Objectivity in Objectivism

JustinCEO's picture
Submitted by JustinCEO on Thu, 2018-03-08 01:23

Great post from Elliot Temple's blog on the concept of Objectivity in Objectivism (there is also some existing discussion there if people are interested). Full post below. Enjoy Smiling




Ayn Rand called her philosophy “Objectivism” because central to it is a new conception of objectivity. Traditionally, objectivity has meant the attempt to efface the knower out of existence, so that consciousness can “mirror” or “copy” reality, “untainted” by any processing. Skeptics then bewail the possibility of man knowing reality, since any attempt to do so must make use of his senses and/or rational faculty, both of which engage in processing.

This text is confusing so I wrote an explanation of the issue:

There is an idea that if an observer or thinker has any traits or characteristics, these bias his observations or ideas. His evidence and conclusions are tied to his own nature – the way his eyes work, the way his brain works, etc. The thought is that people with different eyes or brains could not agree with each other because they will each see or think about the world in their own different way, and won't have any objective ideas/evidence for common ground.

Objectivism says the logical implication of this way of thinking is that you kinda need to not exist to avoid bias. Any eyes or brain have a particular form (or "identity" is the word Rand uses) and therefore the only way to avoid bias is not to exist, not to have anything like a brain or eyes that are one way instead of a different way!

Objectivism rejects the idea that your eyes taint your observations, and that observations have to perfectly mirror reality to be any good. Even if you have blurry eyesight or you're colorblind, you can learn about actual reality instead of merely your subjective perceptions. Having a particular kind of eye doesn't prevent you from having a connection to reality.

To think objectively requires certain methods of thinking, such as trying to understand the nature of your eyes and brain and account for any problems they may cause. E.g. you can know your eyes are flawed and get glasses. And you can also use cameras and other tools to look at the world. And the results are there's an underlying reality which can be understood, rather than a chaos of incompatible observations for each observer or measurement instrument.

Objective thinking requires other things as well, like trying to see other sides of issues instead of just arguing for your initial position. Standard reason stuff.

None of this should lead us to skepticism, to giving up on there being a real world that we can know things about.

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