I had resisted the temptation to use any of my hero’s work, but I succumbed and offered you a brief chunk of Richard Rorty’s  ‘Solidarity or Objectivity?’ I’m glad I did because you’d never heard of either – (Oh innocent youth!) 


Subjectivity is a point of view: my point of view, your point of view even Luke’s point of view. The thing about subjectivity is that it never gives you ‘the whole picture’, it never gives you a ‘God’s eye view’, it is only ever how things look from where you are ‘standing’. 

The big question is this: is objectivity actually possible? Lots of people claim ‘objective’ knowledge, they claim facts about all sorts of things (scientists in particular do this), but to really be ‘objective’ in a philosophical way objective knowledge would have to completely true for ever and in all conceivable circumstances.  It would have to describe a thing or things ‘as they actually are in themselves’, all the way down and through and completely. If the universe (or a twig) could speak and told us what it was all about then that would be objective knowledge. As long as the universe (or twig) wasn’t a liar or just having a laugh. 

Most of you didn’t really believe in objective knowledge when defined like this, but then you (it was Eleanor I think – apologies if it wasn’t) finally got to see Mark Steel talking about Newton you said that he ‘discovered’ gravity and I said, very irritatingly no doubt, that he couldn’t ‘discover’ gravity unless gravity was a ‘thing’ that was ‘out there’ waiting to be discovered and that if we don’t really believe in ‘objective’ knowledge then it would be better to say that he ‘invented’ or ‘conceived’ of gravity as a way of explaining the way the world works. That isn’t to say it isn’t a marvellously clever or useful concept, but simply to doubt whether if the universe could speak it would tell us, ‘well, there’s this force called “gravity” and it can be calculated mathematically’, etc. 

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