The “objective/subjective” theory of the real

The objective-subjective theory of the real appears to be a melange of four distinctions: 

1.) Episteme and doxa. These are the old Greek concern over the certain and scientific as opposed to what was “opinion”. Diversity and change in the former is impossible, in the latter expected and necessary. In a word, we either have certainty or we don’t. 

2.) Ens simpliciter and ens rationis. The subjective is what depends on the mind to exist: fictions, lies, science, logical inference, etc. The objective is, pace Berkeley, what would be there if there were no minds to know it. 

3.) The factual and uncertain. “objective fact” is a pleonasm. 

4.) The rational and emotional. Rational meaning “impersonal” whereas emotional states are not. 

On this account there are at least two sorts of problems, that is, facts that are difficult to harmonize with our theory of truth. 

1.) The objectivity of the fictional or non-existent. This is a pretty common concern in analytic philosophy from Russell to our own friend Bill Vallicella. They do not see the real as being from an interior principle, and so they can’t simply chalk up fictions or non-existent beings as each ens rationis, which can be taken both as “art” in the broad sense. One is never quite certain what to say about Hobbits or the present king of France. 

2.) The objectivity of the interior or non-public. Hence the problems of qualia, zombies, the chinese room, Mary’s red, eliminativism, etc. Interior reality is squarely on the side of the “subjective” side of the binaries given above, and all such things are reduced to their opposite.

This second problem is the problem of our present philosophy. The ancients did not and could not have fallen into it since their theory of the real was what came out of an interior principle. This is why their theories of the world were all kinetic and concerned with becoming and the problems attendant on it whereas our notion of existence seems far more centered on the “given” or “just there”. For us, interiority is a problem to be solved, occurring within a pure exteriority taken as given. 

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