Friday, October 2, 2009

objectivity

Hi Everyone =]

So, I wanted to go over the whole objective and subjective discussion we had in class earlier in the week, but with a focus mainly on objective. I will start off by asking the question, how far is too far in terms of being objective? I know that in the reading Nagel stated that too much objectivity leads to skepticism, which then leads to, “a radical doubt about the possibilities of reaching and kind of knowledge, freedom, or ethical truth…[1],” which I found tied back to subjectivity because I would think that the point in which one feels skeptic about something is relative to each person. This actually reminded me of an instance when one of my friends came up to me and poked me in the arm and I said to him, “you poked my arm,” a statement that I thought to be factual. He then replied to me with, “no, actually I didn’t. I poked your skin which is comprised of molecules, which cannot be owned so you really can’t say I poked your arm.” After quite some time of going back and forth debating on the issue of if he had really poked me or not, we came to the agreement that because it was once he started refusing the idea that he poked me, that skepticism began to settle in, at least for me, that it would be that point that would mark the boundary of objectivity. As I reflect on that incident having read the Nagel’s piece I see how something that would normally thought to be the truth, can be changed into something subjective. However, I still can’t help but wonder how far we could have taken that discussion. I think there was a possibility that by the end of the day, we could have lost our own sense of reality.

My question to you is one of mere self-reflection. How far is too far in regards to objectivity? Is there and indicator for you besides skepticism that lets you know?



[1] Thomas Nagel, The View From Nowhere, (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 6-7

4 comments:

  1. I think that the limit of objectivity should be somewhere near the observation of physical objects. When you have to start evaluating concrete observations, like your friend poking you, objectivity is already starting to overstep its bounds. In regards to the debate of possession though, I would say that the molecule in your arm belong to you, since you carry them around everywhere, and since the molecules are in fact, part of an arm, they comprise "your arm."

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  2. I am not to sure about your friend's argument. He seems more of a jokester than a skeptic but I do not find anything wrong with that. Personally, I do not consider skepticism a limit but only a nuisance. If something is to be true, then it will prove itself to be true somehow someway. Skepticism just allows us to question our own ability to judge our judgement but it does not change whether something is true or not.

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  3. What matters, I think, is a sense of scale. Technically, the molecules merely interacted with each other (and the molecules really aren't anyone's to own), but you're attempting to discuss something occurring on a much larger scale, in which case those atomic and subatomic interactions really don't mean anything. If you go to a more cosmic scale, you can say that your friend didn't really poke your arm; it was a consequence of billions of years of Brownian motion all initiated by the very first atomic movements after the Big Bang. Eventually, molecules swirled around in such a manner so that the neurons in his brain would command his arm to poke you.

    As for objectivity, humans have the ability to recognize patterns (although typically with a high false positive rate). Computers, which are arguably very purely objective, cannot, and it is this quality that makes humans more suited for certain tasks (such as determining whether one has been poked or not).

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  4. hahah okay guys, you weren't supposed to asses what my friends argument was, i knew it was faulty from the start and that was just my example what was actually important about what i wrote was the last part not the first

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