Objectivity vs. Subjective Relativism

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Objectivity vs. Subjective Relativism

From Fred Ross

Published before 2005


Brad,

It is one thing to say that people see things differently, causing subjective differences in perception and opinions.

But for this statement to be meaningful presupposes the existence of an external reality ….. truth …. that is perceived, understood, and communicated in different ways due to all sorts of differences in individuals and societies, whether biological or environmental.

Subjectivity understood in this context, makes sense, and is helpful in understanding why some people will perceive one or another way, and then choose to communicate in varying fashion.

The problem, Brad, that Brian is I believe trying to focus on, is when modernist theorists have the hubris to take the arrogant leap of logic that there is in fact no base reality that exists ….. period.

Therefore, they will say, we all had best realize that it is impossible to perceive and communicate anything, since

There is no objective reality (truth).
    They continue:
    It’s ignorant to think there is truth or objective reality.
    It’s pointless to try to find or express it.
    Hence there is only individual subjective existence.
    And the artist need only express his/her inner feelings and viewers will see what they want to see, and never the twain shall meet.
    Artists who understand and do this are greater artists by this mind set, because they’ve found the greater truth.

Now, people, everything about that description is laced with untruths, inconsistencies and paradoxes.
    First of all, that description of subjective relativism they say is the truth that needs to be understood.
    But they said there is no truth.
    So how can this statement be true?
    Or perhaps they want us to believe that this is the one exception.
    There is no truth except for that truth?
    But if there is one truth, why can’t there be others?
    And, of course, it is incredibly simple to disprove their entire theory and do so by looking no further than the behavior of any one of their followers or Apostles…. meaning any one who claims to believe that.
    Let’s call them “Subjectivists.”

Does that person look both ways before crossing the street?
    But the street doesn’t really exist in any objective sense … right?
    So why do they look both ways?

In fact, every second of their life they are functioning based on the rock sound belief that there is an objective reality.
    They believe they have an apartment or home.
    That they can depend reasonably well that they can breathe the air, drink the water, and eat the food they purchase, know and visit friends and family, and live each day in relative freedom and peace.
    Each and every one of those things is based on an incredibly long list of assumed truths and realities, that can be perceived, listed, codified, manipulated, communicated and relied upon. In fact we all start believing in objective reality within second of being born, and work tirelessly to decipher, codify and file away in our heads as much information about reality as we can until we can stop being scared about what will happen each and every second. Babies are practically frightened to death, and need constant love and attention to aid them in learning and coming to rely on their world.
    Show me a subjectivist who teaches it to their babies.

If any one of them suddenly became un-hypocritical and actually started to believe and live their lives as if there was no reliable air or water, …. gravity might stop working any second…. people who we think we know may not be who we think because our eyes cannot be relied upon for one second…the glass with water may dissolve as I reach for it…. the air might turn to liquid mercury and choke us to death in 3 seconds…. the floor beneath our feet might become hundreds of razor blades…. etc., etc.
    Everyone would start to panic and probably kill their neighbors or themselves within hours.

Anybody who began to actually think like that, would be psychotic, and need to be restrained.

Therefore, what we learn from this little description is that indeed there must indeed be objective reality, regardless of the fact that differences in culture, biology and personal experience may cause each of us to perceive and understand and communicate it somewhat differently.
    It may often be difficult to pin down with total accuracy, but it is the rock bottom belief that it exists and can be known, albeit imperfectly, that makes life possible, much less making art possible.

The job of art is to find the areas of commonality, and to express the most powerful aspects of the human experience in ways that can readily be understood and stir the hearts of most people from most times…. and to do it with skill, poetry and grace, and successfully harmonize subject, or theme, with composition and technique (drawing, modeling, perspective, color, tone, atmosphere, design, paint handling, etc.)

What you are describing in those sterile works by Yves Klein, is actually someone who is anal retentive about minutiae of reality.
    Love, Fear, greed, jealousy, tenderness, as well as fantasy, myths and dreams are all emotionally important and powerful parts of the human experience, and part of objective reality.

So it the Pantene color red number 483, and straight lines made In black pencil precisely 1 3/64ths of an inch long.
    Also part of reality and the human experience.

All you have described is somebody who is obsessively concerned with trivial truths instead of major universal truths about our emotional lives.

I hope that’s clear.

Fred