Archive for the ‘Objectivity’ Category

Science does not, cannot explain anything

December 14, 2009

For explanation we need a God. Naturalism is a popular God these days. However, science can help us improve our descriptions of subjective experience.

Nietzsche in The Joyful Wisdom, AKA The Gay Science

Cause and Effect. We say it is “explanation “; but it is only in “description” that we are in advance of the older stages of knowledge and science. We describe better, we explain just as little as our predecessors. We have discovered a manifold succession where the naive man and investigator of older cultures saw only two things, “cause” and “effect,”as it was said; we have perfected the conception of becoming, but have not got a knowledge of what is above and behind the conception. The series of “causes” stands before us much more complete in every case; we conclude that this and that must first precede in order that that other may follow – but we have not grasped anything thereby. The peculiarity, for example, in every chemical process seems a “miracle,” the same as before, just like all locomotion; nobody has “explained” impulse. How could we ever explain? We operate only with things which do not exist, with lines, surfaces, bodies, atoms, divisible times, divisible spaces – how can explanation ever be possible when we first make everything a conception, our conception? It is sufficient to regard science as the exactest humanizing of things that is possible; we always learn to describe ourselves more accurately by describing things and their successions. Cause and effect: there is probably never any such duality; in fact there is a continuum before us, from which we isolate a few portions – just as we always observe a motion as isolated points, and therefore do not properly see it, but infer it. The abruptness with which many effects take place leads us into error; it is however only an abruptness for us. There is an infinite multitude of processes in that abrupt moment which escape us. An intellect which could see cause and effect as a continuum, which could see the flux of events not according to our mode of perception, as things arbitrarily separated and broken – would throw aside the conception of cause and effect, and would deny all conditionality.

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Compatibility of subjective and objective methods

December 13, 2009

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?

On objectivity

December 9, 2009

In objectivity, one forgets oneself. The illusion of a detached, fossilised, unconcerned world is created. All the colouring and purpose given to the world by the subject are denied.

As Nietzsche says in the Beyond Good and Evil, chapter 4:

80. A thing that is explained ceases to concern us–What did the God mean who gave the advice, “Know thyself!” Did it perhaps imply “Cease to be concerned about thyself! become objective!”– And Socrates?–And the “scientific man”?

Objectivity is the most popular style in philosophy today. Why? Because it allows philosophers to babble on endlessly about petty things to their hearts’ desire. Prestige amongst fools is the carrot for  Objective Philosophy (OP). The greatest babblers of OP are esteemed highest amongst the OP herd. OP is the philosophy of professors; irrelevant to the everyday life of the subject. It defies committment; it is only a pretentious hobby. In OP, Truth is nothing but collectively believed-in fiction (or common interpretations, according to the language of a communicative group).

For instance, objective-style discourse on ethics involves talk on ethical concepts and systems of concepts which are wholly impotent. Far too much collective human life has spent on this sedentary engagement.  A concept wrung of the intentions of a subject has never motivated anyone to do anything. 2 + 4 = 4 — as if that’s what it’s all about? However, objective-style ethics has rewarded a few with prestige much envied by the rest: Mill and Kant being some of the greatest babblers.

A subjective-style ethics, however, does not concern itself with analysing, logically rearranging, and espousing babble. Subjective ethics must lead to decision and action, because it is concerned with the life and intentions of the subject in the world. Truth in subjectivity is a life lived according to it. This Truth cannot be forgotten, unlike all the past and present fictions of OP, which have fiction at their base.