skrzprst

What things are subjective?

Recommended Posts

I think that even within Objectivism, 2 things will always be subjective:

1. Qualia. Qualia are the individual's personal mental experiences of, for example, the redness of an evening sky or the sour taste of a lemon. A good description would be what it is like to experience something-a quality judged differently from person to person, knowable only through direct experience.

2. Economic value. Economic value does not inhere in the nature of a good in some mystical way. It is created through people's own desires and needs. You can find a very good treatment of this in Human Action, by Von Mises.

So, there you go. 2 subjective things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that even within Objectivism, 2 things will always be subjective:

1. Qualia. Qualia are the individual's personal mental experiences of, for example, the redness of an evening sky or the sour taste of a lemon. A good description would be what it is like to experience something-a quality judged differently from person to person, knowable only through direct experience.

2. Economic value. Economic value does not inhere in the nature of a good in some mystical way. It is created through people's own desires and needs. You can find a very good treatment of this in Human Action, by Von Mises.

So, there you go. 2 subjective things.

The qualia are caused by stuff outside your skin. That is the objective part.

As to things like economic value and utility they are manifested as perceptible actions taken by you and or others.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that even within Objectivism, 2 things will always be subjective:

1. Qualia. Qualia are the individual's personal mental experiences of, for example, the redness of an evening sky or the sour taste of a lemon. A good description would be what it is like to experience something-a quality judged differently from person to person, knowable only through direct experience.

That isn't what Objectivism means by "subjective." It's talking about the theory that truth is subjective. In other words you're talking about a totally different sense of the word, not the same concept, i.e. if you intend to "correct" Objectivism on this you're equivocating.

2. Economic value. Economic value does not inhere in the nature of a good in some mystical way. It is created through people's own desires and needs. You can find a very good treatment of this in Human Action, by Von Mises.

Mises' concept of economic value is just a fiat concept that abstracts from all human values, it subsumes both subjective and objective value not arguing whether or not values are one or the other or both, but rather, observing the common denominator of purposeful human action to obtain them.

Shayne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By subjective you can mean three things.

1. Subordinate to whatever you wish/believe it to be.

2. Varies from person to person / optional.

3. Primary to perception, cannot be proven or disproven through the means of logic or argument.

The first definition is the one that Rand tended to use.

Subjects which are or properly can be 2 or 3 don't justify treating them as 1, so Rand's universal condemnation of subjectivity is correct.

Qualia (if it exists, I'm not implying a stance on that one way or the other) would be the third. That no one can debate it doesn't mean it's not one way or another. That would be a rationalistic standard of fact. If I'm alone in a room looking at something no one else can see, and I call someone to tell them what it is, I can still be right or wrong even though they can't disprove it.

Economic demand would be either none of the above or the second, depending on what you mean. What economists refer to (and what Rand called the "socially objective" in economics) has to be an objective description of what these people want in reality, and the emergent consequences of that in reality (such as the supply/demand situation). A description of what people want is an objective fact. We can acknowledge the existence of beliefs or wants we consider incorrect.

It's a fact that a crack addict wants crack, and that a Christian believes in God, and it would be the lowest level of equivocation and deception to pretend that means the person acknowledging these facts is engaging in subjectivity.

But, if you're referring to those economic choices which may be optional values, then it's 2.

Edited by Derick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Derick,

Welcome to OL.

Interesting take on subjective.

Have you looked into neuroplasticity and the developments in neuroscience over the last decade or so? Some of that stuff is turning some of the previous presumptions about subjectivity on their heads. We humans are finally starting to be able to measure a lot more than we used to--and to interfere with certain mental patterns formerly considered subjective with a high degree of predictability of the outcome.

You made a statement that doesn't grok to me. You said:

It's a fact that a crack addict wants crack, and that a Christian believes in God, and it would be the lowest level of equivocation and deception to pretend that means the person acknowledging these facts is engaging in subjectivity.

How is pretending a meaning the "lowest level of equivocation and deception"? What standard are you using for your gradation and what do higher levels of equivocation and deception look like?

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shayne's and Derick's statements are correct.

Michael, your last question to Derick is unclear, a word or two seem to be missing.

Edited by Ted Keer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael, your last question to Derick is unclear, a word or two seem to be missing.

Ted,

I just reread it and the question is complete. Please read it carefully if you want to understand it.

Michael

You wrote: "How is pretending a meaning the "lowest level of equivocation and deception"?"

That is not a complete grammatical sentence in any way I can read it. My point is not to tell you that you are wrong, but to say that I can't understand the question. Maybe you could reword it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Give it up, Ted. He's not going to admit it. He never does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By subjective you can mean three things.

1. Subordinate to whatever you wish/believe it to be.

2. Varies from person to person / optional.

3. Primary to perception, cannot be proven or disproven through the means of logic or argument.

The first definition is the one that Rand tended to use.

Subjects which are or properly can be 2 or 3 don't justify treating them as 1, so Rand's universal condemnation of subjectivity is correct.

Rand condemned "subjective" as such.

"The subjective means the arbitrary, the irrational, the blindly emotional." (Rand)

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/subjectivism.html

But labeling everything subjective as "the arbitrary, the irrational, the blindly emotional" can easily be exposed as a mistake, given the fact that there exist many instances where "subjective" is neither arbitrary, nor irrational, nor blindly emotional.

Imo from this it follows that Rand's universal condemnation of the subjective is incorrect.

Edited by Xray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rand condemned subjective as such: "The subjective means the arbitrary, the irrational, the blindly emotional."

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/subjectivism.html

But labeling everything subjective as "the arbitrary, the irrational, the blindly emotional" can easily be exposed as a mistake, given the fact that there exist many instances where "subjective" is neither arbitrary, nor irrational, nor blindly emotional.

This post eloquently elucidates what's wrong with the world. So hats off to Xray.

Shayne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ted,

I'll go slow.

(Not trying to be snarky by saying that. After all, you're not Phil. :) )

Derick wrote: "to pretend that means." This is "pretending a meaning," no?

He used the infinitive form of the verb (in a passive voice) and I used the gerund form.

I started to write "let's see if that is clear before we move on," but I don't want to waste a lot of time going back and forth on something really obvious--obvious to me, at least.

Here is a more abstract way of saying it. Derick basically said if you commit Act "a," you are also committing the lowest form of Acts "b" and "c".

Act "a" = pretending a meaning

Act "b" = equivocating

Act "c" = deceiving

(He actually used the regular noun forms, i.e., equivocation and deception, but I want an idea to be clear--that gerund is a proper form of English.)

If you prefer the infinitive form of the verbs instead of gerunds, we can do it that way:

Act "a" = to pretend a meaning

Act "b" = to equivocate

Act "c" = to deceive

Now the comparative. Anything that has a lowest form also has a higher form (if not a highest form), otherwise the comparative ("lowest") doesn't make any sense.

So I asked, what is it about Act "a" that makes it actually Act "b" and Act "c" in their lowest forms of existence? And incidentally, what are Act "b" and Act "c" like in a higher form of existence? I wanted to understand the comparative. I referred to it when I said "the standard."

(We use standards for measuring and the entire Objectivist epistemology is practically based on measurements and algebra. So "comparative" and "standard" are almost synonymous in this context. But for the sake of precision, standard is the unit of measurement and comparative is the description of the measurement.)

Anyway, Derick used the passive voice and I admit I am prejudiced against it. I became prejudiced after I developed a bad habit of over-using the passive voice in my own writing, and then had to fix it. This problem still haunts my writing. I often remove it on rewrites. What's worse, I got this bad habit from unconsciously imitating Rand's nonfiction "philosophical" style.

To me, the only thing that style communicates is, why say something simply when you can get the same meaning by saying it in a complicated and boring manner?

(Incidentally, it was painful for me to realize that Rand did that as much as she did. But she did. After I saw it, I saw no reason to keep emulating it.)

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that even within Objectivism, 2 things will always be subjective:

1. Qualia. Qualia are the individual's personal mental experiences of, for example, the redness of an evening sky or the sour taste of a lemon. A good description would be what it is like to experience something-a quality judged differently from person to person, knowable only through direct experience.

2. Economic value. Economic value does not inhere in the nature of a good in some mystical way. It is created through people's own desires and needs. You can find a very good treatment of this in Human Action, by Von Mises.

So, there you go. 2 subjective things.

Qualia are as real as rain (a product of a functioning neurological system). The qualia are private, not subjective. A physical effect of physical causes is objective, but not necessarily public or shareable.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ted,

I'll go slow.

(Not trying to be snarky by saying that. After all, you're not Phil. :) )

Derick wrote: "to pretend that means." This is "pretending a meaning," no?

He used the infinitive form of the verb (in a passive voice) and I used the gerund form.

I started to write "let's see if that is clear before we move on," but I don't want to waste a lot of time going back and forth on something really obvious--obvious to me, at least.

Here is a more abstract way of saying it. Derick basically said if you commit Act "a," you are also committing the lowest form of Acts "b" and "c".

Act "a" = pretending a meaning

Act "b" = equivocating

Act "c" = deceiving

(He actually used the regular noun forms, i.e., equivocation and deception, but I want an idea to be clear--that gerund is a proper form of English.)

If you prefer the infinitive form of the verbs instead of gerunds, we can do it that way:

Act "a" = to pretend a meaning

Act "b" = to equivocate

Act "c" = to deceive

Now the comparative. Anything that has a lowest form also has a higher form (if not a highest form), otherwise the comparative ("lowest") doesn't make any sense.

So I asked, what is it about Act "a" that makes it actually Act "b" and Act "c" in their lowest forms of existence? And incidentally, what are Act "b" and Act "c" like in a higher form of existence? I wanted to understand the comparative. I referred to it when I said "the standard."

(We use standards for measuring and the entire Objectivist epistemology is practically based on measurements and algebra. So "comparative" and "standard" are almost synonymous in this context. But for the sake of precision, standard is the unit of measurement and comparative is the description of the measurement.)

Anyway, Derick used the passive voice and I admit I am prejudiced against it. I became prejudiced after I developed a bad habit of over-using the passive voice in my own writing, and then had to fix it. This problem still haunts my writing. I often remove it on rewrites. What's worse, I got this bad habit from unconsciously imitating Rand's nonfiction "philosophical" style.

To me, the only thing that style communicates is, why say something simply when you can get the same meaning by saying it in a complicated and boring manner?

(Incidentally, it was painful for me to realize that Rand did that as much as she did. But she did. After I saw it, I saw no reason to keep emulating it.)

Michael

Pretend, pretending and to pretend all govern "that" clauses. One can pretend that something is the case, but one cannot pretend a meaning, and it is still not clear what, exactly, you mean to say.

Edited by Ted Keer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pretend, pretending and to pretend all govern "that" clauses. One can pretend that something is the case, but one cannot pretend a meaning...

Ted,

I'm glad you're such an expert.

I don't find your observation borne out on the Internet, though: see here.

I get stuff on Shakespeare, Calvin, Locke, terrorism, photos for swinger parties, Obama, etc.

I think it's a good habit to check before you make up language rules and try to impose them on others.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ted,

I'll go slow.

(Not trying to be snarky by saying that. After all, you're not Phil. :) )

Derick wrote: "to pretend that means." This is "pretending a meaning," no?

He used the infinitive form of the verb (in a passive voice) and I used the gerund form.

I started to write "let's see if that is clear before we move on," but I don't want to waste a lot of time going back and forth on something really obvious--obvious to me, at least.

Here is a more abstract way of saying it. Derick basically said if you commit Act "a," you are also committing the lowest form of Acts "b" and "c".

Act "a" = pretending a meaning

Act "b" = equivocating

Act "c" = deceiving

(He actually used the regular noun forms, i.e., equivocation and deception, but I want an idea to be clear--that gerund is a proper form of English.)

If you prefer the infinitive form of the verbs instead of gerunds, we can do it that way:

Act "a" = to pretend a meaning

Act "b" = to equivocate

Act "c" = to deceive

Now the comparative. Anything that has a lowest form also has a higher form (if not a highest form), otherwise the comparative ("lowest") doesn't make any sense.

So I asked, what is it about Act "a" that makes it actually Act "b" and Act "c" in their lowest forms of existence? And incidentally, what are Act "b" and Act "c" like in a higher form of existence? I wanted to understand the comparative. I referred to it when I said "the standard."

(We use standards for measuring and the entire Objectivist epistemology is practically based on measurements and algebra. So "comparative" and "standard" are almost synonymous in this context. But for the sake of precision, standard is the unit of measurement and comparative is the description of the measurement.)

Anyway, Derick used the passive voice and I admit I am prejudiced against it. I became prejudiced after I developed a bad habit of over-using the passive voice in my own writing, and then had to fix it. This problem still haunts my writing. I often remove it on rewrites. What's worse, I got this bad habit from unconsciously imitating Rand's nonfiction "philosophical" style.

To me, the only thing that style communicates is, why say something simply when you can get the same meaning by saying it in a complicated and boring manner?

(Incidentally, it was painful for me to realize that Rand did that as much as she did. But she did. After I saw it, I saw no reason to keep emulating it.)

Michael

Ahhhhhh.... a refreshing beverage of effervescent logic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/2/2011 at 8:15 AM, Derick said:

By subjective you can mean three things.

1. Subordinate to whatever you wish/believe it to be.

2. Varies from person to person / optional.

3. Primary to perception, cannot be proven or disproven through the means of logic or argument.

The first definition is the one that Rand tended to use.

I like the three definitions but the idea that Rand meant the first one is troubling in that if one chooses to believe in what is logically coherent, that makes sense, that can be confirmed, it conflicts with that definition.

Ultimately, even an Objectivist would subordinate it to what they wish, isn't rationality also a wish?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Peaceful Awareness said:

I like the three definitions but the idea that Rand meant the first one is troubling in that if one chooses to believe in what is logically coherent, that makes sense, that can be confirmed, it conflicts with that definition.

Ultimately, even an Objectivist would subordinate it to what they wish, isn't rationality also a wish?

Older thread, and I don't see why such a problem with "subjective". It's certain Rand wasn't being equivocal or idiosyncratic, as some (Xray...) have implied. (Nor, superficial: it should go without saying each of us is 'the subject' of his/her life -- only, not everyone is 'subjective'. Variations of individuals' strength of taste ("qualia") will exist, but making out that sour is sweet, to oneself - that is subjective).

The classic definition dug out from a '50's Concise Oxford:

subjective: 1. (philos.) belonging to, of, due to, the consciousness or thinking of perceiving subject or ego as opposed to real or external things; (pop.) imaginary.

subjectivism: Doctrine that knowledge is merely subjective & that there is no external or objective test of truth.

At the most simplistic - making things up in your head and designating *that* as 'reality'. Further, having the belief that everyone else does the same.

Not a "wish", P.A., (arbitrary desire, whim) -  I think of rationality being a chosen commitment to -and discipline of- the identifiable, independent existents of reality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, anthony said:

At the most simplistic - making things up in your head and designating *that* as 'reality'. Further, having the belief that everyone else does the same.

Not a "wish", P.A., (arbitrary desire, whim) -  I think of rationality being a chosen commitment to -and discipline of- the identifiable, independent existents of reality.

I believe the problem I have is the issue of volition in this context. Sometimes I make up stuff without knowing it. Meaning I find out in hind sight. 

So it is a conscious desire to go against what you know is real.

I could only see it happen if something was unbearable and one "tricks" oneself into loosing contact with that reality (to make life bearable). So, I would conclude that the subjective/irrational that is being described can only be due to trauma. Or is there another point when it becomes desirable?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An aside,  I'd be careful not to confuse *imagination*, when dedicated to creative purposes and goals - with - subjectively 'making up stuff'. To be an artist/writer, one should be clear on this distinction. "The recreation of reality" (by an artist who's acutely attuned to reality) - as differing from a person who views reality as fluidly changing, at his whim. Commonly, a lot of so-called "subjectivity" is assigned to art and artists that is not the case.

I believe most people veer between their subjective desires, feelings, etc., and reality. Feelings feature prominently. I think avoiding what you clearly see, hear and KNOW to be real - i.e. "evasion" - is motivated by emotional self-preservation... and I believe is as consciously effortful and volitional as it is to be objective and reasoning . Evasion needs ongoing work to sustain. Rather than confront facts, head on, it's as if a person puts up a barrier/filter of feelings to hide away from reality or to attempt to mentally convert it to something else. In this way, he reverses causality - making emotion the cause, and pleasant and palatable 'facts', the effect (or tries to).

AP, I'm sure you've found in life that very few events turn out as emotionally painful as one anticipates them to be. Not only that, but the worst feelings one can have, come about from regularly escaping real things, so inviting cognitive confusion. Conversely, seeing and identifying that thing or situation without wearing subjective blinkers, actually comes as a relief and soon makes even the bad, bearable. Peacefulness through awareness, hmm? ;) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/15/2017 at 1:45 AM, anthony said:

I believe most people veer between their subjective desires, feelings, etc., and reality. Feelings feature prominently. I think avoiding what you clearly see, hear and KNOW to be real - i.e. "evasion" - is motivated by emotional self-preservation... and I believe is as consciously effortful and volitional as it is to be objective and reasoning . Evasion needs ongoing work to sustain. Rather than confront facts, head on, it's as if a person puts up a barrier/filter of feelings to hide away from reality or to attempt to mentally convert it to something else. In this way, he reverses causality - making emotion the cause, and pleasant and palatable 'facts', the effect (or tries to).

1

Exactly.

The question is if "emotional self-preservation" is moral?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/21/2017 at 6:24 AM, Peaceful Awareness said:

Exactly.

The question is if "emotional self-preservation" is moral?

I was a little ambiguous, but I think you get me. Is it psychologically harmful and irrational (therefore immoral) to hide and protect oneself from or deny any of one's emotions, because a substitute 'feels' (or looks) nicer? For outward appearances and inner emotional serenity, to - say - self-impose an approving, 'loving' emotion upon a prejudiced, hating, but genuine one? All without questioning the rationality of, and where necessary overhauling, one's value-premises? I think definitely. One's emotions are *accurate* responses to externals, and as much as a person might not like being faced with his true reaction to real things - to hide himself from harsh reality or from his faulty premises, is infinitely worse. Safe spaces? No one escapes from his mind. Much of people's problems for themselves and with others come from transforming their emotions into 'facts' (consciousness over reality)- a subjective causal reversal. (And one thing that ~won't~ be created by evasion and "safe spaces" is a state of inner serenity).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/23/2017 at 8:01 AM, anthony said:

Much of people's problems for themselves and with others come from transforming their emotions into 'facts' (consciousness over reality)- a subjective causal reversal.

Yes, agreed.

13 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Then what?

My experience with objectivism has been to encourage pushing down emotions. Or that has been the net effect. This is both done in the name of eliminating subjectivism and in the name of not using emotionalism as a form of cognition. Clearly, emotionalism is not a form of cognition. But emotion is a guide to action on some level. Sometimes you do not have all the fact and you have to make a decision. All you have is your feelings and you have to go by them.

Fear can turn into panic and thinking one's way through is definitely superior/the "right" way to go. Emotional self-preservation is pre-moral, it sometimes can be classified as a whim. As such, it is heavily attacked by Rand. 

"Feeling deeply" on the other hand is encouraged by Branden. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that pushing down of feelings "constantly" in the long run will cause irrational thoughts and behavior. There has to be a good balance. Where is the delineation between feelings vs. the subjective reality that feelings create?

One problem is the inability for the average person to determine what is their feeling vs. their thought. But once you can, if your feelings are thought to be immoral in the context of your decision making, I think you may have lost a tool of survival. Especially if conflated with subjectivism.

Isn't nurturing one's feelings, nurturing one's subjective reality? 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Peaceful Awareness said:

Yes, agreed.

My experience with objectivism has been to encourage pushing down emotions. Or that has been the net effect. This is both done in the name of eliminating subjectivism and in the name of not using emotionalism as a form of cognition. Clearly, emotionalism is not a form of cognition. But emotion is a guide to action on some level. Sometimes you do not have all the fact and you have to make a decision. All you have is your feelings and you have to go by them.

Fear can turn into panic and thinking one's way through is definitely superior/the "right" way to go. Emotional self-preservation is pre-moral, it sometimes can be classified as a whim. As such, it is heavily attacked by Rand. 

"Feeling deeply" on the other hand is encouraged by Branden. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that pushing down of feelings "constantly" in the long run will cause irrational thoughts and behavior. There has to be a good balance. Where is the delineation between feelings vs. the subjective reality that feelings create?

One problem is the inability for the average person to determine what is their feeling vs. their thought. But once you can, if your feelings are thought to be immoral in the context of your decision making, I think you may have lost a tool of survival. Especially if conflated with subjectivism.

Isn't nurturing one's feelings, nurturing one's subjective reality? 
 

1

There's another false dichotomy. Emotional suppression, or else - subjectivism. Branden saw Objectivists fall for that one. If you will take emotions as your allies, giving you an instant and automatic read-out of a situation, etc. (and "self-programmed", as NB put it, by what you have consciously valued and disvalued) --and are not to identify and judge by, they place second only to your cognition.

Does "pushing down emotions" - include - joy?

Then The Eagles have something apt:

"... Don't your feet get cold/In the Winter time?/When the snow won't fall/And the sun don't shine/It's hard to tell the night time/From the day/You're losing all your highs and lows/Ain't it funny how/Your feelings go away...

Share this post


Link to post
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...