Skepticism and Objectivity II

Skepticism and Objectivity II

In this piece Zig tries to work out -- for himself and the pleasure of others -- to what extent “Skepticism” can be considered “Objectivity”.  In the first installment it was noted -- and toward the end -- hinted at -- a Schopenhauerian conception of “objectivity” after giving a loose summary of Heidegger’s thoughts about objectivity.

Ultimately what will be proven in this piece -- or the preceding piece -- is that skepticism is not objectivity or vice versa.  But first we must start with the concepts.

Sors de l’efance, ami, reveille-toi!
Rousseau in Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation Volume I

( Now back to our regularly scheduled discussion of “concepts” )

So for Schopenhauer concepts:
  1. Are abstract
  2. Only gain value or meaning through the concepts’ relationship to our perception
  3. Separate humans from animals

Which leads us to the next logical point in our discussion -- are concepts objective?

Well since they’re “abstract” they can’t be “objective”.  Then what, we might wonder, does Schopenhauer consider “objective”?

Now here it gets a little complicated -- but be patient for a second and we’ll work it out.

According to Schopenhauer -- and his principle of sufficient reason -- if we’re trying to reduce the world to specific “categories” we can reduce it to the following four categories with the first being involved with “objectivity”.

And the principle of sufficient reason is exactly the “specific categories” -- four to be exact -- mentioned above.

So here are the four categories mentioned:

  1. The subject/object distinction
  2. Psychological Motives
  3. What I -- me Zigmund -- will call “the necessity of reasonable explanation”. This category simply states that every cause has a reason and every effect results in a knowable conclusion.
  4. And the already discussed “concepts” ( which are considered “abstract” as we had already mentioned )

Now there’s a few things to note about this particular demonstration -- one is that what I’ve called Schopenhauer’s “four categories” of the “principle of sufficient reason” are probably not 100% precise. This is because I -- me personally Zigmund -- doesn’t believe Schopenhauer really works out his “principle of sufficient reason” very clearly.

Second I’m only going to explain Schopenhauer’s subject/object distinction -- the rest is more or less inconsequential for the purposes of our discussion on “objectivity”.  Now if you’re really interested you can read Schopenhauer’s classic dissertation The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.  But I’m not going to regurgitate that here, nor am I going to provide citations.  Read the book yourself.

Regardless Schopenhauer’s thoughts about “objectivity” work like this -- humans are both an object and a subject.  This is called the “dual aspect theory”.

And it works like this -- humans are both an object -- something that can be manipulated, created, destroyed -- and also “subjects”.  Subjects, in Schopenhauer work like this -- they are spontaneously controlled by a blind urge to reproduce, destroy, and engage in other meaningless behavior.  Which, we can note, just from plain observation that this has some truth to it -- many people do act blindly from such considerations (or unconsiderations).

Now to affirm “objectivity”, “objectivism”, or “skepticism”, is to deny this more or less fact -- or at least to overlook it.  At the very least, as Schopenhauer correctly points out, humans are both objects and subjects, and being both objects and subjects has little to do with skepticism.  In fact Schopenhauer, along with Kant, would consider this an a priori fact.  However I’m not going to go on about the a priori.  I’m not really a Kantian.

So that’s that.  I’m on to bigger things -- I don’t have time to discuss “objects” and “objectivity”.  Both are very bland subjects of discussion.

With love and pain,
Zigmund E. Reichenbach

Zigmund Reichenbach -- the primary writer for this blog -- is just a concerned citizen eager to make a contribution to the world.  You can help support him -- or his excellent undergraduate professor-- here and here. Thanks friends!