Subjectivity in a philosophical context has to do with a lack of objective reality. Subjectivity has been given various and ambiguous definitions by differing sources as it is not often the focal point of philosophical discourse. However, it is related to ideas of consciousness, agency, personhood, philosophy of mind, reality, and truth. Three common definitions include that subjectivity is the quality or condition of:
- Something being a subject, narrowly meaning an individual who possesses conscious experiences, such as perspectives, feelings, beliefs, and desires.
- Something being a subject, broadly meaning an entity that has agency, meaning that it acts upon or wields power over some other entity (an object).
- Some information, idea, situation, or physical thing considered true only from the perspective of a subject or subjects.
The varying definitions of subjectivity are often used together and interchangeably. The term is most commonly used as an explanation for that which influences, informs, and biases people's judgments about truth or reality; it is the collection of the perceptions, experiences, expectations, and personal or cultural understanding of, and beliefs about, an external phenomenon, that are specific to a subject.
Subjectivity is contrasted to the philosophy of objectivity, which is described as a view of truth or reality that is free of any individual's biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings. Subjectivity and objectivity are usually seen as two directly opposing views; therefore, an understanding of one usually influences that of the other.