Subjective and objective validity

Part of this meetup's purpose will be to feel out our concepts of "subjective" and "objective" status, as applied to such usual suspects as meanings and truths. It seems that, at least in casual English, we take something to be "subjective" when it pertains primarily, or entirely, to a thinking subject rather than to the world with which that subject might be related. "Objective", by contrast, pertains primarily or entirely to the world - but the world apart from the subject? The world as encountered by the subject? Just how separable can mind and world be anyway?

There are various slippery slopes here. The one most commonly taken - judging mainly by anecdotal evidence - leads to the idea that the best kind of knowledge, the real deal, concerns things as they are (or would be) entirely apart from the subject's cognition. On that model, how things appear to me is exactly the barrier that stands between me and the truth. Taken to an extreme, this makes objective knowledge flatly impossible, as it would require me to see from something other than a possible perspective. Pulling back from that precipice, we run the constant risk of falling over its opposite precipice, the all-devouring solipsism that makes "objects" nothing more than the distal ends of perceptions and other cognitive acts.

Another part of our plan tonight will be a consideration of Kant's definitions and deployments of these concepts, as crystallizing some of the more dedicated effort ever spent on the topic. Kant links several themes in working out his influential (if admittedly often confusing) language-game of subjective and objective validity. These include the contrast between regular and irregular aspects of experience, the contrast between what I take to be available only to one person and what I take to be available to more than one, and the non-equivalence of objective knowledge with absolute or unconditional knowledge.

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  • Sasha G.

    Great seeing you at this meeting! I had to leave early, and probably missed the best of the discussion.

    October 27, 2013

  • jean p.

    I love a good objectivity subjectivity discussion but was wondering if there will be any significant discourse on the so called hard problem issue of the mind -brain question here or any time in the future?

    October 21, 2013

    • Erik C.

      I'm interested in speaking to you about what 'absurdity' means. The first line of Kant's Critique seems to acknowledge the absurdity of the human position. Rather than skirting it, it seems to be the very theme of much of the work. The absurdity of our condition seems, in part, precisely due to our capacity to think the thing-in-itself.

      "HUMAN reason has this peculiar fate that in one species of its knowledge it is burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to answer."

      1 · October 24, 2013

    • jean p.

      We are close,in my parlance it refers to verifiable truth and meaning not being logically impossible but humanly impossible.

      October 24, 2013

  • Caitlin/Cat

    Excited for my first meetup with the group! I was wondering if there were specific chapters or pieces of Kant's you were specifically looking at? Since I believe this was a favorite area for him.

    October 13, 2013

    • Thrashionalist

      Hey Cat - The group includes several people who are experienced with Kant, and who will be able to make good the lack of a reference-text during the discussion. If you want to read something in advance, maybe "Opining, Knowing, and Believing" from the 1st Critique would fit the bill.

      October 23, 2013

    • Caitlin/Cat

      Thank you both for the input. I appreciate the reading suggestion . Unfortunately something has come up and I can't make the meetup no longer, but I will look forward to attending another

      October 24, 2013

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