The ‘Scientific Stance’, best known in popular expression as ‘Objectivity’, 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 without 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?’
‘Truth’, in delightful irony is a chameleon of a word. It derives from the Old-English Treiewo, itself from the Proto–German Treuwaz. Etymological descendant of the Sanskrit Dre and Dhr [as in Dharma], it originally meant ‘Firm, Immovable’.
Around the 14th Century it began a descent in meaning to Fidelity, to a conformance’ [to the situation] and in time to simply as ‘Faith’. Truth in its deepest meaning had something to do with an ‘Unshook Trust’.
As late as the 19th Century Academic philosophers were coming up with ‘Theories of Truth’ which by that very fact vitiates its end. The Consistency Theory of Truth; the Coherence Theory of Truth; the Correspondence Theory of Truth and so on. Plato would have gulped.
If you look up modern dictionary definitions you will find explanations in keeping with the times: ‘Actuality, Certainty, Conformance with Facts, Accord with Reality’ and so on although each of these terms [‘Fact’] would itself require a lengthy elaboration.
In Martin Heidegger’s insightful take, Truth has not to do with logical propositions but rather:
‘The essence of Truth is Freedom and the essence of Freedom …is the resolutely open bearing that does not close up on itself…
Philosophical Thinking’ is the stern and resolute openness that does not disrupt the concealing but entreats its open essence into the open regions of the understanding and thus into its own Truth.’