Thursday, March 29, 2012


Hallo!  It's been a while, mostly because I've been desperately swamped in writing papers for the last three months.

Here's some stuff for one of them, my final paper in my Philosophy 150 class.  We're supposed to write about a topic that falls somewhere in the vast realm of epistemology, which is the branch of philosophy that deals with knowledge.  A philosopher exploring the field of epistemology might ask questions such as: "How do we know what we know?" "What is the origin of knowledge?" "Is it more important to know than to love?" and, "What about Naomi?"

The question I'm asking (as prompted by a "discussion" with a friend a while back) is, "Does subjective knowledge have value?"

Many people, my physics-major-friend among them, would contend that it doesn't on the basis that subjective knowledge cannot have a solid "right" and "wrong," and therefore there can be no solid foundation of basic understanding upon which to build.  No building of knowledge means no advancement, so subjective knowledge kind of doesn't go anywhere.  By the same token, it's relatively easy for anyone with any level of training to jump into a subjective field and make it look good, whereas it takes years of studying the right subjects in the right order to get anywhere in an objective field.  Thus, the compared realms of subjective and objective knowledge tend to look like this.

However, in my paper I'll be maintaining that subjective knowledge does have value, though obviously not for the same reasons that objective knowledge does.  Here, with little explanation, are a couple of fuzzy images that came to mind as I worked out my reasons.

We begin with Plato's conception of knowledge.
Knowledge is the intersection between truth and beliefs (see Plato's Republic).
But what if there are different kinds of truths, so that not all truths can be accessed by one kind of knowledge?
If there are different kinds of truths, there must be different kinds of knowledge.  To discount one kind of knowledge would be discounting an entire area of truth (e.g. "Subjective knowledge is not valid, therefore the truth that subjective knowledge covers are not valid").

Here's another way to look at it.
Objective knowledge can be conceived as vertical line because it builds on top of itself, with the knowledge of one person forming the base for the knowledge of the next.

Subjective knowledge can be conceived as a horizontal line because must start anew with each individual.

Each by itself only exists in one dimension of the truth/world.  Only when the two lines are put in conjunction to enter the realm of the second dimension can the world begin to make sense and take on meaningful shape for us.


  1. I'm sorry, but all I could think of with "By their powers combined" was...

    Also, that was really cool, because it made sense. Good wordswork, my doge.

    1. The logic of their transformations stunned me. I guess it's hard to fall asleep when you're an ice unicycle...

      And, thank you! I'm really glad it made sense!

  2. Very interesting thoughts . . . I especially like the visualizations. My bwain is still trying to wrap itself around the 3-dimensional Venn Diagram :) I agree, subjective knowledge is extremely important. After all, what do you do with objective knowledge alone? Someone has to decide "we have this knowledge, therefore we should apply it to ___ problem because it is important to me." Objective knowledge can't be applied without subjectivity.

    You're always thinking such deep thoughts! I'd be interested to see how your final paper turns out . . .

    ps: lol nice link Madeleine :) I like how the octopus rides the ice unicycle to make its getaway ha :)
    "By their powers combined" always makes me think of:

    1. Oh, gosh, don't think of it as 3-D! No wonder it was confusing to you; that makes MY brain hurt, too! Here, pretend all the lines are the same weight...

      Yeah! At least, objective knowledge cannot be applied by real, actual human beings without subjectivity. That's an argument sort of espoused by Kierkegaard (actually, he claims that the only truth is subjective, because it can only matter to subjective individuals) and which will probably be one of my primary assumptions: since we ARE a bunch of subjective individuals, we need to take that into account when approaching life. We need to deal with things AS THEY REALLY ARE, which is kind of a funny thing to say from this position. Usually, the folks that want objectivity and its implications of universal truth say that they're closer to dealing with things as they really are; they say that subjective truth is the antithesis of universality, and so it cannot be hitting on any kind of real, significant truth.

      However, by discounting subjectivity, they are discounting the fact of people's individuality, a reality that even objectivists cannot escape (as Kierkegaard says at one point, they're necessarily admitting to their own existence by thinking, even if they're thinking about being abstract). So, if we REALLY ARE, and if we really are subjective beings, then an understanding of truth would have to take subjectivity into account in order to be complete.

    2. Oh, lolz ;) not 3d, eh? Phew! My grey matter was about to become white meat from over-exhertion lol ;)

      I agree, sometimes it's important to shift your perspective in order to obtain new perspectives. I remember visiting with a ward council once about the needs of some individuals we were working with as missionaries. Without revealing the nature of the situation, the people we were working with felt on the receiving end of grievances from the church. Certain members of the leadership felt that the claims were entirely irrational and invalid, but the Bishop said something that stuck with me– whether it was real or not, the couple felt it was real, and thus it was their reality. The best way to deal with the situation was from a foundation of seeing it through their eyes.

      Yay philosofofofy! :D