Re: [asa] Objective vs. Subjective (un-misspelled)

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Tue Jan 06 2009 - 09:16:53 EST

Could we not simply define "objective" as being that which can be measured....

That's close, but I prefer "public" versus "private." Information that's public is info that people can obtain in principle if they have the resources and the motivation. Information that's private is info that in principle cannot be checked out by anyone but has come to an individual via personal experience. Science works partly because it restricts itself to public info; but that does not mean private info is necessarily any less valid: It just may not be valid to anyone other than the one who received it.

Good salespersons are those who are able to make their private info valid for their disciples. That happens a lot in religion.

All knowledge, of course, is private to the person who possesses it. But a subset of that knowledge is public if the person who possesses it can tell others how to get it for themselves in a testable way. That is, "sharing" the beauty of a sunset or of a painting is not testable, because no one can know in a measurable way what another person perceives and feels. But sharing knowledge of the moons of Jupiter is testable, for example, by verifying that a person looking through a telescope can correctly describe their locations.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: George Cooper<>
  Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 2:15 PM
  Subject: RE: [asa] Objective vs. Subjective (un-misspelled)

  [Sorry for rushing the prior post. This corrects the minor spelling errors.]


  Nice topic, Nucacids, and a timely one at that. Jon??? J


  Could we not simply define "objective" as being that which can be measured by all parties who should obtain the same result given an appropriate range of accuracy?


  Measurement is the foundation of science. If it can't be measured, it ain't science! [Sorry, multiuniverse theorists and IDers. J]


  Where parties can not agree on their respective observations then we are in the subjective realm since opinions and bias become key factors to the claims. Love, hate, etc. are subjective elements. Even if most might agree to relative strengths of these, what units of measure are assigned to them?








  From: [] On Behalf Of Nucacids
  Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 1:48 PM
  Subject: [asa] Objective vs. Subjective


  Hi all,


  We have all been shaped by a culture that assigns high value to "objective knowledge" and low value to "subjective knowledge." So it would help if we made an effort to define both the objective and the subjective.


  Let's begin with the dictionary, as the dictionary conveys the manner in which words are commonly understood and thus best reflects what people are trying to communicate. The dictionary defines 'objective' as follows:


  "not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.


  intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.


  being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject


  of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality."


  We could coalesce these definitions and define objective knowledge to mean knowledge about things external to our minds that does not depend on feelings, interpretations, or prejudice. In other words, it is unbiased knowledge about the world around us.


  Now, let us use the dictionary to define 'subjective':


  "existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought


  pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation."


  So we can define subjective knowledge as that which exists in the mind, intertwined with someone's biases, and pertains to the one who holds the knowledge.


  Are there any problems with these definitions?


  - Mike Gene

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Received on Tue Jan 6 09:18:09 2009

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