Silly Subjectivism

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Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 08:13 am
Once more we hear the slogan, "One man's so and so, is another man's such and such" ("one man's rude is another's polite", and the prize of them all, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter") which, like all bumper sticker sagacities have a certain initial plausibility, butwhich on any kind of examination, fall apart. Of course, like all such things, they are true about trivialities like, "One man's tastiness is another man's disgusting" since we all know that tastes differ (although not so much as we think they do) and there is, as they say, no arguing about tastes. That is, there is no correct or incorrect when it comes to taste. But when it comes to serious matters, it becomes clear that the slogan in question is simply false when it is understood as saying that there is no correct or incorrect. An example will show that. Someone swaggers into class while the instructor is lecturing, noisily sits down, starts talking loudly to his neighbors, takes out a newspaper, opens it to the sports pages, begins reading it, give a loud laugh every once in a while, all the time the instructor is trying to lecture. So, the instructor stops and says to the student, "You are very rude". The student looks up, and says pleasantly, "One man's rudeness is another man's politeness" and resumes reading the paper emitting loud horse-laughs every once in a while.

Is the student right? What the student was doing might have been rude "to the instructor", but it was "polite to the student".

When you are confronting an abstract slogan then, as Wittgenstein advises, "back to the rough ground". Give an example!
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 09:21 am
@kennethamy,
Also, "Give a context!"

Where was it that this "silly slogan" was once more to be heard?

I quite agree with what you say about it in general.

I might quibble that in the example chosen, what the instructor should have criticised the student for was destructiveness, not rudeness.

Then, the student might have had to reply, "One man's destructiveness is another man's creativity."

That imaginary slogan also has "a certain initial plausibility", but it obliges the fool who is uttering it to say what it is that he thinks he is creating, other than a noise or a nuisance.

Was he trying to make a point, and if so, what was it?

An argument about rudeness versus politeness doesn't open itself up in the same way. It doesn't communicate. It almost begs to meet the Silly Subjectivist's retort; it almost gets what it deserves.
 
fast
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 11:37 am
@kennethamy,
Sadly, it might have been polite to the student, but that doesn't mean it was polite. The student's subjective perception of the events doesn't change the objective fact that his behavior was rude.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 11:45 am
@fast,
One man's rant against subjectivism in another man's confirmation against objectivism.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 11:47 am
@kennethamy,
All the slogans literally say is that people disagree--which is quite true. Things that one person thinks are rude, other people think are polite. But the reason to use it is to take a subjectivist position. So the implied meaning is different from the literal meaning.

Also, these people seem to think it is arrogant to say that someone is wrong, and that anyone who says that is obviously failing to "see things from that persons point of view".
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 11:53 am
@Jebediah,
Jeb:
Stop being the voice of reason, it dampens all the potential flaming.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 12:36 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
That is, there is no correct or incorrect when it comes to taste.


Actually, even with preferential/subjective things like taste, there can be correct and incorrect. There is a correct and incorrect way for a dish to taste (what I mean by this is that certain dishes, per standards, are supposed to taste certain ways). This isn't as much in the eye of the beholder as we may think, as you mentioned. And I'm pretty sure most professional chefs would agree. Sometimes a soup is too salty, and no, it's not "just right", no matter what the prick sitting in the corner who's missing half his taste buds says.

Quote:
Is the student right? What the student was doing might have been rude "to the instructor", but it was "polite to the student".


If we are going to succumb to this sort of subjectivism, what is the point in classifying and understanding what is what in this world? Objective standards would become meaningless, no one would be considered right or wrong, and pretty soon all we'll need to get into Harvard is a damn pencil.

fast wrote:
Sadly, it might have been polite to the student, but that doesn't mean it was polite.


That's highly improbable. I don't know of anyone that would think that making loud noises while reading in class is polite. The student may have thought it was funny, or just didn't care altogether, but those are different issues.
 
fast
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 01:43 pm
@Zetherin,
[QUOTE=Zetherin;168154]That's highly improbable. [/QUOTE]Of course. That's partly why I said, "might."

Suppose though. Suppose the student believes just what the student said. Then, answer Kennethamy's question. I think the phrase, "to the" that was used twice is important: to the professor vs. to the student.

Yes, it's possible (possible, I say) for it both to be rude to the professor and for it to be polite to the student.

But, that it's rude to the professor and polite to the student (hence, all that "to the" business) says nothing about what is factually the case. It's factually the case that the student's behavior was rude; that is so independent of both of their interpretations. It's not rude because the professor finds it rude; it's rude because it is rude. Isn't there factual evidence to support the contention that it's rude?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 01:51 pm
@kennethamy,
fast wrote:
Isn't there factual evidence to support the contention that it's rude?


You bring up a good point. A subjectivist would say no, but I would say yes. His rudeness is not a matter of opinion. It is either true or false that he was rude, no matter what anyone thinks about the matter. It is independent of their interpretations, as you note. We ought not confuse the truth with what we think is true. What is true is true (what is the case, is the case!), but what we think is true need not be true.

Thanks for bringing that up, fast.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 02:24 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;168101 wrote:
Also, "Give a context!"

Where was it that this "silly slogan" was once more to be heard?

.


If you haven't heard it around, especially in the "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" consider yourself lucky. One poster on this forum uses it as a kind of mantra.

---------- Post added 05-24-2010 at 04:38 PM ----------

Jebediah;168140 wrote:
All the slogans literally say is that people disagree--which is quite true. Things that one person thinks are rude, other people think are polite. But the reason to use it is to take a subjectivist position. So the implied meaning is different from the literal meaning.

Also, these people seem to think it is arrogant to say that someone is wrong, and that anyone who says that is obviously failing to "see things from that persons point of view".


Why do you think they say only that? I don't think that when, for instance, I condemn a terrorist, and someone says that one man's terrorist etc. that he is saying only that people happen to disagree about whether someone is a terrorist or not. I think he is saying that whether someone is a terrorist or not is simply a matter of opinion, like whether vanilla ice-cream tastes better than chocolate, and that there is "no fact of the matter" (in Quine's useful phrase) as to whether someone is a terrorist or he is a freedom fighter, in the way there is "no fact of the matter" whether vanilla ice-cream tastes better than does chocolate. It is all just a matter of opinion. And that is not the same thing as saying that people just disagree. Would you say that one man's Copernican is another man's Ptolomean, for instance. Or that one man's round-earther is another man's flat- earther? Of course not! Although people may disagree about whether the Copernicus of Ptolomy is right; or whether the earth is flat or the earth is round. The question comes down to whether or not there is a "fact of the matter" about which there is disagreement, and not about whether there is disagreement.

Is there a "fact of the matter" whether that student was rude or whether he was polite? What do you think?
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 02:43 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;168176 wrote:
You bring up a good point. A subjectivist would say no, but I would say yes. His rudeness is not a matter of opinion. It is either true or false that he was rude, no matter what anyone thinks about the matter. It is independent of their interpretations, as you note. We ought not confuse the truth with what we think is true. What is true is true (what is the case, is the case!), but what we think is true need not be true.

Thanks for bringing that up, fast.


In a case of social interaction involving etiquette the observer (in this case the person relating the anecdote as a third party) must take into account not only social norms and possible POVs but prestige dynamics and pragmatic frames of reference. In this case the percieved rudeness was not only about interaction but about the prestige dynamic of the student/teacher relationship standard. It also happened in a setting where quiet attentiveness was a frame of behavioral/pragmatic reference. Had it happened between two library patrons, it would likely not have been deemed as rude by the third person. had it happened in a coffee shop with the same two participants, the third person may have even been upset with the teacher for being so full of him/herself.

So really what we have here is not a case of (one man's x is another's y), because in the example both participants are objects to the third person observer's subject. We have a case of (My (third person observer)'s X is my subjective interpretation of X).
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 02:45 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;168182 wrote:
If you haven't heard it around, especially in the "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" consider yourself lucky. One poster on this forum uses it as a kind of mantra.


Yes, I have most commonly heard it is used with regards to isreal vs palestine. Although I once heard it used regarding the 9/11 attack. And it is literally true--we think of them as terrorists, but they thought of themselves as well, probably not freedom fighters, which says to me that it's a relic of an older debate. I don't think either the palestinians nor the 9/11 attackers thought of themselves as freedom fighters. Who says they don't consider themselves to be terrorists? That just adds to the triviality of the expression.

But the statement itself sounds like it is meant to be a summary of the situation. Like saying it expresses what there is to know about the israel vs palestine conflict. But it doesn't say anything about the conflict, other than that they both think they are right, and that is so self evident. So what it really is implying is "the palestinians are not terrorists, they are fighting for their freedom" but since that demands much more explanation than a truism, some people fall back on the truism.

Quote:

I think he is saying that whether someone is a terrorist or not is simply a matter of opinion, like whether vanilla ice-cream tastes better than chocolate, and that there is "no fact of the matter" (in Quine's useful phrase)
...
Is there a "fact of the matter" whether that student was rude or whether he was polite? What do you think?
Oops, just saw that you added this. Yes, the fact of the matter is that he was rude.

I was thinking that few people are really out and out trying to support the "it's all a matter of opinion" position. Often they have an opinion that they think is right, and they are using the subjective stance defensively.

But I think you are right. Sometimes people really do think it is subjective. I just can't recall right now someone insisting that who didn't have an agenda one way or the other. But I suspect that is a psychological defense as well, some people just hate disagreement.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 02:47 pm
@fast,
fast;168171 wrote:
Of course. That's partly why I said, "might."


Yes, it's possible (possible, I say) for it both to be rude to the professor and for it to be polite to the student.



If that means that it is possible for the student to think he is polite, and for the professor to think he is rude, I suppose so (although I think it is highly improbable if they are both speaking English. I would really wonder whether if someone seriously called the student's behavior "polite", whether he would know that the word "polite" meant. Wouldn't you?)

---------- Post added 05-24-2010 at 05:04 PM ----------

Jebediah;168195 wrote:
Yes, I have most commonly heard it is used with regards to isreal vs palestine. Although I once heard it used regarding the 9/11 attack. And it is literally true--we think of them as terrorists, but they thought of themselves as well, probably not freedom fighters, which says to me that it's a relic of an older debate. I don't think either the palestinians nor the 9/11 attackers thought of themselves as freedom fighters. Who says they don't consider themselves to be terrorists? That just adds to the triviality of the expression.

But the statement itself sounds like it is meant to be a summary of the situation. Like saying it expresses what there is to know about the israel vs palestine conflict. But it doesn't say anything about the conflict, other than that they both think they are right, and that is so self evident. So what it really is implying is "the palestinians are not terrorists, they are fighting for their freedom" but since that demands much more explanation than a truism, some people fall back on the truism.

Oops, just saw that you added this. Yes, the fact of the matter is that he was rude.

I was thinking that few people are really out and out trying to support the "it's all a matter of opinion" position. Often they have an opinion that they think is right, and they are using the subjective stance defensively.

But I think you are right. Sometimes people really do think it is subjective. I just can't recall right now someone insisting that who didn't have an agenda one way or the other. But I suspect that is a psychological defense as well, some people just hate disagreement.


In fact, someone can be both a terrorist and a freedom fighter (although, since most of them wouldn't be able to recognize freedom if they tripped on it at high noon, I expect what they really mean is something like "independence fighter" if they mean anything at all). After all, terrorism is a tactic, freedom is a goal. I guess that George Washington was a freedom fighter, but he was never accused of terrorism.

Why people employ that expression, "one man's X is another man's Y", I have no idea. I suspect that it is because they have not thought through what they are saying, and think it sounds cool or sophisticated. But that is to put it kindly. But what difference does that make if the expression is idiotic?

---------- Post added 05-24-2010 at 05:06 PM ----------

GoshisDead;168139 wrote:
One man's rant against subjectivism in another man's confirmation against objectivism.


Whatever that might mean.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 03:07 pm
@kennethamy,
The use of such phrases is to inform others that, for the particular issue at hand, it is useful to know that others may see <insert judgment here> differently. That's all - nothing more. It shouldn't be taken literally or to absurd lengths; since, at that point it easily becomes just silly. It also, as I understand, doesn't necessarily illustrate that the speaker is injecting any sort of subjective judgment, only that someone else (i.e., "anther man") may sees appraise differently.

Its just as likely that the phrase is taken wrongly as used inappropriately.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 03:12 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;168154 wrote:

That's highly improbable. I don't know of anyone that would think that making loud noises while reading in class is polite. The student may have thought it was funny, or just didn't care altogether, but those are different issues.


Yes, as I pointed out, if someone sincerely thought such behavior was polite, that would be excellent evidence that he did not know what the word "polite" meant in English. It would be as if someone thought the the color of red fire trucks was green. I would think he was either color blind, or that he did not know how to use color terms in English. How could anyone think that the student's behavior was anything but rude? What would such a person think the word "rude" meant? What would Gosh is dead think that the word "rude" means? A

---------- Post added 05-24-2010 at 05:20 PM ----------

Khethil;168208 wrote:
The use of such phrases is to inform others that, for the particular issue at hand, it is useful to know that others may see <insert judgment here> differently.


It might be used in that benign way, but, in fact it is not used that way. It is used to say that the difference between X and Y is merely a matter of how you feel about the matter, or merely a matter of different loyalties, and that there is no "real" difference between X and Y. By "real" I mean outside the subjective view of any observer. Why you think it is used in such a benign way is something I don't understand. Apparently, for instance, Gosh is Dead does not think it is used that way. He thinks it is a statement of subjectivism, and, furthermore, he agrees with it! At least insofar as I can tell what he is saying.
 
mark noble
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 03:27 pm
@kennethamy,
Hi Guys,

I am the illusive poster of such subjectivism. Do excuse me for seeing two sides to every picture. Does the pilot of the Enola Gay return a "Hero" or a "Destroyer" - Saint or sinner, you choose? Are you a american or japanese?
In the schools where I live, someone joking about ladishly is indeed polite, because it's not as rude as them kicking lumps out of the lecturer.

And Ken, You did ask for more tautology, did you not? I know you like it really...

Anyway, have a brilliant day all. And remember "One man's day is another man's night"

Mark...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 03:30 pm
@mark noble,
mark noble;168219 wrote:
Hi Guys,

I am the illusive poster of such subjectivism. Do excuse me for seeing two sides to every picture. Does the pilot of the Enola Gay return a "Hero" or a "Destroyer" - Saint or sinner, you choose? Are you a american or japanese?
In the schools where I live, someone joking about ladishly is indeed polite, because it's not as rude as them kicking lumps out of the lecturer.

And Ken, You did ask for more tautology, did you not? I know you like it really...

Anyway, have a brilliant day all. And remember "One man's day is another man's night"

Mark...


There are two sides to every issue? Like that between the rapist and the child being raped (One man's pleasure seeker is another child's rapist). Or even if there really are two sides to an issue need that mean that one side doesn't have a much better case than the other? Maybe Hitler did have a "side". So what?

As the poet writes, "Terence, this is stupid stuff".
 
mark noble
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 03:40 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;168221 wrote:
There are two sides to every issue? Like that between the rapist and the child being raped (One man's pleasure seeker is another child's rapist). Or even if there really are two sides to an issue need that mean that one side doesn't have a much better case than the other? Maybe Hitler did have a "side". So what?

As the poet writes, "Terence, this is stupid stuff".


As far as that particular statement leads, Ken . I am one-sidedly FOR the complete destruction of such a vile human, commiting such a vile act. But, I am also aware of a global network of such-minded perverts that DO get a positive reaction from said example. And so are you, Ken. (aware, that is). If I were a judge on such a case, I Would burn them all alive, but I'm NOT.

Point remains "One man's pain is another man's pleasure"...Enough said.

Have a beautiful evening Ken.

Mark...
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 03:51 pm
@mark noble,
mark noble;168228 wrote:
As far as that particular statement leads, Ken . I am one-sidedly FOR the complete destruction of such a vile human, commiting such a vile act. But, I am also aware of a global network of such-minded perverts that DO get a positive reaction from said example. And so are you, Ken. (aware, that is). If I were a judge on such a case, I Would burn them all alive, but I'm NOT.

Point remains "One man's pain is another man's pleasure"...Enough said.

Have a beautiful evening Ken.

Mark...


But isn't it still rape, regardless what you, I, or even the pervert think it is?

I would answer: Yes, it is.
 
fast
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 03:56 pm
@kennethamy,
[QUOTE=kennethamy;168197]If that means that it is possible for the student to think he is polite, and for the professor to think he is rude, I suppose so (although I think it is highly improbable if they are both speaking English. I would really wonder whether if someone seriously called the student's behavior "polite", whether he would know that the word "polite" meant. Wouldn't you?)[/QUOTE]

When I first read the opening post, I briefly wondered which was worst, the fact the student was so rude or the fact the teacher allowed it to continue. Recall the last several words in the original post.

That being said, I'm willing to suppose that what may not be the case actually is the case (after all, why would the student continue to be so obnoxiously rude after being called out if he didn't actually believe what he said?); hence, I'm willing to suppose that the student actually believes what he said while trying to answer your question.

Does the professor think the student is rude? Yes. Doesn't the professor perceive the student's behavior as rude, and isn't it possible (improbable as it may be) that the professor is mistaken? Possibly, yes.

Does the student think the student is polite? Go with it. If he does, then the irrelevant statement made by the student is correct. The student finds his behavior polite just as the professor finds the student's behavior rude. But, they aren't both correct.

My point, and I think Zetherin's point as well, is that the truth of what is actually the case has nothing much to do with our individual subjective perceptions of whether or not the behavior was rude or polite. The truth depends on whether the facts of the world correspond with the proposition expressed by the sentence, "the student was rude."

Rudeness may often be subjectively judged by others, and be that as it may, I still think there is what Quine may regard as "a fact of the matter" -despite the presence of others' subjective judgments.

I think the student needs a father figure in his life. That's my judgment. But my judgment (be that what it may) is still just that, my judgment. Furthermore, whether or not the student needs a father figure in his life is still true or false, and surely not based on my opinion but rather the facts surrounding the matter.
 
 

 
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