‘Subjectivity’ is a politically-loaded term—coined in early modernity (from Latin)—which originally pertained to the condition of a person as subject to a lord.
The Greek notion of psyche was something else: a conception of Self (which I discussed briefly, a while ago) or soul. I refer to selfality, self (and selfidentity), self/[inter]personal difference, nebulous Self, and altogether a differentiated conception of oneSelf. Homogenous notions of subjectivity are relatively simplistic (as well as ideologically tinged).
A fair story about how ‘subjectivity’ became naturalized in philosophy as a synonym for ‘self’ could be part of historizing the “colonization of the lifeworld” (which Habermas extensively discussed—though he didn’t overcome ‘subjectivity’, inasmuch as he understands individuation relative to “intersubjectivity” [ch. 7 here] and understands communicative action “intersubjective”ly, rather than—as I do—interpersonally [and inter-psychally]).
One might presume that infants are born as wholly subject to what’s around, but that’s not true. Inasmuch as there is intentionality—and one responds to phenomena in receptiveness—one is enacting, not merely being behaviorally subject. Self-enhancive interest is integral to human being. Throughout individuation, on the way to prevailing autonomy, which is also mature (i.e., fairly appreciative, ethical, etc.), engagement with surrounds happens on a continuum, from being prevalently subjective (early childhood especially) to prevalently autonomous (sometimes, often not).
One is born with already individuating potential for self-oriented action following from interests of action which one may prefer over others’ preferences; and, from that, one can grow to appreciate differentiated autonomy (which allows more flexibility than lack of differentiated S/s/p-efficacy).
Reliance on notions of subjectivity conceals such differences (and conceals one’s potentially-prevailing engagement of maturation and individuation) which is integral to autonomously being oneSelf. Inquiry in terms of homogenous subjectivity (as if synonymous with a conception of self) may systematically conceal appreciability of potential for differentiated autonomy of oneSelf.
When I wrote recently that “constitutivity is ultimately Self-positing in terms of the understanding of constitutivity” (“deep heights…”), I had in mind a developmental relativity of understanding, which may move beyond its implied self-understanding of itSelf as “constitutivity” through learning and self-reflectivity. At a given level of development, that “which…constitutivity can disclose about itself[, as ordinarily understood, is] relative to one’s best, most lucid capability (capable Self) for reflective articulation for and to oneself; or as understandable Self mirroring.” Self-reflective learning may grow to appreciate when phenomenality is merely or importantly Self mirroring.
That self-reflectivity can be therapeutic inasmuch as difficulty with managing the S/s difference (common to “personality” disorders) is externalized in the therapeutic alliance for the sake of new framing (or for re-framing of presumed understanding) of the difference, typically as learning to better distinguish what pertains to oneSelf and what pertains to another person.
Also common to personality disorders is difficulty managing the self/[inter]personal difference, e.g., in co-dependent, narcissistic, and “borderline” difficulties.
The above begins a focus on the notion of oneSelf which I want to develop much further someday:
- playing with details of the etymology of ‘subject’.
- focusing on subjectivity as historical notion, distinguishable from subjectivism as generalizing policy about selves.
- examining differences between teen subjectivism (or obsessive sociocentrism), which (at best) is outgrown; and developmental retardation of that as adult orientation toward unquestioned “authority.”
- distinguishing self-enhancive interest (healthy egocentrism) from maladaptive self-possession (egoism).
- examining how independence of oneself may outgrow normative adulthood (retained in s/p-differentiality) in proteany (embodied in S/s/p-differential efficacy) which may become very creative (if not originary).
- teaching astute self-reflectivity, as part of astute thinking (which is not the same as teaching how to be critical of oneself).
- exploring the manifold, protean potential of conceptions of self that are exemplarily expressed by The Oxford Handbook of the Self.