Subjectivity

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.[1] 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.[2]
  • 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).[3]
  • Some information, idea, situation, or physical thing considered true only from the perspective of a subject or subjects.[4]

The varying definitions of subjectivity are often used together and interchangeably.[1] 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.[4]

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.