When something is subjective, it is based on personal opinion*. We are saying that there is no real external truth value, just opinions.
*The term subjective can mean different things, though they are mostly akin to this definition, and this is how it is being used in the article.
Preferences and Standards
We can see this reflected in music taste. Our personal preference is something that is true for us, and it wouldn’t make sense to say someone is wrong that they like a band or genre you don’t. We might be able to say “I don’t understand how you like this” or “I don’t get it, what do you like about this track?” but their preference isn’t wrong it is just different to your personal standard.
Equally, there are certain set standards within music. These are genres, technical ability, timing, performance etc. These standards do not change with our personal opinion.
If we focus on genre for a moment. If I was to say metal, drum and bass, trance, house, hip hop you would have a least a general idea of things like tempo, instruments, synths, vocals and the like you would find in any and all of these. There might be subgenres that would give you more specific ideas of the sound.
To that end, if we buy a metal CD and it is all drum and bass, we could say it is not good metal. We might subjectively like or dislike it, but the standard we were expecting was metal. Regardless of if we like it or not, it is not good metal.
The same can be said for technical ability. Someone might play an instrument perfectly, but we might not feel a good vibe from them, or like that particular genre. They would objectively be playing the instrument well, but it doesn’t fit in with our subjective preference.
Most things are far more complicated than subjective vs objective, and often there is a combination of the two.
But yes, our preferences may well be wholly subjective, there is no external truth value to them, just our opinion. Therefore there is no right or wrong with preference. I think we can get behind this, but what of other things?1 2 3 4 5
I’m Joe. I write under the name Davidian, not only because it is a Machine Head song I enjoy but because it was a game character I used to role-play that was always looking to better himself.
This is one of many things I hope to do with Answers In Reason.
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