ rose from the dead" is an objective claim.

"I believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead" is a subjective statement about the objective claim.

If Jesus' resurrection is verifiable, then my belief (or unbelief) is inconsequential.  It still happened.  Hopefully it is the verifiability of the claim that makes the claim objective, not my belief in it.  

Brad:

I don't think most of us equate subjectivity with being wrong (in practice, at least) but, to the inquisitive mind, a subjective statement is immediately suspect.  I think this can be a helpful thing, considering the power that superstitious behavior can have on us and on those we are in contact with.

There are, however, many subjective feelings I have for my wife and children that require little or no objective verifiability in order for me to believe those feelings exist.  And I'm fine with that.

So I suppose the question is not whether objective is superior to subjective, but rather is when we ought to demand more than butterflies in our stomachs and burnings in our bosoms when making decisions that affect our lives.

But that's just my opinion.

Jim
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28 posted 07-24-2001 12:57 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Jim it's perfectly understandable why you are interpreting the scenario that way -- here is the problem though;

If a reporter says "The Republican candidate is a better choice than the Democrat" it is clearly a subjective statement...

Objectively he can state researched facts about each candidate, outline each candidate's positions (which is an objective statement about the candidate's beliefs) and let the reader draw their own conclusion.  Reporting on his own belief though remains objective if he classifies it as such adding 'I believe' or 'It is my opinion'.  In that case it is mere statement of the fact of his viewpoint.

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (edited 07-24-2001).]

Brad
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29 posted 07-29-2001 06:27 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad


"p" is true if and only if p is true.


Okay, took a little time off, found a great book on this subject -- "Rorty and his Critics" -- the topic is still a lot more controversial than I had previously thought. In a way though, that makes sense, it's been around for thousands of years.

It's been around for thousands of years. Why is that? Why does the question keep popping up over history?

[Note: the following is not intended as an historical explanation of what happens but merely one possible path, a kind of trope if you will.]

It seems to me that objectivity still contains a power over people's minds, an appeal to common sense: The table is there, the keys were on the table, the keys were on the table yesterday, at 4:45 PM and so on and so forth. Nobody really wants to debate these statements, they aren't interesting, even if they're wrong, the statements still revolve around an objectivist/sense certainty position.

From this appeal to common sense, it's sheer obviousness leads one to conclude that objectivity is not arguable. Therefore, we have just about any and all positions that want to persuade you to believe in something that is arguable (racism in the negative sense; God in the positive one) taking positions that sound just like "The table is there."  

However, even before something like this happens, somebody looks at an objectivist list of objective statements and thinks, "something's missing." Feeling is missing. Thus, we have the reassertion of subjectivism, "I love my mother." Everybody looks up, thinks this is true, common sense and whatnot, and there aren't any problems.

But then this is taken to the extreme:

Nothing is objective. All sense certainty is the result of the subject, therefore everything subjective. I can believe what I want, anything goes and so on and so forth.

The objectivist responds with something like, "Okay, walk through the table."

The subjectivist responds by asking, "Is the table more important or is love?"

The objectivist thinks the subjectitivist is an idiot and the subjectivist thinks the objectivist is unfeeling.

And most people look at both sides and generally side with the objectivists publically ("Of course, there's a table there"), and subjectivist privately ("I have a right to an opinion. Who cares if you can't prove love?").  It's really only the extremists that have problems with this distinction.  This makes sense, doesn't it? As long as we stay balanced, our lives should be a combination of both, right?

Except common sense disappears very quickly when people actually talk.

I'll be back,

Brad


Brad
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30 posted 07-30-2001 04:48 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad


"p" is true if and only if p is true.

Thinking a bit more about Jamie's statement:

"Probability being acceptable - statements made which you would accept as being truthful would now be considered objective in my opinion."

This kind of threw me at first.  

But his orginal question was:

"If there can be no absolute truths, it then follows there can be no verifiabilty, thus no objectivity. Are you willing to allow any margin for probablility?"

Now, this isn't quite what I want to get across. If I arrange it slightly

If [we can not know] absolute truths [being human], it then follows there can be no [certain]verifiabilty, thus no objectivity.

This statement I agree with.

"Are you willing to allow any margin for probability?"

My answer was and is yes. I think that's what we do, we try to find what the world around us really is and some answers are better than others. But we can never be sure that the formulas we do have aren't describing the data in a way that is false to the way things 'really are'.

This is so because the verification procedures are based on nothing other than that they do work.

Other formulas do not. Comparing the two leaves us with some formulas that are probably true and some that are probably not true.  A while back, I was reading an article about bringing back the 'ether' as a concept.  I was unconvinced but you never know.

At any rate, I think 'probably true' is a good tentative position to work from, to make decisions from.

If you want to call that objectivity, I guess I can't really complain except that I'm not sure most people see it that way.

Following that, perhaps I'm confusing a passionate intensity for a good guess with a certainty that is impossible.

Perhaps I'm the one who has taken such a long time to figure this out because I was the one on a quest for certainty and I'm the one who eventually concluded it was impossible -- I was just late to the table.

Everybody already knew that. Certainly, scientific procedures rule out the 100% option, don't they?

On the other hand, I really do think that people make the jump from probability to certainty because it's intricately tied up with their own subjectivity (I exist).

If objectivity goes, so does subjectivity.

Solipsistic thinking is not the danger; it's the challenge to the unified self and the loss of any ground at all that really gets people heated about this stuff.

That's the real problem.

Brad


      
Stephanos
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31 posted 07-30-2001 04:54 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

You made the statement...

"If [we can not know] absolute truths [being human], it then follows there can be no [certain]verifiabilty, thus no objectivity."

I believe humans with divine aid are capable of (and even responsible for)  knowing certain absolute truths.

So your statement is correct as long the "if" remains.  The problem is that many end up dropping this "if" and asserting that we as humans cannot know absolute truths.  But this is an a priori conclusion and begging the question.  The question is "can humans know objectively?"  Your answer might be "no, because humans cannot know absolute truth".  But what you have ended up doing is defending and supporting your answer to the question with your answer.  And one more inconsistency is noted...  such a statement can only be right if at least one particular thing is known with certainty, namely that nothing can be known certainly.  And if this is presumed to be absolute knowledge the position itself has collapsed.

Regardless of what ideas we like to throw around, there is objectivity in the mind of God.  And we are graciously given the ability and resposibility for knowing at least some of it's more important aspects.

Stephen.
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32 posted 07-31-2001 11:36 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Ok Brad... well researched and thought out... but, aren't we now getting back to Heisenberg?
Brad
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33 posted 08-02-2001 09:25 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

LR,

The Uncertainty Principle? That's as good a place to start as any. Quantum Physical theory defines it's success, not by the various descriptionist models presented (the math is always the same) but because it works.

I'm suggesting that we concentrate on what works and simply not worry about the objective or theological value.

I think most people would argue that that is simply not a philosophical statement (because philosophy deals with the unanswerable and therefore the irrelevant)but what I think it does do is refocus our thoughts on different questions.

Questions that have consequences in the world we see now.

Stephen,

You know, when we did this before we both got muddled in the same problem -- a confusion among different types of thinking (or philsophical paradigms if you want to be trendy about it). Instead of two, I think it's clearer if we try to think of three different paradigms:

1. Theology: Good/Evil
2. Rational: Objective/Subjective
3. Pragmatic: Agreement/Disagreement

None of these are pure of course, they intermix but it's based on which particular way of thinking, which particular questions we ask that determines which mode we use.

"There is a pen on the table" would certainly
be an objective statement in number 2 but probably wouldn't be an absolute truth in number one.

In number one, "How does this relate to God?"
In number two, "What are the factors for determining the objectivity of this?"
In number three, "Why is it that we agree (or disagree) with this statement?"

I agree that if your starting point is, "There is a God," there is proof everywhere to be seen, in everything around us, we can see the hand of God.

What I don't see is how you can communicate with someone who doesn't believe in God or believes in a different god. The conversation just seems to go in circles.

But communication does take place between people who believe in these incommensurable world views. I think it takes place because agreement occurs in other areas of thinking (we need food or clothing or whatnot).

I concede your theological view and want to discuss what are these things we can discuss but I don't believe that 'because of God' becomes a particularly persuasive argument in this situation.

On the other hand, I also think there can be nothing more obvious than think "There is a pen on the table" to be an objective statement. Yet, what is someone from a different culture sees this same object, not as a writing instrument, but as a weapon? The objectivity becomes suspect, doesn't it? At this point, objectivists move into a further description of the pen using mathematics but, to my way of thinking, this is simply a different way of describing the object. Why should we privilege it? It certainly has value for us, it's useful to see this 'pen' in mathematical terms but why is mathematics a more objective way of looking at the world?

If you see it as a pen, why does it matter?

If you see it as a weapon, why does it matter?

If you want to make another pen, it certainly does matter.

In the same way that 'because of God' loses it's persuasive force because people believe different things, 'because it's objective' also loses it's force because people are in different situations.

As Habermas points out in the book I mentioned earlier, pragmatists concede the objective world as already there. I disagree slightly because I think pragmatists concede whatever metaphysical worldview you, the non-pragmatist, has.

Earlier, I talked about the statement, "Shakespeare used more words than any other writer." I conceded that this was objective (provided it is indeed true of course) but why is that important?  It's only important if we attach some subjective significance to it (always implicit in any statement for it to make sense).

We think the number of words is important.

Why is that?

An objectivist doesn't ask this question because it's subjective and someone who claims subjectivity doesn't feel the need to explain it's importance because it's, well, subjective.

But what does that mean and imply?

More later,
Brad


Local Rebel
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34 posted 08-03-2001 05:12 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Actually I was hinting at the portion of the uncertainty principle that suggests the mere fact that we are observing an event has an influence upon the outcome.
Brad
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35 posted 08-05-2001 08:17 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Oh, okay. That's just as good.

Actually, I was thinking a bit more. I don't want to be thought of as advocating a kind of Cutural Relativism. That philosophy, if you can call it that, seems to deter interaction between cultures and difference rather than more interaction, more conversation. And, in a way, seems much more of a prime candidate for Stephen's contradictions than Pragmatism. Cultural Relativism privileges those who are relativists as opposed to those who believe that their own culture is the best (just about everyone else on the planet).

But then relativists can be considered a specific culture and community who privilege themselves at the expense of others.

A contradiction, right?

A relativist, at least the ones I've met, chastize others for not thinking as they do. A pragmatist, I think, wants to try to understand how others think, create a fusion of horizons (Gadamer), and make decisions from that point.

Unless I'm completely misreading this stuff.

Brad

 
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