Monday, July 14, 2008

(Intro) On Objectivity; A Response


Part 1: Decision-level objectivity

Part 2: As a basis for comparison or judgment

Part 3: God or whatever you take or don’t take as His equivalent


A friend (e!) raised some questions on the idea of objectivity and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. Been doing some thinking…

Call it an amateur’s taxonomy if you want. But there has to be a basic, bounded understanding for this to work. So, let’s say there are three identifiable kinds of objectivity, though in reality they exist on a continuum (what else could it be), ranging from God to human. Does that work? I mean:

God/Ultimate objectivity ----- Values-clash ----- Decision-level

I hope to treat all three. Perhaps the latter two are most important, as they relate to Life as We Know It; however, the former could easily be the most fun AND the most significant thanks to its far-reaching nature. This last quickly becomes the question, ‘Does God exist’ (“God” or whatever your own particular flavor of ultimate objectivity you may or may not ascribe to). The middle relates to the idea of comparing cultures, and exists perhaps as a counter to cultural relativism. To a point, anyway. Can you compare cultures, make value judgments about others whose experience you do not know? The final point is that of making decisions in relations among people. Here, the question, ‘Is objectivity even possible?’ has no relevance. At this level, I’m talking about a decision-making process.

If the question is, “Is objectivity even possible”, I’ll refer to a previous post in which I find myself sincerely hoping that it is, taking objectivity to signify reason or logic, and this to be ultimately the only path to common understanding, progress, etc fun things. It seems pessimistic to preclude its potential. And, it seems to me that it would at least ‘be a good idea*’ and so I’ll quote a recent read: “Educated, eyes-open optimism pays; pessimism can offer only the empty consolation of being right.” Truly, whether or not objectivity is even possible isn’t an operational question for mere humans – but if we assume it and move positively forward, towards it, maybe we will find ourselves a little closer each time, and a little closer to common understanding as well. And this, I think, would be a good thing.

*h/t Ghandi

1 comment:

e! said...

ohh! i love how you work through problems. your logic and cohesiveness. mmmm..... you make me want to think more!