Maybe, one of the most fundamental concepts in philosophy is "Objectiveness". Since any question will ultimately depends upon the answer of the question "Is there an objective thing?", and naturally next, the question "Is there an objective truth?"

I have read and heard some reasons in support of the statement "There is no objective thing", but there are two questions that remains unanswered in the lack of objectivity:

1- If there were only subjective things and henceforth only subjective minds and ideas, how someone could imagine rightly the concept of objectiveness? since during these imagination, by the hypothesis that mentioned, he just could have a relativised objectiveness in his mind, which is ultimately subjective! but we all could imagine what objectivity means (Something whose existence is independent from the subjects). Also when we could imagine the concept of independence, this concept could not be dependent.

2- If there was nothing objective which was not independent of our minds, how could we understand each other's speeches? The conditions becomes worse - for the supporters of the absolute subjectivity! - when we consider people from different cultures and histories, with different languages. (For example, an archaeologist speaks about the concepts that people of ancient times were thinking about).

Are there any answer for these questions under the hypothesis that there is no objective thing?

  • Kant & Berkeley come to mind. In Buddhist philosophy - Nagarjuna. – Mozibur Ullah Nov 29 '13 at 6:57
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    Is this really a question and are you interested in an answer? To me it's mix of fuzzy claims and questions that rather aim at expressing an (unclear) point of view. – chela Nov 29 '13 at 21:24
  • When the absolute is absolute, it is incomplete; within completeness there is also the relative... - I ch'ing – dgo Jan 31 '14 at 16:33

To me there is no answer to this under the current mode of thinking/language; Furthermore, under any other mode I think the concept of question/answer might as well be lost. You're seemingly trying to adopt an objective perspective by saying "If there were only subjective things" and "If there was nothing objective" all the while trying to say that all is subjective in an objective way. This seems like an endless loop and hence the language/thinking doesn't seem to quite grasp the phenomenon. Isn't this the road to Absurdity? There is neither Objectivity nor Subjectivity nor this sentence or the words I used to formulate the idea, while they nevertheless remain there.


I think one should be careful in defining objectivity, not as "something whose existence is independent of the subjects" but rather as "something whose existence is independent on the specific subject." One can argue that things that don't exist independently of subjects are objective, as long as all the subjects necessarily agree on them.

For example, mathematical concepts are arguably cannot exist independent of subjects (although platonists would disagree); however, multiple subjects would agree on those concepts. Sometimes mathematics is even defined as "the study of mental objects with reproducible properties."

IMO the above mentioned reproducibility is the key for deriving objectiveness from "relativized objectiveness." Objective truths are those on which multiple subjects agree that they are true, with the caveat that the truth should be appropriately defined, including the existence of logos, etc.

  • Firstly, I could not relate "something whose existence is independent of the specific subject" to things on which "multiple subjects agree". – Ali V. Dec 2 '13 at 21:25
  • Secondly, I think reducing the definition of objectivity to "something on which multiple subjects agree" does not answer the question, because another question will arise: "How could these subjects realize that they agree on something?". – Ali V. Dec 2 '13 at 21:35
  • Thirdly, about your comment on mathematical objects: the very fact that mathematical objects model the outer world, show that they could not be dependent on the mathematicians' minds, since the outer world exists and flows independently of their minds. – Ali V. Dec 2 '13 at 21:36

I think a clearer notion of objectivity is needed here. Objectivity can't just mean "independent of any thinking or observing subject", because the idea of something being dependent on a thinking or observing subject for its identity is a massively controversial aspect of the philosophy of mind - we don't want to commit ourselves to some kind of substance dualism, or even more conservatively a supervenience thesis about the mental on the physical, to say that some matter of fact is an objective one or not.

A more useful notion of objectivity might be derived from Michael Dummett's thoughts on Realism in the philosophy of language. To say that Realism about the material world holds is on one hand to say that the notion of Truth is evidence transcendent (that whatever we might hold to be the ontological structure of the world, the notion of what is True to say about the world is not fully settled by appeals to what kinds of pieces of evidence are available), and on the other to say that it is also classically logically bivalent (that whatever we might have to say on the subject is either true or false - there is no room for contradictions or intermediate or fuzzy truth values in the material world). Maybe these two theses might come apart in interesting ways, but the idea that "objectivity" is supposed to capture both sounds like a reasonable suggestion.

This avoids a lot of scrambling around in hypothetical "real worlds" without begging the relevant questions about whether there is indeed any such thing to form a basis for a constructive debate. And also, when the problem becomes a matter of standards of Logic and Evidence, we have a number of different formal technologies available to us to present, explore and consider various ways we might make progress in resolving disputes about whether such and such a phenomenon or hypothesis is properly sensible.

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