Necessary Abstractions and Pre-Moves Framing Points, Arguments, and Cases
Evidence is relative to definition. If I define America’s current system as “Capitalist,” then the 2008 Financial Crisis is easily evidence that Capitalism doesn’t work; however, if I define the current system as a “mixed market,” then the 2008 crisis isn’t evidence against the free market, but against mixed markets and State intervention. If we define the socioeconomic system of the Soviet Union as “Stalinism” or “Leninism,” then we wouldn’t think of the failure of the Soviet Union as evidence against Communism; rather, we would easily think that Communism hasn’t yet been tried. Hence, if I don’t define the Soviet Union as “Communist,” then the collapse of the Soviet Union isn’t evidence against Communism; likewise, if I don’t define America as “Capitalistic” (but rather as a “Banktocracy” or something), then the 2008 Financial Crisis can actually be used as evidence for the need to try “true” Capitalism. Thus, with definition, everything shifts, which is to say we may all have the power to shift everything.
There is no evidence without definition, and to create definition is to create the possibility of evidence, but that very definition might render the evidence meaningless. Furthermore, a theory can be defined out of vulnerability. Communism and Capitalism, as theories, can never be “seen” empirically or directly, if you will (both are frameworks and ideas). Yes, they are ideas given definition by writers like Adam Smith and Karl Marx, but who is to say my reading of Smith is the right reading of Smith? Who is to say my reading of Marx is the right reading? There is always room for doubt, and so always room for questioning if an implemented “version” of Capitalism is in fact the “real” Capitalism. Furthermore, even if I do have the right “reading” and/or understanding of Capitalism, who’s to say my implementation and realization of it is a valid realization or “fitting?” Perhaps the idea is lost or deformed in the process? Perhaps I implemented the theory correct in some ways and not others? Perhaps not everyone did what they were supposed to do according to the theory? There is always room for doubt, and so always room to claim that “Capitalism wasn’t tried” or “that isn’t Capitalism.” In this case, any evidence of failure that arises will not be evidence against Capitalism (as I define it), but against “something else” (whatever that might be).
tDoes this mean Capitalism is relative, that there is no “true Capitalism,” for example? No, that is a different question: my point is simply that a theory can be defended via “re-definition,” and when such is done, evidence that may have once been thought of as evidence against the theory will no longer apply. Whether or not this is a valid move is a different question and gets into the question of “What is the right version of a theory?” and “How do we know that right version?” (questions which may have no answer).
If we’re a Christian but don’t like how another church treats minorities, we can simply say, “That church isn’t Christian”; if we’re a Muslim but don’t like the Islamic State, we can claim “ISIS isn’t Muslim”; and so on. Whether these claims are true or false is a different matter: my point is only that with a simple change in definition, “evidence against” and/or “evidence for” can cease to apply. But how does one determine what “actually is Christian” versus not? One would have to be a theologian, but even that might not be enough. Perhaps, at the very least, we could conclude (without being a theologian) that ISIS is evidence against (mis)understandings of Islam, as the Inquisition is evidence against (mis)understandings of Christianity. Likewise, the 2008 Crisis is evidence against a way Capitalism can be implemented/(mis)understood, as the Soviet Union is evidence against a way Communism can be implemented/(mis)understood. At the very least, it can be said that Communism, Capitalism, Christianity, and Islam can result in (mis)understandings that have dire consequences (as can be said about Atheism, Hinduism, etc.) — but what does that tell us? That we will lives of “(re)definition?”
Failure to identify that evidence is relative to definition has created a problem in modern debate and argumentation, which is often reliant on studies, science, surveys, and evidence (as addressed in “Assuming the Best” by O.G. Rose). This isn’t to suggest that studies, science, surveys, and evidence should be rejected; rather, the issue is that a survey that finds “60% of Americans are unhappy with Capitalism” doesn’t tell us if those Americans define our current socioeconomic system as “Capitalist,” and if it is right to see our current system as “Capitalist.” The survey presents the fact as “evidence” that something is wrong with the socioeconomic order (whether the survey means to or not), yet it isn’t clear by this fact alone if the fact functions as evidence for this case or not, for that depends on if the fact carries with it the right definition of our socioeconomic system. And if I was in favor of the free market, presented with this fact, I could simply say, “The current system isn’t Capitalist; it’s a Banktocracy.” Perhaps I would be right, perhaps I wouldn’t be (that is a different question) — my point is that the “fact” doesn’t tell us enough, and as a result it doesn’t add anything constructive to the dialogue. It’s a point, but unable to address the question of definition.
If I did a study and found there was a correlation between the rising rates of depression and loss of religion, even if this was true, we could simply say that this is because the subconscious minds of people are still greatly influenced by Christianity; after a few more generations, that subconscious guilt will dissolve, and disbelief will lead to greater levels of happiness. How could I prove this objection wrong? Perhaps I spent ten years putting together my study, and yet in a few moments, a philosophical objection undermines the whole thing. To disprove the objection, I could carry out the study again over thirty more years, but if depression rates continue to increase, my first study did nothing to stop the trend (the study not providing enough certainty to legitimize acting upon it), so of what value was it? And furthermore someone who disagreed with my study undermined it by simply claiming “it hasn’t been long enough yet,” and indeed that could be true. So, what was the point? The study couldn’t tell us, and a simple “philosophical objection” rendered it not false but beside the point. So, again, what was the point? Little, it seems.
If we believe inflation will destroy the economy and the economy hasn’t collapsed yet, I can simply say that “it will”; likewise, if I believe the economy won’t spin off into hyper-inflation (and, in reality, it won’t until next week), at this present moment, I can claim, “The hawks have been disproven; after all, no inflationary crisis has manifest.” If I believe home-schooling my son won’t hurt his ability to socialize with others, I can claim a study that shows otherwise doesn’t apply to my child, because while that study dealt with children who lived in a rural area (for example), my child lives in a city, where socialization is unavoidable (and so I “define my child out of the story,” per se). On the other hand, if I believe home-schooling hurts socialization, I will hold to the study, and perhaps use it in a debate against a neighbor of mine who supports the practice.
If it is proved that “1 in 4 children have Attention Deficit Disorder,” the study doesn’t prove if ADHD is a valid medical disorder in the first place or something that only exists because of the nature of the modern school system (not to say it is). The study verifies the fact it presents, but it doesn’t prove if the structure the fact is situated within is rightly defined. Furthermore, the fact suggests that something needs to be done about ADHD, versus about how education is taught, when the latter might be the core problem. If a scientific study finds that “humans are made of atoms,” the science doesn’t tell us if humans are just atoms, or if humans are also “something more” (furthermore, science doesn’t tell us if the word “human” is a good choice to signify the composition of entities whose existence science verifies). Science reveals composition but not definition, which humans determine (or “press down,” per se).
If it is fairly proven that “Capitalism doesn’t work,” I can just claim, “Capitalism as we know it doesn’t work” or “true Capitalism has never been tried.” If it is proven, completely objectively, that “Communism is the best system,” I can claim “Communism is the best theory, but it is impossible to put into practice perfectly.” This in mind, it is suggested that studies, science, surveys, and evidence won’t necessarily provide us enough information to close debates or to find solutions to problems we face, nor are they necessarily good methods to critically think exclusively through. Whatever a study or survey finds, re-definition can quickly undermine or overly-support, and what science proves doesn’t necessarily legitimize our ways of defining phenomena. There are still questions of definition that must be addressed, questions humans must answer through different, more subjective methods.
If a friend tells me, “It is easier for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to get through the eye of a needle,” I can simply reply, “I’m not rich” (and compared to someone, I’m probably not), which is to say I can define myself out of having to concern myself with Matthew 19:24. If I read “Americans need to be more environmentally friendly,” I can think “exactly right,” and consider myself a friend of the environment (after all, I only drive a car and fly little). Perhaps I am, but perhaps I’m not; likewise, perhaps I’m not rich, but then again, perhaps I am. Perhaps in America I’m not rich, but perhaps on a global scale, I’m very rich. Perhaps compared to other Americans, I am environmentally friendly, but relative to what a “true environmentalist” would do, I’m not environmentally friendly at all. And so on — truth is relative to the standard by which the truth is determined, as is what constitutes evidence and rationality.
If I dislike Capitalism and it is proven that “99% of the wealth is controlled by 1% of the population,” I will think this fact legitimizes my position. However, if it is true that America isn’t Capitalistic (but rather say a Banktocracy), then this fact against Capitalism doesn’t apply as I think it does. And so though I might be intelligent to accept the fact regarding wealth disparity, I am still wrong about “the case” I apply the fact to (I erroneously use a fact against the functionality of a Banktocracy against Capitalism, when Capitalism very well may be the best way to break up the Banktocracy). Similarly, if I think Communism has been disproven, I may take the fall of the Soviet Union as evidence that my position is correct, yet perhaps the Soviet Union wasn’t an example of Communism but rather of Stalinism. Further erroneously, I might use the Soviet Union as evidence against all government growth, when the Soviet Union might only disprove the validity of a certain kind of government activity. Furthermore, the failure of Communism isn’t necessarily the failure of Socialism (though that doesn’t mean Socialism necessarily works).
It is very important to note that the definition comes prior to the study, which is to say I can’t readily carry out a study to determine which definition I should use to frame that study within, for that definition must come before a study to make the study possible. Studies can’t be used to determine definitions: humans, using philosophy, ontology, language, and the like, argue and determine definition. The scientific method cannot tell us if one definition of “justice” is better than the other. It might help us determine if “justice defined a certain way” is growing, but it cannot tell us which definition of “justice” is the “truest” definition. Can a poll or survey tell us the definition of “justice?” If a hundred people define “justice” as A and then define it as B, why should A be truer than B? Is the majority always right? No, and neither can we assume the necessary correctness of polls or surveys, despite whatever role or place they might have (which suggests conversation is only possible if we accept how people define terms, exactly as Javier Rivera discusses in “Reflections on Philosophy: Impotence”).
Ultimately, determining (right) definition is a matter of philosophy and reasoning which entails questions that exceed empirical methods. We cannot “observe” a definition to determine if it is the appropriate one to signify a phenomenon: such requires critical and abstract reasoning (which I fear can be out-right disqualified in modern discourse). A society exclusively reliant on studies, science, surveys, and evidence without the critical reasoning to determine the reliability and accuracy of “the cases” these methods are used to justify will result in trouble and inaccuracy, all while “the cases” suggest us scientific and “objective.” This is to say that using science adequately will require philosophical reasoning, as philosophy can require science to “ground” itself, and yet science and philosophy often seem at war.
Problematically, when the inevitable role of subjectivity is not acknowledged in science, then what can end up happening is that we speak as if our interpretation of data is “in” the data, which is of course impossible, but it’s a “sleight of hand” we easily carry out all the same. It is not possible for an interpretation of data to be “in” the data we are interpreting, and yet if we (want to) believe that we are being entirely “objective,” then this is something we cannot readily acknowledge: instead, we must carry out the subjective act (quickly) of interpreting and then acting as if no subjective act occurred at all. And under a zeitgeist of scientism, it’s actually likely that most of us will get away with this (quick) move, precisely because it will “seem like” the interpretation is not an interpretation but rather just a “reading” of the data (for “interpretation is what other people do — we just read,” or so we can act). As a result, the ideology of scientism could get a pass that is not justified, resulting in us ascribing to a worldview and way of thinking we might not be comfortable with, but at the same time we might lack the resources to avoid.
Lastly, this would ironically suggest that believing in the possibility of “objective science” without subjective involvement could ironically lead to us being more abstract than we might end up if we took subjectivity seriously, for this very consideration could push us in the direction of taking phenomenology, particular circumstances, and “concreteness” seriously (for these are in what the subject is “located”). In theory, we can ignore the particular and specific in favor of the general and “nonconditional,” but this only makes some degree of sense if “hard objectivity” is possible; if not, we ignore the actual in the name of being “more actual” by ascribing to studies that might not be actual at all. In this way, by ignoring subjectivity to avoid abstractions, we could end up more abstract, for if studies are finding connections that aren’t really there, providing explanations that don’t actually address us — then “non-subjective science” leads to abstraction in the name of avoiding it. Yes, again, it is understandable why we have tried to avoid subjectivity in favor of objectivity, given the risks of subjectivity leads to ideology, fanatism, conspiracy, and the like, but it is simply not possible to avoid subjectivity altogether. We must face and master it — whatever that might mean.
Definition precedes evidence. Evidence justifies cases, but evidence doesn’t justify definitions. Definition is determined through philosophy, metaphysics, and ontology: science may tell us what a “chair” is made out of, but ontology helps us argue those parts compose a “chair.” From wood, bricks, pipes, etc. alone we can never get to “a house” as a concept, but once we create the idea of “a house,” then from those parts, we can get to “a house” (and then survey the number of houses in a neighborhood). An idea comes before we can say a certain composition “is” that idea, and if the idea of “a house” never came into existence, then we would never think of a collection of bricks, pipes, etc. as “a house.” This isn’t to say we wouldn’t still live in facilities that we experience “like houses” without that word: it is simply to say that ideas arise from different processes than the processes which build facilities (even if the processes inform and shape one another). Problematically though, once an idea comes into existence, it often “appears” as if the composition gave rise to the idea versus by separate processes or the other way around: once I know the idea of a “house,” it seems like the house emerges from the material I build it out of, when really the idea comes from my mind, and then I build that which matches my idea. Since we occupy materiality, this is an easy and understandable mistake to make, but it can contribute to a failure to understand why “studies” always come after “definitions.”
Evidence is always located in definition. If I look for evidence that “eating animals isn’t always wrong” (for example), I search for this evidence with a definition of what an animal “is” in mind. If I find my evidence, the evidence will easily not hold in the eyes of someone who has a different definition. Failing to realize this, I fear much of modern discourse has proven useless: cases are made and millions are spent on studies to determine “the truth,” and yet many people just “define themselves out” of having to consider it (as they might be right to do, please note). Alternatively, the findings themselves might indeed be useless, being based on “bad definitions.” Liberals might argue that the 2008 Financial Crisis proves Capitalism is on the ropes and talk right past Conservatives who don’t consider the American system truly Capitalistic. Conservatives might argue that the Soviet Union is evidence that government intervention is dangerous and talk right past Liberals who don’t consider the Soviet Union an example of Socialism. Without addressing “which definition of Capitalism is best” or “which definition of Socialism is appropriate” (possible questions which fall outside science in philosophy), the dialogue and debate will likely waste time. Similar things can be said about studies and statistics: our society uses them rampantly to determine “objective truth,” but in failing to ask questions about definitions, what the discovered unveils or applies to is unclear (even if presented as self-evident).
All this brings us to a significant question: “How do we determine which definition of x is the truest definition?” This inquiry reminds me of “(Im)morality” by O.G. Rose, which asked a similar question: “How do we determine what is right and wrong?” The paper claimed “there are no theories in the world, only things that fit into theories”; similarly, it can be said that “there are no definitions in the world, only things that fit into definitions.” When it comes to ethics, ultimately, “(Im)morality” concluded that ethics was a matter of ontology (of “how humans are defined”), and that ethics was tied to particularities: the ethics of one situation don’t necessarily apply to another situation (in other words, what is “objectively right” is tied to particularities). Likewise, what applies to one expression of Capitalism doesn’t necessarily imply anything about another expression: as killing during war isn’t identical with killing during theft, Capitalism in America isn’t identical with Capitalism in Europe, and so on. That isn’t to say both forms of Capitalism can’t work, but that if they do, this doesn’t prove “Capitalism works” in general: it can only be said that “Capitalism in America works” and “Capitalism in Europe works” (according to how we have so defined “Capitalism,” which may or may not be valid).
“(Im)morality” by O.G. Rose pointed out that if we decide “all murder is wrong,” we still have to determine which particular examples of killing constitute “murder”; likewise, if we decide “Capitalism is the best system,” we still have to determine which particular socioeconomic system constitutes “Capitalism.” This isn’t to claim we cannot say, “Capitalism works,” only that we cannot determine which particular socioeconomic systems fall under the category of “Capitalism” unless perhaps we are particularly involved and have a proper definition of “Capitalism” (two big requirements). Furthermore, even if we are so involved, we cannot say the workings of a particular socioeconomic order proves the system will universally work: the working of Capitalism in America doesn’t mean Capitalism (as so defined) will work everywhere (though we might not be eager to claim such for ideological reasons). Perhaps it will, but that truth must be gained one particular example at a time (a point which suggests Hume). Universals must be gained “from particulars up,” not from “the universal down.”
Perhaps Capitalism as “true Capitalism” (whatever that is) always works, but since there is an un-crossable divide in determining which “expression of Capitalism” is “true Capitalism,” rather than discuss if “a given expression of Capitalism is true or not,” it can be much more fruitful to ask, “Does the current socioeconomic system work?” This is because determining if a system is “Capitalistic” can be indeterminable, and even if determinable, what is determined as “Capitalism” will be stuck in and to the considered particularity (the act of determining of which will not make “what is particular” any less itself or more universal). Perhaps a system is “like Capitalism,” but whether or not it “is” Capitalism is relative to the person you ask. Perhaps the theory of Capitalism can help us understand what does and doesn’t work, as Ethic classes can help us learn how to think creatively so that in particular situations we can better determine what is right and wrong (even if most Ethic classes fail in this way). But learning about Capitalism, like learning about Ethics, will not ultimately inform us about what to do and/or support: at best, such claims can help us learn to think and act so that we might make better quality decisions. “What is best” is married to the particular, and what applies in one particular situation will not necessarily apply to another (particulars cannot be universalized even if they “participate in” a universal somehow). This isn’t to say one can’t “be Capitalistic” or “in favor of free markets,” but that an individual must realize these theories are “in mind” not “in the world” (as Ethics is “in class”). They are important models, but only models.
Rather than see the world in theories, we should use theories to help and train us to think creatively and critically about the world so that we are more prepared for it when we encounter particularities. Thinking about theories can help us think about the world, not by teaching us what to see the world “as,” but by teaching us to think and choose (the training of “quality decision-making” is paramount). Ethics and theory can help us think better in particular situations about what to do, even though neither should teach us “what to do” outside situation without risking trouble. “Capitalism” and “Socialism” as theories can help us think so that we think better about socioeconomic systems, though the theories can’t ultimately teach us what system to formulate. All theories, rather Ethical, Economic, Historic, etc. are arenas in which we can learn how to think, but unfortunately theories are too often used in place of thinking (as if the arenas are to be the world and the world the arenas). Theories are to aid the development of thought, not be treated as what we need to primarily develop.
There is an un-crossable divide in determining which “expression of a give thing” is (identical with) “that given thing,” and that it is more fruitful to ask, “Does the expression of the thing work as that given thing?” versus consider its “trueness” and fidelity, but it can be considered how one determines which definition of a thing is the truest definition (which we must consider to some degree if we are to use words with definitions). Is it the original definition? Perhaps, but even if Adam Smith invented Capitalism, can we safely jump from “Smith’s Capitalism” to “true Capitalism?” Well, Adam Smith could err and arguably was only observing what already existed, so it doesn’t seem as if we can say for sure that the original definition is the truest (for it’s not clear if we can even determine “the original source”). Alright, but then what? How do you define “true?” By what actually constitutes “Capitalism?” But how do we determine that? And on that line of thought, how do we determine which definition of “human” is truest?
We can’t — a “true definition” is always beyond us (Gödel was right). We are stuck with notions, terms which slip and orbit but never arrive with certainty (only “confidence” is available to us). Ethical questions ultimately become Anthropological and Ontological questions, and as noted in “(Im)morality,” those questions are ultimately determined by what we write in dictionaries. This may seem absurd, but this is all we have (a testament to confidence). How do we determine which definitions to use? By what is decided upon through whatever method the particular people involved so decide. How do we know if we’ve decided the “truest definition?” We can’t: “something” emerges organically through time, and that is what we approve “as if” it is the truest (a testament to subject-ive support). This “as if” is the best we can do, and it is neither necessarily right nor wrong. It’s us.
Admittedly, this is unsatisfying, and it doesn’t assure that bad definitions won’t be accepted. However, recognizing the power we have, we can be more careful to select good definitions and more aware of our need to avoid carelessness. In recognizing that even if we achieve “a truest definition,” we cannot know we’ve achieved it (a Gödel dilemma), we are all better equipped to handle reality. Furthermore, we can know that we should concern ourselves less with fidelity and focus more on “if something works” (regardless the conceptual label it might fall under — categories can blind), as well as train.
Rather than claim, “These facts prove Capitalism doesn’t work” (which sets it up so that these facts can be avoided via re-definition), it is more fruitful to say, “These facts prove that the current socioeconomic system doesn’t work.” By presenting the claim this way, what “is” the socioeconomic system isn’t a topic for debate, but rather the focus lies on the present situation and “what works.” No, “what works” isn’t always self-evident or obvious, so there will still be debate, but at least this debate has a chance of being better “bound” and “grounded” — people in the debate are less likely to fly-off in unconstructive directions or engage in ideology preservation. Similarly, rather than ask, “What is the ‘truest’ definition of ‘human,’ ‘Capitalism’, etc.?” it is better to ask, “Which works?” For example, we could ask, “Which definition of ‘human’ avoids the most discrimination and racism?” In response: An expansive definition which includes as many different kinds of people as possible, and in my opinion (say, “that with human DNA”). Not that it’s perfect, but as an example this definition of “human” sets a broad range for avoiding immorality against beings of all nationalities, religions, etc. — but why should we desire a world that avoids immorality (as unavoidably defined in a particular way)? How do we know that this is “objectively best?” We don’t, fair enough, but if that is the world we decide we want, isn’t that good enough? What if we decide poorly? We might, hence why training our capacity to make “quality decisions” is paramount — but what does that entail? Much, I think.
Because studies come after “necessary abstractions” like definitions and categories, they always can be in service of an ideology while seeming “objective.” The amount of inflation in a system, public satisfaction with government, the number of unhappy marriages, etc. — all of this can be made to look as if they are improving or collapses by simply shifting a definition. Similarly, if someone critiques Christianity, all I must do is say, “My Christianity is not that Christianity,” and so I will be safe. Studies can provide an “appearance” of telling us more than they do, of providing certainty when they provide possibility, of speaking universality when they might only speak nonconditionally in a conditional world. And this isn’t to suggest studies don’t matter, but rather to say that the power of studies, research, and the like can be fully realized once we accept and master the unavoidable involvement of subjectivity. This is a sentiment Cadell Last shares in Systems and Subjects, a book I highly suggest, for it can help us think how we must move into an era where “subject” and “object” are aware of their mutual “in-forming.” Davood Gozli’s book, Experimental Psychology and Human Agency, is also deeply important.
Aligning this paper with “Self-Delusion, the Toward-ness of Evidence, and the Paradox of Judgment” by O.G. Rose, as Cardinal Newman helped us realize that “words don’t tell us what they mean” (funny enough), so evidence doesn’t “wear on its face” the right definition of the case it is to be “toward” (though it often strikes us as if it does, the definition already being set in our minds). Because we must choose definitions and define them ourselves, acts of which science, statistics, etc., cannot do in our place (suggesting that there is always a point at which studies cannot replace thinking for which we are responsible and could be wrong about), philosophy and the humanities shouldn’t be readily dismissed (as I fear they often are). We must learn to think, and we must learn to think abstractly, not just analytically (we must think in terms of “high order complexity,” not just “low order complexity,” as discussed in “Experiencing Thinking” by O.G. Rose). No method can replace the human element: regardless how hard we might try to be purely objective, subjectivity cannot be entirely removed. And I fear a refusal to admit that subjectivity is inescapable has resulted in us “pretending like it isn’t there” in modern debate and discussion (though we might often accuse those we disagree with of “not being objective”).
Definition and so subjectivity precede evidence: subjectivity always frames objectivity. Evidence can never get “behind” definition, and even if we could somehow “be objective-like” (whatever that means), we couldn’t know we’ve done so (a Gödel paradox). Regardless how empirical we might be, we cannot be empirical about the viewpoint through which we see empirically: we cannot be “objective” about the subjectivity “behind” our objectivity. And if we don’t learn how to think abstractly and philosophically, we could take up a mediocre perspective and not even know we’re doing so. For if we are using evidence “against Capitalism” against that which isn’t even Capitalism (or if we’re using evidence that doesn’t function like we think it does), how can we know? Our framework gives us no sense that we act wrongly, as a lack of critical thinking cannot give us reason to think we lack critical thinking (as expanded on in “On Critical Thinking” by O.G. Rose). And so without abstract, critical, and philosophical thought, we won’t realize that we impede civil discourse, thinking rather that we add objectivity to it. And so our error might seem like enlightenment.
A society full of studies, polls, and statistics that lacks abstract thought will easily seem increasingly objective, and yet that “appearance of objectivity” will easily blind us from the erosion of thought. Blinded by this “appearance,” the notion that objectivity is located within subjectivity (that our methods to get “behind” subjectivity are themselves inescapably subjective) will seem “objectively false,” and yet that feeling itself will be located within subjectivity. If we don’t accept this, much civil discourse and argumentation will prove wasted and “defined out of” meaning and use. The categories of the discourse and argument will be questioned, and few will have the training to defend those categories, waiting for a study to justify them that cannot be provided.
Our world is obsessed with “showing the data” and discounting “anecdotal evidence” and/or “abstract reasoning” (“abstract” is a slur), and there is legitimacy to this, but I fear we fail to realize that all data is ultimately situated within “the anecdotal” and/or “continent,” per se. We can only know the validity of a theory from experience, which cannot be confirmed by scientific method: experience is anecdotal, and so the validity comes anecdotally (anecdotal evidence can be instances of reality participating in a theory). Throwing out the anecdotal is to throw out the particularities necessary to see “what works.”
Studies always occur within categories and definitions, and these necessary “abstractions” cannot be given by those studies, seeing as they are the precondition to make those studies possible. We must arrive at those “necessarily abstractions” through different means, and those means must be subjective and doubtable. Ultimately, this means that to throw out the human element is to throw out what we can never remove: it is to deceive ourselves, and simultaneously make us less equipped to think and discuss in a Pluralistic Age. In this way, our efforts to truly see the world can be the very efforts that make the world less able to be seen.