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The Meaning of Life through Subjectivity

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Published: Fri, 05 Jan 2018

Humans are subjective because despite trying to stop affecting world that they are a part of, they are changing it. This relationship, which causes a change in the world through action, changes any objective view into a subjective one because they are influencing what a pure observer cannot. By trying to simply stop ‘doing’ and merely observe, people attempt to reach a state of pure objectivity. This, however, becomes an impossible task once one considers that their mere existence is an ‘act’ in and of itself. Meaning that the only way to become truly objective is to temporarily stop existing, observe purely in that non-existent state, and then resume existing within the world as a human being. To be able to even consider performing these impossible tasks is akin to being God. In total, it is impossible for a human being to achieve a state of non existence simply because the mere act of living causes one to become subjective due to the fact they have an influence on the world around them.

While they are young, humans eventually reach a point when they become aware that their existences are enveloped in exclusivity. They see that their lives are filled with choices, forks in the road which make it apparent that whenever one chooses something, something else must be excluded. These choices can bring the pain of having to weigh between the options and the respective consequences, as well as coming to terms with the idea that one cannot have everything. Considering the human limitation of having to exclude one thing in order to gain another, people will always reach for a level of objectivity in their choices; they want to remove some of the pain and difficulty that they feel from having to make those choices by detaching themselves emotionally from the choices they have to make. Despite the truth of existence lying in subjectivity, there is a paradox shown here; that humans are almost preset to reach for objectivity despite the ‘answer’ existing in the other direction: beyond subjectivity.

To reach the ‘answer’ of life, one must first come to terms with the truth of existence. Kierkegaard’s existential truth is subjectivity; for a human to understand that subjectivity is the core of existence then enables them to pursue and eventually understand the ‘answer’ to life. Subjectivity in itself is important to grasp as a human, and as a result, it also serves as a differentiation between the simple man and the wise man. If the wise man is being subjective, he knows that there is a difference between subjectivity and objectivity. However, the only indication that he is being ‘completely subjective’ at a given point is that he objectively knows the difference between ‘objectivity’ and ‘subjectivity’. This understanding allows him to grasp the concept of the ‘answer’ to life while at the same time brings up the paradox of only being subjective when being objective. In contrast, if the simple man is being subjective, he is simply being subjective by point of impulse and would not be aware of it. Thus the simple man cannot be considered to have reached the same existential truth as the wise man. To be wise is a curse as well as a blessing, for the paradox teaches him the importance of the existential truth, while at the same time, prevents him from reaching it.

Given Kierkegaard’s belief that the existential truth is subjectivity, that all humans eventually become at least slightly objective and that people need to be slightly objective in order to be subjective, then a paradox presents itself. If a human cannot be subjective without being objective then this begs the question about whether or not a human reach a state of pure subjectivity.

Within the World-Historical view, there is but a single objective truth to any individual event throughout history, but subjectivity shows a different, individual truth for every person viewing it. Seeing that people cannot objectively observe and think over the past (without first accomplishing the impossible task of becoming God-like), people are left to view the events themselves from the present, filling in the gaps between objective facts with subjective interpretations. These all compile to subjective truths; each being the truth, yet none being any more or less valid than the last. By being human, one is restricted by the ‘world’ they have subjectively constructed; a world made with the subjective truths influenced by their own thoughts, feelings and experiences. However, as partially subjective existences in what can only be perceived as a purely subjective world, one must ask if human beings can really exist in the same ‘world’ as anyone else and if the answer to that query changes the ‘answer’ to life itself.

This presents us with the final paradox; that in order to obtain the ‘answer’ one must be an objective and static entity, but humans as a whole are subjective simply through existence. Were one to ‘find’ the so-called ‘answer’ to life, one’s life would fundamentally change. However, as a direct result of finding that ‘answer’, this newly changed life is basically a new life in and of itself. This new life is at least slightly different from the old life and, as a result, has a new subjective truth to it. This effectively renders the previous ‘answer’ worthless, perhaps having never existed to begin with. This in itself proves that the ‘answer’ cannot be found in the constantly active ‘life’, but only in the static ‘death’ where the constant, static world is unaffected by a person. Despite this, the ‘answer’ holds no meaning after death and cannot be communicated to the living resulting in the same lack of ‘truth’.

As a result, I’ve found that I’m unable to submit my answer to this lifelong assignment, and that to do so I would have to no longer be considered ‘alive’. I apologize and would like to request an extension; preferably to sometime in the late 2070’s.


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