Objectivity

Virginia Postrel reflects on Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison‘s book, Objectivity. Among the passages she quotes:

All epistemology begins in fear–fear that the world is too labyrinthine to be threaded by reason; fear that the senses are too feeble and the intellect too frail; fear that memory fades, even between adjacent steps of a mathematical demonstartion; fear that authority and convention blind; fear that God may keep secrets or demons deceive. Objectivity is a chapter in this history of intellectual fear, of errors anxiously anticipated and precautions taken. But the fear objectivity addresses is different from and deeper than the others. The threat is not external–a complex world, a mysterious God, a devious demon. Nor is it the corrigible fear of senses that can be strengthened by a telescope or microscope or memory that can be buttressed by written aids. Individual steadfastness against prevailing opinion is no help against it, because it is the individual who is suspect.

Objectivity fears subjectivity, the core self….

2 thoughts on “Objectivity

  1. My experience differs from that expressed above. For me, as with Socrates (as I recall), philosophy–including epistemology–begins with a sort of “wonder,” aptly summed up by the title of a recent book: “Longing to know”.

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