The subjective and objective knowledge of how things are in the world has existed for a long time, many saying that one or the other is the true way to know existence, yet there are a number of people who say that only aspects of either or both can truly tell us as individuals the way of things as they truly are.
Certainly there are drawbacks to completely relying on the full range of subjective and objective ways of knowing things, someone who is completely objective may as well be a machine and someone who is completely subjective may as well throw out any social rules to attempt to experience everything. These are extreme examples, but both deny aspects of existence which need to be balanced in order to live a well-adjusted life, and certainly applying the wrong aspects of each to acquiring knowledge would develop problems for us who has numerous problematic possibilities for us both individually and as a social group.
In this Essay I hope to show how using the right method for any circumstance would both negate these problems in the long run, but not necessarily in the process leading up to, what is known as self-actualisation.
What is knowledge?
Meaning - general awareness or possession of information, facts, ideas, truths, or principles
Encarta Dictionary: English (U.K.)
As the meaning used for the purposes of this essay says knowledge is the general awareness or possession of information, facts, ideas, truths, or principles, but how do we develop this general awareness or possession of information, facts, ideas, truths, or principles?
The main issue for developing knowledge is context, what context is the acquisition of this particular knowledge? Its application and what it affects, both directly and indirectly, as opposed to what this reference point is in and of itself (See essay titled ‘the movement of things’). Trying to separate completely subjectivity and objectivity apart to gain knowledge is never going to give us true understanding of anything which can be known, although it would give us a means to understand things which cannot be known directly.
Although the type of knowledge I am dealing with in this essay has more to do with metaphysical knowledge, there is also the physical knowledge which can underpin metaphysical gnosis. This knowledge I am differentiating from as facts, figures and formula about the universe is only part of knowledge, but the metaphysical aspect of this knowledge is what we use to live our lives, and by proxy how we understand the world around us, it is both underpinning and being supported by physical knowledge’s.
What can be known?
"Everything can be understood, but not everything can be known" - Anonymous
In contrast to physical knowledge we don’t necessarily have to know something to understand it, we can know by inference, by know I mean we have experienced its existence, much of our knowledge is by inference, that is we don’t have direct experience of certain things we have knowledge about, although to an extent it could be argued that we only have inferred knowledge as we experience things through our senses and perceptions so do can only know something through how these receive the experiences (as opposed to experience events through our senses alone) and our memory of them.
Taking into account the second argument of all knowledge due to experience is inferred due to our perception and memory, we are left always at a distance from the world, which we inhabit and seeing the world through coloured lenses thus making objective knowledge near impossible as even facts could be slanted to prove a conditioned idea, although at the same time being objective because of the distance which would actually mean that nearly all facts about the world are actually explanations of different perceptions. This may be true but as rational beings we can detach ourselves from our perceptions to varying extents which does diminish the truth of this theory to an extent in some instances, thus making objective knowledge more likely for this kind of knowing.
In order for objective knowledge of reality to exist we would have to reflect on what we are seeing and if there is another way of looking at it, or if we are distorting the view with our perceptions, this would be a natural part of any ethical or moral training as we cannot and should not react through emotional bias as this mode of reacting is not always appropriate and an unemotional reaction to events may serve the same purpose and provide better ways to deal with the situation as it is, as well as reducing the likelihood (although not eliminating them) that adverse effects would happen due to our choices as well as providing a way of both objectively perceiving reality based on reality, instead of what we want reality to be.
Natural laws cannot be overwritten
Physical laws cannot be broken by will, I cannot will myself to be a woman just because I want to be, I can do things which can bring reality more in line with my will, in this example through surgery, but I cannot be in reality anything other than a man, this is due to me being born and growing up with common experiences to men, I cannot experience puberty the way a female does because I do not have the capacity, nor will I to give birth, my perception is shaped in part by biology.
This is a basic example and there are common features of life both men and women can relate to in similar ways regardless of other factors, but these don’t stop us from experiencing life in different ways due to the uncommon factors, a man can no more have a definitive knowledge of a woman’s experiences than a woman can have a definitive knowledge of a man’s, to use the example above again, I will never know what child birth is like for a woman although I can understand it and empathise, this is not knowing it through an ability to experience it, nor can I know what it is like not to give birth to a child as I have never had nor ever will have the option, but I can relate and know definitively what it is like to become a parent, or loose a child because of the common feature of sexual reproduction.
The main point here is that I can only experience the world from my perspective, there are common features I can share and relate with others in different capacities, but these shared experiences cannot, and do not mean that the unshared ones are shareable, another example of this is an accident, each eye witness has the same common shared experience but has a different perspective on this due to their own personal area they perceive from.
Knowledge is a personal experience it is to an extent subjective and objective depending on how we look at the information, our preconceived notions and our conditioning in developing any particular knowledge, there are ways of making the knowledge more in line with reality and in developing gnosis of reality, but the way it is expressed would wholly depend on our experiences which give us tools for explaining things, knowledge is essentially our own personal journey to knowledge, not the object of our knowledge itself.
At the end of the day I may be right, I may be wrong, but I share this hoping I am one, the other, both or neither.