The Normativity of Nature by Hannah Ginsborg


I need to figure out this whole objectivity thing.

As far as I got from reading the introduction she says Kant says whenever we judge that something looks red for example we also think it ought to look red to anybody who is observing it. I’m not sure if that’s true, and not sure what it means, so I need to read this book.

I wonder though if I love something I don’t think I am judging that everybody ought to love it. I just love it. Couldn’t red be like that — I just respond to my experience of redness without having a view about how others ought to behave?


3 thoughts on “The Normativity of Nature by Hannah Ginsborg

  1. If color is nothing more than a absorption and reflection of light, than the actual color itself is an objective absolute, both the state of the physical being that reflects the light and the light itself. It breaks down when we intake the information of the light and use it, perhaps my vision of red is actually different than yours. There is no way to prove that the same vision one man has is the same exact image in the mind of another. However, even if our vision of red is different, we both acknowledge with 100% agreement that the color itself is red, that the information we are receiving is red. Int his way, Kant is correct.

    Even if we show the red thing under the same lighting conditions to 1,000 people, even if that image is different in their own mind, all 1,000 will agree that the thing itself is red. Even if sensation is different in people, all will agree sand paper is rough and silk is smooth. Even if our senses are different, our experiences are different, our reactions are different, the objective truth remains, we all acknowledge many things as fact for this reason. Show a hammer or a glove to one billion people, no matter how they sense it, all will identify them as what they are, in different meanings, languages, words, feelings, but the object is universally recognized by all.

    We taste pepper in food, you may like it and perhaps I hate it, or visa versa, the point is we both can independently say “there was pepper in that”. Even if we do not recognize pepper in the dish, we can be shown what pepper is and what it tastes like and from then on know what it is and what it tastes like, our ignorance dispelled. Our liking or disliking does not change the reality of the pepper itself, nor its properties.

    If someone without a sense of taste has the dish, he can say “I have no sense of taste, you cannot prove to me this pepper exists or that its properties and effects exist”. Certainly this is a good example of perception and our inability to sense and know all things, it goes all the way to deep theological tones. The man who cannot sense the pepper will argue that it does not exist, or that it does not affect taste, or if he has no taste at all claim that taste does not exist, we must argue with a man over the existence of things in reality and that his inability to sense, that his innocent ignorance, does not mean things he cannot sense don’t exist or have properties.

    The final point being, things exist in reality as absolutes and are not dependent upon our perception or acknowledgement to exist. The qualities of real things do not change because or our perception, they do not gain or lose them because of our own adding on in our mind nor lose them if we cannot sense them. Gravity did not come into being because of Newton, nor can erasing every physics book and work in existence make it go away. Even if we all experience this reality differently does not mean we live in different realities, we all simply have a different view of the same thing.

    The issue always lies with those that would prefer to trust their perception absolutely instead of greater evidence to the contrary, or the worst cases of people trying desperately to hold onto delusions and false perceptions and conceptions. People will sometimes perceive things wrong, many times they will perceive things accurately enough to understand them but overrule this reality by lying to themselves. They discount the reality they sense and perceive to protect ideas and feelings that are contrary to reality.

    This is why objectivity is important, because it grounds us back to reality, and reality is real wither we like it or not. Keep in mind reality also grounds us together, just like the color red; even if we sense it differently, we acknowledge the fact of red. This gives us all commonality that can create reason and dialogue. When we replace absolute reality with subjective terms and definitions, when we talk about things in the way we feel about them or in arbitrary ideas that we have created in our heads, we lose touch with reality, we lose the objective reality that connects us, we got lost in our own minds and ideas, hopelessly.

  2. It’s kind of a bad description really, because it uses parochialism itself – ‘if you see red you think everyone will see red’…sorry, whose ‘red’? Mine or the authors experience?

    But I guess you have to go to scientific notation to separate it – after your eye is struck by spectrum X, you will have experience Y – and you will think others will have experience Y, rather than Y.1 or Y.10. Or those with synesthesia, X.42. And what philosopher lets science in the room, eh?

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