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RE: Misses the point

The thing I love about you and virtually the only thing I know about you are the same: you provoke me, scottb. You provoke me.

Well, then, time well spent. :)

Instead, his critique references a philosophy of history. From his study of history and his life, he has concluded that knowledge is personal and participatory – and that, as such, it cannot be reduced to either objects or subjects or objective and subjective approaches.

If that’s what he’s saying, then I think he’s wrong.

History is very difficult to do objectively — there’s no argument there. And, when one seeks understanding, objectivity is a significant goal — subjectivity “taints” the knowledge.

An objective understanding of history would have to rest on a foundation of objective understanding of psychology. We’re still quite far from that, so history remains, at best a “soft” science. But that’s a commentary on the current state of one discipline. I’m quite confident that we can (eventually) put such things on a firm footing.

Throwing up one’s hands and saying “it can’t be done because there’s no such thing as objectivity” is just silly.

I suspect that what is bothering you is that you want to defend objectivity because of a commitment to science.

Perhaps, though defending the existence of objectivity also implies a complementary defense of the existence of subjectivity, so I’m not sure it’s all that relevant.

No, no, no. Again, this is precisely what Lukacs is not saying.

This is like we’re not even speaking the same language. I say, “‘A life well-lived’ is an emotional goal, and a subjective one,” and to which you respond, “No, no, no… it would likewise be meaningless to create an objective questionnaire asking evil dictators if, at the peak of their powers, they believed they were really living.”

No freakin’ kidding — that’s because it’s subjective.

You (as the voice of Lukacs) want an objective history, but it’s out of reach — at least for now. But nobody seems to be arguing that it’s in reach. Nobody’s saying that history is an objective science.

As Herodotus records in Book I of his Histories, this is exactly the question Croesus poses to Solon.

Goal-post moving. Even on Solon’s part.

The question I posed for Hitler, and the question Croesus posed, was not, “On my deathbed, will I believe that I have lived well?” It’s “Does it look like I’ve lived life well up to now?” Things change. People change. Hairstyles change.

Even in June of 1941, it’s a fair bet that Hitler didn’t think his goals were wrong. He likely believed that he had been doing the “right thing” — trying to live his life well, as it were. Perhaps Eva Braun would have agreed, though clearly we (and most of the world) do not. It’s a subjective question.

I do not have the faintest idea of what you mean when you say “he’s got a very dualist notion of the mind.”

Dualism is the belief that mental phenomena (“minds”) have a different “substance” than physical ones. “Spirit” or “soul” or whatever.

In any event, I have argued in line with Lukacs that human knowledge and human life cannot be reduced to an objective/subjective dichotomy.

I don’t think you’ve even remotely made the case.

I suspect the problem is that you caricature the objective/subjective dichotomy, and then argue against the strawman.

There is something more, and whatever that something more is, it will never be reached via the thoroughly modern fiction of liberalism that points us merely toward feelings and/or the so-called scientific method.

To paraphrase, “I do believe in fairies.”

You’ve declared defeat in achieving the laudable goal of objectivity in history. Now you’re saying you were beaten by some sort of magical, indefinable “something more”.

Nonsense. You’ve given no reason to think that scientific methods won’t ever reach it, you’ve merely declared it so.

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I understand scientific principles and use them in my profession: Engineering.

However, I love history. In fact I have endeavoured to become quite knowledgeable in two areas: Rome in the first century BCE; and the Royal Navy in the Eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

However, I reject the notion that studying history is in any way scientific. It is a pleasure to me partly because it is not about science. The biased reports of historical events and people are all part of the rich tapestry of evidence from which to draw your own (subjective) opinions.

For me history is like classical music, visual arts, literature, language, and poetry. These are things to be enjoyed by a cultrured mind.

The best way to destroy that enjoyment is to formally study those subjects at university level and/or apply scientific principles to them.

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