Objectivity is Not Neutrality

I came across a paragraph in Thomas Haskell’s Objectivity is Not Neutrality that I think bears on so much more than merely historical studies. The concept that objectivity is not neutrality can and should apply to may matters of judgement:

What I champion under the rubric “objectivity” is not neutrality or passionlessness but that “vital minimum of ascetic self-discipline that enables a person to do such things as abandon wishful thinking, assimilate bad news, and discard pleasing interpretations that cannot pass elementary tests of evidence and logic.” Most important, objectivity requires the ability to “suspend or bracket one’s own perceptions long enough to enter sympathetically into the alien and possibly repugnant perspectives of rival thinkers.” These mental acts require a degree of detachment, an ability to achieve some distance from one’s own spontaneous perceptions and convictions. But they do not require indifference. (Haskell, 60)

Wise words that we would do well to listen to.


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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