central philosophical concept, related to reality and truth
Objectivity is the state or quality of being true even outside of a subject's individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings.
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- The principle of objectivity can, I think, be applied to every human experience, but is often quite out of place. For instance: what is a fugue by Bach? Is it the invariant cross-section, or the common content of all printed or written copies, gramophone records, sound waves at performances, etc., of this piece of music?
- Whoever desires that his intellect may grow up to soundness, to healthy vigor, must begin with moral discipline. Reading and study are not enough to perfect the power of thought. One thing above all is needful, and that is, the disinterestedness which is the very soul of virtue. To gain truth, which is the great object of the understanding, I must seek it disinterestedly. Here is the first and grand condition of intellectual progress. I must choose to receive the truth, no matter how it bears on myself. I must follow it, no matter where it leads, what interests it opposes, to what persecution or loss it lays me open, from what party it severs me, or to what party it allies. Without this fairness of mind, which is only another phrase for disinterested love of truth, great native powers of understanding are perverted and led astray.
- William Ellery Channing, “Self-Culture” (1838)
- Unanimity of opinion may be fitting for a church, for the frightened or greedy victims of some (ancient, or modern) myth, or for the weak and willing followers of some tyrant. Variety of opinion is necessary for objective knowledge. And a method that encourages variety is also the only method that is comparable with a humanitarian outlook.
- Paul Feyerabend, Against Method (1975) p. 46
- The function [of objective thinking] is to reduce all phenomena which bear witness to the union of subject and world, putting in their place the clear idea of the object as in itself and of the subject as pure consciousness. It therefore severs the links which unite the thing and the embodied subject.
- When my ability to reason shows me that the suffering of another being is very similar to my own suffering and matters just as much to that other being as my own suffering matters to me, then my reason is showing me something that is undeniably true. ... The perspective on ourselves that we get when we take the point of view of the universe also yields as much objectivity as we need if we are to find a cause that is worthwhile in a way that is independent of our own desires. The most obvious such cause is the reduction of pain and suffering, wherever it is to be found.