Objectivity and Altruism
The narrative of scientific epistemology draws the struggles and the triumphs of the quest for absolute truth without divine assistance. The problem of objectivity was the problem that worried Karl Pearson and Walter Pater. The dying-to-know story is at the heart of the value system by which Western epistemology and Western ethics get their official sanction. The official story of dying to know is always compromised and complicated by the narrative that haunts it and the narratives that reenact it. The metaphor of “dying” is precisely chosen because it will not allow the blurring of margins that is the normal and appropriate condition of human thought and language. The altruistic politics of postmodern theory and postcolonial openness depend on the possibility of something like objectivity, the transcendence of the limits of the perceiving and desiring self.
Keywords: scientific epistemology, objectivity, Karl Pearson, Walter Pater, dying to know, Western epistemology, altruistic politics, postmodern theory, dying