6 minutes

Pursuing Objectivity: Does It Still Make Sense?

In today’s era, where every opinion seems to hold equal weight and facts and data are often subject to debate, distinguishing between subjectivism and objectivism becomes increasingly complex and elusive. Might it then be prudent to abandon the quest for truth? In my view, such a course would amount to an admission of defeat. It would also pose a significant challenge, the nature of which becomes clearer without striving for objectivity—the foundation of humanity’s development based on shared values and the pursuit of universal truth would crumble.

Fire and Water?

At first glance, subjectivism and objectivism appear as distinct as water and fire—easily recognizable and seemingly incompatible. The former relies on individual experience, feelings, and beliefs, while the latter strives for a universal truth, independent of personal preferences. However, in practice, these two worlds often intersect, creating a blend that can be described as “human cognition.”

One reason for this situation is the brain’s tendency to “simplify” reality, resulting in our generally operating based on entrenched ways of thinking and narratives that effectively blur the line between the subjective and the objective worlds. We take these entrenched ways of thinking and narratives as pillars of our objective truth, whereas, in reality, they have little to do with objectivism.

Both in everyday life and at the academic level, people constantly face challenges posed by the ingrained tendency to classify and evaluate information through the lens of their own experiences, acquired knowledge, and beliefs. This deeply rooted propensity for biases and stereotypes creates not only individual but also collective barriers in the pursuit of objectivity. The narratives that shape our society are often steeped in ideologies that reinforce these barriers, suggesting that our way of seeing the world is the only correct one.

Consequently, although we theoretically aim for an objective assessment of reality, in practice, our perceptions are continually filtered through the prism of subjective experiences, leading to the cyclic reproduction of the same thought patterns. This unconscious selection of information, which confirms our existing beliefs, known as the confirmation bias, is one of the greatest challenges on the path to true objectivity.

“Green Island” and “Poland in Ruins”

In Poland, as through a lens, one can observe how social narratives intertwine with subjectivism and objectivism. An example of this are two contrasting visions of our country, visions that have been parallel for the last several years.

On one hand, we have Poland as the “Green Island” – a country of success, which despite global economic crises, not only stays afloat but also develops. This narrative is based on positive economic indicators, kilometers of newly built roads, and the gradual improvement of citizens’ lives. It’s an image of Poland that many of us proudly present abroad as well, highlighting the entrepreneurship and resourcefulness of our citizens.

On the other hand, we have the vision of “Poland in Ruins” – a country where social inequalities deepen, where corruption and injustice seem to flourish, and dreams of a better life for many remain unattainable. This perspective emphasizes the problems the country faces, pointing to disillusionment with politics, the economy, and social divisions.

Interestingly, both narratives are based on facts – on economic data, social reports, and people’s personal experiences. The issue is that the choice of which facts we consider more important is often directed by entrenched ways of thinking, political beliefs, or even the place of residence. In this way, subjectivism and objectivism intertwine, and our beliefs about Poland become a reflection of what we want to believe, not necessarily what is the objective truth.

How to Seek Truth?

In perceiving reality, we typically guide ourselves by our own experience and accumulated knowledge. These constitute the foundation upon which we build our understanding of the world. However, it is important to remember that they also form the basis of our subjectivism! Therefore, if we wish to seek truth, we must place limited trust in them.

Intuition can prove to be an essential tool in the quest for objectivism – a mysterious force that allows us to “know” without knowledge. Yet, although it often leads us to surprisingly accurate conclusions, we are rarely able to trust it completely. We are taught to rely on knowledge and experience.

Thus, CRITICAL THINKING seems to be a key tool in striving for objectivism. It allows us to sift subjective beliefs through the sieve of logical analysis, questioning our own assumptions and confronting alternative viewpoints. In this process, experience and knowledge, as well as intuition, are not rejected but subjected to verification. This synergistic combination of different aspects of human thinking reveals that striving for objectivism is not a rejection of subjectivity, but its conscious shaping and supplementing with a broader perspective (as I recently wrote in “Perspective: The Key to a Better Understanding of Reality“), all in order to gradually bring it closer to the truth.

Going Deeper

Striving for objectivity requires us not only to consciously differentiate facts from opinions but also to continuously REFLECT ON OUR OWN THOUGHT PROCESSES (I wrote about it in “Where our Thoughts Come From”) and critically evaluate dominant narratives. We need to learn to recognize when our thinking is limited by entrenched patterns and actively seek perspectives that can break these limitations. Regular self-reflection and critical analysis of our own beliefs can help identify and correct these subjective tendencies. Enriching our perspective through education and opening up to diverse information sources is another crucial element that allows for a broader look at issues and reduces the impact of personal biases on our perception of the world.

On a social level, striving for objectivity requires us to build a culture of dialogue and mutual respect, where different viewpoints are not only tolerated but also carefully considered. The practice of active listening and striving to understand the arguments of others, even if we disagree with them, is key. Promoting critical thinking and media literacy can also play a significant role in shaping a society capable of distinguishing facts from manipulation and seeking objective truth. Curricula should include lessons on logic, philosophy, and information ethics, which help students understand how to verify facts, recognize logical fallacies, and avoid cognitive traps. Promoting teaching methods based on discussion and debate, which stimulate the exchange of arguments and teach respect for different viewpoints, is also valuable.

All of this together, through individual and collective efforts, can contribute to building a more objective approach to reality, which is so needed in today’s complex and rapidly changing world. Striving for objectivity is not an easy path, but it is necessary if we want to set BETTER GOALS for ourselves – on both an individual and social level – ultimately moving in a direction that ensures a good future for us and future generations.


The image accompanying the text was generated by AI (DALL-E)

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