Objectivity: Why We Can’t Hope to Achieve It
We all know the feeling; when we are experiencing emotions, it is hard for us to take in new information. We believe that if only we were feeling less, we would be able to think of things objectively, and then be in a better position to understand. However, this really isn't the way our brains work.
Open to interpretation
We all process information in terms of our own subjectivity, especially so when we are in the grip of emotions. At these times, we are acutely aware about how extensively new information gets interpreted in line with these emotions and we sometimes look back at these times and can see the sense of bias that we had when we interpreted this new information. These are the times when we are most deeply aware of our own subjectivity.
Objectivity – the empty goal
The real difficulty here is in trying to understand that we never have an objective point of view. At all times, the information that we take in is filtered and distorted by our subjectivity. There is no way for us to directly access any objective information; it is always filtered through our deeply subjective mind. It is only when we experiencing strong emotion that we become aware of just how subjective that point of view is.
Knowing this presents us with difficulties and opportunities. The difficulty lies in trying to reconcile ourselves to the idea that everything we experience is subjective, and the sense of frustration and despair we may feel when we realize that this is so. However the opportunity is that we can then see that everything we experience and the sense we make of all the things that happen to us is a part of ourselves and the way that we look at the world. Knowing this can give us a sense of power and freedom.
The process of psychotherapy is a process of exploring and coming to understand our subjectivity, and through this understanding, transform it; so that the way we look at the world is fundamentally and irrevocably changed. The first step in doing this is to understand how deeply pervasive our subjectivity is.
– Tim Hill
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