Objectivity

According to Kelsen, any proper study has to follow a perfectly strict and precise objectivity. The neutral position adopted by the scientists allows them to be rigorous, as well as to find real answers without being driven by the heart’s desires nor the personal biases. It gives science a sort of status, of legitimacy not found in other domains such as literature or philosophy. In fact, Kelsen is not the only one to praise objectivity.
On the other hand there’s subjectivity, the demon that blurs reality and fools people. The same subjectivity that justifies fear and violence, love and revenge, as an always-changing danger, an unstable realm. Incertitude and chaos, subjectivity’s hearth.
The scientific method builds its pride in the apparent neutral analyze of facts. Facts, taken as they are, without any subjectivity in them, are seen as indisputable. There’s no danger, only stability once we drain all subjectivity.
However, this ideal is just absent from physical and social reality. Facts cannot be detached from the one sorting them, selecting them, observing them. Facts by themselves don’t have any meaning, just like a wave has no sound until someone hears it. And yet, we seem to forget our intrinsic participation in the construction of reality, while we delight ourselves in the most fictional of objectivities. We pretend not to have any biases while enhancing them by our negligence.
Objectivity is a fiction. A useful fiction.
We can follow the rules, accept the method and pretend it’s enough to transform fiction into reality. We can fool ourselves into thinking that our analysis is just and fair. But lies can only be effective for so long, and sooner or later someone will see the biases of our work. Our dear objectivity will crumble into pieces and our real subjectivity will shine through the same words we so carefully choose to hide it.
We can also acknowledge our own limits, our biases and limitations. We can tear apart our own work in order to understand it better. We can choose to be honest, to say clear and loud: here are our limits, beware while reading. This statement cannot undo our mistakes, but it can introduce a shadow of doubt, just a small amount of awareness useful to the truth. From then, we can only hope that the reader is critical enough to introduce a real dialectic into our biased monologue.
Yet, there’s a third path often neglected. While we try over and over to minimize subjectivity, we forget just how useful it can be. Subjectivity allows us to find patterns into the chaos, to create order from confusion and give meaning to our lives. Why do we try so hard to silence it? Why do we destroy our more useful tool? In other words, subjectivity allows us to go beyond reality’s frontiers. Planes, penicillin and steam machines, all useful inventions unthinkable without imagination. Law, society and politics, all collective mental creations. Our mind can see itself, and thus recreate the world.
Denying that profound part is not that different from reducing ourselves to automats. We already have machines to collect raw data. We have thermometers to tell us the temperature and pedometers to count our steps. But it’s our mind that decides whether it’s cold or hot, whether it’s enough exercise or not. In science there’s no conclusion without analysis, no experiment without observer and no answers without choices.
So maybe we should learn to embrace our minds, to acknowledge how subjectivity is essential to our lives.
Objectivity is a useful tool, and subjectivity too.
We don’t have to choose one or another. We can live with both.

Laisser un commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Google+

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Google+. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion /  Changer )

w

Connexion à %s