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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Subjectivity \Sub`jec*tiv"i*ty\, n. The quality or state of being subjective; character of the subject.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1803, from subjective + -ity. Popularized in Kantian terminology; compare French subjectivité, German subjektivität.


n. 1 (context singulare tantum English) The state of being subjective. 2 A subjective thought or idea.


n. judgment based on individual personal impressions and feelings and opinions rather than external facts [syn: subjectiveness]


Subjectivity is a central philosophical concept, related to consciousness, agency, personhood, reality, and truth, which has been variously defined by sources. Three common definitions include that subjectivity is the quality or condition of:

  • Something being a subject, narrowly meaning an individual who possesses conscious experiences, such as perspectives, feelings, beliefs, and desires.
  • Something being a subject, broadly meaning an entity that has agency, meaning that it acts upon or wields power over some other entity (an object).
  • Some information, idea, situation, or physical thing considered true only from the perspective of a subject or subjects.

These various definitions of subjectivity are sometimes joined together in philosophy. The term is most commonly used as an explanation for that which influences, informs, and biases people's judgments about truth or reality; it is the collection of the perceptions, experiences, expectations, personal or cultural understanding, and beliefs specific to a person. It is often used in contrast to the term objectivity, which is described as a view of truth or reality which is free of any individual's influence.

Usage examples of "subjectivity".

The initial antinomy between the narrative of the author, which distorts the independent consciousness of the hero, and confession, which drowns the eternal and the universal in subjectivity, has been overcome.

Power, or forces of social oppression, function by imposing binary structures and totalizing logics on social subjectivities, repressing their difference.

In the following way an indubitable proof seems to be given of the correctness of the view concerning the subjectivity of the impressions obtained through the sense of warmth, and of the objectivity of thermometrical measurement.

This massive transvaluation of the values of social production and production of new subjectivities opened the way for a powerful transformation of labor power.

Paradoxically almost, the linguistic facility which makes Nabokov such an excellent game-player also encourages these readers, through its defamiliarizing effects, to think anew about artistry and reality, subjectivity and alterity, authority and autonomy.

The restructuring of production, from Fordism to post-Fordism, from modernization to postmodernization, was anticipated by the rise of a new subjectivity.

The challenge of postmodernity was posed primarily not by the enemy powers but by the new subjectivity of labor power and its new intellectual and communicative composition.

In imperial postmodernity big government has become merely the despotic means of domination and the totalitarian production of subjectivity.

Science, values, and subjectivity are being approached as so many aspects of the centauric being-in-the-world.

Putnam proposes, we are then presented with the challenge of placing specific assertions within a corresponding spectrum of subjectivity and objectivity.

May not VR, with its shifting subjectivities, its incompatible juxtapositions, its nomadic displacements, its piratical hackers, and its surprisingly intense netsex, become just such a space of messy, risky cultural innovation?

It completely ignored, almost totally forgot, its own interpersonal dimension, the dimension of dialogical and intersubjective communication, in favor of the merely monological and objectifying mode, which is also a very hyperagentic mode, in that the communions of inter subjectivity are ditched in favor of the monologues of individual power and agency.

Subjectivity is the characteristic of perspectives and biographies, the characteristic of giving the view of the world from a certain place.

Feynman exemplifies the crispness of thought in physics as compared with the mushy subjectivity of fields such as ecology or climate research.

Deleuze (following Bergson) and Morse Peckham (following the American pragmatists) both suggest that subjectivity is located in the gap between stimulus and response: it is the indeterminacy, the space of randomization, the temporal delay in the sensorimotor apparatus by virtue of which the latter is no longer a linear function and predictable consequence of the former.