Please explain the concept of "OBJECTIVITY", I don't get it.?

I don't know if it's just me being stupid, but to me what people should mean by the word "objective" is "subjective consensus".

From wikipedia (Objectivity):

"While there is no universally accepted articulation of objectivity, a proposition is generally considered to be objectively true when its truth conditions are "mind-independent"—that is, not the result of any judgments made by a conscious entity. Put another way, objective truths are those which are discovered rather than created"

Can anyone explain to me how a form of knowledge (because truth is a property of knowledge) such as mathematics fro example can be "mind-independent", or perhaps how physics is "discovered" (rather than being an anthropocentric mental construct that approximates a "supposed" noumenal reality that we supposedly know phenomenally via sense perception [as the metaphysical assumption posits])?


Response (Part 1):

Thanks for all the responses...some good or interesting concepts have been presented.

I like 12 syllogisms definition of objectivity...far more useful than the wiki definition I posited however I still disagree with the mathematical example. Even if we use two sticks to represent our mathematical formula (or conversely mathematics to understand how our two sticks relate to say four sticks) I still don't understand how mathematics is not simply a "language of the human mind" or a useful set of categories and constructs with which to describe our phenomenal experience.

I'm not talking about the "names" or symbols used but the actual concepts that they embody. Even though the name or label "two" is obviously anthropocentric, I maintain that the actual concept of "2" is equally anthropocentric or a "mental construct in the collective knowledge system of mankind."


Update 2:

Response (Part 2):

On the metaphysical front I seem capable of only imaging some kind of "objective" (or noumenal) reality the likes posited by merelogical nihilism - perhaps a "sea" of quanta (even though the idea of quanta or "units" is decidedly anthropocentric). In such a schema I cannot imagine any intrinsic mathematical constructs such as "2" or "equals" (even though I know these concepts may be used to DESCRIBE our phenomenal experience of such)

Then, in terms of Rand, I find her reading of Kant to have been totally "off the mark" so to speak and this misreading her driving motivation for Objectivism, but then many have different interpretations of Kant's teaching - I don't even agree with Strawson....but anyway, that is a separate issue. Nietzsche's perspectivism comes to mind as the most parsimonious of metaphysics to deal with issues of subjectivity and objectivity.


Update 3:

Response (Part 3):

Even within the ambit of mathematics we are troubled with Godel's Incompleteness theorems which indicate that:

"If an axiomatic system can be proven to be consistent and complete from within itself, then it is inconsistent."

Is mathematical paradox enough to suggest that mathematics is not "objective"?

I still don't "get it".

14 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    I think you put your finger on an important issue. The notion of something's being objective is, roughly, that it's what actually 'out there' in reality, as opposed to something's being subjective, which is dependent on our experience of it. Hence, we say a rock's mass is objective, because the rock actually has it independent of anyone's experience of it, whereas the taste of broccoli is subjective, being dependent on the individuals experience of it.

    The problem is, of course, that we cannot get 'outside' our own experience to check. But this is not necessarily fatal to the concept of objectivity. One thing we can do is use intersubjectivity as a guide. If everyone always agrees about something, has the same experience, then that's an indication that the phenomena might be objective. Further, as we organize and systematize our experience in the process known as science, we develop hypotheses concerning what the world is and what we are and how the two interact to form experience. And this allows us to formulate testable theories about what is objective and what is subjective.

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  • 4 years ago

    Objectivity Concept Definition

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  • 1 decade ago

    To me, being objective means looking at something without prior knowledge or prejudice, unconcerned with other people's opinions or ideas, no outside interference, simply looking at the raw facts.

    Math seems like it could ONLY be observed objectively since there are no TWO ways to understand math. You either work the steps and arrive at the answer or you don't. You wouldn't say that 2+2=5 due to outside influences upon the numbers. 2+2=4 ... objectively, subjectively. It will always be the same, no matter what.

    Oftentimes, people tell me that I think too much. Sometimes it's better to take things for face value and not read a bunch of "non-existent" factors into it. Perhaps, you are thinking a bit TOO MUCH on this subject and need to analyze your question objectively and realize that there are no hidden agendas or covert circumstances creeping beneath the reality of it all. IMHO.


    I AM


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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Being objective means that you don't involve yourself in your answer.

    You answer independently of your personal thoughts, impressions and/or feelings in order to use logic and only logic. The idea behind it is to avoid yourself to affect the results.

    I would say the goal of a question is to find an answer, but, if you are subjective, what you are really doing is that you try to prove yourself to be right. Defending your ideas is correct as long as you can admit your defeat when it has been showed that your answer is wrong.

    Subjectivity tend to defend itself, objectivity tend to defend truth.

    The second has the goal of knowing and the first makes you look like you are knowing.

    A great example of subjectivity:

    "Everyone has different minds. All opinions are equal."

    How is it subjective? What does it tend to show? It reduces the impact of any further argumentation and therefore makes the speaker's version look stronger. Ask yourself if this is any logical or looks like it is? Do they showed any link behind what you think and how the things are? No.

    What really happened is that they claimed that truth was the one you believed. Think of what it implies. It implies things exists differently from person to person because these people think differently... But yet, they call them just the same.

    Is it logical? No. But it does tend to influence your judgement. So, it's subjective.

    An other example. One of my favourite!

    "Millions support my conception and, on your side, only a few thinks the same."

    Giving importance to numbers is a sophism, but I wanted to point out the stylistic. Millions/few... You could as well see the word "only" and compare the weight of "support" versus "thinks".

    It just give the impression it is fairly logical, but it only takes advantage of the language to give the speaker an edge. But, does it makes his answer better? It doesn't show anything, just that either millions are dumb or understood well.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Your language is above my pay grade, however, truth is not a property of knowledge, but rather, knowledge is a subset of truth. Something must be true (must exist) before it can be known. Truth must exist in order for it to be known. Knowing does not precede truth.

    It is hard for me to understand why you have trouble with independent truths. Physics is "discovered" because physics existed before mankind. For example, the 2nd law of thermodynamics was in full force and effect, it "existed" before humans became aware of its existence. Therefore entropy is an objective truth regardless of whether humans know about it, understand it or agree with it.

    Gravity is a demonstratable fact, even though we don't yet understand what causes it. The phenomenon is measurable, its workings can be proven with math, Einstein showed how it is synonymous with acceleration, and it clearly exists as an objective Truth, yet science has yet to figure out just what that Truth is.

    2 things plus 2 things has always and will always add up to 4 things whether humans process this fact through their minds or not. It is a truth which is objective to any point of view we may have about it.

    If I may be so bold, I think you are making your brain work too hard. Without using a single symbol (such as words) to represent any of these concepts, you can "see" the truth of things. If you remove value-judgement you can see them objectively, for what they really are. And you don't have to name them, they will exist anyway.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    * Using objectivity means being rational, unemotional, not getting agitated or distressed in any way., being unbiased/ neutral, understanding both points of view. Such a viewpoint is more realistic, fairer and far more likely to result in an agreeable resolution to a situation.

    * Using subjectivity means seeing things only from your own position, complete with all biases, internal mental models and so on. Such a viewpoint poses difficulty in arriving at a consensus.

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  • 1 decade ago

    well for one thing all that we percieve in reality we cast shadows over it with how we interpret its inherent qualities, but these qualities are only partly there because we have sensors that pick up on them.

    "what is it like to be a bat?"

    so where does this distinction happen?well that is a rather large idea so i will say that philosophy of mind covers many of the views that are at interest here.

    your math question is easy to approach from a different angle....

    g2g...12 syllogisms might answer now that i have stared, good luck.

    Edit:Phil of math

    Embodied mind theories

    Embodied mind theories hold that mathematical thought is a natural outgrowth of the human cognitive apparatus which finds itself in our physical universe. For example, the abstract concept of number springs from the experience of counting discrete objects. It is held that mathematics is not universal and does not exist in any real sense, other than in human brains. Humans construct, but do not discover, mathematics.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The best description of objectivity I've come across is this:

    "Objectivity is both a metaphysical and an epistemological concept. It pertains to the relationship of consciousness to existence. Metaphysically, it is the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver’s consciousness. Epistemologically, it is the recognition of the fact that a perceiver’s (man’s) consciousness must acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic)." Rand

    But independent of this description, "mind-independent" means discovering that the universe would still exist if you were not witness to it. That is called the "primacy of existence". The opposing belief, that it takes your perception of existence to make it real is called the "primacy of consciousness", and in that theory nothing is mind-independent; just the opposite--every is completely mind-dependent.

    Truth is a property of knowledge only in so far as how well it your decisions are consonant with the facts of reality.

    "The concept of objectivity contains the reason why the question “Who decides what is right or wrong?” is wrong. Nobody “decides.” Nature does not decide—it merely is; man does not decide, in issues of knowledge, he merely observes that which is.

    "the truth or falsehood of his propositions rests, not only on their relation to the facts he asserts, but also on the truth or falsehood of the definitions of the concepts he uses to assert them, which rests on the truth or falsehood of his designations of essential characteristics." Rand

    The truth or falsehood of your "designations of essential characteristics" goes right back to what Bacon said: "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." You cannot obey if you don't get the characteristics of nature properly defined. To be properly defined they must be independent of your consciousness. If what you designate as the truth can only be the truth by virtue of your consciousness of it, then it cannot be "mind-independent.'

    2+2=4 even if no life exists to say that is true. The truth of it is in the "designation of the essential characteristics" of the idea that our words for "2" and "4" may be man-made and could have been other words, but that they define that facts that what we perceive as 2 sticks lying next to two other sticks equals an amount we define and perceive as 4 sticks. We don't even have to use the words "sticks" or "equals"; we couls use x%()Y, vpryty, and supercalifragilistic; but as long as we all agree that those mean what we all agree they mean, then the truth of the statements will stand for all who accept objectivity.

    For those who accept the primacy of conciousness, any old idea one wishes to be true will be true, because it is not mind-independent.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Objectivity is a sense or perception where you are not influenced by the subject matter. Your construct or point of view is based on the facts gathered. Nothing more, nothing less. You are NOT reporting your point of view or influence. White House reporters for example are obviously liberally biased and report stories from that point of view. The media (4th estate) is supposed to be objective and report the facts and let the reader or audience decide, as FOX news says.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The closest anyone can get to objectivity in this life is by dis-identifying with mind and expanding awareness beyond all identification with things. From your posts, you appear to be a bit too mind identified and young to have tasted that awareness, yet.

    Source(s): Life
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