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Subjectivity is generally defined as a judgment based on individual personal impressions and feelings or opinions rather than external facts. Subjective experience is responsible for the elusiveness of consciousness. It can be considered as observer-dependence or observer-dependent judgement, similar to path dependence and context dependence, and it is indeed related to both. It can be considered as the result of path dependent learning, which can only be understood by considering the corresponding path.


The observer

Subjective experience always belongs to someone, the one who experiences it. Every subjective state/feeling/experience is always someone's state/feeling/experience, because subjective measurements, observations and experiences depend on the observer who observes the thing in question. The observer in turn must judge the thing by some criterion. In the last resort the genes of the observer are the jury which decides if the thing is good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. Often there is a group of people and not a single person who makes subjective judgements. For example in subjective sports events like figure skating, there is always a committee appointed to judge a competition.

Therefore something is subjective if it belongs to someone, or if there is a jury necessary for the measurement:

  • subjective: if there is a jury somewhere, for example a group of people which has to decide if is good or bad. The common unit to measure subjective things are points or votes.
  • objective: if it can be measured by a measure or unit. Things are measured in exactly this unit.

The dimension

Objective things exist in the external, objective reality and can be measure by a spatial or physical dimension like length, time or temperature. Unlike objective things, subjective things are measured in an internal dimension which is only accessible by the observer, the god/bad or pleasure/displeasure dimension of the observer:

  • subjective: internal pleasure/displeasure dimension which determines if something is good or bad and spans all subjective feelings
  • objective: external spatial or physical dimension which can be measured in a certain physical unit

The resolution

To understand (the subjective experience of) other people, we must reach a basic form a empathy, i.e. we must try to walk along the same path they did, at least virtually. As Harper Lee writes in her novel "To Kill a Mockingbird", "you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them." You need to walk in someone else's shoes in order to understand the person, you need to view the situation from their perspective.

Therefore to comprehend the subjective experience of other people, we must try to..

  • understand where they come from and where they have been
  • step into their shoes and walk along their path
  • see the world from their perspective


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