On Truth and Economy: Subjectivity, Objectivity, Absoluteness, Wrongness, and Their Economic Applications

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Introduction

Truth is that information which corresponds to the way things are. One can believe something about the truth which is not so, and which is wrong, or one can believe something regarding the truth which is so. Those truths which are so come in three forms: objective, subjective, and absolute. These forms of truth have strong economic and behavioral implications.

 Objectivity

Perspectives that are understood to be objective are often those which lack emotional or preferential content, and which can be referenced in some manner from the outside.

For instance, in the field of journalism, journalists are supposed to be objective. In the field of journalism, this does not necessarily imply that actors do not have emotions—or at least statements of those emotions— that can be reported on, but that the journalist does not mix their own emotions into the scenario. The emotions of others are reported on objectively, but should not be understood to be objective in themselves. That is, emotions and preferences are not objective phenomena, but subjective noumena.

While statements about emotions may be reported on, and repeated in an objective fashion, the emotions themselves must always be seen as subjective. This is because they lack objectivity of content. In the fields of the natural sciences, for instance, something is understood to be objective when it can be referenced from the outside. In other words, a perspective is seen to be objective when it references an object. Feelings, qualia, cannot be referenced in such a manner.

Objectivity describes material phenomena quite well: It describes statements, even if not the emotions behind them; and it describes objects quite well, and in a way that is relatable to others. Anyone who wants to see something which has been referenced by others may do so, and so proof may be established. Objective statements are true statements, and are true outside of preference or bias.

  Subjective feeling Lack of Subjective Feeling
Objective data Absoluteness Objectivity
Lack of objective data Subjectivity Wrongness

 Subjectivity

Perspectives that are understood to be subjective are those which are composed of value-content, such as preferences, and emotions regarding specific conditions.

People have their own priorities. While we may be able to describe conditions in an objective sense, this tells us nothing about human emotions, which are independent of, but which interact with, objective phenomena. We may be able to objectively describe a selection on a shirt rack: “There are red ones, yellow ones, blue ones, and green ones of all sizes,” we may say. This does nothing to tell us about choices, or to describe why we have racks from which to pick in the first place. Yes, objectively there are different styles, but this is so because, subjectively, people have different priorities, and there is not one objectively “best” color. Each actor feels they are deciding upon the “best” color when they make a selection.

Preferences are unpredictable and unable to be proven. We can’t calculate for another person what will be best for them, nor can we calculate our own future. None of us live according to a strict path. What will we be eating on April the 23rd, 2020? Until that date comes—if it does at all for us—we cannot tell, unless we make a plan, and live strictly according to such a plan. Such a plan can do nothing but lead to restriction of spontaneity and the impoverishment of the human spirit, which flourishes on new experiences and engagement with new opportunities. Such new experiences and opportunities, however, approach us according to conditions that are outside of our control. We cannot anticipate them. If we are unable to predict our own desires, how can we expect to predict the desires of others, except in the most general sense (they will want to eat, sleep, have sex, etc. [but eat what, sleep when, have sex with whom? We will never know.])? We cannot.

Subjective feeling Lack of Subjective Feeling
Objective data Absoluteness Objectivity
Lack of objective data Subjectivity Wrongness

Absoluteness

Subjective perspectives are those that originate in emotions and preferences, while objective perspectives have their origins in reference to things, which can easily be referenced by others. An absolute perspective is not one which is objective or subjective, but one which incorporates and understands both, and the interplay between them. While we are incapable of understanding, or having access to, everyone’s emotions in the specific, we can approximate to the best of our ability the general wants of humanity, especially by communicating with them.

Absoluteness strives to understand how subjectivity (preference) interacts with the world of objectivity (fact). That is, it seeks to know how subjectivity can affect the external reality of objects, and how the external world of objects restricts subjectivity from always having its priorities met. In other words, we may not always like (subjective) the way things are (objective), and we may not always see the potential (subjective) in them (objective) either. We may limit our goals (subjectivity) to the way things have been in the past (objectivity), or we may fail to understand how our goals (subjectivity) is limited by the world around us (objectivity).

Absoluteness reconciles the clash between objectivity and subjectivity. According to subjective perspective, things should stay as they are, or should change. Objectivity describes the way things are, regardless of priority or preference. Absoluteness describes the conflict between the two. Subjective preferences may not like things the way they are, or may not want them to change. This does not mean that things will be as subjective experience dictates, however. Unless subjectivity can find a means to make its preferences objective fact, subjectivity will remain subjective, and will not be absolute. Absoluteness is what is, and what is appears to be manifest contradictory forces.

Absoluteness includes objective phenomena and subjective noumena. An objective perspective may suggest that a shirt is yellow and a subjective perspective may dictate that yellow is an ugly color, but an absolute perspective suggests that there is a yellow shirt that isn’t very well liked. The subjective perspective does nothing to change things in itself, or to keep them as they are, but neither does an objective description always satisfy the wants of subjectivity. Absoluteness describes the interactions: when subjectivity becomes powerful enough, it may affect the objective reality, and when the objective reality is too influential, it matters not how subjectivity feels about it. If someone hates the shirt enough, they can destroy it, but the hatred without action does nothing to change the fact. The subjective preference must motivate objective action, or things stay as they were. Likewise, we may like the way things are, and may be able to objectively describe the workings of a system, but this does nothing to determine the priorities of others, who may not have an objective example of their preference in action, but who have a subjective preference nonetheless.

  Subjective feeling Lack of Subjective Feeling
Objective data Absoluteness Objectivity
Lack of objective data Subjectivity Wrongness

Wrongness

Wrongness is the opposite of absoluteness. While absoluteness describes the existence and interaction of both subjectivity and objectivity, wrongness describes the lack of truth content in a statement. That is, when something is neither objectively, nor subjectively, true, it is wrong.

If someone points to a red apple, and calls it green, we do not suggest that the statement is subjective, but that the statement is wrong. We can disagree with subjective statements without them being wrong, but we cannot disagree with objective statements without them, or our own interpretation, being wrong. A statement about an object, which we do not feel is true, is not subjective, it is false. Likewise, when someone tells us a lie about their feelings, in order to manipulate or take advantage of an objective situation, this is not a reflection of their true feelings, but is a lie. A lie is not subjective, a lie is false. The difficulty lies in the fact that we cannot tell when someone is sharing subjective truth (their real emotions or priorities), or they are telling us a lie. Someone we have known for a short time may suggest that they would never steal from us, because they have already developed amorous affection towards us, but this statement can be motivated by recognition of true feelings within the individual, which they honestly wish to express, or it can be motivated by attempts of trickery, so that they may take advantage of us. While one is a subjective truth, the other is a lie, a non-truth. Lies are not subjective, they are not objective, and they are not absolute (while they must be described in some sense by absoluteness), they simply are not. They do not exist, and they lead to the detriment of those things that do. Lies, as truth content in themselves, do not exist. They are the essence of a thing which does not exist, but which purports to do so. While the truth content does not exist, the statement objectively does exist (that is, it is undeniable that when I tell a lie, words come out of my mouth). None the less, the essence of the lie, not the words that represent the content, is absence of truth value, and the absence of being. To tell a lie is to say something which is not.

Subjective feeling Lack of Subjective Feeling
Objective data Absoluteness Objectivity
Lack of objective data Subjectivity Wrongness

Epistemological Implications for Economic Organization

The epistemology outlined above has many implications for social organization. On one hand, it suggests that there are truth factors that can be proven, and which cannot be reasonably denied. These truths are objective. On another hand, the epistemology suggests that there are truth factors that cannot be proven, but which may be just as much a factor of reality as objective phenomena. These truths are subjective. Absoluteness describes the play between the two, the conditions under which subjective perspective may affect the objective world, and the conditions by which the objective reality restricts subjective desires from coming to fruition. Wrongness, however— exemplified especially by lies and by misrepresentation—, demonstrates the inability to prove or to reasonably rely on people’s projections of their feelings. While a wrong statement itself may objectively exist, we cannot tell if the truth-value behind it is subjective or entirely nonexistent.

As it relates to the three classical factors of economy—land, labor, and capital—, we can understand that land value is rather objectively definable, or at least approximated—we can see the fertility of land by comparing the life which springs from it, for instance—, that labor (or cost) is more subjective, as it relies on the preferences of the laborer—no one can feel the repugnance or satisfaction lost or gained in another’s performance of their task—, and that capital, in some senses, is absolute (while it also exists within absoluteness larger than itself), as it necessarily relies on the objectivity of the natural resources from which it was fashioned, as well as the subjectivity related to the effort involved in giving the capital its form. This is not to suggest that the value of land is entirely non-subjective, or that the effort of labor cannot be objectively sensed to some degree (we can oftentimes tell if someone is struggling, even if we cannot tell the exact amount of stress they are feeling), but that the referent—land or labor—is rooted in an objective nature (like land, which is an object) or a subjective one (like labor, or effort, which exists within the subject, and cannot be objectively witnessed from without, even if its effects can be). With this all understood, we can see that it is wrong to treat land as if it is rooted in subjectivity (though our subjectivity references it), or to treat labor as if it is anchored in objectivity (although its affects may have objective results), or to treat capital as either extreme (having no effort or resources involved in its creation), rather than being subject to elements of both.

The costs of labor are very subjective (though the outcome may be objective). What may be enjoyable, or empowering, to one, may be dissatisfying, or disempowering, to others. This being so, labor markets are best left free, allowing each individual to dictate for themselves what efforts and what prices motivate their behavior. In a labor market, buyers and sellers take their own subjectivity into account, and, because a market—its undistorted essence, anyway—involves voluntary exchange, they have no option but to limit their actions to those that are subjectively acceptable to others in the exchange. The state, however, does not act in the labor market, but through force. The state treats its subjectivity as objective fact, ignoring the subjectivity of others, while actors in a market treat each other’s preferences as being equally valid, with each having truth content. Where labor must occur under the conditions of concerted effort, hierarchical arrangements should be avoided (this is also true as it relates to institutions government land interests), and, instead, consensus should gathered. Decisions should affect people to the degree they are affected by their outcomes.

The content of land is rather objective. We can see how much the land has to offer without human exhaustion, and without cost to another. We can also see the value that land gains indirectly through a relative increase in the utility of location, as influenced by public use (roads, while a form of capital, may increase land values, for instance; plots of land closer to roads are easier to traverse, and thereby have more value). It is for this reason that land is best approached in a social manner, and is allocated in ways that seem to be objectively and quantitatively equal. It is true that a large part of the value of the land can be found in the population which sits atop it, but this population itself— while housing subjective content—, as well as the fruits of its efforts (such as roads and other constructions), is rather objective, and can be given quantitative, and not just subjective, value. A road, for instance, may increase sales to a particular inhabitant. So long as it can be separated from other factors (better capital, more demand in the market, increase in skill, for instance) which may have led to the increase in sales, this increase in sales due to the road—which adds to the value of the land— can be measured. The same can be said of gains in population or in placement of other forms of capital.

Capital may have elements of the land, and at times this may entail a degree of social ownership over capital, particularly when the resources used are scarce; but the efforts involved in the creation of capital are subjective, and should remain free for bargaining. Natural monopolies, which naturally gain spurious returns, are best owned on a social scale, combining consumer and worker interests. Capital which is highly competitive, and which earns no rent due to the scarcity of resources, or to economies of scope or scale (which are not due to labor, but to nature, and thereby must be considered a part of land-, or nature-, value), should be left to those who manage it, without need to conflate the interests of producers and consumers.

Conclusion

In the treatment of political economy, we must consider epistemology. Subjective perspectives, which are unable to be proven, must not be forced onto others. Objective perspectives, which are provable, typically do not require force to be acknowledged, and rely on the rejection of facts to be disputed. Absoluteness of perspective describes things as they are, objective and subjective perspectives included. Wrongness— the treating of subjective or objective phenomena as each other, or as absolute— must be rejected. Geo-mutualism is the political and economic philosophy which best keeps these factors in mind, treating the concerns of land as objective, labor as subjective, capital as absolute (in the sense that it must be treated subjectively and objectively, but not in the sense that capital includes all land or all labor, that would be silly), and lies (the making up of false information; the treatment of subjective perspective as objective truth, or vice versa; or the treating of either as being absolute, enough to change things or keep them as they are on their own) as wrong. To treat one’s emotional perspective or preferences (subjectivity) as absolute truth (objectivity), or to treat current conditions (objectivity) as absolutely desirable (subjectivity), is wrong. To take both objectivity and subjecivity into account, to understand labor as subjective, and land as objective, to understand how they interact, to the best of our ability, is to best approximate the perspective of the absolute.

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