Schrödinger and Objectification
Erwin Schrödinger circa 1915.
Erwin Schrödinger circa 1915.
Objectification is when we stop talking directly about personal perceptions, and shift to communal standards for describing experience. According to the Austrian-Irish physicist Erwin SchrödingerXlink.png, we do this because:

"No single man can make a distinction between the realm of his perceptions and the realm of things that cause it, since however detailed the knowledge he may have acquired about the whole story, the story is occurring only once not twice. The duplication is an allegory, suggested mainly by communication with other human beings … "1

So when trying to understand cause and effect relationships, objectifying a description frees us from depending on personal versions of the second hypothesis. Objectified narratives can be systematically adapted to suit personal sensory limitations (e.g. deafness or blindness). And objectified narratives can also be systematically extended to exploit whatever stimuli are presented by phenomena of interest, including perceptions outside the usual range (e.g. ultraviolet-photography or radio-astronomy). Schrödinger says that objectification is

"… a certain simplification which we adopt in order to master the infinitely intricate problem of nature. Without being aware of it and without being rigorously systematic about it we exclude the Subject of Cognizance from the domain of nature that we endeavour to understand. We step with our own person back into the part of an onlooker who does not belong to the world, which by this very procedure becomes an objective world. "2

Indeed objectification allows us to make enormous simplifications by using established community conventions. For example measurements can be calibrated, and discussions can use jargon. Objectification changes the style of descriptive narrative from using adjectives for identifying sensations, to using nouns for identifying particles. Schrödinger notes that objectification is

"… an inheritance from the ancient Greeks, from whom all our Western science and scientific thought has originated."3

In the next few articles we trace this legacy back to Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, and reconstruct his work by objectifying Anaxagorean sensations.

Here is a link to the most recent version of this content, including the full text.

favicon.jpeg Schrödinger and Objectification
Noun Definition
Objectification $\sf{\text{Adoption of communal standards to describe experience.}}$ 3-1
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