subjectivism


#1

Why are we taught to disregard our own subjective experiences and conclusions about faith and morals and to put all our stock into the Popes subjective experiences and conclusions? Does this not teach us to violate our own conscience and integrity?

We are taught that we are becoming our own god if we go with our own subjective experience. Aren’t we making the Pope into a god by following his?


#2

[quote="ejp123, post:1, topic:294788"]
Why are we taught to disregard our own subjective experiences and conclusions about faith and morals and to put all our stock into the Popes subjective experiences and conclusions? Does this not teach us to violate our own conscience and integrity?

We are taught that we are becoming our own god if we go with our own subjective experience. Aren't we making the Pope into a god by following his?

[/quote]

The problem is with your premise. We are not told to put our stock in the Pope's subjective experiences and conclusions. We're told that good and evil are objective things, not subjective ones, and that they can be determined by honest analysis independent of the political or religious views of the observer.

Right and wrong are right and wrong. They aren't different from person to person or place to place (though circumstances sometimes change the outcome -- e.g., entering my house without my permission is generally wrong, but not if you're rescuing someone while it's on fire).

In Catholic theology, you're expected to form your conscience properly and to follow it. But that is not the same thing as "figure out what I want to do / what I want to happen and then do that;" you have to form your conscience properly. So, for example, the kids might want ice cream for dinner and insist that their consciences say that's proper dinner fare; but they are required to listen to, and obey, their parents, who are requiring them to eat their vegetables.

The issue you're raising is the difference between moral relativism and moral absolutism. Moral relativists insist that right and wrong differ from person to person, place to place, and time to time. Moral absolutists teach that right and wrong do not differ.

Hope this helps.


#3

[quote="ejp123, post:1, topic:294788"]
Why are we taught to disregard our own subjective experiences and conclusions about faith and morals and to put all our stock into the Popes subjective experiences and conclusions? Does this not teach us to violate our own conscience and integrity?

We are taught that we are becoming our own god if we go with our own subjective experience. Aren't we making the Pope into a god by following his?

[/quote]

What about subjective thinking and objective thinking regarding the truths of Divine Revelation found in the Catholic Church?


#4

[quote="Godfollower, post:2, topic:294788"]
The problem is with your premise. We are not told to put our stock in the Pope's subjective experiences and conclusions.

[/quote]

And to expand upon this, the beliefs of the Catholic Church are not the Pope's subjective conclusions or experiences. Our beliefs are formed from interpretation of Sacred Scripture based on what Sacred Tradition tells us on how to interpret it. This is beyond the Pope's subjective views and comes all the way from the Apostles, who in turn got their information from Jesus. The Pope is the protector of doctrine, not the creator of doctrine.


#5

[quote="Godfollower, post:2, topic:294788"]
The problem is with your premise. We are not told to put our stock in the Pope's subjective experiences and conclusions. We're told that good and evil are objective things, not subjective ones, and that they can be determined by honest analysis independent of the political or religious views of the observer.

Right and wrong are right and wrong. They aren't different from person to person or place to place (though circumstances sometimes change the outcome -- e.g., entering my house without my permission is generally wrong, but not if you're rescuing someone while it's on fire).

In Catholic theology, you're expected to form your conscience properly and to follow it. But that is not the same thing as "figure out what I want to do / what I want to happen and then do that;" you have to form your conscience properly. So, for example, the kids might want ice cream for dinner and insist that their consciences say that's proper dinner fare; but they are required to listen to, and obey, their parents, who are requiring them to eat their vegetables.

The issue you're raising is the difference between moral relativism and moral absolutism. Moral relativists insist that right and wrong differ from person to person, place to place, and time to time. Moral absolutists teach that right and wrong do not differ.

Hope this helps.

[/quote]

+1 :thumbsup:

From the catechism:

1776 "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."47

This goes on to discuss that we are NOT following the Pope's "subjective experience", but rather the divinely revealed moral law. If we were merely following subjective experiences, we would not expect the sublime continuity we have seen in moral teaching. The church teaches nothing of the sort that we are to reject our moral conscience in favor of others'...


#6

[quote="bzkoss236, post:4, topic:294788"]
And to expand upon this, the beliefs of the Catholic Church are not the Pope's subjective conclusions or experiences. Our beliefs are formed from interpretation of Sacred Scripture based on what Sacred Tradition tells us on how to interpret it. This is beyond the Pope's subjective views and comes all the way from the Apostles, who in turn got their information from Jesus. The Pope is the protector of doctrine, not the creator of doctrine.

[/quote]

It could easily be said that the interpretation of the scriptures is the popes and bishops subjective interpretation. You can't deny that, because it is true. The question is, why should someone put aside their subjective experience of right and wrong, in preference for the subjective experience or interpretation of another man? Is that not a denial of their own conscience?


#7

[quote="jimmy, post:6, topic:294788"]
It could easily be said that the interpretation of the scriptures is the popes and bishops subjective interpretation. You can't deny that, because it is true. The question is, why should someone put aside their subjective experience of right and wrong, in preference for the subjective experience or interpretation of another man? Is that not a denial of their own conscience?

[/quote]

Their personal interpretations are their subjective interpretation, sure. I'm sure that there are MANY popes who held positions which were completely incorrect... PERSONALLY.

The point of the magisterium is that only those positions (subjective interpretations or otherwise) which are objectively TRUE will be allowed by the Holy Spirity to be taught. A subjective interpretation does not make something an objective falsehood.

And that highlights the nature of the magisterium: it is the seal of the Holy Spirit that assures us of the objective truth and reality of Catholic teaching, not the authority of the person of the Pope in himself.


#8

[quote="jimmy, post:6, topic:294788"]
It could easily be said that the interpretation of the scriptures is the popes and bishops subjective interpretation. You can't deny that, because it is true. The question is, why should someone put aside their subjective experience of right and wrong, in preference for the subjective experience or interpretation of another man? Is that not a denial of their own conscience?

[/quote]

I can deny it, because it is not true.

[INDENT]Scripture: The LORD said, thou shalt not kill.

The Catholic Church: That means murder. It does not mean that it's a sin to run over a child by mistake because you did not see him, or to kill in self-defense so long as the force used was proportional to the threat, etc.[/INDENT]

That is not a subjective interpretation. It is an objective interpretation based on centuries of philosophical and theological study.

And the Catholic Church's interpretation is objectively correct.

In any event, listening to people of wisdom and experience is not denying your own conscience; it is forming it properly. You don't get to decide what you want to be right and wrong, then search the Scriptures to find a passage that could be taken to support your position, and then conclude that your position is correct. You figure out what the moral question is, then figure out the correct answer by doing the following: search the Scriptures on the issue, pray about it, see what the Church has to say about it, consult learned and respected people about it, read what the philosophers and theologians have to say, and arrive at a proper conclusion.

At the end of that process, you know what the proper answer to the particular question is. You have then formed your conscience, and it becomes your duty to follow that conscience -- even if you don't like the answer.


#9

[quote="Actaeon, post:7, topic:294788"]
Their personal interpretations are their subjective interpretation, sure. I'm sure that there are MANY popes who held positions which were completely incorrect... PERSONALLY.

The point of the magisterium is that only those positions (subjective interpretations or otherwise) which are objectively TRUE will be allowed by the Holy Spirity to be taught. A subjective interpretation does not make something an objective falsehood.

And that highlights the nature of the magisterium: it is the seal of the Holy Spirit that assures us of the objective truth and reality of Catholic teaching, not the authority of the person of the Pope in himself.

[/quote]

Pardon me. The Pope would use objective interpretations first.


#10

There is always a subjective in it, whether it is the pope, the Church, or me. The fact that there is interpretation means that there is a subject/object relationship, and so there is both a subject and an object. It is the subjective interpretation (and that subjective interpretation is the result of a historical experience) of the Church that 'though shall not kill' really means 'though shall not murder'. To deny the subjective historical experience of the Catholic Church shows a lack of knowledge of the Catholic Church. How do you explain the differences in theology between the Romans, Byzantines, Maronites, Melchites, Chaldeans, Copts, and Ethiopians?

The statements of the pope and of the bishops are subjective, and it can not be denied. They are made by specific people at a specific time in history, under specific historical conditions. The pope and bishops each have a unique experience of what they are talking about. The fact that experience is unique, so will interpretation.


#11

Regarding the OP's post. The only way you would come to the conclusion that you should submit your will to the teachings of the Catholic Church is if your subjective experience leads you to accept that the Catholic Church is true. If it doesn't, then you will never submit to the Catholic Church. It is that simple. Asking why I should submit to the Catholic teaching is pointless; either you believe the CC to be true or you don't.


#12

You figure out what the moral question is, then figure out the correct answer by doing the following: search the Scriptures on the issue, pray about it, see what the Church has to say about it, consult learned and respected people about it, read what the philosophers and theologians have to say, and arrive at a proper conclusion.

This quote above says to look outside yourself. I agree we should look to proper resources outside of us for guidance. However, this suggestion leaves out personal experience. Why does our personal experience not count for anything but these things do?


#13

[quote="grannymh, post:9, topic:294788"]
Pardon me. The Pope would use objective interpretations first.

[/quote]

There is no such thing as "objective interpretation". There are subjective interpretations which happen to align with objective reality, and there are subjective interpretations which do not.

If what you were saying was true, then no pope would ever have held an incorrect opinion about scripture ever (if he was protected from any form of subjective interpretation).


#14

[quote="jimmy, post:10, topic:294788"]
There is always a subjective in it, whether it is the pope, the Church, or me. The fact that there is interpretation means that there is a subject/object relationship, and so there is both a subject and an object. It is the subjective interpretation (and that subjective interpretation is the result of a historical experience) of the Church that 'though shall not kill' really means 'though shall not murder'. To deny the subjective historical experience of the Catholic Church shows a lack of knowledge of the Catholic Church. How do you explain the differences in theology between the Romans, Byzantines, Maronites, Melchites, Chaldeans, Copts, and Ethiopians?

The statements of the pope and of the bishops are subjective, and it can not be denied. They are made by specific people at a specific time in history, under specific historical conditions. The pope and bishops each have a unique experience of what they are talking about. The fact that experience is unique, so will interpretation.

[/quote]

Just curious. What do you mean by subjective interpretation and objective interpretation?


#15

[quote="ejp123, post:12, topic:294788"]
You figure out what the moral question is, then figure out the correct answer by doing the following: search the Scriptures on the issue, pray about it, see what the Church has to say about it, consult learned and respected people about it, read what the philosophers and theologians have to say, and arrive at a proper conclusion.

This quote above says to look outside yourself. I agree we should look to proper resources outside of us for guidance. However, this suggestion leaves out personal experience. Why does our personal experience not count for anything but these things do?

[/quote]

I don't think the intent is to leave out personal experience. It is impossible to disregard personal experience, because your interpretation of those sources is going to be colored by your personal experience. Modern philosophy and theology emphasize the place of the subject and his historical experience.

That doesn't mean that objective truth is disregarded, but only that we each have a subjective experience of it. It may be true that you have to submit to the teachings of the pope, but it is through your experience that you will come to that conclusion.


#16

[quote="Actaeon, post:13, topic:294788"]
There is no such thing as "objective interpretation". There are subjective interpretations which happen to align with objective reality, and there are subjective interpretations which do not.

If what you were saying was true, then no pope would ever have held an incorrect opinion about scripture ever (if he was protected from any form of subjective interpretation).

[/quote]

Of course there is objective interpretation. Objective interpretation refers to the particular method being uesed, Subjective interpretation refers to the particular method being used.

Just curious. What is your definition of objective and subjective methods for interpreting or evaluating?


#17

[quote="grannymh, post:14, topic:294788"]
Just curious. What do you mean by subjective interpretation and objective interpretation?

[/quote]

I never used the term 'objective interpretation' because it is a meaningless term. It's self contradictory anyway. How can an interpretation be objective? By its very nature it is subjective.

I simply mentioned the subject/object relationship and the fact that all interpretation is done by a subject, so it is subjective. There is a historical experience behind every person who has ever opened the bible, and their interpretation will be colored by that experience.

It doesn't there is no objective truth in the bible or that you can't know objective truth, but simply that each person has unique and subjective perspective on that truth.


#18

[quote="jimmy, post:17, topic:294788"]
I never used the term 'objective interpretation' because it is a meaningless term. It's self contradictory anyway. How can an interpretation be objective? By its very nature it is subjective.

I simply mentioned the subject/object relationship and the fact that all interpretation is done by a subject, so it is subjective. There is a historical experience behind every person who has ever opened the bible, and their interpretation will be colored by that experience.

It doesn't there is no objective truth in the bible or that you can't know objective truth, but simply that each person has unique and subjective perspective on that truth.

[/quote]

Have you ever interpreted a price tag on a car? Looking at the price tag on anything is objective interpretation of the dollar amount wanted for that item. Taking one's umbrella is due to an objective interpretation of the weather report. On the other hand, some people would go by the pain in their joints which would be subjective interpretation. Maybe I have a broader understanding of objective and subjective thinking and reasoning. :shrug:


#19

[quote="grannymh, post:18, topic:294788"]
Have you ever interpreted a price tag on a car? Looking at the price tag on anything is objective interpretation of the dollar amount wanted for that item. Taking one's umbrella is due to an objective interpretation of the weather report. On the other hand, some people would go by the pain in their joints which would be subjective interpretation. Maybe I have a broader understanding of objective and subjective thinking and reasoning. :shrug:

[/quote]

Of course its subjective. I might interpret that dollar amount and say, 'that is expensive'. Where as you might say "that is cheap". Two very different interpretations of the same object.

Same goes for the whether. You might see that it is going to rain and say, "O poo, I need an umbrella":). I might say, "golly gee, I love a good thunderstorm."

Sure, everyone will read the same words when they read the statement "the meek shall inherit the earth", but that doesn't mean they will interpret it the same way. What does meak mean? What is it to be meak? What is meant by the earth? Is it analogical or metaphorical, or is it literal? Who the person is, and their experience is going to come into play when they interpret the statement.


#20

[quote="jimmy, post:19, topic:294788"]
Of course its subjective. I might interpret that dollar amount and say, 'that is expensive'. Where as you might say "that is cheap". Two very different interpretations of the same object.

[/quote]

May I suggest that one interprets the dollar amount as the number of dollars one has to give to the sales person. Expensive or cheap, legitimate evaluations, refers to the dollar amount on the tag which would be an objective evaluation. However, expensive or cheap can also be a gut reaction which would be subjective.

Same goes for the whether. You might see that it is going to rain and say, "O poo, I need an umbrella":). I might say, "golly gee, I love a good thunderstorm."

One of the meanings of objective is that the information exists outside of oneself. The weather report itself is not a part of person's natural being. Subjective means that the information comes from within a person's mind, emotions, memory, etc.

The key to the difference between objective interpretation and subjective interpretation is the location of the information one is receiving or reviewing. I probably have a broader understanding of the word interpretation which is most likely why we are on different pages. Chalk that up to my old neighborhood.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.