Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Subjectivity and Our Unavoidable Biases


Per request of one of my faithful and prolix followers I have decided to write on a complex topic. I am however, unsure that I will be able to successfully encapsulate my thoughts on it. As always I will opine and posit freely with a literary caveat that I am not speaking in absolutes and that the dogma of Taylor is a porous if not spurious one. I would redundantly like to write on the subject of subjectivity.
Our whole lives are a series of tiny events that not only mold us into the types of people we become but the thoughts that enter and remain in our heads. The way we view religion, politics, friendship, love, comedy, athletics, the arts et. al is very much determined by the way we were raised. The thoughts that enter our minds that we consider to be truth are formed by our environment, and by the things that occur and have occurred in our lives. And everyone seems to think they are right about most things. I have met few people that would say they are rarely wrong. The majority of us tend to believe in ourselves and consider our paradigm to be the correct one.
Despite our built in biases and our notions of truth, are we able to see things as they really are? Are we capable of stripping down our brains to their unadulterated and unbiased state? When new and contradictory information is brought to our attention are we open to analyze it and search for veracity, or is our potential to progress intellectually at times retarded by our own subjectivity of things? These are questions that teem through my brain. The answers I will provide are only my opinions: I am of the belief that it is very difficult to rid our thought processes of biases. Most of us look at certain dark chapters of the past with scorn and disapproval. How could people be so calloused and evil to enslave people and mistreat people because of the color of their skin? Yet, we really have no idea what we would have done in their shoes. Everyone likes to think they would have risen above bigotry and hate, but are we not all products of our time? That does not mean we are destined to follow in the ugly and untoward footsteps of our own generations. All I am positing is that people are inherently good, but the biases and culture around them molds them voraciously.
We do have a way out though. We have a way of releasing ourselves from subjectivity and forgetting what we think to be common knowledge. This is not an easy endeavor however. To do so we must have one objective; we must strive to fine truth. We must find that splendid balance between open-mindedness and skepticism. We cannot be so open to things that we believe everything we hear, but we cannot be so skeptical that we believe virtually nothing we hear. We must be able upon hearing new information to reject the immediate warning signs and welcome uncomfortable feelings of uncertainty.
My own personal beliefs in deity trump any philosophical standpoint I can take on ultimate truth or overcoming subjectivity. I am of the belief that inquiring of God, and searching out things on our own will elicit veracity. But even with a firm even zealous belief in the Almighty, it is imperative to eliminate pride if truth is to be found. We cannot seek truth if we are unwilling to let go of certain beliefs that have become barnacles in our weathered brains.
I am not sure if I tackled this topic very well. My thoughts were tangential at best. But I do believe it is possible to overcome our pervasive and ubiquitous biases if we can humble ourselves, and truly search for what is ultimately correct.