April 30, 2012 Leave a comment
Objectivity is a respected ideal aspired for by everyone who wishes to know the truth. Academics, scientists, reporters, authors, therapists, etc. all make an effort to remove all biases and shed all personal paradigms to get a clear vision of the objective truth. The question is: can anyone truly become objective?
This question is not new and is often discusses in academics and professional ethics discussions. The discussions always speak about ingrained biases of identity – ingrained into us by education and upbringing and by nature as well. People fairly argue that gender, racial, and religious biases are extremely difficult to overcome completely. However, there is still one more basic bias that we almost completely and most always (except maybe the biologists) completely overlook.
This most basic bias is the human bias. We are humans and bound by our physical forms. We can only experience the world through our five senses. There is very little we can understand that goes beyond sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste. That is why to study the invisible parts of physics we have to make them visible through computers that monitor colliders, electron microscopes, telescopes, etc. Everything we analyze, study, consider, believe is formed on foundational knowledge which is formed most predominantly if not completely by the five senses. So, we are not simply physically bound but intellectually bound as well. Why do we have difficulty imagining non-earth-based life or matter-dense forms? We cannot truly understand the world as “seen” by light rays or photons. We cannot understand the world as experienced by protons, neutrons, or electrons. In essence, we cannot understand the world outside the physical human paradigm. So how objective is our knowledge? How objective and thereby complete is our science?
Here is when most people would respond – so what? What’s the point of talking about a bias that we all share and can do nothing about? We all have the same limitations, the same handicap if you will, so it is as good as non-existent. We cannot remove this bias so what’s the point in discussing it? The problems with these arguments are: when one says “we all share” in the first argument, the definition of all includes only humans and not all of creation and when you are trying to completely understand all of creation then well the definition of all that includes only humans is not sufficient to remove the negative effects of the physical human bias. And secondly, the belief that we cannot move past this bias is also wrong.
The Hindu and Swaminarayan belief in becoming atma and detaching oneself from body-conscience can help alleviate if not obliterate the physical human bias. The rishis of the past described cosmic events with details that are being confirmed through modern science today. They were able to do that, they were able to understand things beyond their physical limitations and describe those events because they are worked to overcome the physical human bias, which we may choose to call dehbhav or body-consciousness, and move towards the state of being atmarup – soul-conscious. They realized those many ages ago that our science and our understanding of the world could not be truly objective and complete without shedding the physical human bias. Not only did they realize it, they propagated a lifestyle and religion that pushed everyone to move from dehbhav to atmabhav from identifying oneself as the body to identifying oneself as the soul to overcome this bias and to become truly objective in our search for the Truth.