General Question

fuglyduckling's avatar

Is everything subjective?

Asked by fuglyduckling (412points) June 27th, 2014

Are there no absolute truths (don’t know math stands here) and is constant change the only eternal fact?

If thats the case then why are we so hard on people who think differently than us? I feel like if we all embraced that facts don’t exist, the world would be much more fulfilling, peaceful, individualistic, self-empowering thing.

Am I totally wrong?

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24 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

Who says that? There are still objective things out there like the law of nature.

dxs's avatar

Math and science are used to describe the world around us, and is not necessarily a truth, depending on your definition of it. I think that one reason people disagree is because one opinion is only benefitting one person when the other opinion benefits society as a whole.

Bill1939's avatar

I do not think that you are wrong. As you note, mathematics may be considered as objective truth, however I understand that there are areas in higher math that are still being debated. I think that because experience is a product of one’s mind, experience itself is subjective.

I also believe that “the world would be much more fulfilling, peaceful, individualistic, self-empowering thing” if people understood and accepted that everyone’s understanding of reality is unique.

GloPro's avatar

I think you are wrong if you correlate facts with truths.

Facts are absolutes. If you refuse to believe that George Washington was the first recognized United States President then it doesn’t make it any less true.

Sometimes people argue because both claim to have the correct facts. People muddle fact and opinion sometimes. And sometimes people are flat out wrong and refuse to acknowledge it, which can be frustrating.

Everything is not subjective. You are wrong.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Perhaps we should all have an operation at a certain age to make us all look alike, too.
Oh wait, that was a Twilite Zone episode.

pleiades's avatar

As far as social structures go I think many things are subjective.

rojo's avatar

I think they are.
What you see, feel, hear, touch, taste, smell, believe, are completely egocentric.

The universe only exists as long as you exist. Once you are gone, your universe is gone.

Kinda like Schrödinger’s cat.

hominid's avatar

Wait. Are we taking the fact that we experience things subjectively to mean that there is nothing but the subjective experience – there is nothing really there? What do you mean by “no absolute truths”?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

When it comes to people’s beliefs or how they believe next to another, then there is a lot of suggestion going on, even if there is an actual truth or reality in the end. As far as absolutes go, it is hard to dispute certain facts of nature or laws of physics. Gravity will always act the same even if you call it something else or don’t believe it at all. If I have three individual objects you can call it what you wish but the amount will be the same. If everyone thought the same I am sure it would be a happier, more peaceful place but that is not likely to happen.

jerv's avatar

It depends on who you ask.

Ponder that koan.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Philosophically, the only indisputable fact is your own existence and ability to think. As Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” However there are a great many things that it is useful to regard as facts, despite the potential for metaphysics to cast doubt on them, such as the existence of the external world, the truth of mathematics and scientific constants, and some of the more well supported observations. It may also be of use to regard a larger set of ideas as likely to be facts within the relevant context, such as the structural rigidity of your home, the likelihood of your employer paying you, and that you cannot trust a stranger with your wallet.

Certainty is what we function on. Many times this certainty is misplaced, but if you remove it all together, you are left with inescapable metaphysical doubt that will leave you unable to function in the real world.

LostInParadise's avatar

We could all be living in the Matrix with what we take to be reality being one grand illusion. As a practical matter, there do certainly appear to be things that we can believe in. John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things,” and that certainly appears to be the case. However, even given that there are things that we generally agree to be true, we have a lot of choices for how to live our lives. We could be a lot more tolerant of those who make choices different from our own but which do not pose a threat to how we choose to live.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

You know, laws of nature are merely observations people have made of which many have been overturned by new findings.
So perhaps this world in which we now exist is pretty much subjective, although it appears objective because the laws of nature and physics sometimes take hundreds of years for new discoveries to disprove old observations which were considered laws.

Bill1939's avatar

@Dan_Lyons reflects my thinking. The scientific belief regarded as fact was that a substance called aether was required in order for light to be propagated and for gravity to exist; “From the 16th until the late 19th century, gravitational phenomena had also been modelled utilizing an aether. The most well-known formulation is Le Sage’s theory of gravitation, although other models were proposed by Isaac Newton, Bernhard Riemann, and Lord Kelvin. None of those concepts is considered to be viable by the scientific community today.” (see)

“I think, therefore I am” does not confirm one’s physical existence, but only their mental existence. While the physical universe likely exists, the universe that individuals experience resides wholly within their mind. This universe disappears with their death. Even if reality’s existence is objective, one’s experience of reality is subjective. If absolute truth exists, it is yet to be known.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Dan_Lyons and @Bill1939 I suggest you read Isaac Asimov’s The Relativity of Wrong. Scientific ideas are almost never wrong, they are just inaccurate. The accuracy improves with each new theory, which is generally based on the old. For example if you assume the speed of an object to be less than 10% of the speed of light, Einstein’s Special Relativity equations very quickly reduce into Newton’s equations of motion. Newton wasn’t wrong, Einstein could just deal with a broader set of variables.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Yes @FireMadeFlesh And when I was a kid I never
stole candy from the stores, I merely purloined it.

Strauss's avatar

How can there be anything independent of one’s own observation? I see red, you see red, it’s something that we have been taught is red. Do we both see it the same? How much of the world have you truly experienced, rather than heard, read, or saw someone else’s observations about?

I believe the objective world is nothing more than a mutually agreed upon subjectivity.

LostInParadise's avatar

How would it be possible to have mutual agreement if everything is subjective? What our senses continuously affirm is that there is a world outside us that acts, not according to any personal whim, but according to scientific laws.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Dan_Lyons This isn’t semantics. There is a huge difference between refining an idea and discarding an idea.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Scientific ideas are almost never wrong, they are just inaccurate.

Uh huh, sure.

Strauss's avatar

@LostInParadise How would it be possible to have mutual agreement if everything is subjective?

The only things I know are what I perceive. We assume something exists objectively, if two or more people agree that they each perceive it. If you and I were standing, say, outside in a rural area on a beautiful night, we would probably both agree that we could see many things in the night sky. However, if you happened to see a shooting star, and I was looking somewhere else in the sky, I would have to rely on your perception of the shooting star, since I had not seen it.

LostInParadise's avatar

I think we are in agreement. Based on our perceptions, we posit the existence of an objective world whose lawful behavior is independent of us. If you place an ice cube in a glass of water, you expect it to melt, regardless of any preferences that you might have.

Strauss's avatar

A friend of mine, now passed for many years, was fond of saying, “Reality is a mutually agreed upon mass hallucination.”

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