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  • yeoman
    Apr 21, 2003
      What is subjectivity??

      Dictionary.com provides the following definition

      1.. Proceeding from or taking place in a person's mind
      rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
      2.. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective
      2.. Moodily introspective.
      3.. Existing only in the mind; illusory.
      4.. Psychology. Existing only within the experiencer's
      5.. Medicine. Of, relating to, or designating a symptom or
      condition perceived by the patient and not by the examiner.
      6.. Expressing or bringing into prominence the
      individuality of the artist or author.
      7.. Grammar. Relating to or being the nominative case.
      8.. Relating to the real nature of something; essential.

      I would take the first definition as applicable to the
      discussion on existentialism. Subjectivity relates to what
      comes from the mind, rather than from the external world.

      But does this mean that subjectivity cannot be known by

      There is a good article in this month's Scientific American
      on "Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes". It pertains to a study
      of people with "synesthesia", whose senses blend together,
      and provides valuable clues to understanding the
      organization and functions of the human brain.

      The Scientific American article gets into the subjective in
      that it provides a rationale for why synesthetes make
      subjective judgments such as to seeing the number "5" as
      appearing red and "2" as green, whereas to the normal person
      these numbers are seen as the usual black color.

      Understanding the subjective view of synesthetes leads into
      the understanding of other mixing that occurs within the
      broader population, and may give explanation for the
      creativity of painters, poets and novelists. It may also
      give explanation as to why we have certain metaphors such as
      a rude remark "cutting like a knife" where the word itself
      has the connotation of "sharp" and "cutting" which are
      senses of touch that is mixed with the sense of hearing.

      My point being that this area of subjectivity is open to
      scientific study.

      Now I can expect that one might argue that this is not the
      "personal" sort of subjectivity that each of us has
      individually. However, that is exactly what science is
      looking at -- our personal subjectivity.

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