In this article, I would like to talk about what subjective truth is. In a previous article, I mentioned that my initial issue is that I find it difficult to feel connected to the subjective truth in our daily work.
My recognition of issues vol.2: Lack of connection with subjective truth in daily work
In my last article, I talked about my awareness of the challenges: the bias for the visible. This time, I would like to…
What is subjective truth in the first place? What should we do to explore our own subjective truth? This is what I would like to discuss from now on.
Subjective Truth is the North Star and Compass
First, I would like to think about what subjective truth is.
Definition of subjective truth (Ochiai’s definition)
An ideal that makes life worth living for us, a purpose for living that is unique to us. Or, a sense of direction here and now that leads to those ideals and purposes.
The most important thing about subjective truth is that it is “the truth for one,” and is different from objective truth, which is correct for everyone. What is good for you, what you enjoy, what you want to aim for, and what makes you happy are not necessarily the same as what the world says is good, what you should aim for, and the things which are considered happy.
A subjective truth is something that you want to pursue over a long period of time. Or, the subjective truth is something that brings you a sense of happiness and fulfillment when you are immersed in it, connected to it, or looking at it.
To live in subjective truth means to live with a sense of connection to the truth, purpose, and ideal that you want to seek for yourself. This originated from Kierkegaard’s thought that it is not the truth for everyone (objective truth), but the ideal that makes life worth living for oneself, and one’s unique purpose in life (subjective truth) that is important.
(Soren Kierkegaard Statue in the Royal Library Garden,Copenhagen, Denmark)
If I were to express the subjective truth more clearly and metaphorically, I could say that the subjective truth is the North Star. When you think of your life as a voyage, the North Star points you in the direction you want to go on your voyage. Even if your location changes along the way, or even if time passes, the North Star shows you the direction you want to go, which is the essence of the subjective truth.
To put it another way, we can say that subjective truth is a compass. As above, when you think of your life as a voyage, the compass points you in the direction you want to go on your voyage. Although it is a metaphor similar to the North Star, the compass has the nuance of showing you the direction of the here and now, which direction you go at this moment. This is also a good expression of the essence of subjective truth.
I think it depends on one’ s personality type whether one is more comfortable with the idea of the North Star or the idea of a compass. If you are the type of person who wants to have a general idea of where you want to be and what you want to do in the future, you may be more comfortable with the idea of the North Star, and if you are the type of person who wants to respond flexibly to the environment and circumstances of the moment, you may be more comfortable with the idea of the compass. Whichever way you look at it, I hope you will be able to see it in your own way, whichever you feel comfortable with.
Encounter with the term “subjective truth”
It was in 2008 that I first encountered the term “subjective truth”. When my wife’s grandfather passed away, her father-in-law (my wife’s father) told her, her brother, and me about subjective truth.
My wife’s grandfather was what we call a “free spirit”. He ran a dry goods store, but his day job was to procure eggs early in the morning, leaving his wife (my wife’s grandmother) to take care of the store for the day, and he devoted himself to his favorite activities of photography (and videography in his later years) and cheering for the Yomiuri Giants, which is a professional baseball team in Japan.
When his son (my wife’s father) got a job, he closed the dry goods store, and from then on, he spent his time taking photos and videos and living his life with the Yomiuri Giants. He also videotaped and edited my wife’s and my wedding ceremony, which is still in our house as a 7–8 volume VHS movie.
When my wife’s grandfather passed away in 2008, I still remember as if it were yesterday what my father-in-law told my wife, her brother and me.
“My grandfather was a man who lived every day doing what he really loved, shooting videos and cheering for the Giants. You too shall live a life of subjective truth, just like your grandfather.”
As my father-in-law is a scholar, he also gave us a paper quoting Kierkegaard’s book as the original source of subjective truth. From that moment on, I started using the term subjective truth. Whenever I talk about the mission of Alue Corporation or my own dreams, I use the term subjective truth, and it has become a word that expresses and embodies the core of who I am.
My own subjective truth
I would like to talk about what kind of subjective truth I myself would like to live in. However, as a premise, I believe that subjective truth is like a mass of inner energy, and not all of it can be verbalized. Therefore, the moment I try to express it in words, I will only be able to capture one aspect of it, but I will try to put it into words as purely as possible.
If I were to express my own subjective truth as purely as possible, it would be “a sense of unity with the great through the pursuit of essence. This is the source of my energy. Physics, which I have loved from elementary school to graduate school (and still do), has been a source of energy for me in terms of pursuing the essence of the truth of world phenomena.
“A sense of unity with the great” is the image of being able to touch, view, and contribute to the discovery and realization of something big (e.g., physical laws, social infrastructure, etc.) that can be applied to the entire world.
The field that embodies this “sense of unity with the great” through the pursuit of the essence” had been physics from elementary school to graduate school, while education has been my field since I started my business.
As I mentioned in this article, a more concrete expression of my own subjective truth at this point in time would be “to contribute to a society where there are many people living in subjective truth”. As a vision for the future, if I were to express this more broadly, it would be “to build a global educational infrastructure that realizes SDG4 (quality education for all).”
【My own subjective truth (expressed with the utmost purity)】
A sense of unity with the great through the pursuit of essence
【Concrete expressions of my subjective truth】
▼To contribute to a society where there are many people living in subjective truth
▼(To express this more broadly,)
To build a global educational infrastructure that realizes SDG4 (quality education for all)
As for the level of abstraction and concreteness at which to express or verbalize the subjective truth, I think it is enough for each person to be comfortable. The most important point is to be able to feel the connection with the subjective truth, so it is better to make it conscious and verbalized at a level where you can feel it.
Is it a subjective truth?
There are things that I want to be, things that I want to accomplish, things that I want to keep doing, things that I enjoy doing, but is this a subjective truth?
Some of you may be asking yourself these questions. Subjective truth is simply what seems to be true to you from the bottom of your heart, but there are many people who are not always sure if they really feel that way.
As a premise, let me confirm that subjective truth is not something that always has to be clear. Although subjective truths can increase our sense of fulfillment and happiness when we can consciously feel connected to them, the fact that we cannot clearly articulate them does not mean that we cannot feel fulfilled or that our sense of happiness will decrease.
Rather, it is not something that can be immediately put into words, but rather something that will become clearer and clearer as we explore it through our own trial and error and experience.
Based on these premises, there are several questions to ask yourself to see if what you are feeling now (called “it”) is close to your subjective truth.
▼When you are able to connect with “it”, does your inner energy come out? (Outpouring of energy)
▼Do you want to stay connected to “it” even if there are people around you who are against it? (Initiative)
▼Has “it” happened repeatedly (in different forms) in the past? Is it something that can be expected to happen again and again in the future? (Length of time axis)
▼Even if someone other than yourself is connected to it or realizes it, can you be content just to look at it? (Detachment from the ego)
The more you can say “yes” to these questions from the bottom of your heart, the closer you can say it is to your subjective truth. On the other hand, if you cannot say “yes” to something, you should not assume that it is not your subjective truth, but rather that there is a point to explore further.
Subjective truth is not something that is all verbalized at one moment. It is more like a gradual exploration of the source from which one’s energy comes. Therefore, even if you don’t answer “yes” to all of the above questions, if you do answer “yes” to some of them, then you are at the beginning of your journey to explore your subjective truth.
Here are the quests of the day. (If you’d like, please share your thoughts in the comments.)
・Which is more comfortable for you: to see the subjective truth as a direction to aim for, like the North Star, or to see it as a sense of direction here and now, like a compass?
・Which of the above four questions would be good to keep in mind when exploring your subjective truth?