To most humans, the most important object is ‘self’. Humans have always been interested in understanding themselves and their relationship with their environment. Understanding the environment is important to survive and thrive in the present situation and plan for the future. History of civilization in every part of the world is filled with approaches, or should we say techniques, to help humans in achieving the best in their life. This desire resulted in scientific approaches to understanding the environment and the self. In fact all basic sciences are related to understanding the environment and developing technology to improve the environment. The popularity of scientific approaches in the last few centuries is due to their success in understanding environment resulting in models that could be used for prediction.
A set of basic assumptions are used to justify a scientific method
(1) that there is an objective reality shared by all rational observers;
(2) that this objective reality is governed by natural laws;
(3) that these laws can be discovered by means of systematic observation and experimentation.
Clearly, objectivity is most important in science and is accomplished by data collection process through experimentation. Most scientific methods emphasized design of experiments to collect data under controlled conditions to discover natural laws. The disciplines where this was possible advanced rapidly. In other important disciplines, technology was needed to record observations. One such area that many of us are familiar with is medical imaging and other diagnostic techniques. These techniques are allowing observation of objective reality that goes beyond human experience based on natural sensors that we have.
Many scientific fields evolved and are now reasonable well advanced to understand our environment. An area that is close to all of us, but remains very subjective is ‘self’. We don’t have scientific approaches to understand self. And this is true almost at every level; our social interactions, our body, and our emotional reactions. Surprisingly, the most important object of interest to us, the self, still remains the least understood. And this has been true for good reasons. However, soon this may change and that will change quite a few things.
Historically we have gone through the following phases in our efforts to understanding self: anecdotal, subjective diary, quantified self. Lately there has been a lot of talk about quantified self. Soon we will enter the most scientific stage, the objective self. We have been moving increasing towards deeper scientific approaches, but were not ready to adopt scientific approaches to studying self. Now we are ready. In next few posts, we briefly discuss emerging thoughts and approaches towards objective self.