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qualitative - the way things look, feel, smell, etc. to an individual

Subjectivity is an integral part of our world, and aspects of our world are irreducibly mental. This does not mean that mental states are beyond human understanding -

  • there is no reason why we should not build a rational, scientific account of pains, thoughts and feelings without pretending that their subjective qualities do not exist
  • but it does mean that we cannot understand them by using the same methods that we use to understand purely objective phenomena - the methods of natural science.

The tools of natural science have been engineered to probe those situations, or objects, that can be totally analyzed from a third-person perspective. Mental states are not such situations; they cannot be analyzed fully from a third-person perspective because aspects of mental states can only be experienced from a first-person perspective.

Source: Malik, 2000, pp 339. See objectivesubject, and subjective.

Legitimacy of the subjective -- Concepts, frameworks, and categorizations all have some element of historicity and subjectivity. This includes concepts such as mind, self, social, science, capitalism, democracy, etc. The fact that a category is historically constructed, however, does not make it any less real. 'Capitalism' and 'democracy' are both historically constructed categories, but that does not make them illusory. It is just as possible, and profitable, to investigate objectively the nature of capitalism and of democracy as it is of genes or black holes. The same is true of mental and social phenomena. Those who wish to reduce all to the physical must demonstrate that the mental and social are illusory categories. In any case, if the 'mental' and 'social' are historical categories, so must be the 'natural.' ""Natural' just as fictional as are 'mental' and 'social.' (Malik, 2000, pp 342).