Compatibility of subjective and objective methods

Subjective methods include phenomenology and existential methods.
Objective methods are equated with the scientific method and naturalism.

Only a dogmatist does not see the compatibility of subjective and objective methods in relation to the human.

  • Scientific methods cannot capture and explain the first-person experience of a human, because they are reductionist, abstractionist, and treat the human as an object. They explain things in an abstract model of causes, rather than try to capture the essence of subjective experience.
  • Subjective methods can too-easily overlook the social structures and biology that can influence human belief and behaviour. With the exception of some forms of phenomenology, this is because they lack descriptive rigour and may be limited in scope.

Occasionally, a scientific study has improved my first-person descriptive account of experience. In doing this it has aided my navigation through life. At other times, I have found scientific studies irrelevant to my life, or of marginal significance, such as when I have read studies that have verified things that I learnt a long time ago through subjective experience.

I don’t equate the models provided by the natural sciences with reality as one perceives it. I believe subjective methods are superior to objective ones, because human beings are subjects, not objects. Objective methods are however useful in clearing up the naivety and looseness found in many subjective accounts of experience.

Unfortunately, some simpletons only publicly recognise the validity of objective methods (including half of Academia). These dogmatists (metaphyscial, rather than methodological naturalists) have forgotten that they are subjects, i.e., human beings.

Fortunately, like most dogmatists they are hypocritical in that they don’t rely on objectivity – rather subjectivity – for everyday navigation through life. Just as well, as no one could live that way.

Further reading: Can Phenomenology Be Naturalized?


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