GRE Issue Essay 229
“There is no such thing as purely objective observation. All observation is subjective; it is always guided by the observer’s expectations or desires.”
An objective observation would be one that is not influenced by personal feelings and is unbiased and unprejudiced. On the other hand, a subjective observation stems from the individual characteristics of a person. His opinion and attitude play a major role in determining the nature of the observations that will be made by him. As humans have always been known to be swayed by their personal emotions and mood swings, it is highly unlikely that any form of observation made by a person will be objective. In most of the cases, the observation made will be subjective as the observation will be influenced by the observer’s expectations and desires.
Whenever you see something, your personal opinion about the object being observed plays on your mind before you are able to voice your observation. This personal opinion may depend on your knowledge of the object being observed or your interest in the field to which the object belongs. Someone who is detached from all forms of art may not be able to give any form of observation on a painting made by a renowned painter. It is necessary that a person giving his observation on the painting is aware of the nuances of painting and he has a deep understanding of the object or concept being depicted by the painting. Depending on his in-depth knowledge of painting as an art and his present state of mind, he will come up with an observation that is purely subjective in nature. He may offer a critical opinion depending on his point of view which is further dependent on what he likes or does not like in the painting. It is not necessary that his observation will match those made by the other observers. This is because all observers would be making their observations depending on their individual characteristics and therefore, all observations are bound to be different because of the subjective evaluation that would be involved.
Consider the observations made by scientists on a certain phenomenon. It is true that the observations made on the phenomenon would be objective to an extent because of the technical aspects related to the phenomenon, but the assumptions and other related observations will vary depending on the individual traits and mindset of the scientists. Each of the scientists will assess the phenomenon depending on their individual evaluation of the occurrence. This would affect their observations to a great extent. This is the reason why there are conflicting views on the same topic whenever a team is to give their observations on any object or occurrence.
The observations made with respect to a glass of water that is half-filled with water will be made differently by different people. There are people who may classify the glass as half-empty whereas others might regard it as half-filled. At the same time, people may react differently to different situations depending on their assessment of the situation at hand. A school student may appreciate watching cartoon channels on television, college going students may prefer music channels, whereas adults may watch news channels more than any other programs being aired on television. Therefore, the observations of these groups of people on different programs being aired will vary depending on their personal expectations and desires. It would be difficult for a parent to give an objective opinion on a cartoon channel as he would most likely be biased against cartoon programs which are making more and more children get addicted to watching television.
In conclusion, one can say that there can be no form of observation that is purely objective. All observations are subjective as the desires and individual characteristics of the observers influence the observations made by them.