Discussion on Objective versus Subjective – with formulae!


These are BIG words in, especially discussions of what we call the true or morality. If something is deemed “subjective,” we feel that we have an instant permission to dismiss it as “non-real,” belonging to one’s imagining, conceptualizing, or interpreting, in short, an opinion of an “objective” moment or reality. The objective, it goes without saying, is the experience of the real (or the real itself) presently available for inspection.  Needless to say, one is privileged over the other.

The problem I encounter as I think about this distinction is that the “subjective” and the “objective” are both experiences, and as such, both are internal to the self – a key definition of the “subjective.”

Are we then warranted to make such distinctions? How are we then to determine the “truth”? (What’s truth anyhow?)

What are your thoughts?

Chris Hemmings

Objective = Σsubjectives/consensus


Chris, I like your formula a lot but shouldn’t it be times consensus instead of divided by? In other words, the more people consenting to a particular subjective view, the more confident we will feel that it matches the objective that we can never know directly. You know what I think is interesting is that we do experience our own emotions directly and therefore know that the subjective experience = the objective reality with 100% confidence. Those intangible emotions are the only things we can be certain of. And yet Mr. Spock dismissed them out of hand as being infinitely inferior to logic. Tch tch.


Objective: observer independent (shape, object, length, distance, exist, location).

Subjective: observer dependent (truth, proof, evidence, knowledge, belief/disbelief, moral, observe).


” In other words, the more people consenting to a particular subjective view, the more confident we will feel that it matches the objective that we can never know directly.”

But we CAN *understand* objective reality and the concept of objectivity, Bob. Otherwise we wouldn’t even be able to use the term! All terms are defined if they are to have meaning, “objective” included.

“Those intangible emotions are the only things we can be certain of.”

Certainty is your opinion! Maybe you feel “certain” of perception of your emotions, but I don’t share the same confidence. Sometimes I feel something and really can’t tell what I’m feeling at all. Sometimes it’s multiple emotions all at once that are difficult to explain, and I can’t be sure which is the “right” one to feel, and I think this is entirely normal and natural as a human being.

But hey, maybe you’re just an emotional genius… I dunno.


Mike, I’m not an emotional genius.

The point is that what we perceive as an objective world can never be perceived directly. For instance when you see something there are photons either radiated or reflected off the object that hit and stimulate the rods and cones in your eyeballs which in turn converts that stimulus into an electrical signal which is sent to the visual center in your brain and then you perceive it. That’s the way it is with everything we consider to be objective reality outside of ourselves, we don’t perceive it directly. All 5 senses involve conversion of some kind of physical attribute into an electrical signal to our brain.

However emotions are perceived directly because they are created in your own mind and whatever you feel is the emotion itself. I’m not saying that we can’t be confused by multiple emotions at once. Only that we perceive emotion directly so there is a 1 to 1 correspondence between objective and subjective reality when it comes to our own emotions.

Chris Hemmings

The formula, of course, is a debating rather than practical tool.

So, when stating:

Objective = Σsubjectives/consensus

I’d like to suggest consensus drags down, divides, the sum total of observations, suppresses deviancy from that “established” norm and so is often an incorrect measure.


actual reality ≠ accepted objective reality.


The way I see it, there are two approaches to this: the practical and the theoretical one. I believe the truth is objective and experimenting it is subjective. I call this one practical, as it basically implies reality (even in research, not only in interpersonal domains). While the theoretical part refers to the popperian view (truth is objective and we are unable to know it due to our limited „gear”). Sure, I’ve asked myself why should I even consider the theoretical approach, of what use?

I think it is of great importance to keep in mind the theoretical (popperian view, as I see it) because it shows that we are constantly and alternatively constructing (as George Kelly suggested, too) and that this is an innate tendency (also explored in nativism). It would be detrimental trying to combat this instinct, after all, all we can do in order to obtain maximum validity is to refine and reanalyze the perceived truth and bear in mind that “The map is not the territory”.

Chris Hemmings

So “keep your eyes open and don’t fall into that new mine shaft/over that new seaside cliff face/or stumble onto that new motor way….” is OK if you accept the previous accepted realities are correct. So often they are not.

You know, the World is NOT flat etc:

Burning fossil fuels is not necessarily such a bright idea, global trade and banking systems just might be an invalid foundation for progression, modern health services may well be responsible for the bulk of negative health outcomes. So:

Progression ≠ Σ (previous realities)


Objective = X% reality, where X varies from 0 to 1 according to who projects it!


“Subjective” is an important term, but yeah, it doesn’t necessarily mean something isn’t real. Some represent the reality outside their minds accurately, sometimes they don’t represent it well at all. Still, I feel as if “subjective” and “objective” are important distinctions to make in context to discussions about reality and how we perceive it.

Gerald Peter 

Great question, Stuart. Truth, itself, is necessarily objective. For example, if you take an engine apart and place each of its parts on the floor, those parts, as the Law of Identity arbitrates, ARE OBJECTIVELY those parts and not something else. Now, if someone’s subjective opinion of those parts differs from the actual parts that subjective opinion is erroneous. However, if one’s subjective opinion as to what those parts are coheres with the objective reality of those parts, then subjectivity and objectivity are reconciled. And so it is WITH THE WHOLE OF REALITY, BOTH THE PHYSICAL AND METAPHYSICAL. (An example of where subjectivity and objectivity does not exist coherently in the mind of someone is, say, a 6 year old who subjectively thinks that 12 + 11 = 1.) Great question! Many people get this terminology confused. The bottom line is that objective truth exists outside of the minds of those whose subjective opinion differs from the objective truth. But subjectivity and objectivity can co-exist in our minds, as well. What do you all think? (Hopefully both subjectively and objectively)

Chris Hemmings

If you find an engine in pieces on the floor the objective reality is that it’s a collection of pieces of cast metal and sundry such items. It is only an engine if a mechanic/engineer with necessary tools and skills can so assemble the pieces.

“objective truth [OT] exists outside of the minds of those whose subjective opinion differs from the objective truth” requires acceptance of what that OT might actually be. This tool of yours so easily damages those who do not accept facts as supplied to them, which is a deeply disturbing starting point.

Each of us must establish zones of competence and mechanisms to assess information. We have to be allowed to judge independently of pre-formed doctrines and to be allowed to maintain such where we can demonstrate their validity.


About greencentre

Non grant supported hence independent scientist, green activist, writer and forest planter.
This entry was posted in Objective, Philosophy of facts, Subjective. Bookmark the permalink.

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