BFC Session-3 [Oct 17 2020] Objectivity

In the previous week’s Barefoot Chat webinar, which was on “seeing”, the notion of objectivity came up several times. Given this concept is central not only for understanding perception but also for research in science and social science today, we will discuss objectivity in this week’s session. We will meet at 3 pm, this Saturday, 17 October to continue our live chat here

The reading addresses some of these questions:

  • Did objectivity have the same meaning since it was developed as an idea?
  • Are there types of objectivity?
  • How did the notion of scientific objectivity come about?

Reading is available online here

The recording of the session.

Description: In this session, we discussed Objectivity. We walked through the thought-paths of different notions of objectivity, scientific objectivity, etc.


Some things that exists are objective
This is our present information. What if in future we prove that mind is nothing but brain activity and there is nothing called qualia. Then our modified info will be all things that exists are objective. Then objectivity will be synonymous to existence . Which means objectivity as a concept will cease to exist. Idea of objectivity pre suppose an idea of a mind independent of body. Hence objectivity is method of describing the universe with a mind in the picture. Where mind has negative relation with the object. Therefore we explain physical universe with abstract centre called mind .

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I didn’t understand what do you mean by mind-independent of the body?

Is there mind-independent of body anytime? can mind know about objective world in isolation of body and external world?

Also objectivity is not existence, because reality exists even without mind and human being coming into existence and knowing about it.

What is subjective today can be objective tomorrow and what is objective today can be subjective tomorrow. Therefore calling existence totally as objectivity is incorrect. There were no planets, no galaxies at certain point of time in universe, today they are objective reality. Gravity was a subjective idea not a few centuries back, today it is objective idea. Thus to see existence as only objective is incorrect.


Objective things are those that are independent of mind

If mind is nothing but brain state then mind itself becomes objective.

Then very idea of objectivity becomes synonymous to existence.

Because anything that exists will be objective then

Hence there’s no special class of objective things then

So objectivity as an separate idea ceases to exist

Now if objectivity has to exist then it necessarily has to pre suppose a mind which is not equivalent to brain states , a pure subject which is of course independent of body.

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The video recording of the session is added. Please view and share among those who could not but would be interested.


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@Surjamit and @jaikishan this debate is turning out very interesting.

As I read your posts, I feel clarifying the following could be useful. What is “objectivity” an attribute of?

  • Is it an attribute of the objects in the world? (Then we get into issues of the existence of the world. See 00:53:01 in the video above for related conversation.)
  • Is it an attribute of human ‘knowing’?

Without paying care to this distinction, I guess we might have misunderstandings!


P.S. You can type the time position directly in the player in the right bottom corner. (Yes, it is editable! Isn’t it cool? :wink:)


I do appreciate your point. Let us assume that each of us do have a mind. Minds exist, and therefore mind is objective. Still the epistemological question remains: Even if we grant that your mind and my mind, as well as Dolphin’s mind exist, can we have a world that is shared between two or more objective minds? Or shall we assume not more than one mind being objective? If no more than one mind exists, subjectivity and objectivity issues can be dissolved. Seen from this perspective, objectivity is an issue about whether we have a shared world between different minds.

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Does objective truth gets affected by relative truth?? In other words we know that velocity is relative to frame of reference. Now is velocity an objective truth or subjective truth??

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I will reply to this based on my understanding.

The value of some parameters like velocity depends on frame-of-reference. But acceleration, the second derivative (the rate of change of velocity, while the velocity is the rate of change of displacement) however does not depend on the frame-of-reference. This is Galilean relativity. Acceleration is, in this sense, an invariant description of motion. So, here we are talking about invariance.

Is invariance the same as objectivity? I would say, it is a better predicate to describe motion since it does not depend on who and from where the observation is made.

So, the question remains: Does objectivity refer to the phenomena, in this case, motion? Or does it refer to the property of motion?

If you ask me, I will say, motion is objective since it can be described in by an invariant property.


I didn’t get this part

What’s the difference?


This brings us to the core issues in both the history and philosophy of science.

Around the time when modern science was taking off, this issue was discussed. Is motion a property of objects or an object itself? This got resolved later as a state of an object, which in turn is a point mass. And mass itself is a property, but of what is the question.

Therefore, the expression “property of motion” will awkwardly resolve into “property of property”, because motion itself is considered a property.

Do we study anything other than properties of properties in science?

In the process, the thing-in-itself slipped out of hand. Maybe there was none in the first place.

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As much as I understand scientific objectivity it’s
Tenets are these

  1. there exists objects independent of mind
  2. they can be known by us
  3. the knowledge of objective things shoundnt be affected by subjective bias and prejudices

and also this

  1. the subject knowing the objective thing shouldn’t be affected by the knowledge

So it’s both ways subject shouldn’t affect object and also object shouldn’t affect subject.


continuing the conversation

We will continue our conversation from last Saturday in the live webinar tomorrow.
We have made an event post for session-4 you all to share among your friends. Please share widely and invite interested participants to join.

We will also share a summarised reading to anchor and continue our conversation.