Objectivity is the goal in legal situations in all its forms right? Well, because we are dealing with people and their situations, there is a little more to it than that. Being an objective person is concerned not only with solid truths that don’t change, but also with how that applies to people who do. So, what does it mean to be an objective person?
An objective person uses reason to consider issues and understands emotion as a byproduct rather than a goal. Facts are considered and are given importance before situation and circumstance are evaluated. The objective person uses logical arguments rather than emotional appeals.
In order to teach our kids about truths that are outside of our control and how we align ourselves with them, we need to understand objectivity and how it pertains to our character and personalities. Then we can lead them into becoming fair minded and just people. Let’s dive into what it takes to be an objective person.
- Objective Person Vs Subjective Person
- Is Happy Objective Or Subjective?
- What Is An Example Of Being Objective?
- How To Become More Objective
- The Objective Person Takeaway…
Objective Person Vs Subjective Person
In order to find out how these terms apply to the human condition, we first have to look at what the words subjective and objective mean. In any reasoned pursuit, it is foundational to define our terms.
An objective person will evaluate any problem or situation based on facts and logical augmentation whereas a subjective person relies on emotion and changing, situational rubrics. The objective person uses reason first and circumstance second while subjective people do the opposite.
Let’s look at each definition itself and then look at how people with these focuses differ from one another.
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What Does Objective Mean?
Objectivity to some is a rigid goal, but to others it seems cold and lacking the ability to take circumstance into account. What may surprise some is that neither is the case. What does the word objective actually mean, at least in relation to humans and their interactions?
Merriam-Webster puts it this way:
expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretationsMerriam-Webster.com
The key here are the two words feelings and prejudices. The problem when dealing with people is that these are ever present. That doesn’t mean they can’t be recognized and controlled. What it does mean is that to be an objective person and make decisions using reason takes concerted effort.
Feelings and perspective can not only cloud judgement, they are too easy and familiar. They tend to feed our desire to have our needs met rather than follow an truth that is not a moving target.
Objective means that the goal stays the same even if our path in getting there may meander a bit.
What Does Subjective Mean?
On the other hand, the word subjective is a classic example of the opposite or antonym. The reason it is so undesirable when compared to objectivity is because true objectivity when applied to people and their situations already takes into account the varying nature of circumstance.
Subjective by nature rejects a solid, unmoving goal which ultimately devoids any proposition of its meaning. Without this teleological focus or the end that a thing points to, it has no purpose.
Subjective defined by Merriam-Webster:
based on feelings or opinions rather than factsMerriam-Webster.com
The real danger with subjectivism is that it has no foundation. True objectivism is the basis one starts on and from which individual circumstances can be taken into account. If you start from the situation, you can never really move forward. It becomes about whims and preferences which ultimately lead to irrationality.
What Is An Objective Person?
With our terms defined, we can now press on to figure out what an objective person is. The definition must be applied to the daily character and actions of an individual. So, what is an objective person?
An objective person is someone who always starts with facts and reason as a basis for any issue. Feelings and biases are set aside at least in the beginning stages and reason takes the forefront. This type of person does not neglect situation and circumstance. They are simply secondary.
An objective person is able to make rational choices based on reality that is free from whim and selfishness. This is a picture of a well rounded person who can then make final decisions with the foundation of rational thought that may very well include feelings and situational elements in the end.
Who Is A Subjective Person?
Subjective people on the other hand, take a more wavering approach to most issues. They believe that there is no right and wrong, truth vs untruth. Everything is not based on facts that are outside of ourselves. Who is a subjective person?
A subjective person is someone who allows emotions and environment to dictate decisions and actions. Moral and ethical decisions are based on situational feelings of just action rather than unchanging guides of right and wrong. Truth and justice become a topic of preference rather than reality.
This type of person may have contradictory positions on any given stance depending on the people, circumstances, and infused value involved. This infused value becomes extremely problematic when applied to people and their situations.
The subjective person holds that meaning is contrived and takes it upon themselves to determine it for themselves and even others. At the heart of subjectivism is a selfish, myopic view of the world that uplifts its own or even the popular opinion of worth over higher truths that are not in our control.
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Is Happy Objective Or Subjective?
Many people will agree that they are in the pursuit of happiness. What many won’t agree on is the definition of happiness and how it affects their actions. A happy person doesn’t mean what many think it means. So is happy objective or subjective.
Happy in its true, traditional sense is completely objective. It is based on living a character filled life until the end. The subjective version of this is a false happiness that entails the fulfillment of whims and desires. This leads to temporary elation or contentment that dissipates over time.
Many will initially push back against this age old understanding of happiness because it is so foreign to our cultures today. Yet, it is a truth that once contemplated, can literally change your life.
Happy is objective because it is based on virtue and not desire. We all know deep down that those that get all of their desires are no more happy than someone with only half of what they want. They simply come up with a new list of wants and begin again.
What true happiness involves is a foundational understanding of ourselves as doing what is right and just. The hedonistic view many have today revolves around the greatest amount of pleasure and the least amount of pain. Yet, we fundamentally know this is not true.
We know the happiness and fulfillment years of practicing a musical instrument brings, even though those years are filled with sometimes grueling repetition.
We understand what true happiness means when our kids show the character we have painstakingly instilled in them over their lifetime.
Delayed gratification is but one example of how we really do know that happiness is not found in getting our wills and whims met. It is found in the striving to simply… be better.
What Is An Example Of Being Objective?
Many times it is instructive to look at more tangible examples of what it looks like for a person to display more philosophical ideals. This helps us to then apply them in our own lives. What I will do here is also give examples of what being objective is not. So, what is an example of being objective?
An example of being objective should illustrate both the reliance on facts, but also the prudential judgement that can come from this foundation. This prudential judgement uses objective reasoning as its basis and then applies the principle to the circumstance or situation.
Objective Example 1:
Take the position of a judge presiding over a courtroom. If for instance his judgements were based on how he felt about a particular situation that day, not only could his verdict change depending on his mood, a different judge could make a completely different decision with no apparent need for explanation.
Judges must apply the law no matter their personal opinion of the law. They are representatives of the collective will of the people that has been codified in rules and regulations for our society. There is no way to be completely objective it must be admitted. But an objective person will attempt it to the best of their ability.
Objective Example 2:
If a father sees that his son or daughter has been disrespectful or disobedient, following through with reasonable discipline measures even though he may feel sympathy for the child shows objectivity. Though, not applying discipline in equal manner to one child versus another would be acting subjectively.
For a child to be a healthy and adjusted member of society, a proper respect for rules and norms must be instilled. If a father allows his own preferences to hinder disciplinary action, it harms the child in the future. The fact that a child was disobedient is an objective action that an objective person will recognize no matter the contrition they may show.
Being objective in this case means applying consequences because an infraction occurred, even though adjustments for circumstance can be warranted.
How To Become More Objective
Those that find themselves living in a more subjective world view can do things to become more objective. Just like many virtues and personality traits can be trained, so too can tendencies to use reason and logic over emotion. How can someone become an objective person?
To become and objective person involves training in reason and logic over emotion and preference when dealing with most of life’s situations. Understanding the practice of reason and the study of philosophy can be a catalyst to transforming from a subjective to an objective person.
Here is a list of things you can practically do every day in order to form yourself into a more reasoned, objective person. These are also things you should be teaching your kids so they won’t have to struggle with subjectivism in the future.
- Learn to recognize when you are being emotional.
- Acknowledge that emotion is a byproduct in our lives and never the end goal.
- When emotions are high delay some decisions for a short time to allow reason to take over.
- Acknowledge that there are higher truths that are outside of us and that we do not control.
- Understand the truth does not change, only that our limited grasp of it may.
- Give the virtues their proper place as our end goals that are not to be compromised.
- Let circumstance and situations guide decisions after reason has established the boundaries.
- Situational ethics are to be avoided even though situation can slightly alter action based on facts and truth.
- Having courage is one of the major components of objectivity. Some may not want objectivity, only their own desires.
- To be more objective is to be reliably, consistent, and unwavering in the pursuit of the truth.
There is a general misunderstanding of freedom among many people. Some believe that freedom is the lack of constraints on an individual. That is simply untrue. That is a picture of anarchy. Anarchy is bondage to whims.
Freedom is an objective thing. We are not free to play in the NBA just because we want to. We are not free to enter the Oval Office and sit behind the desk simply because we desire it. We must be enabled to do those things. Freedom is the freedom to not the freedom from.
The truly be a free person we must admit that the freedom to be better people means that we must be honest with what is true and our limitations on knowing it.
This does not mean we throw facts and observation out the window. It means that to be a more objective person we must look at the facts and then admit our imperfections as we make our decisions.
We must always start with objectivity as best we can, then act according to the situation. That is being an objective person rather than simply objective.
The Objective Person Takeaway…
Hopefully this short explanation has shed some light on what it means to be an objective person and what that practically looks like.
Since, our focus on this sight is raising kids to be the best they can be, it is imperative that we strive to look like this type of person so they will also. Subjectivity leads to injustice and pride. These are things that can ruin an otherwise bright future.
Though even this article has some parts that will be from my personal perspective, at its core it is pointing to a truth that is not of our making. That is what we all are striving for, even though we will all fall short in some small way.
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