Comment on Objectivity

We see things, not as they are, but as we are. ~ Anais Nin While I don’t know the context of the Nin quotation, I appreciate it because I believe so much of what we believe is based on what and who we are. There are at least two levels to this idea, in my mind. One is what we believe relating directly to our sensory information, and the other is higher level beliefs based on culture. On the sensory level, we may see “red” for instance, but the color red has no objective existence as a color. The data coming into our eyes is a bunch of photons that vibrate or resonate with sensors in our retinas and parts of our brains where red “occurs”. Red has a subjective existence. If you were color blind, you would see a more limited spectrum and find it impossible to differentiate some colors. Some animals, take bees, can see ultraviolet in their visible color spectrum. We cannot see ultraviolet. Yet the electromagnetic reality of ultraviolet, photons vibrating within a particular frequency range, exists. The color ultraviolet exists for the bee but not for us. An example of the cultural dimension would be how so many Americans feel about nationalized health care, like the single-payer universal health care of Canada, with all the biases of their brainwashed minds, that there is something sinister or unpatriotic about it, even though the large majority of Canadians like their health care system. While I don’t believe that everything is subjective, I do believe that everything we believe is ultimately subjective, even though we may seek objectivity. In the world of science, the model of the world is made to correspond as well as possible with all the data, yet our models and our perceptions still cannot avoid the subjective limitations of the scientist or observer.

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