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Ian Morton's picture

Can we get past subjectivity?

I agree that we cannot escape the boundaries of subjectivity. However, I believe Paul would suggest the very nature of this limitation calls for the implementation of story telling rather than impeding it. I will attempt to state why as clearly and concisely as possible. What I am trying to say is that I believe an aspect of Paul’s open-ended transactional inquiry is the recognition that everyone’s story will be confined to subjective experiences, and that because of this restriction we should continue to share stories. The limitations posed by subjectivity calls for the continued contribution of stories because just as the nature of existence/experiences is an ever-changing process (societies change, politics change, new religions appear, etc.) so too will stories change. As stories are subject to this ongoing process of evolution, we must understand that they can never enumerate atemporal, objective knowledge. For this reason we should make the sharing of stories an ongoing process. Further, Paul holds the belief that the subjective nature of stories is beneficial, as it allows for a wealth of perspectives for us to compare and contrast, contributing a greater understanding/new story.

To more directly address your concern, while we are limited in our ability to fully convey our experiences to others (e.g. the experience of pain) we do possess the ability to empathize with the stories of others. Movies have moved us to cry, music has elevated us to levels of ecstasy, books have left us speechless, and dance isn’t really my thing…but despite the limits of stories, we should not deny their power. While subjective experiences cannot be conveyed in their entirety, what they do offer is still of importance. [A topic that I may come back to address is that of the ethics of witnessing, specifically, of witnessing the pain of others, and the involvement of empathy, and morality.] Additionally, I believe that there are connections between individuals that we have yet to really grasp (e.g. collective unconscious, possible implications of mirror neurons), and I believe these connections allow a bridge into the subjectivity of others that stories may not be able to accomplish on their own.


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