Scale of Objectivity

darts-102919_1280The notion of objectivity is typically conceptualized as one of a dichotomy of objectivity/subjectivity. Persons claiming to be proponents of objectivity however tend to conflate objectivity with mere performativity in actually merely claiming epistemological privilege for themselves. Relativists in contrast counter such pretensions by claiming that “objectivity does not exist” whatsoever. This pernicious dichotomy therefore requires careful deconstruction.

Rather than thinking of objectivity/subjectivity as a binary needs it become reconceptualized as a spectrum of relative degree. Objectivity/subjectivity could even approximately be measured on a scale from 0 to 100 with 0 being complete fiction and 100 being complete objectivity. Well-established parts of mathematics clearly score a 100 on the objectivity scale and various sciences and parts thereof would score differently on the objectivity scale. Exact science therefore in principle represents a position of 100 and various sciences would in contrast be found at varying positions on the objectivity scale.

An objectivity scale could help remove factors in academic discourse such as paradigm, genre, era and thinking inside the box that represent discursive myopia, meaning precisely subjectivity. The scale of objectivity would therefore also as in measuring objectivity indirectly measure subjectivity as well.

There is a prevalent discursive structure that conceives of subjectivity as individual and objectivity as collective. Thus is objectivity often conflated with consensuality and subjectivity with individuality. Rather is objectivity/subjectivity expressed both as consensus and as objection to any particular consensus. Objections to consensus however typically represents consensual competing discourses that are usually no less collective than hegemonic discourses,. Whether any given particular statement represents discursive hegemony or a competing opposition to a discursive hegemony is quite immaterial as to the placement of that particular statement on the Scale of Objectivity.

It is essential to emphasize that the Scale of Objectivity itself other than recognizing exact science as 100 on the scale of objectivity does not represent an exact measurement of objectivity but rather provides approximate measurements intended to help remove structural error factors in discourse. Shibboleths such as implicitly pertaining to classification of bodies and social categories are such factors that lead to a lower quotient on the objectivity scale.

Historiography (Greek for the writing of history) is famously founded on what is known as “narrative” meaning that the past is always remembered through the lens of perspective, e.g. different human survivors of Auschwitz would provide different individual accounts of their respective experiences as experience is individual indeed. This does not mean however that competing historical narratives are equally objective/subjective.  

For example, the Israeli historical narrative is as all historical narratives selective with the facts while rarely promulgating deliberate lies other than mainly with respect to Israel’s 1947-1949 War of Independence and the selective expulsion of Palestinian communities mostly correctly deemed to constitute a genocidal, indeed existential threat against the Jewish people. The Palestinian historical narrative is in contrast replete with KGB-style propaganda of deliberate, intentional lies as Moscow founded and long managed the PLO as its political proxy as part of its global imperialist designs. The Israeli historical narrative therefore scores much higher on the Scale of of Objectivity than does the Palestinian historical narrative.

Many mainstream journalists after increasingly realizing the relatively subjective nature of journalism have bizarrely increasingly abandoned even the striving for being impartial. Of course, nobody is impartial but the striving for impartiality in news journalism (although never actually arriving at its messianic discursive destination) is essential for safeguarding the vital role of journalism as guardians of liberal democracy against existential enemies of open society. A journalist of course does not however become impartial, neutral or independent by continuing to strive for impartiality in news journalism. Independence is precisely not impartial and independence is if anything the opposite of neutrality. Therefore striving for being impartial does not make a news journalist objective but the striving for being impartial is certainly noble and an objective ambition indeed even if ultimately unrealizable.

Rather, the problem with journalism is its adherence to discursive hegemony. Journalists need to strive for impartiality despite the intrinsic unattainability of impartiality. Journalists should always strive to expose DOLP (discrimination, oppression, lies and prejudice) yet the journalistic striving for impartiality has increasingly become conflated with dogmatic adherence to ideological hegemony. Just as consensuality must not be conflated with objectivity so must the striving for impartialness not be conflated with ideological hegemony. In fact, most journalists assume that ideological hegemony as either established or affirmed by journalistic consensus should be the essence of the mission of journalism and this is unfortunately the state of things in contemporary journalism. This is an abject abdication from the noble mission of journalism as journalists should act fearlessly and not as herd animals rushing towards an abyss as usually does humanity. Learning to think outside of the box ought therefore become central to the education and training of journalists. Collective thinking among journalists is not only contrary to the noble foundational spirit of journalism but is essentially plagiarism of the most lowly kind.

The essential question is therefore whether varying discourses of science, media and politics can increase their scores on the objectivity scale? The answer is obviously absolutely yes. Continually improving the measurement on a scale of objectivity would involve continually helping contain factors that reduce the relative degree of objectivity such as performative claims for epistemological privilege on the basis of prejudice. An example of this is how is how White English is considered “objective” while African American English is considered subjective or how journalists and many others adhere to completely redundant rules of spelling and grammar that are only upheld due to structural racism and structural classism.

Of course, it is true that performative oppression as premised on epistemological privilege oppresses both the individual and the idiosyncratic and the striving for objectivity does not mean that the individual, partial and idiosyncratic should somehow be ignored, demeaned or deliberately misunderstood. Journalists should certainly present contrasting views yet not assume that narratives are equal or present lie as equal to partiality in partiality being merely selective with facts as premised on perspective within time, space and culture.

Just as might is not necessarily equals right so is weakness not necessarily righteous. The state of relative degree of power is really not indicative of anything other than precisely relative degree of power. Power and weakness are not indicative of righteousness. The political, journalistic and scientific necessity of continually exposing DOLP generally and physionomism specifically which of course are typically part of asymmetric power relations should not be assumed to infer that objectivity is reducible to power, but rather that power simply deploys false claims to objectivity so as to perpetuate itself.

The Scale of Objectivity is however not an exception to itself and so the relative precision of its measurements will need to become continually improved much like the test batteries of measurement of intelligence have been continually improved ever since being invented by English universal genius Francis Galton (1822-1911). The Scale of Objectivity therefore will need to be continually re-measured in terms of relative numerical imprecision which certainly is not the same thing as subjectivity although an exact figure is more objective than an approximate figure.

As a comparison, not being able to provide a precise number of the victims of Nazi Germany is not indicative of any intrinsic subjectivity but rather simply lack of relative numerical imprecision. The Holocaust/Shoah, the Nazi genocide intended to exterminate the Jewish people is the most well-documented event in history and so pointing out that the Holocaust/Shoah did take place certainly scores a 100 on the objectivity scale as there is precisely nothing subjective about pointing out the historical reality of the occurrence of this most tragic event.

Of course, every victim of Nazism had her/his own personal experience and we experience nothing beyond that which we individually experience and so there is no experience beyond the experience of context, indeed no experience beyond experience. We do experience the thing as such (German Ding an sich) as both living and non-living matter is socially constructed through perception and all apparent matter is subject to perception, however various outcomes of perception certainly score variously high on the objectivity scale. Just as one thought is not necessarily equal to another thought so is one expression of logic not necessarily equal to another expression of logic and one perception is similarly not necessarily equal or identical to another perception.

Why then is our experience of physical objects limited by our perception? This is due to the fact that physical objects are socially constructed through perception, for example a stone is made up of almost innumerable constituent parts as is indeed any organism and the stone in turn is probably situated on planet Earth which is part of a solar system, which in turn is part of a galaxy with a fairly large collection of stone matter and so on and so forth. Someone’s delimitation of physical matter into objects is not necessarily arbitrary or even subjective but is still performative in the sense of performing an act of perceptive delimitation in distinguishing one object from another.

Subjectivity of course must not be conflated with individuality which is not singular at all but instead rather complex although there is indeed a certain singularity intrinsic to the idiosyncratic nature of personhood. Personhood is the individually unique state of experience, the state of being sentient which is not limited to constituent components of human language as being a sentient individual person experiencing perception, namely the experience of personhood is hardly unique to the so called humanity.

Consciousness has two parts, one is the conscious and the other is the unconscious which is a vast library of all sensorial impressions ever experienced and this state of things is again hardly unique to the Great Apes that constitute the homo genus. Objectivity is not a speculative matter pertaining to Christianity or ancient Greek ethnocentrism (“metaphysics”) but is rather a measurable state of relative degree of epistemological verifiability.