Julio Huato juliohuato at SPAMhotmail.com
Mon Jun 4 16:19:30 MDT 2001

Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez, a philosopher, uses the term 'objectification' to
refer to social realities that are independent from an individual's
subjectivity (Art and Society in Marx).  There are many shades of
objectivity.  I find his approach useful and consistent with Marx's
approach.  These examples would illustrate his views (to the extent I
remember them correctly).

Imagine a star or, better yet, wild wheat -- untouched by humans.  It is
'objective' in the sense that its existence is independent of everyone's
subjectivity.  It's a pure product of nature. [I realize, strictly speaking,
nature cannot be completely de-humanized in our thoughts.   Even the
furthest star, to the extent that it's an object of human contemplation
fails the test.  But the physical sciences as such would not exist without
mentally detaching ourselves from nature.]

Now, consider bread.  Its use value is an attribute that depends on the
physical properties of bread (its flavor, nutritional properties, etc.).  So
it is 'objective'.  But it also depends on the existence of a specific human
need, which would be fulfilled with bread.  So, it's not as 'objective' as
wild wheat, which doesn't need humans to exist.  Use values depend on the
needs, appetites, or subjective whims of individuals.

Then, consider the price of bread.  That's the expression of bread's
commercial value, which is independent of the subjectivity of individuals
who are immersed in a commodity society.  This is consistent with Marx's
view of the 'objectivity' of value as "purely social" -- i.e., an
'objectivity' that hinges on the specific economic structure in question.

Also, categories like class, state, etc. are 'objective' in this 'social'
sense. It seems to me that Andrew may have something like this in mind when
he talks about race.  Genetics is not the only way race can be relatively
hardwired in human societies.
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