The eternal subjectivity


Logo as colorblindness test

This is a new shirt of mine.  It’s from a line called ‘Penguin.’  That’s the logo, there on the front.  Can you see it?  Clearly?  As a colorblind person, this shirt appealed to me so much, I put aside my usual prohibition of wearing clothes with designer logos on them.subjectivity_det

I can make it out, barely, but then I know what to look for.  I don’t know if it’s a real colorblindness test chart:  Real ones don’t have dots that are clearly divided into different colors – see the little image here.  Dvided dots make the edges of the figure easier to see.

I show it to people, and they say they can make it out perfectly.  A strong pattern.  Are they messing with me?  Do they really see it differently?  How would I know?   Are we even speaking the same language about color?  Are we speaking the same language at all?  How can I, could I, ever know…anything?

Tear-jerking Episodes from
Life of a Young Philosopher

Kindergarten Teacher: Why have you colored the water with silver and white crayon?  Water is blue.
Me: Not when it comes out of the faucet.

Mother: What time does the clock say?
Me:I don’t know.
Mother: Look at the clock!
Me: But it’s always a little bit before or a little bit after whatever time I say it is.  Even if it’s exactly noon, it’s never really noon.  It’s a itty bitty second before or after…
Mother: Oh you…..!

Me: Yeah, so I see colors better in strong light. Everyone does. The less light we have, the less color there is. So if there’s almost no light, there’s almost no color. SO, in the dark, everything must be without color. Everything is colorless. Everything is clear, transparent!!
Sixth Grade Teacher and ClassmatesUproarous and derisive laughter. In the background, a few students are heard to start up a chorus of stamping feet and the shout of “Bovary, Bo-va-ry, Bo-VA-ry!”


4 Responses to The eternal subjectivity

  1. troutsky says:

    The Truth shall out! If you can get past the hemlock, that is.

  2. Man of Roma says:

    We could be like trapped in our subjectivity, like in a prison, I agree.

    Noumena, what is purely objective, could be not attainable by man, who might only perceive phenomena, e.g. what ‘appears’ to our senses. I’m not too much into these philosophical dilemmas, and don’t remember how Kant solved them, but I’m asking myself:

    in case we are that trapped in our subjectivity, how can man communicate and share a lot of knowledge and also share a common ‘taste’ on things, like in Art, with other men? What about the hard-to-deny Zeigeist, or a common taste or shared ideas of beauty belonging to different historical periods? It might be external objects are attainable, it might be there is an affinity between our mind and the world, which enable us to ‘know’. If we can know, language and deeds are there to share this knowledge.

    Don’t know if I made sense. I mean, in case this prison exists, there must be ways of escaping from it. Inter- subjectivity?

    I realise I should have studied philosophy more lol.

  3. lichanos says:

    I wouldn’t say Kant solved the problem, though he probably thought so.

    You have stated clearly the problem of “Other Minds.” How do we know that anything we ‘understand’ is understood by others? Are there others..?

    My solution is two-fold. Zen Buddhists have a very simple and direct way of approaching this. Also, looking at it from the standpoint of biology and evolution rather than philosophy yields many answers. Philosophically, it’s a dead end that is suitable only for entertainment and discussions while drunk or stoned.

    There is a long history in philosophy of questions that have been lost to the field once they become scientifically tractable. Consciousness is one of those now.

    The primary ‘Cartesian’ sin is to over-emphasize the importance of language for Mind. It’s great, yes, but as Wittgenstein said, “Learn a language, learn an illusion.” He may have meant that everyone has their own “private” language, but to me, language IS the illusion. Or it can be if you take it as primary over experience. Alas, we chattering ones usually cannot even imagine experience without language even though that is the nature of most of our lives.

  4. Richard says:

    Subjectivity or no, consistency in Nature is also a “Given”.

    Without it there would be no mathematics, physical or pure. Small wonder mathematics can predict!

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