Objectivity: ‘Seeing Things As They Are’


The ‘Scientific Stance’ was first rigorously applied by the radical Buddhist Scholar-Monks around 500 BCE in a bid to exit the self-serving misinterpretations and the mystical obscurantism prevalent in the literature of the period.

It was called: ‘Seeing things as they are’ [Sakshat, Yatha Bhutam..] Formal Meditation Practice birthed from it, the disciplined cultivation of a tested stance to ‘See Straight’. 

To stand aloft Shūnyam, is to see without obstruction. [This is a verifiable claim going back to the early literature].

Watch out. The moment you describe, give features or properties to ‘Seeing Things As They Are’, you are no longer ‘Seeing Things As They Are’. You might like what you see; you may not. But there is no longer any obstruction. And as long as there is a presumption of a Separated ‘Self’ there will be obstruction. 

The platform of the ‘Scientific Stance’ might yet put us back on the path to  Shūnyam.

What is it about this word ‘Objective’? Why does everybody and his aunt want to be ‘Objective’?

It’s like if you weren’t objective, you believed in Santa Claus [whose hard to locate these days, fearing gender and race discrimination lawsuits]. Even Art Critics hint at objective criteria for high-art, known of course only to the Critic.

There is no a priori reason why ‘Objectivity’ is any better than ‘Subjectivity’. It simply reflects the muted suspicion that Truth is independent of me and my views. That Truth is quite indifferent, happily so, to the Subject and its pretenses.

So I’m watching this interview about the making of a documentary on the bomb-scarred children of Afghanistan.

‘I couldn’t take it anymore’ the lady film-maker said. ‘It was all too traumatic. So I stopped the film, brought some of the children back to the U.S. and returned to complete the documentary.’

‘Oh!’ interrupted the bright reporter ‘But didn’t that make your documentary less objective?’

There are lots of ways we judge the truth of a situation [Pramana]. In court a judge may believe an ‘Eyewitness’ more than a ‘Hearsay’ accusation. And this grant of credibility has changed and shifted back and forth over the centuries.

Science undermined all the old criteria on which ‘Belief’ was based. A sea-change took place in the way people picked their convictions. Such factors as Age, Authority, Holy-Books, Tradition and Custom, while still significant, could now be trounced if they ran repeatedly afoul of the results of Scientific Inquiry.

Western Man, uniquely so, had stared down the authority of both Royalty and Religion. And with it birthed Scientific-Method and much of our Modern World.

You can still walk into a party on either coast of the United States and loudly declare: ‘Jesus was no son of God!’ and receive tolerant smiles. But if you declare: ‘The world is flat!’ you’ll soon find yourself alone.

At least that’s what I thought until Trump came along, denied Climate-Change and began to gut the EPA. Turkey under Erdoğan just deleted Evolution from text-books.