What is the debate concerning objective or subjective truth in different periods of philosophy? Paying particular attention to the difference between an overall story of human history...

What is the debate concerning objective or subjective truth in different periods of philosophy? Paying particular attention to the difference between an overall story of human history (macronarrative) that provides meaning in a collective sense versus the concept of a society of individual human stories (micronarratives), what is the logical best assessment of postmodernism and what it seeks to do?

How would one also approach writing the following essay?

Write a 150-200 word description (3-4 paragraphs, or at least 5 observations) about the contrast between modernism and post-modernism. Conclude your remarks by reviewing and assessing the list of 5 Christian inferences made by the author  These included (1) the more data—and the more data accounted for—the better the hypothesis; (2) the simplest and most elegant explanation is the better one; (3) a logically coherent hypothesis is better than an incoherent one; and (4) a hypothesis that predicts future data while accounting for past data is much to be preferred..
a. Provide a critique of the author’s thesis in this textbook (both in Chapter 8 and here), that a “critical-realist” approach is the best Christian approach in both philosophical theory and practice. Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
b. Remember: use the four-step methodology of understanding, analysis, evaluation and application! You may also want to try to do the step called synthesis, by coming up with your own new paradigm for these concepts (and your own illustration).

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As we are limited in space, below is some information about the history of philosophy with respect to its believe in objectivity vs. subjectivity to help you better understand the belief in objective truth and subjective truth.

The history of Western philosophy can essentially be broken down into four periods: ancient, medieval, modern, and postmodern ("By Historical Period"). Many ancient philosophers, especially the Ancient Greek philosophers like Plato, argued for the existence of objective truth. When we view things through objectivity, we see an object as being independent from how the subject, or person, views it. Hence, things like reality and truth exist as perfect states regardless of perception or belief ("Objectivity"; "Plato II: Objective Values"). However, even some Ancient Greek philosophers called Sophists argued for the exact opposite, subjectivity, or relativism. Relativists believe that understandings of truth, goodness, and beauty change with respect to people's perceptions, and those perceptions are directly influenced by culture ("Plato II"). Hence, the early relativists gave birth to the idea of subjectivity, which is the belief that the subject, or person, viewing an object, like truth and beauty, can either see that truth accurately or can see it in a distorted way and can even attribute things to the object that don't truly exist ("Objectivity"). The belief in subjectivity allows for human error.

Many medieval philosophers wanted to find ways to merge philosophy with religion, even wanting to use philosophy to support religion. One of the most famous medieval philosophers is St. Augustine of Hippo (Philosophy Pages, "Medieval Philosophy"). Medieval philosophers like Augustine also believed in Platonic objectivity, believing that universal objects really exist and independently of any subject. However, medieval philosophy also branched out into a debate between realism, moderate realism, conceptualism, and nominalism. Realism is aligned with objectivism, while moderate realism, conceptualism, and nominalism align with subjectivism. Both moderate realism and conceptualism believe that universals do exist, but moderate realism sees them as existing only within specific things and not separate from or even before the existence of things, while conceptualism believes universals only exist in the mind. In contrast to all of the above, nominalism believes that universals do not exist at all, only as mere words, like the word truth. Hence, realism, moderate realism, and conceptualism go hand in hand with objectivism, while nominalism goes hand in hand with subjectivism ("Medieval Philosophy").

Modernist philosophy also believed that universals like reality can be objectively known, while postmodernists assert the exact opposite, clinging to subjectivity instead. Throughout the ages of philosophy, most philosophers tried to cling to objectivity. Modernist philosopher David Hume tried to question our ability to truly objectively understand reality, but Immanuel Kant categorized knowledge in such a way as to argue that our minds think in categories of perception, and since these categories of perception are the same for all people, reality can objectively be understood. However, modernist Friedrich Nietzsche again disputed the existence of objective knowledge by claiming that absolutely everything is relative, leading to the thinking of postmodern philosophers. Postmodern philosophers took Nietsche's arguments a few steps further by even questioning our ability to interpret the written word, claiming that we can't "objectively understand the exact mind and intent of the original author of a text" and even by questioning if language has the ability to objectively describe truth ("Introduction to Postmodern Philosophy"). Hence postmodern thought leaves us with the idea that universals cannot be objectively perceived and known and that rather all truth, even our ability to communicate truth, is all relative.

nishu2766 | Student

I do believe there exist objective moral truths, such as, "a person being punished for something they did not do is wrong."But, there exist counter arguments and positions which believe there are no objective moral truths, because ethical knowledge is usually subjective or relativewhich means they cannot be consider objective. Such as non-cognitivism and emotivismObviously the process to figure out what is objectively moral would be a difficult one, but can it be done? Consensually, empirically?