Subjectivity & Objectivity
Whether mythic or scientific, the view of the world that man constructs is always largely a product of the imagination. ~ French biologist François Jacob
Western views on reality bifurcate into 2 diametric schools: objectivity versus subjectivity. Subjectivity embraces manifestation as necessarily an experience of individual consciousness: the world is in one’s own mind. Objectivity is the notion that reality is outside of individual consciousness, which offers only a peephole to the ‘real’ world.
All that reaches us from the world are a few rays of light hitting our retinas, and a few air molecules vibrating in our eardrums – images and echoes. So how can we really know anything about the outside world? ~ American psychologist Alison Gopnik
Philosophic subjectivism was eschewed by empiricists, who triumphed in the modern world with their ‘scientific’ stance that reality is external to its observers. The only evidence of objectivity is that individual observers, through admittedly subjective perceptions, may concur about events, and thereby imagine an existence independent of its witnessing – shared subjectivity as a guise for objectivity.
Whereas the 2 schools are irreconcilable philosophical opposites, they are commonly treated as merely facets of existence: an external, objective world is merely juxtaposed to the private, subjective world. This conceptual tack is a philosophical duality: belief in both mind and body – whereas the products of the mind may be disputed as subjective, bodies are considered objective, as their existence is subject to consensus.
The mind and feelings are external, but you take them to be intimate. You believe the world to be objective, while it is entirely a projection of your psyche. That is the basic confusion. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
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I think, therefore I am. ~ René Descartes
Individual consciousness is undeniably apparent. Taking this fact to its logical conclusion produces solipsism: that only the self can be proven to exist. After all, all you ever really know of Nature is through your own awareness. (Here we have the foundation of skepticism: to doubt that fact should be taken at face value.)
Nothing perceived is independent of perception and perception differs not from the perceiver, therefore the universe is nothing but the perceiver. ~ Indian polymath Abhinavagupta
Solipsism cannot be disproven. Instead, through the influence of others it is ubiquitously brushed aside: typically, around the age of 5 years, regardless of culture.
The world you can perceive is a very small world indeed. And it is entirely private. Take it to be a dream and be done with it. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Only through social consensus – that our perceptions correspond with others – do we come to believe in objectivity. That others share seemingly identical experiences deceptively validates the appearance of an objective reality.
The worldliness of living things means that there is no subject that is not also an object and appears as such to somebody else, who guarantees its ‘objective’ reality. What we usually call “consciousness,” the fact that I am aware of myself and therefore in a sense can appear to myself, would never suffice to guarantee reality. ~ Hannah Arendt
Discerning the interface between the mind and body – mind-body problem – dispatches duality as untenable. Further, the matterist approach of neurobiology has no answer as to how the mind arises, nor how organisms without brains could possess awareness or make decisions. That a proximate mind exists is undeniable, even for neurobiologists.
The first fact is that thinking of some sort goes on. ~ William James
Modern physics has shown that existence is essentially energetic, fashioned into coherent waves of information, entangled into a manifest fabric. If there is objectivity, then reality must ultimately be noumenal, as energy is nothing but a concept.
We are neither matter nor energy, neither body nor mind. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Given energyism, shared experiences show that reality must be entirely within a communal Ĉonsciousness. As Nature necessarily is of dualistic diversity, subjectivity must arise – but it is illusory, as is objectivity, which can only be shared perceptions. This platform for experience – of common subjectivity via Ĉonsciousness – is showtivity.
As long as we imagine ourselves to be separate personalities, one quite apart from another, we cannot grasp reality, which is essentially impersonal. First, we must know ourselves as witnesses only, dimensionless and timeless centres of observation, and then realize that immense ocean of pure awareness, which is beyond both mind and matter. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Accepting showtivity as the modus operandi for all individual perceptions of every conscious entity still leaves the issue of how the illusion of objectivity may be projected, such that shared subjectivity may arise. The only possible answer is that all occurs within a universal mind. Just as localized consciousnesses are composed from a universal Ĉonsciousness, so too individual minds must be portions of the universal mind.
Note that universal mind is a synonym for coherence: the interaction which delivers order to the universe in its composition of Nature. For what is order but its perception?
Embracing the idea of a universal mind reclaims objectivity, albeit in an immaterial and paradoxical way. Matter is a deception created in the mind. All that exists are concepts, and concepts don’t exist.
Further, all that one can ever know are encountered concepts: ones that seem to appear external to oneself are considered facts, whereas those that are acknowledged as not having a factual foundation per se are mere ideas: the raw constructs from which beliefs are fabricated. With this recognition, subjectivity again moves to the fore, with objectivity a hazy, unknowable backdrop that is nothing but a conceptual sketch which may only appear whole via showtivity – did you see that too?
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Just as Nature is distributed deception, existence is atomized insignificance. The definition of significance is assignation of importance. As Nature proceeds regardless of its material composition, its components cannot be construed as meaningful in and of themselves. In the theater of Nature, there are only bit parts: no lead actors.
The objects in space that appear before you are guises for gyres of entangled interactivity. To assign meaning is only a personal attachment: the root significance of subjectivity.
Assigning significance is the sine qua non of perception: the means by which attention is doled out. Living is both enriched by meaning and possible only by giving meaning.