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Subjectivity is a term used to refer to the condition of being a subject and the subject's perspective, experiences,
feelings, beliefs, and desires.
The term is usually contrasted with objectivity,
which is used to describe humans
as "seeing" the universe exactly for what it is from a standpoint free from human perception and its influences,
human cultural interventions, past experience and expectation of the result.
Society and subjectivity
Subjectivity is an inherently social thing that comes about through innumerable interactions within society. As much
as subjectivity is a process of individuation, it is equally a process of socialization, the individual never being
isolated in a self-contained environment, but endlessly engaging in interaction with the surrounding world. Culture is
a living totality of the subjectivity of any given society constantly undergoing transformation. Subjectivity is both
shaped by it and shapes it in turn, but also by other things like the economy, political institutions, communities, as
well as the natural world.
Though the boundaries of societies and their cultures are indefinable and arbitrary, the subjectivity inherent in each
one is palatable and can be recognized as distinct from others. Subjectivity is in part a particular experience or
organization of reality, which includes how one views and interacts with humanity, objects, consciousness, and
nature, so the difference between different cultures brings about an alternate experience of existence that forms life
in a different manner. A common effect on an individual of this disjunction between subjectivities is culture shock,
where the subjectivity of the other culture is considered alien and possibly incomprehensible or even hostile.
The self and subjectivity
Subjectivity of course presupposes a subject, one that experiences all the phenomena that makes up and produces
subjectivity. The subject is the form of an existing being while subjectivity is the content, and the process of
subjectivation is the alteration of what it means to be that subject. It is a classic philosophical question of whether the
self, or the subject, is a transient or permanent aspect of existence. Whatever the answer to the problem, it can be
said that subjectivity, which is the way that the subject expresses itself, constantly undergoes change, though still
remains constant characteristics, depending on the subject who has the potential to affect their subjectivity. This is
true, that subjectivity is constantly undergoing change, because what makes up our psychic experience is a wide
range of perceptions, sensations, emotions, thoughts and beliefs, that, through the passage of time, and our relation to
space, constantly generate transformation in terms of our subjective relation to the world.
[1] Solomon, Robert C. "Subjectivity," in Honderich, Ted. Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2005), p.900.
Further reading
Beiser,Frederick C. (2002). German Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectivism, 1781-1801. Harvard University
Block, Ned; Flanagan, Owen J.; & Gzeldere, Gven (Eds.) The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-52210-6
Bowie, Andrew (1990). Aesthetics and Subjectivity : From Kant to Nietzsche. Manchester: Manchester University
Dallmayr, Winfried Reinhard (1981). Twilight of Subjectivity: Contributions to a Post-Individualist Theory
Politics. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.
Ellis, C. & Flaherty, M. (1992). Investigating Subjectivity: Research on Lived Experience. Newbury Park, CA:
Sage. ISBN 978-0-8039-4496-1
Farrell, Frank B. Farrell (1994). Subjectivity, Realism, and Postmodernism: The Recovery of the World in Recent
Philosophy. Cambridge - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lauer, Quentin (1958). The Triumph of Subjectivity: An Introduction to Transcendental Phenomenology.
Fordham University Press.
Article Sources and Contributors
Article Sources and Contributors
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