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Paul Grobstein's picture

On "the light as I have seen it"

Thanks for the conversation on this, both in class and after.  Yep, James (in my view of him at least) "really did not believe in such things as objective truths."  For more on my own wrestling with this issue, see The "objectivity"/"subjectivity" spectrum: having one's cake and eating it too: "No, one cannot be 'objective' in absolute terms, but one can indeed (and I think should) aspire to being less 'subjective'."  James would I think have agreed that there is important value in "shared subjectivities." 

There is, in my mind at least (and I suspect in James'), an important link between that "bunch of nonsense"  and the "more encouraging" discussion of "belief."  It is precisely because of the disbelief in "objective truths" that there is a meaningful opening for "conscious positive agency," for choosing to act in particular ways "even though we know that perhaps there's no reason for it."  If our task in life was to discover and act out of "objective truth," our beliefs at any given time would either be right or wrong, and the best we could hope for is to correct the wrong ones.  If we stop thinking in terms of objective truth, we can "create opportunities that weren't there before and provide the grist for meaning that had yet to occur to us" (Evolution/Science: inverting the relationship between randomness and meaning).  

Maybe we're both getting closer to "a better understanding of this Jamesian stuff"?  Want to help me think more about "what is involved in going from consciousness of the "pit of insecurity" to affirming that as a empowering way of being as opposed to feeling it to be something needing correction"?  See  Following a conversation on James

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