Many of us understand subjectivity as the opposite of objectivity; that they are mutually exclusive concepts. Evidence for that is all around; for example, take Wiktionary:
- Pertaining to subjects as opposed to objects (A subject is one who perceives or is aware; an object is the thing perceived or the thing that the subject is aware of.)
But the notion of "subjective experience" seems to indicate to me that the word is often used in a subtly different way; that is, as a precise synonym for conscious awareness. Funnily enough it is even implied in the prior definition in stipulating that "a subject is one who perceives or is aware". Wiktionary otherwise tries to avoid this, for example by adding conditions:
- Experienced by a person mentally and not directly verifiable by others.
I'm using Wiktionary as an example but I think my point holds that people don't really use the word very precisely, and dictionaries reflect that.
I presume we all agree that we can only know about the world through our first-hand experience of it, and that objectivity is just the label we give to verifiable sense data (people and sensing equipment agreeing on observations). Would it not follow that all objective truths are necessarily subjective truths, in the sense that we can only observe them as "subjects" (creatures with awareness/perception)?
As far as I can see there are two competing definitions here and they are causing a lot of havoc in epistemological conversations I've been having lately. So; are objectivity and subjectivity mutually exclusive, or is the objective a subset of the subjective?
This question has been asked elsewhere on the internet, with unsatisfactory answers IMO: