Objectivity v̶e̶r̶s̶u̶s and Subjectivity


Let’s talk some basic philosophy for a moment.

During an argument or debate have you ever heard someone say “We should try to be objective” or “that’s a subjective opinion?” Whether we approach any given idea with objectivity or subjectivity can entirely determine the conclusion we reach. Some prefer to look at the world subjectively, allowing gut feelings and relativity to influence them. Others choose only to look at provable facts and relevant numbers when making a decision. Today I’d like you to break the #1 rule from Ghostbusters and “Let the Streams Cross.”

Have you ever heard a phrase or word for the first time and suddenly noticed it everywhere you went? Maybe this has happened with a newly purchased vehicle. You walk away from it saying, “Wow that new thing is suddenly everywhere!” That is subjectivity. Objectivity is the realization that even though it appears more prevalent, it isn’t any more common than it was before you noticed it. Neither of these two concepts fully grasps the situation by itself. Most likely the object you’re noticing isn’t in front of you more frequently (though it may be, consider a new song on the radio or if that new car just hit the market). But your increased attentiveness to it is causing you to notice it more. If that’s the case, it’s a lot like the tree falling in the middle of the woods: does it make a sound if you’re not there to hear it? Objectivity says yes. Subjectivity says no. A crossing of the two ideas unveils a more accurate picture: it creates waves through the air (that’s the objectivity) but unless someone hears it and converts that scientific happening into a subjective one (turning the noise into “sound” by experiencing it) then we can say for sure that it has not been experienced.

When we put ourselves in the camps of either fact or feeling, we miss the whole picture. Put simply, we miss out on the other half of the world we’re in. Only by objectively analyzing our feelings and subjectively feeling out facts can we paint the picture as it truly is.

Consider how objectivity and subjectivity weave in and out of one another in some common topics…

Is an objectively well-written piece of music a song if no one is playing it?
Is a skillfully crafted piece of art beautiful if no one can see it?
Is an offensive word still offensive if no one is offended by it?

Each of these questions inspire knee-jerk yes or no responses, but I encourage you to consider the opposite of your initial thoughts, regardless of what they were. I am sure you will find that either answer can be entirely justifiable, it all just depends on the angle from which you choose to view it. And that’s the moral of the story, folks.

What do you think? Does a tree falling in the middle of the woods truly make a sound? Share below!


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