Subjectivity is not an ontological category

'Each of us occupies such a present as his own; it is a personal present. But it is not composed of so-called "primordial subjective experiences" and our relation to it is not "immediate" or "intuitive" as distinct from reflective. My Venice is not your Venice, and this grove of trees, which to me now is a shelter from the rain or a place to play hide-and-seek, to another (or to me in different circumstances) may be a defense against soil erosion. But there is nothing subjective or esoteric about these various understandings. They may exclude one another but they do not deny one another, and they may be recognized by those who do not share them. Every such object the perception of a subject, but none is "subjective" in the sense of being outside discourse or impervious to error. "Subjectivity" is not an ontological category.' -- Michael Oakshott, On History, p. 12

6 comments:

  1. Emile Benveniste seems to support that:

    ‘What then is the reality to which *I* or *you* refers? It is solely a “reality of discourse,” and this is a very strange thing. *I* cannot be defined except in terms of “locution,” not in terms of objects as a nominal sign is. *I* signifies “the person who is uttering the present instance of the discourse containing *I*.”’

    -- ‘The Nature of Pronouns’ in *Problems in General Linguistics* (1971), 218.

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  2. Emile Benveniste seems to support that:

    ‘What then is the reality to which *I* or *you* refers? It is solely a “reality of discourse,” and this is a very strange thing. *I* cannot be defined except in terms of “locution,” not in terms of objects as a nominal sign is. *I* signifies “the person who is uttering the present instance of the discourse containing *I*.”’

    -- ‘The Nature of Pronouns’ in *Problems in General Linguistics* (1971), 218.

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  3. So, would Oakshott be classified as a realist, a moderate realist, or a nominalist? Is there a work of his where he addresses these subjects?

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    1. Idealist. Experience and Its Modes.

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  4. I think I understand what Oakeshott means here and when he says that a "world outside experience is self-contradictory". Though is experience. That about right?

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    Replies
    1. And a world is a world *to* somebody.

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