Posts Tagged ‘objectivity’

In Buckminster Fuller’s magnum opus, Synergetics, he makes the audacious assertion that “The subjective and objective always and only coexist and therewith demonstrate the inherent plurality of unity: inseparable union” (see 1013.16). I had forgotten that, but I had remembered that in reading Bucky my understanding of the words “subjective” and “objective” was enriched and enlivened.

I subliminally remembered this quote at the end of my study of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo) with Al Filreis of the University of Pennsylvania. On 18 November 2015, I attempted to explain the idea to the ModPo community.

But what did Bucky mean by “the subjective and objective always and only coexist”? Let me give my interpretation and suggest its profound significance for our lives and in characterizing the nature of Bucky’s notion of design science.

Subjectivity and Objectivity 1, illustration by Jeannie Moberly

In Bucky’s Synergetics (and probably in his entire oeuvre), I think by “objective” he usually means voluntarily working to realize an objective, a goal, or a purpose whereas by “subjective” he means involuntarily subjected to happenings (which may be due to necessity or chance or circumstance). Bucky’s meanings for “objective” and “subjective” are logical variants of their root words “object” and “subject” even though they are not the most common in contemporary parlance.

Do you agree that “objective” and “subjective” can be used in this way?

Here is my evidence for Bucky’s usage: In 302.00 and 305.05, he explicitly identifies objective with voluntary and subjective with involuntary. In 986.032, he identifies objective with experimental and subjective with experiential. In 100.010, Bucky identifies objective with active/self and subjective with passive/otherness.

Do you agree with my interpretation of Bucky’s use of the words “objective” and “subjective”? Can you cite other Bucky passages that further clarify his thinking?

Does Universe relentlessly subjugate us to situations which we did not voluntarily choose? Simultaneously, are we not also the agents of ongoing genesis intentionally and objectively building our futures (to paraphrase Harold G. Nelson and Erik Stolterman in their profound 2012 book The Design Way)?

Read the rest of this essay »

Share |