Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

how do the concepts of "objectivity" and "subjectivity" relate to anarchic perspectives?

+3 votes
many discussions i have related to anarchy and anarchist perspectives end up hinging on those concepts (objectivity and subjectivity). maybe the first thing would be to have some descriptions of those terms to work with.

i think of objective as meaning something like: based strictly on undeniable facts, universally true, with no bias or opinion involved.

i think of subjective as meaning something like: based on personal observations, experiences, feelings, thoughts, instincts, opinions, intuition, etc.

"that tree exists in that location"  might be considered objective.

"that tree looks unhealthy."  might be considered subjective.

i am interested in how others would describe those terms, since i think that is a key to how folks see them related to anarchic perspectives.
asked Apr 24 by funkyanarchy (11,290 points)
funky.....thinking about your comment about experiencing rather than articulating about experience....reminded me of something i read saying that sounds often convey much more than a bunch of words....

an oooh or ahhh when seeing a shooting star....a moan or scream during sex....an "mmmmmmm" sound when eating ("a yummy sound" per young frankenstein)......a yelp or cry when something cuts or scrapes or scares you....

this discussion (thanks for the topic question, funky) reminds me that i want to use language more to describe and evoke emotion and imagery, than i do to "figure things out"....certainly much more than i want to "debate"....but authority's reach runs deeper within me than i like.....so i need to keep letting go of the ideology of authority, to use language for play, as a creative process, as a way to elicit emotion, to reveal myself, to resonate...

funky, sms....and whoever else might feel interested...

this discussion brought to mind a zine i stumbled upon recently....

toward an anarchist ecology,

and a second called "knowing the land is resistance",

on the website called "knowing the land".

they talked, in part, about experiencing versus talking about experiencing....and about forests.... :)

you've got to hunt and peck a bit to find the zines on the website....let me know if you want to find them but can't. (edit: if you click on the two zine links i provided above, you can download/view them just below the first paragraph on the web page for each one)

i liked and resonated with a lot they had to say....even though with my proclivity for e-prime, i'd prefer a title of "knowing the land creates resistance"!  :)

i found reference to it through an interview on the anarchist library

thanks for the links ba@.

(i want to point out that knowing the land is resistance is a play on words, and means something really different from "...creates resistance". an argument against eprime, in that instance...)

@dot, my pleasure.

it might mean something different than "creates resistance" , but since i don't get the play on words, i only read "is" as an equal sign....so an eprime expression would still make the intent clearer to me. i could have said "resistance by knowing the land" or any number of other things, but i like the image of instilling resistance through knowing the land, so i said "creates". i did read the group's answer to what it meant (and just now reread it), and i liked their description, but i don't think it comes across in the title very well.  but i'd like to hear the play on words as you understand it.
knowing is resistance
vs
the land is resistance

actually, that work with creates too. never mind! (d'oh)

1 Answer

+3 votes
Perhaps this anecdote will relate, or perhaps not. A few weeks ago I was trying to explain to a co-worker why I don't think time "exists". His response was that a second is based, objectively, on the amount of time a certain molecule takes to decay; I found it very hard to find the language to explain to him why that was still subjective, but I'll lay it out here. Holding off on the question of whether a person can actually "experience" what he described, even a calculated observation is a subjective experience.

Taking time as the question, we've probably all experienced an hour that lasts an eternity or a day that lasts about a second. The "objective" answer to this issue might be that there wasn't a stable measurement available, we didn't have a clock, or an even more accurate measure. The issue for this is that measurement is still interpretation. Even if we could see the decay of molecules, actually see the pattern of decay, the fact that we give this process a name and a meaning is subjective, it has to do with the way a mind might work. It has to do with value all the way down, with a want to determine that there is something we experience called time, that someone wants to measure it, that this measure has any meaning/relates to something "real".

To talk about things that are perhaps more "concrete" like the tree/whatevs, the concepts of existence, of what is alive and how we relate it it/it relates to us are subjective. To say that something truly exists is not only to make a subjective judgement, but to also make a large claim to knowledge that I'm not interested in. To get woo for a sec, I'm more interested in how a tree experiences me and how I experience the tree, and how this is only the surface level of an enormous ball of relationships.

Also, sorry if none of that made any sense.
answered Apr 30 by dim (380 points)
made perfect sense to me!  i have very similar thoughts!
i agree it makes sense. but it doesn't answer the question, particularly? or maybe i'm just not getting how it applies to your anarchist thinking?
Hmmm, I guess I don't know if I can separate things out to be specifically about my anarchist thinking. Perhaps what I take as a personal anarchist principle involves starting from the view of myself as very small/knowing very little. Moving out from there informs, I hope, my thinking generally, and specifically in terms of how I want to attempt, or attempt at some point in the future, to relate to people, animals, *things*, etc. I seem to keep finding new and exciting ways to say small things with lots of words!
yes, dim, your answer "makes sense" to me too....

i especially like the "woo" part.

i think it relates to anarchist thinking this way....anarchy does not imply an "objective" truth as does all institutional ideological thought that i know of - law, religion, education, science, etc.
yep, i think ba@ hit the nail on the head regarding how it relates to my anarchistic perspective. objective truth only exists in the realm of authority.

dim, i like your use of time as an example. i think there are situations when some consistent measure of time can be relevant and useful in shared subjective reality - at least in the current world. but time as a dynamic, flowing "dimension" of experience is completely subjective. most folks who have experimented with psychedelic substances can attest to the complete subjectivity of time.

for that matter, some movies that claim to be 2 hours long seem like they last for fucking days. others that claim the same duration seem like they are over in a few minutes. of course to someone else, those movies might seem like the reverse.
...