• julia marshall

Subjectivism

We are discussing two kinds of truth, that which can be known by several people all at once and that which is known to me alone, trapped within my hairy head.

And while these two truths very often and happily coexist, it does happen from time to time that the exponents of one or the other tries to bring the other view to a point of submission, which is just silly.

Really, it’s as if the photographer with his cold lens and the impressionistic painter with his soft bristles went to blows over the truthfulness of the image that each had conveyed.

The lens describes a scene that we should all be able to find if we were at that particular location, and the paintbrush describes how the artist saw it. Both are true.

It gets dangerous however when each leaves their proper place to begin dictating to the other.

For example, it is one thing to say that I am thinking of the number 5, but it is quite another to to say that there is an elephant standing on my head.

So what is the difference?


The difference is that the former example does not offend my reason and the objective sphere which we both occupy.

In other words, a person could be thinking of the number 5, it is actually possible.

The latter statement however, that I have an elephant on my head, directly contradicts the evidence that we both share.

To accept it as true, you would have to literally close your eyes to what is or is not right in front of you.

And when that happens, we not only have a giant leap from subjective truth but we dance dangerously in the realm of what we call, subjectivism.

You know, in many ways, it is just as literary artist, Joseph Conrad expressed in his novel, Heart of Darkness:

Two characters are at odds which each other about the world, and one expresses his frustration that he is unable to argue with the other, because he cannot appeal to anything high or low; no, the only point of reference allowed, is the other man and how he sees things.

Or to use an example from everyday life, almost every parent has found on one occasion or another that the cake on the counter top is strangely missing the frosting. And when the culprit is apprehended the conversation gets deeply philosophical.

“Do you know what happened to the cake?” mom or dad says. And the child, wanting to override the truth of his subjective experience goes out on a limb and says quite boldly, “no.” Now no parent in their right mind will accept that statement as true. Not because the child’s claim is generally impossible, but because in this case objective truth flat out contradicts it.

This is why it has been said that subjectivism is the source of all tyranny by the way.

Because if the child really felt like asserting himself, and insisted that he had not touched the chocolate, we know as parents that things can get messy.

But just imagine that the one making the assertion had access to power.

Now we still might say,”I don’t see the elephant; or you know, there really is chocolate on your face; or to be more contemporary, your physiology is actually male or female…”

But to our bare and blunt response what might those who struggle with power do?

They might just force something onto the common man. And with tactics of fear, embarrassment, ridicule; they slowly maneuver an empire, all to get us to say something like, “what lovely clothes you have dear emperor” even though, we cannot see them for the life of us.

Even still, we must continue to speak the truth. And when there is chocolate on that face as cute as he is, do not let him take you from the real world; because it is here amidst the real, that goodness and beauty are found.

Something to think about.

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