New Ideas with reference to Subjectivity/ Objectivity:
Posted by khuram on August 30, 2006
New Ideas with reference to Subjectivity/ Objectivity:
Idea generation process always gives a subjective result. Every new idea is subjective in nature and character. It however can be converted into an objective fact as a result of successful application of scientific methodology. The function of scientific methodology is the ‘objective verification of subjective data’. If the new idea is objectively verifiable, then we can consider the content information of the idea to be objective (only due to its objective verifiability) in nature but the idea itself is subjective because a new idea is a personal conclusion based on the personal information of the person who has conceived the new idea.
As a result of successful application of the objective verification as per the scientific methodology, the original ‘subjective idea’ becomes the ‘objective fact’.
The original subjective idea, however, may not be successfully verified as per the results of the application of scientific methodology. There are two possible situations:
1- The subjective idea is objectively proved to be ‘untrue’ as a result of the application of scientific methodology. An idea, which is objectively proved to be untrue, is un-scientific idea. An un-scientific idea may still be considered to be true by a class of persons. This class of persons may subjectively consider that un-scientific idea to be the objective truth. In this case, such idea may be considered to be a superstitious idea. If we use even this superstitious idea for reference purpose in our argumentation, we are using this idea objectively, in this case. Superstitious ideas are those which cannot give the desired or expected results if they are put to practical application. The desired results cannot be taken but it does not mean that such ideas cannot be put into even un-successful application. That class of people can put this invalid idea into practical application. The desired results, however, shall not be received in this way. But however, even the unsuccessful attempt to practically implement an invalid idea, can affect the material world negatively or positively. For example if a superstitious person wants to get some desired result lets say he wants good crops in his agriculture land. He invalidly thinks that this objective can only be achieved if he kills any un-known person. Now suppose that he actually kills an un-known person but he does not get the desired results. In this way the desired result although has not been taken but the material world however has been affected in a negative way i.e. an innocent person has been unduly killed. Now suppose that after killing that un-known person, the superstitious person also gets the desired results. In this case, in fact the desired result has been obtained not because the un-known person has been killed. The successful desired results in this case are taken due to other objective scientific reasons which may still be un-known to that superstitious person. So he still thinks that the desired results have been taken due to the practical implementation of that idea of killing an un-known person.
2- If a subjective idea is not objectively verifiable using the scientific methodology, then that idea cannot become an objective fact. Such an idea, although cannot become an objective fact but still then such an idea cannot be termed as an un-scientific idea. Here we also can differentiate between real fact (truth) and the objective fact. The objective truth is that real truth which humans can verify as true using the scientific methodology. All the real truths, however, may not be verifiable using the scientific methodology. Objective truths are only those that are objectively known to be true by the humans. Therefore all objective truths are also real truths but all the real truths may not be the objective truths. A real truth that cannot be verified using the scientific methodology may be considered to be true by a class of people whereas another class of people may not consider it true and still another class of people may not finally decide about that truth i.e. is it true or not. Such matters are in fact the matters of faith rather than of any objective evidence etc. In this case only one of the groups is on the right. But this cannot be objectively decided by any of the groups. Such ideas or ideologies that cannot be objectively verifiable are the metaphysical theories. Here let us emphasize that in the metaphysical ideologies all the elements of that ideology must be objectively non-verifiable. If some elements of a metaphysical ideology are objectively reject able, then those particular elements of that ideology are obviously superstitious in nature. If those particular elements of the ideology are the integral part of the whole system of that ‘metaphysical’ ideology, then that is not the metaphysical ideology but in fact, is a superstitious ideology. Other humans, in this case, can consider such an ideology as wrong. But a pure metaphysical ideology, whose all the elements are non-verifiable using the scientific methodology, cannot be considered to be wrong by other humans even in case the ideology is wrong.
The role of scientific methodology is to verify, in objective terms, any subjective idea. To originate the subjective idea is not the task of the scientific methodology.
The task to originate the (new) subjective ideas seems to be assignable to philosophy. The philosophy, whose task is to originate subjective ideas, should not confine itself to originating only the verifiable ideas. To originate verifiable as well as non-verifiable ideas must be the task of that philosophy. It is not the right of the scientific methodology to put objections why philosophy is originating such subjective ideas which are not verifiable.
The real task of the scientific methodology is to identify and segregate the verifiable subjective ideas that have been originated by the philosophy along with other non-verifiable ideas. After having identified the verifiable subjective ideas, the next step is to get these subjective ideas objectively verified.
Difference between Theoretical and Practical Science:
Theoretical science is philosophical in nature. The task of the theoretical science is the logical and imaginative evaluation and analysis of various scientific concepts and to propose new scientific theories.
Practical science: There are two functions of practical science:
i. To ‘practically test’ the ‘validity’ of new scientific theories and;
ii. To ‘practically apply’ the valid scientific theories. This function is the ‘practical application’ of the ‘practical wisdom’.
A theoretical scientist may or may not be a practical scientist also and similarly a practical scientist may or may not be a theoretical scientist also.
Theoretical scientist’s theories cannot become objective truth unless the practical scientist has verified those theories. Those ‘verified’ objective theories are idle (idle but useful for idea generation) unless they are put to practical application by the practical scientists. Theoretical science provides raw materials to the practical science for its operations. The practical application of science by the practical scientist also generates new questions, which are taken up by the theoretical science as its input.
The role of Pragmatism:
Pragmatism seems to be setting such guidelines for the theoretical science that direct the theoretical science to originate only the practically applicable theories. In other words the function of theoretical science, according to Pragmatism is confined to the usage of only the practical wisdom. This is a limited vision of reality because practical wisdom is not the all human knowledge. It is only a part of total knowledge.
Note: Here ‘practical wisdom’ means such human mind’s ability and tendency that organizes information in mind in such a way that this organized information tells what to do (i.e. in order to get practical utility etc.).
Progressive Rational Approach vs. Progressive Empirical Approach:
Rationalism’s progressive information handling approach is different from the Empirical progressive information handling approach.
In the case of Rationalism, new information can only be a conclusion. Rationalism, in fact, is a series of reasoning process. At every stage, a new conclusion is drawn which itself is used for further reasoning. The new conclusion, which is drawn at every stage, in the reasoning process, is the only legitimate new information for a Rationalist. This system is not compatible with human mind’s sequence of thought. Unlike as in ‘sequence of thought’, the reasoning of the Rationalism starts from an axiom and then remain confined to whatever is validly deducible out of that axiom.
It seems that if rational reasoning approach becomes compatible with the ‘sequence of thought’, then it would become the ’empirical progressive information handling approach’. Whatever is perceived, depending on the importance as to relationship with outstanding problems and issues, (i.e. here the starting point is any appropriate perception or feeling and not any rigid axiom) can be the starting point of the reasoning process. Every other new and important information from whatever source i.e. including perception as well as conclusions, is incorporated into the reasoning process. Also the similar and associated ideas that may come to the conscious mind, also depending on importance as well as on the validity of similarity or association, are also incorporated in the reasoning process and conclusions are drawn at every appropriate stage.
Now the total knowledge is not confined to whatever is deducible from the axioms. Now the upper limit of knowledge is the total experience of the person and whatever is deducible from that total experience. The total experience of one person also includes experience of other learned humans, which is acquired by that person by reading books etc.
One who only experiences and does not deduce, is empirical static person. The other person who not only experiences but also draws his own conclusions, is the empirical progressive person.
A kind of regressiveness is also possible in this case and it is the tendency to draw such kind of conclusions as are only supportive to the person’s own belief system. So the lack of impartial reasoning approach may be treated as empirical regressiveness.
Appropriateness of the Empirical Progressive Approach:
To generalize every important and appropriate new information or feeling and then drawing conclusions there from is considered as the Empirical progressive approach in this discussion but this is not considered as the right approach according to the scientific methodology. Particularly, this approach is also not the right approach from the point of view of Greek scholars.
Greek scholars’ point of view was that they only made deductions out of so called ‘axioms’. Those axioms were few in number and were considered the ‘self evident truths’. Everything validly deduced from the ‘self evident truth’ had to be true, according to them. So, actually they did not need any kind of experimental verification etc. because only the validity of the deduction was the sufficient verification about the deduced facts. In fact, anything validly deduced from a given truth has to be true also because a valid deduction is such a reasoning where it is impossible for the given information true and the deduced information false.
So it was the policy matter for those Greek scholars to not to use every feeling and every information as input for their deductions because if every feeling and every new information were to be taken as input even for a valid deduction, they could not guarantee the truth of the deduced information because the truth of every new information or feeling was not confirmed i.e. confirmed truth, for those Greek scholars consisted of only the so called ‘self evident axioms’ and the deduced information from those axioms. Axioms were few in number and every new information or feeling could not acquire the status of axiom. Only the true information (i.e. only the axioms and deductions there from – for the Greek scholars), if used as input in a valid deduction, could give the guarantee about the truth of the deduced information. So in this case, the legitimate given information could only be the ‘self evident truths’ or anything validly deduced from those ‘self evident truths’. Under these conditions, it was in fact, useless to do any kind of experimental verification.
There were three grave mistakes in such an approach:
i. The truth-value of those ‘self evident truths’ was mistakenly considered as unquestionable. In fact, those axioms could be false also as later on rightly shown by Galileo and Johanas Kappler etc.
ii. The total knowledge, under these conditions, had to be limited up to the knowledge of those few axioms and whatever maximum that could be validly deduced out of those few axioms. So only the linear expansion in knowledge was possible in such an approach, because analogical inferences were also missing in that approach. Greeks only used deductive logic because only deductive logic gives surety about the truth of conclusion provided the given information is true.
iii. They did not recognize any new information as axiom because, to them, to be considered an axiom, the information must have to be a ‘self evident truth’. The ‘self evident truth’, itself was a vogue concept. The truth-value of those ‘self evident truths’ was considered to be not questionable. But however, some of those axioms, later on, were rightly questioned for their truth-value and so some axioms were proved to be wrong later on. So in fact there was no valid reason for not accepting the newly recognized information also an ‘axiom’ because just like other ‘accepted’ axioms, any new information was also not a ‘self evident truth’ in fact. So actually any new information could be given the status of axiom but those ancient Greek scholars did not do this. But here, it is important to note that if every new information was to be considered axiom, then it would be against the policy of those Greeks i.e. of not doing any kind of practical verification because those Greeks were not sure about the truth of any information which was other than their accepted axioms and the deduced information out of those accepted axioms. But mistakenly they were sure about the truth-value of their accepted axioms. Had they not commit this mistake, then they would have accepted any new information as axiom and they would also need practical verification of those new axioms and whatever deductions they might have made.
On this issue, the scientific method insists on very careful selection of information for the purpose of generalization and then making deductions there from. To generalize every appropriate feeling and every important new information and then making deductions there from is considered a ‘careless approach’ by the scientific methodology.
My opinion on this issue:
The function of scientific methodology, in my opinion, is to transform the subjective information into the objective knowledge. To produce, or to create, or to originate the subjective information is not the task of scientific methodology. Scientific methodology is concerned only with the objective verification of the subjective data. The subjective data, here, is not the product of scientific methodology. The subjective data is the product of ‘thinking’ process that may have occurred in the mind of an ordinary person, or in the mind of a philosopher or even in the mind of a scientific methodologist. If the subjective idea has been generated in the mind of a scientific methodologist, even then it cannot be called as the product of scientific methodology. Such a subjective idea, in fact has been generated as a result of a mind process that has occurred in the mind of a scientific methodologist. Here our scientific methodologist, in fact has not performed the role of a scientific methodologist. In this situation, he has acted as a philosopher.
If to originate the subjective data is not the task of scientific methodology then this scientific methodology also should have no right of putting any kind of objection on the nature and kind of subjective data, which is in fact, the product of philosophical thinking.
Also it is not the task of philosophical thinking to produce any kind of objective knowledge. Philosophical thinking only can produce subjective ideas except in the situation where a valid deduction is made out of an objective theory. Only in this case, an objective knowledge can be resulted by the pure philosophical thinking. Generally, we should assert that philosophical thinking only can produce subjective ideas and we should consider that to produce objective knowledge is out side the scope of philosophical thinking.
In my opinion, any kind of restriction as to the origination of only particular kind of subjective ideas cannot validly be imposed on the philosophical thinking. Philosophical thinking must have full liberty as to the origination of any kind and nature of subjective ideas. Philosophical thinking cannot be restricted in such manner as for to originate only the objectively verifiable subjective ideas. The only responsibility of the philosophical thinking, in this regard, in my opinion, is that the philosophical thinking must be ‘impartial’ in its analysis and it must try to be accurate in drawing any kind of conclusions i.e. deductive or analogical etc. Drawing of conclusions, as has been identified in another section consist of two distinct steps i.e. (i) Association of information process and (ii) Combination of information process. The philosophical thinking must try to be accurate in both these processes. This is however, not the responsibility of the philosophical thinking to try to be objective also. Because to be objective or to produce objective knowledge is not the task of philosophical thinking.
The task of philosophical thinking, therefore not only is to generate new subjective ideas, it also has to ensure the subjective accuracy of those newly generated ideas. Philosophical thinking, however, should have no concern with the objective validity of those newly generated subjective ideas.
The input information for the philosophical thinking may be any other subjective idea, or it may be some objective scientific theory or may be both. But the output of philosophical thinking, mostly are the subjective ideas. A valid deduction out of some objective scientific theory may be considered to be objective in nature but to produce only this type of results is not the task of philosophical thinking.
Once the philosophical thinking has originated a set of subjective ideas, now the role of scientific methodology initiates. Following is a brief sketch of the steps to be taken by the scientific methodology:
1. Out of all the available subjective ideas, making selection of those subjective ideas that can be objectively verified. Here techniques of the linguistic analysis also can be applied. In my opinion, Linguistics is not philosophy at all. The role of Linguistics is similar to that of scientific methodology. The intention of the linguistic analysis is not to originate new ideas. The currently accepted role of linguistic analysis is to decide about the meaningfulness and absurdity of the already available ideas/ concepts. Absurd ideas, according to linguistics, are those that cannot be objectively verified. And the meaningful ideas are those, according to linguistics, that can be objectively verified. Linguistic analysis does not actually perform any kind of objective verification. It only decides which idea is objectively verifiable and which is not. Obviously, actually it is not the role of linguistic analysis to decide about the absurdity of any idea or concept. Just because a given idea, if cannot be objectively verified, it cannot necessarily be regarded as absurd. Absurd ideas are actually those ideas that have been proved to be absurd as a result of successful application of objective verification. So in fact, the ideas that have been proved to be absurd were originally objectively verifiable. These ideas have been proved to be incorrect as per the results of objective verification. And to actually perform this objective verification is not the role of linguistic analysis so therefore linguistic analysis cannot decide about the absurdity of any given idea/ concept. Since the task of linguistic analysis is not to originate new ideas so it is not right to consider it a form of philosophy and since the task of linguistic analysis is to decide about the objective verifiability of given subjective ideas so it is better to consider linguistics as the first phase of the scientific methodology.
2. Making refinements in the objectively verifiable ideas. It may include reshaping such ideas in the proper form of hypothesis.
3. To decide about the method of verification i.e. is it going to be some kind of physical (laboratory) experimentation or some other objective verification technique is required for the particular situation. Usually scientific ideas require experimental verification whereas the ideas related to the issues of ‘social sciences’ are typically ‘objectively’ verified through the application of statistical techniques. There are certain drawbacks; however that seem to be associated with the application of statistical techniques for the purpose of objective verification of subjective ideas. These drawbacks shall be pointed out and analyzed in some other discussion. After deciding about the appropriate method to be adopted for the objective verification, detailed procedures of the selected method are to be followed. A point, here, is worth mentioning that philosophical thinking may be a non-professional type of activity but scientific methodology requires professional knowledge and skill. Philosophical thinking is not professional in nature because everyone can produce subjective ideas but everyone cannot objectively verify those subjective ideas. Philosophical thinking however requires the ability to think accurately i.e. logically.
So we can conclude that the role of philosophical thinking cannot be restricted to the origination of only the objectively verifiable ideas. Scientific methodology has no right of putting any such objection in this regard. And the Greek scholars were wrong in their approach.
Here we should accept the important aspects of the objective knowledge due to which objective knowledge, for practical reasons, has to be given preference over the non-verifiable subjective information. Objective knowledge, for example an objective scientific theory gives the surety of getting the expected results upon its practical application. Non-verifiable subjective information cannot provide this surety. To be not ‘sure’ however does not to be necessarily ‘wrong’. The other benefit of the objective knowledge is that the objectivity can easily ‘convince’ other people about the truth-value of such knowledge. Objective knowledge can ‘conveniently’ be applied for those judgments which are required to be necessarily accepted by a number of different people.
Non-verifiable subjective information/ ideas that are also known as metaphysics cannot be regarded as absurd altogether. Many of such ideas may be true, in fact. The only drawback is that we cannot be confirmed about their truth value. Not only metaphysics but also superstitions can be considered as the intellectual assets of human kind. Any other known form of life does not possess any kind of superstition or metaphysics etc. These are, along with sciences, also the unique feature of human beings.
Analysis of a portion of an Essay by Russell:
Galileo – by Bertrand Russell (English translation from Urdu translation in book “Aap sochtey kiyun Naheen – by Shahazad Ahmed):
‘Scientific Method’, although seems to be much complicated in its developed form, but in fact, it is simple. It depends on such observations of the facts that lead the observer to discover a generalized principle, which is working behind the system under study. There are two steps, first observation is made and then the principle is deduced. Both the steps are compulsorily required and also there is unlimited potential in making improvements in both the steps. But the real fact is that the person who first time told that “fire burns”, he used the scientific method because before having said that he might have really burned in fire and that person must have gone through the said two steps i.e. ‘observation’ and the ‘generalized principle’.
They people certainly did not have the means, which are the requirements of scientific method i.e. first, the very careful selection of the related facts and on the other hand the approach towards the principle from different means but not to try to formulate a principle carelessly. A person who says that “support less objects in the air fall towards ground”. This is just an ‘attempt’ to formulate a principle. Balloons, butterflies and air planes can easily reject this ‘principle’. But a person who understands the underlying principles that work behind the behavior of falling objects knows that there are certain exceptions also that do not fall towards ground.
Scientific method is simple in its essence. Humans have learned it with a great difficulty and its knowledge is still confined to a minority group and this minority group also keep its application restricted to finding answers to those questions only about which they them self have any sort of opinion. If you try to find one such person who habitually takes care about small quantities in his experimentations and then draws conclusions very carefully, then you also can do the experiments along with him and you certainly would learn a lot in this way.
My Analysis of the above extract from the essay:
“Scientific Method, although seems to be much complicated in its developed form, but in fact, it is simple. It depends on such observations of the facts that lead the observer to discover a generalized principle, which is working behind the system under study. There are two steps, first observation is made and then the principle is deduced. Both the steps are compulsorily required and also there is unlimited potential in making improvements in both the steps. But the real fact is that the person who first time told that “fire burns”, he used the scientific method because before having said that he might have really burned in fire and that person must have gone through the said two steps i.e. ‘observation’ and the ‘generalized principle’.”
Here Russell actually is not describing the scientific methodology but is describing ‘philosophical thinking’. Role of the scientific methodology i.e. to get objective verification of the subjective ideas is simply ignored by Russell. And direct observation is not the necessary condition for philosophical thinking. The question of direct observation shall come at the time of the objective verification process of the subjective idea.
“They people certainly did not have the means which are the requirements of scientific method i.e. first the very careful selection of the related facts and on the other hand the approach towards the principle from different means but not to try to formulate a principle carelessly.”
This is not right policy of scientific method. Scientific method is not responsible to discover laws (principles). It is responsible to first of all objectively verify the subjective ideas and then in making refinements in the proposed subjective theory which have passed the objective test. In this way, the principle is not discovered by the scientific method. The principle, in its refined form, is just finalized by the scientific method. The principle, in its rough form, actually was discovered by the philosophical thinking.
“A person who says that “support less objects in the air fall towards ground”. This is just an ‘attempt’ to formulate a principle.”
It is not ‘just’ an attempt to make a generalized rule. In fact it is a successful attempt of making a ‘subjective generalized rule’.
“Balloons, butterflies and air planes can easily reject this ‘principle’.”
First of all, Russell forgets here that these things are not ‘support less’ in the air. Suppose that these things are ‘support less’ in the air. Even then what has been proved? Here a ‘successful subjective idea’ has been proved to be a ‘false idea’ in the objective verification process. Such an objective verification was not possible to be conducted if we had no subjective idea with us. Objective verification i.e. the scientific methodology only has to show the truth or falsity of the given subjective idea. So if balloons, butterflies and airplanes can easily reject the idea in question but these things cannot generate the true idea by themselves. First of all, we always need to have an idea. Then we have to see if it is objectively verifiable or not. If it is objectively verifiable, then we can successfully apply scientific method on it. As a result of the successful application of the scientific method, we come across to know that the original idea was in fact an objective truth or was an objective falsity.
“But a person who understands the underlying principles that work behind the behavior of falling objects knows that there are certain exceptions also that do not fall towards ground.”
This is the concept of ‘subjective accuracy’. Throughout this paragraph, Russell wants to tell us the characteristics of the scientific method but in fact he is telling the characteristics of philosophical thinking which is a whole different thing to the scientific method.
“Scientific method is simple in its essence. Humans have learned it with a great difficulty and its knowledge is still confined to a minority group and this minority group also keeps its application restricted to finding answers to those questions only about which they themselves have any sort of opinion. If you try to find one such person who habitually takes care about small quantities in his experimentations and then draws conclusions very carefully, then you also can do the experiments along with him and you certainly would learn a lot in this way.”
This is also the concept of ‘subjective accuracy’. In my opinion, at this stage, too much care about the smaller quantitative data is not important in that case where the subjective idea is to be generated out of available information and ordinary observations. Too much care about the smaller quantitative data is not required at this stage because the task of philosophical thinking is only to generate a rough idea about a ‘proposed principle’. Too much care about the smaller quantitative data would become highly important while during the objective verification process of the given rough idea about the ‘proposed principle’. The input for the scientific method would be a subjective idea of a principle in a rough form. The output of the scientific method, due to its too much care about the smaller quantitative data, would be the ‘objective principle’ in a ‘refined form’.
In fact, experimentation work is not performed with the purpose to generate or to originate some idea. Experimental work is only needed to verify some already available subjective idea. Some experiments, however may lead to the origination of those new ideas, such that to originate those ideas was not the task or aim of the original experimentation work. In fact the original experimentation work had the intention to verify a different subjective idea. So these new ideas which have been originated during an experimentation work having whole different intentions may not be the result of very careful experimentation work. In fact, usually such ideas originate as a happy accident. (e.g. Pavlov’s idea of ‘conditional learning’ was a happy accident. He was doing an experimentation work having whole different objective. He was careful about the smaller quantitative data but only with the point of view of the original objective. So the idea of ‘conditional learning’ cannot be considered to be the result of careful approach.) So the subjective accuracy does not mean to be too much careful in objective manner. Subjective accuracy only means to be ‘impartial’ and ‘logical’ in the idea generation process. To be ‘objective’ is not the essential component of the concept of subjective accuracy. However to be very much objective is pre-requisite of the scientific methodology.
The role of philosopher is to accurately think and to try to draw accurate conclusions. The role of scientific methodologist is to be objective in his approach and unlike a philosopher; he is professional in his approach.