Objectivity vs. Subjectivity

“But if you have respect of persons, ye commit sin…”                                                                                                                                                         (James 2:9)

“…[J]udge righteously between every man…” (Extract from Deuteronomy 1:16)

If one were to skim through our many articles one would find a number of the said articles have been dedicated to the art of thinking properly and how to put thoughts into articulation. This article you are reading fits into that category. In order to think fair mindedly one needs to know the basic difference between objectivity and subjectivity.

Subjectivity is based in opinion and or feeling. For example, a headache is subjective as there is no real way to quantify it or qualify it. The headache is subject to one’s pain threshold. A missing limb, on the other hand, can be looked at objectively. The missing limb is not open to debate or subject to one’s feelings or opinions. The sky is blue is not open to debate, therefore, it is an objective fact. If one states that blue is the prettiest of all the colors they make a statement that is subject to their opinion or the way the color blue makes them feel.

The Christ-ian should think objectively on matters of import. A Christ-ian that thinks in subjective terms is more likely to prejudge or presume something based on emotion and/or personal experience. Basing one’s conclusion on emotion or experience does not translate into right or wrong; true or false, good or bad. To be an objective thinker one must wait upon data and facts to be collected and diligently considered.

Objectivity and subjectivity, I believe, is what separates the two main political parties in this great country of ours. What I am about to write is not to be taken as any kind of sleight against anyone. The left wing, liberal minded progressive is more given to subjectivity whereas the right wing, conservative minded traditionalist is more objective. The subjective minded person bases more and relies more upon emotion. The objective minded person looks more to data, facts, and logic. These two ways of decision making, methinks, is suppose to balance our country out.

Some examples: The case of the Syrian refugees. The subjective thinker sympathizes with the refugees and the objective thinker considers the dangers and other possible consequences of welcoming Syrian refugees. The subjective thinker is basing their opinion on emotion and the objective thinker is basing their opinion upon logic. Again, both are needed for balance.

The objective thinker is likely to say, “it is what it is.” The subjective thinker is more likely to say, “Yeah, but I feel….”

In families that are close and function well together one would probably find one parent to be a subjective and the other parent to be objective. However, each parent considers the other’s point of view fairly and a decision or conclusion is made. These parents then teach their children how to use both modes of thought and how to process their thoughts critically and fairly. If one is capable of using both modes of thought one will be a balanced and fair minded thinker.

In families where both parents are subjective thinkers everything is a drama and disfunction runs amok. In this family any sleight is considered personal and must be answered with escalation. In this household there resides the spirit or mindset of the passive aggressive individual. Domestic, mental, verbal and physical abuse is more likely to be found in this type of household. Individuals trapped in this environment are also more likely to be given to paranoia.

In families where both parents are objective thinkers the home atmosphere may be cold and more rigid than not. If in the home, the objective thinker overwhelms the more subjective thinker one could anticipate a child like Sheldon Cooper from “Big Bang” fame. In the family where the subjective thinker overwhelms the objective thinker or in the home where subjective thought is the only mode of thought one could anticipate a child akin to Carrie White of Steven King’s “Carrie” fame.

The Scriptural texts above speak to objectivity in judgment. An example : Imagine that you are a judge and there is a controversy stirring about. This controversy has as it’s agents a friend of yours and an enemy of yours. The two state their case to you and await your thoughts and conclusions. Your friend is a really good friend and the enemy is one that you want nothing to do with. However, as you are thinking objectively you conclude that your friend is wrong and your enemy is right. You, as an objective thinker and having no respect of persons, decide for your enemy.

Alternatively, if you were thinking subjectively you would most likely decide for your friend. By deciding for your friend you have sinned by having respect of persons in judgment and have judged unrighteously. To judge subjectively is not Christ-like.

One can study Christ’s objectivity as He reproves His disciples and His enemies alike. Christ based His judgments upon the objective Word of God, whereas the Pharisee and scribe based judgments on subjectivity, “…[L]ove thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.” Their counsel was emotion based; Christ’s counsel is based upon the objective Word of God, “Love thine enemy.” He is teaching that one should base one’s actions upon the Word of God….”You may hate me but I choose to love you.” This active love is based upon the objective Word of God.

The Christ-ian should remain neutral in all matters and keep one’s thoughts to one’s self. When enough evidence is provided one can then draw one’s own conclusion which is based on the objective evidence.

If one were to appropriate these helps one might find their stress levels decreasing and their mind clearing. The way one thinks has a great effect upon one’s health and outlook.

Godspeed,

BKL

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