Twice yesterday, I saw arguments over objective reality. In one case, the folks arguing for the existence of objectivity were misguided. When you ask someone—say a critic—for their opinion, the value of the response exists in their subjectivity, in how well they make a case for how they feel. There's an objective fact to what is presented before them, but mere narration of that fact isn't the most valuable thing in consideration.
In the second argument I witnessed—a conversation about sex and gender—the problem was more nuanced. What many of us assume as objective reality are often aspects of the subjective world that's been related to us long enough that we simple presume they're verifiable without testing them ourselves. There's a lot of philosophy invested in these ideas about objective reality that flies above my head, yet attempting to figure out some of it is useful, if only to serve as a shock out of dogmatism. It is useful, for instance, to admit that to call the object in this photograph a hat isn't objective reality. It's an object weaved from a bendable material (straw) into a circular shape. The moment I accept that it's a hat, I'm already taking on other people's subjective assessment of it and its use. What if, in another world with another culture, this object isn't used to cover the head as we do with hats, but to cover the rear end of our bodies. What changes then? What if its use isn't even related to the body at all? In a world where having a bullshit detector is essential, making a practice of these questions can be quite useful.
Jos, February 2018