Preliminary remarks on objectivity
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I shall proceed to write this short blog post in the following way: I will first put forward a suggestion on the topic concerned. I will then follow up with a series of remarks whose aim is to examine the stated claims. The intention is to conclude with a distinction between ultimate and proximate objectivity.
For a thing to be defined, to be properly named and clearly delineated as it is in juxtaposition to others as they are, a criterion has to be identified and clearly consider as such. A definition rests on objectivity. Should the criterion be variable as against the thing, no definitive consideration would be possible, for what would once appear as something could manifest as an other, potentially differentiable to itself.
1) The above suggestion, if treated in terms of ultimates, raises the following question: by what means is the criterion recognised as such? To define something as a criterion, a criterion is necessary, otherwise the use of this _over the _that would essentially be arbitrary. Arbitrariness prevents the demarcation of the true from the non-true.
2) An intentional election of one over a possible multitude, does imply the operation of something qua criterion that informs, if not conditions, that choice. By ‘choice’ I mean a decision that follows from a consideration of certain parameters, making it, at the very least, “less” arbitrary proximate to total arbitrariness.
3) In terms of choice and always with respect to the consideration of ultimates, the choosing subject as such needs to be brought under scrutiny. Is the subject that would select a criterion, an ultimate criterion in itself? If not, then how can it be known by the subject _and with _ultimately certainty that the criterion thus selected is the definitive one? If yes, then the criterion is, in truth, none other than the subject itself; for even if we were to refer to a given faculty of the subject and obscure from our consideration all other capacities or functions peculiar to it, we would still not avoid finding the criterion in the subject. Should that be so, we would, nolens volens, be led to the conclusion that the subject qua criterion is the determinant of objectivity or identical to it.
4) By ‘subject’ I do not refer to some exalted individual human being with extraordinary faculties of comprehension; one that alone can pierce the veil of phenomenality (or escape from the mould of opinion) to define things as they are. I only refer to the subject of first philosophy, to the thinker who can ever think of the world and the thinkable — of the “two magnitudes of an otherwise singular reality”, as I claim in my last philosophical essay, the Notes on the Thinkable: Version 2.0.
5) Even if the subject were to be appreciated as the criterion, the initial question would still not be answered, or it would be answered in a circular manner of argument. To the present author, it thus seems that in terms of ultimates, the operation of another criterion for identifying a criterion, is a regress ad infinitum. And yet, our experience, our very comprehension of it, suggests that some objectivity can be identified. It may then be the case that the consideration of ultimates, is at bottom, an imprecise statement, or an inadequate method of inquiry.
6) Perhaps we can posit that we make use of proximate objectivity, such as when we do science and philosophy. Indeed some criteria apply and, in the context of this blog post, one need not be enumerative about them. The concern here is that we cannot know, with ultimate certainty and with the use of these criteria, whether they are ultimates in themselves, or whether they are considered as objective points of reference or benchmarks relative to all that we can think of the world and the thinkable; and, hence, to all that we can think of the criteria as such. Note that by using the term ‘posit’ I acknowledge that my proposition makes no claim to ultimate certainty, but only to what appears to be the case in what is (or may be) within my reach.
Granted the aforementioned and the discussion on ultimates notwithstanding, I would argue that objectivity concerns the constancy of the criterion relative to the consideration. Such constancy need not be constant per se but only as regards the consideration. Any definition must then follow from that.
UPDATE January 17, at 12:02 CET: the notion of “relative objectivity” was substituted by “proximate objectivity”.