The Supremacy of Subjectivity: Why Objectivity is a Contingent Truth

The modern age is full of humans who trust in nothing but the so-called “objective” scientific method. In the past, the Pope handed down to the majority of the world what was deemed respectable, absolutely true, and dogmatically certain. Today, with a few name changes and a swapping of terms, we have the scientific community handing down religious dogma shrouded in the cloak of scientific truth. In the past, as history shows us, one could not question the Pope. Martin Luther attempted to do this and faced a council, retaliation, and essentially, social suicide. He was a marked man the moment he called into question the ruling authorities of the day. One does not need to be a genius today to know who or what is the domineering authority today. In fact, there is no use in my telling you. You already know. Science prides itself in being able to hand down something that is warm, fuzzy, and absolutely cozy to modern sensibilities. If a scientist told you anything—and I mean anything—you would do everything he or she (or it) commands you. Science’s commands are absolute. There is no escaping both the beauty of science and the horror of it. It hands you nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons. Its only truth, in this particular case, is the reality that mass equals energy. And where lies the truth of science? That may or may not be debatable. On the one hand, it is a fact—an empirical one—that mass equals energy. “How so,” one may ask, “Is it fact?” “Well,” one may respond, “It is fact precisely because more than one person agrees on what he or she is subjectively experiencing—in other words, there is an agreement between two or more subjectivities.” What matters here is to note that objectivity arises out of that awful, abstract, misunderstood notion of subjectivity—that bastard of a thing! How could the world’s most glorious idea—the idea of objectivity (and it is merely a metaphysical idea and nothing more)—come out of of such a putrid thing? How could objectivity be grounded in the very thing it is attempting to deny? How could objectivity arise out of the confrontation of two or more subjectivities? Objectivity responds by denying the reality of subjectivity, like a daughter who denies the reality of her body housing her mother’s genes. Science’s response, in some circles, has been to suggest the idea (again, a very metaphysical “thing”) that, in fact, subjectivity is merely an illusion: all that really is real is the material, the neuronal, the scientifically attainable. Nothing outside of objectivity really exists—the rest is an illusion. “Yes,” some scientist shrouded in his religious white cloak and thick mystical goggles might say, “We have discovered that the only thing that is real is that upon which two or more subjective beings agree upon—so long as there is scientific consensus, we accept that as empirical fact, infallible (relative to the day) truth.” In the past, they had councils and synods; today, they have peer-review journals and scientific consensus. Same shit (for the most part), different day. But where art thou, Subjectivity? What happened to thou? Were you, too, persecuted by the scientific community? Did the “men in the white religious cloaks” banish you from the precincts of society? Were you, too, crucified like the Messiah, outside the streets of Jerusalem—err, outside the halls of the university laboratory? Did they annihilate you and reduce you to nonsense? In their religious zeal—for what more could it be?—did they take away individual freedom. No longer are certain aspects of the world considered “free to roam.” We cannot entertain thoughts questioning them. We, the individuals, have exchanged freedom to think whatever the hell we like for a scientific consensus. In return, we had been given health, electronics, modern and lonely society, etc. In fact, I heard we will be taking flights to the moon soon. Maybe we will even colonize it. So long as nobody questions the terrorists in the white lab coats; the ones in bed with big government, corporate America, and anything that smells of money. So long as they get their tax-sponsored government grants, for their all-important research (such as how to perfect torture, brain wash people, dictate people by means of mass-psychological manipulation, create weapons of mass destruction, mass surveillance, etc., etc.)—paid by, you, the tax payer. In the past, yet again a parallel, the Church collected so-called “tithes.” The Pope needed the palace built in Rome. Today, it is not much different. Your landlord has changed, his beliefs have changed, his weapons of mass destruction have taken on a new “flavor.” Back then, the peasants had the Crusades; today, you have drones striking down Pakistan civilians. (But, please, listen to your sensible Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of our Nature [2011]: the world is a much safer place to live than in the past.) Back then, we had court-sponsored prophets, like Micaiah, tickling the ears of King Ahab; today, we have Pinker tickling the ears of the modern elite inhabiting the upper echelons of Harvard society. “We have made progress—we are becoming (almost) angels!” The modern court prophets tickle the eardrums of people who like to hear “Peace! Peace!” when there is no peace. But Pinker’s ass isn’t the one being fried by American drones in Pakistan. So, it makes perfect sense. Enough about court prophets. We are dealing with the irreligious elite who dictate what we should and should not do. It’s time to say the “f-word” to the Ten Commandments. We need the bazillion mandates that the scientific community is now imposing upon us. Ten is a bazillion commands too little. For every laboratory experiment a white coat terrorist performs, ten pills and ten vaccines are manufactured; for every idea entertained in the lofty courtyards of science halls in a given university, ten mandates are handed down to us—no, you—the people. The Pope’s reign of terror was a bunch of bullshit compared to this. It’s coming. The fact that I would disagree with the elite maybe never struck them as something that is valid. I mean, God, it is a subjective appraisal of an objective truth. Who the hell cares what I, a mere human being, thinks? Right? It is not like I have  some sort of white robe on. I am not a pope, neither do I have access to bishops or cardinals. I simply do what I am told. Because a white coat terrorist told me so. He terrorizes my freedom to think, to believe, to do anything that would allow me to be human. If freedom is a cardinal truth, then scientists are its terrorists. But we have already strayed too far. From whence does objectivity arise? Objectivity arises when two or more subjective individuals, limited as they are by their limited experience, successfully observe, record, and/or experience a given hypothetical noumenon, in which the noumenon is understood to be subjectively and phenomenologically similar to what is being observed by the Other. That is, when Einstein observed that E=mc2, this observation was confirmed and found to be similar to what other subjective human individuals experienced. As this subjective agreement increased in number, its truth increased proportionally. If E=mc2 only for Einstein—and not for the subjective world at large—it would not be considered an empirical fact, it would not be an objective truth, neither would it have scientific consensus. And so, we have come full circle. Objectivity presupposes, first and foremost, the cardinality and supremacy of subjectivity. Apart from subjectivity, objectivity doth not exist. And, hence, objectivity is a contingent truth; it is contingent upon the necessary existence of subjectivity.

But what do I mean that “objectivity does not exist”? Surely if there is a tree falling in the forest with no one to observe it, there remains a tree falling, right? By “objectivity” I mean that noumenon which exists outside of the mind (i.e., being mind-independent) but is, at the moment, being observed by an observer. All observers are, strictly speaking, subjective; all observations made are, strictly speaking, subjective. It is usually out of this chaos of subjectivities that we come to “objective” truths. They exist “out there,” so to speak—but in being perceived, they become “in here” (in our minds). But the object is never really “known” by us, is it? We may doubt its existence. We may need another human individual to confirm our suspicions. In any case, we are dependent upon the human mind. And the human mind is not a perfect machine. We are just as error-ridden as, well, anything else. Even if, theoretically speaking, we were able to have an objective object before us, and we were able to spend much time observing it, the object would never cross our subject-object barrier (just like certain medications cannot cross the blood-brain barrier). It would always remain, forever, unattainable and “out there.”
Epistemologically, I am merely restating the limits of human reason. Nothing more. Along with Thomas Kuhn, I myself do not claim to be a relativist. However, as it is quite obvious, I am certainly a subjectivist. That is, everything that I know—or claim to know—is thoroughly grounded in my own being, my mind, my subjectivity. As for absolute truths, I have little doubt in theoretically contemplating their existence. However, when it comes to empirically proving things, I am quite certain that this is easier said than done. Moreover, to be more clear, my main objection should be seen as a corrective to subjective approaches shrouded in the cloaks of objectivity. In other words, I am critical of a culture which claims objective knowledge of a given thing when no such objective knowledge exists. Anecdotally speaking, I hear the term “objective” thrown around quite often. It is to this abuse of the term that I am primarily reacting to.
Have I denied objectivity? I do not think so. I merely pointed out that objectivity (at the very least, some forms of objectivity) are reached by means of a democratic consensus amongst subjective human individuals. We might call this a “scientific consensus” or a “scholarly consensus.” That such forms of objectivity exist are, I believe, not really disputed. Finally, as a concluding comment, this writing is, as I see it, mostly to be read as a piece that helps us work together towards attaining absolute Truths. While we may disagree on how that is done, we should all keep our minds open to robust criticism and healthy disagreement. At times, one must step back and reevaluate one’s work: is it really as objective as one thought it were?

 

Written by: Moses Y. Mikheyev

Choose to create a comment on this existential blog...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s