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Ideal of Objectivity


The ideal of truth has evolutionary and conceptual origins in selective advantage, as a strategy in the game of survival. We are a successful species because of an intelligence that combines objectifying abstraction with manual dexterity to produce a significant technology. But the very nature of objectivity points beyond utility. Paradoxically, it could hardly be so advantageous if it did not. Objectivity fosters a (literal) superior grasp of the environment, but also a detachment from grasping interest, whether personal, genetic, or group. The human ideal of objectivity transcends the parochial concerns in which it is grounded. Truth is born of utility, but grows beyond it because the self-conscious mind is inherently self-transcending and open-ended. While an organism obviously acts upon the world to maintain its own being, this in itself implies no picture or concept of the world, let alone the verisimilitude of such a picture, and certainly no resemblance to the human picture. How true to reality a creature’s perception is can only be evaluated in terms of genetic success (as mere advantage) or else by comparison to the picture humans see. People, of course, have grander pretensions than mere advantage. But when we do view those pretensions as moves within an evolutionary game, it is difficult to escape the paradoxical conclusion that even the ideals of truth and objectivity—whatever else they may be—are clever survival strategies.

RELATED TAGS: [ideal of truth/objectivity, evolutionary advantage/origin (of idealism/objectivity/), sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, utility of ideal/truth/objectivity, truth is born of utility, self-transcendence, utility of self-transcendence]

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