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The Attempt to Redeem Subjectivity

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A beautiful city

Philosophy has always been concerned with uncovering the truths of existence through logical reasoning. This has been its enduring aim, and it may well remain so indefinitely. However, a problem arises when certain truths are excluded from philosophical inquiry due to arbitrary limitations. This leads to the creation of a hierarchy of truths, even though philosophy should strive to uncover all truth, regardless of its category. This hierarchy can be deemed as the multi-layers of existence.


I find it surprising that this exclusionary practice persists even today, in a world where things can be essentially categorized as either true or false. Everything that exists, therefore, is true, and everything that doesn't exist is either true in fiction or simply false. There is no need to divide truth and ignore certain portions of it. The purpose of philosophizing is to discover truth, regardless of its type.


The principle I just mentioned about existence also applies to subjectivity. Subjectivity does not exist on a higher plane than existence. Even when it comes to personal truths, there are still objective criteria by which something can be measured and thus determined.


For instance, it is widely agreed upon that movies like "The Room" fall into the category of "Z-movies," or movies so bad that they have their own distinct classification. Therefore, since Z-movies are a real phenomenon and "The Room" is objectively a bad movie, it is true to conclude that it is a Z-movie, regardless of whether you enjoyed the movie or found it unbearable.

Subjective opinions hold significance, not because they are cherished by individuals, but because they are not entities or notions that are transcending reality. Philosophy is about uncovering and spreading the truth while steering clear of falsehood. If subjective opinions are not entirely false, then some of them must possess truth, regardless of any emotional bias that may be present.


Consider, for instance, the situation where I perceive something as beautiful. Beauty, being an attribute that can be assessed through symmetry, size, color, and other factors, would likely make my opinion true as well, even though it stems from my subjective experience.


The value of opinion extends beyond philosophy. Otherwise, it would trigger little interest. When you provide a testimonial for a business or an expert, your personal experience is regarded as evidence of their expertise. It leads you to presume that if the expert has recieved positive reviews, they may indeed be an expert, as some have testified.


Now, ask yourself: Is such a testimonial rendered worthless simply because it is subjective to the reviewer? What if you utilized the expert's services and discovered that the review was indeed accurate? In that case, why disregard subjective information that has proven to be correct, i.e., true? Therefore, testimonials, which are mostly if not entirely subjective, are not to be underestimated just because they are objective.


By discarding a portion of truth through subjective limitations, we not only do a disservice to philosophy but also hinder our own progress towards becoming less ignorant about existence. Even when opposing subjectivities are involved, reality dictates that there can only be truth or falsehood. It cannot be a hybrid, AKA, true and false at the same time. Such a determination depends on the subject at hand and its appropriate measures.


Another point worth noting is that truths don't have to be universal to be valid. The fact that something is true for some and not for others does not diminish its status as a truth. For example, it is true that apples are tasty. However, this does not imply that they are universally tasty, as different individuals have varying preferences. Similarly, it is "objectively" true that democracy is a desirable form of government, but that does not mean everyone would agree with this "objective" truth. Some would prefer other forms of government.

In addition, many "objective" truths are, in fact, subjective and are only perceived as objective because they are widely accepted or even plausible. Consider the perception of height. Do you think being 6'2" is tall? This judgment is only considered valid because it is a subjective impression to humans, but not to other beings, such as elephants, giraffes, and so on. If such animals could communicate, would they question our claim of objectivity when they are far taller than us? Would a 6'2 tall man indeed be tall next to a giraffe?


Thus, truth has two sides: universal truth and relative truth. The purpose of philosophy is to uncover the truth, regardless of its nature, and it may do so even more honestly than journalism. Wouldn't it be somewhat hypocritical, then, to only seek one type of truth—one that might be more relative than one may think?


Much of our experience is shaped by our subjective inclinations. I have been called a terrible writer on one occasion, yet Quora nominated me as a Top Writer in a certain year. As you can see, the truth exists independently of individual experiences. Why, then, should we view these experiences as obstacles to be avoided when they can simply be analyzed in search of the truth, which can be found in either experience? In other words, if an experience can indicate the truth, why disregard it?


After all, logic dictates that A and B cannot be one and the same. A terrible writer cannot be a top writer at the same time. One, therefore, must regard information not based on objectivity or subjectivity, but on truth and falsehood.


In summary, experiences are valuable because they can contain fragments of truth or even reflect reality as a whole. They deserve to be questioned, like anything else, but subjectivity is not the opposite of truth; falsehood is. The same as they deserve to be questioned, they deserve to be tolerated.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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