WE have to be clear about what is to be objective and what is also to be subjective. Very often, if not almost invariably, we contrast the two, as if to be objective is the very antithesis of being subjective. That is to say, that they cannot be together.
This concern is important to us, since out of a good understanding between the two would we know how to be truthful and fair. Such good grasp of the two concepts would help us to engage soundly in our dialogues and conversations in the different levels of our life that are growing and multiplying by the day.
To be sure, there is good reason to put the two notions in contrast. And that reason is when we mean by objective, being in the truth or being fair, and by subjective, being so opinionated as to miss the truth or to be unfair.
But that situation is more the exception than the rule, since the basic reality is that we cannot be objective unless we are subjective also. The objectivity of a certain truth or fact will always require a subject, who is a person who thinks, judges, reasons out and makes conclusions.
In other words, the objectivity of the truth cannot help but be apprehended by the subjectivity of the thinking, judging and reasoning person. There is need to establish an organic link between objectivity and subjectivity in relation to truth, whether we are looking for it, or desiring to establish it, or wishing to develop it, etc.
This cannot be avoided, and we should be ready to tackle the challenge and to undertake the task, since this proper connection between objectivity and subjectivity does not come to us automatically. It has to be worked out.
The Thomistic definition of truth as the correspondence of a thing to the intellect masks a lot of considerations that need to be uncovered. That definition is so generic that it fails to tell us much about what kind of thing is involved, whether it is merely a material thing or a non-tangible or spiritual or even moral thing, etc.
When we speak of a material thing or of a fact or data, objectivity should not be difficult to establish. It’s when we speak of non-tangible or spiritual or moral things that it becomes unavoidable that the question of objectivity becomes tricky.
To be sure, truth is not simply about material things or facts and data. Truth goes far beyond a mere statement of fact or data, or a simple pointing of a physical object. One can say, “I don’t have any whisky,” which may be true as a fact, but such statement does not capture the whole truth. There are a lot more of considerations behind that fact.
Truth should therefore not be limited to a simple statement of facts. The objectivity of a fact as truth should go hand in hand with the subjectivity proper to it.
While it’s right that for purposes of legality and other social considerations that govern more our external behavior than probing into our internal motives, we remain in the level of facts, it would be wrong to nail the whole concept of truth to its legal or social dimension alone. It has to look into the motives and goals involved.
The motives and objectives that comprise the subjectivity of the truth should be those proper to the truth itself. And these motives and objectives cannot be none other than love for God and others, which is what truth is all about. Truth has to go with charity, otherwise it would not be truth in the strictest sense.
It’s charity that establishes the proper connection between the objectivity and the subjectivity of truth. This is how we should understand truth, and its derivatives—how we should be truthful, sincere, candid, etc.
It’s charity that makes truth really lovable, a principle that fosters unity and harmony in the different levels and aspects of our life in spite of our differences of views and position on certain issues.
The absence of charity with respect to truth, as when we just mention facts and data, would make our assertions prone to be divisive and destructive, sowing discord and contentions everywhere.
We have a lot of clarifying to do in this area and, hopefully, of building up the appropriate structures that would nurture this understanding of truth. Obviously, the task is first of all a personal affair before it ramifies into our social and cultural dimensions. It should be done freely, without forcing anyone.
Truth should be both objective and subjective.