Objectifying ourselves and others

What does it mean to objectify someone, whether it’s ourselves or others? Can we objectify more than people or living beings? What are some of the remedies? And what’s the ultimate remedy?

TYPICAL DEFINITION OF OBJECTIFICATION

When we talk about objectification, we typically mean objectifying another person. We see this another person primarily as an object, and the implication is that we see the other as an object to use one way or another. We overlook their own experience of themselves, their thoughts and feelings, and that they are far more than their body or our ideas about them.

This can happen in an obvious way, whenever we judge or want to use someone mainly due to their body and what we see. We reduce the person to their body.

If we look more closely, we may find that we do this in other ways as well. We reduce someone to an idea and assume that idea is correct and all they are. We reduce the person to an object in our mind.

OBJECTIFYING OTHERS

When we make another into an object in our mind, and forget that they are like us with their own thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants, it allows us to treat them in ways we otherwise couldn’t.

It allows us to judge others based on their body, appearance, gender, ethnicity, age, and even species. And it allows us to treat them in ways we ourselves would not want to be treated.

OBJECTIFYING OURSELVES AND THE WORLD

Objectification goes beyond objectifying others.

The reality is that if we do this with others, it’s because we already do this with ourselves. Even without noticing, we may assume we are this body, and that our ideas about ourselves are mostly accurate and the more-or-less whole picture.

And if we do this with ourselves and others, we also do it with situations, life, and all of existence. We assume what we see is more or less all there is, that our ideas about something are accurate, and that our ideas are more or less the full picture. None of that is necessarily true.

OBJECTIFICATION IS INEVITABLE

Objectification is inevitable, to a certain extent. We literally see others as an object, and we tend to assume that our ideas about someone are more-or-less accurate and more-or-less the whole picture. It’s all we have to go by, and we don’t have information about more.

It’s also inevitable that we do this, to some extent, with ourselves and situations. We assume what we see is more-or-less the whole picture, that our ideas are mostly accurate, and that our ideas about something or someone are more-or-less the full picture.

THE UPSIDES AND LIMITS OF OBJECTIFICATION

We need mental representations – of others, ourselves, situations, and life – to orient and function in the world. To a certain extent, we need to objectify in order to function.

At the same time, what we see is just a small part of what’s there. Our ideas about someone or a situation may be more or less accurate in a conventional sense, and sometimes they are way off. And all of us, and any situation, is much more than and different from any ideas we have about it.

SOME WAYS TO REMEDY THIS

What’s the remedy?

The first step is to be aware that this is happening. If we relate to another person, we can remind ourselves that the other person is like us. They have their own thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants. They are far more than their body, our ideas about them may not be accurate, and they are far more than any ideas we have about them.

Most of us have experienced being objectified by others. Someone may have seen us as mostly our body, or they may have believed their ideas about us – even if these were not very accurate or the whole picture. When I relate to someone, they may experience me doing this. We all experience ourselves as more than and different from how others see us.

We can also examine this more systematically, through identifying and investigating our ideas about others, ourselves, and the world. Here, we may get to recognize our ideas more clearly, see that they are ideas, and recognize their limits. (Inquiry.)

THE ESSENCE OF OBJECTIFICATION

The essence of objectification is to take anyone or anything – ourselves, others, situations, life – as an object.

As soon as we take our ideas about someone or something as true, we objectify. We make what the ideas refer to into an object in our mind, and we solidify that object in our mind. We tell us it’s mostly or completely how it appears to us.

If this is the essence of objectification, then the essential remedy is to identify and investigate these ideas and also look at why we hold them as true. Does it make us feel safer? Does it help us deal with unmet and unloved fear?

FINDING WHAT WE ARE

There is another essential remedy, and that is to explore what we are in our own experience.

In my own first person experience, what am I? Am I this human self?

When I look, I find that I see some hands typing here, lower arms, a blur I call my nose, thighs, knees, and feet. I find ideas and mental images telling me this is a body, and it’s my body. I find ideas and mental images telling me I have a name, am a particular gender, age, and so on.

I see that my thoughts are required to tell me I am this. I also see that this is what others tell me I am, and I dutifully do my best to tell myself the same. Without these ideas and mental images, I wouldn’t have the story that I am this body and this human self, and there wouldn’t even be a differentiation with the wider world – with the table, laptop, room, the sounds of the magpies, and so on.

Here, I find that this human self is not what I most fundamentally am in my own direct experience.

In my first person experience, I am capacity for the world, and what my field of experience happens within and as.

Anything happening within my field of experience – sight, sounds, taste, smell, sensations, mental representations – is not my most fundamental identity. It’s all happening within and as what I am.

It’s all living its own life and coming and going on its own.

When I notice this, it’s a reminder that others are this way as well. To themselves, and whether they notice or not, they are capacity for the world and what their experiences happen within and as.

In our own first person experience, none of us are most fundamentally an object.

PHOTOGRAPHS STEAL OUR SOUL?

As a kid, I read colonial-era stories mentioning that non-Europeans sometimes were hesitant to allow themselves to be photographed. They thought it would steal their soul, or something along those lines.

Of course, it was presented as if these people were naive and superstitious.

But it can also be seen in another context. Perhaps they knew, intuitively or explicitly, that photographs tend to reduce us to our body in the eyes of the viewer. Photos depict us as objects, and when we see photos we tend to objectify the ones we see. In this sense, photos do metaphorically steal our souls.

This objectification is not inherently wrong. It’s just something to be aware of, and it’s a fertile ground for exploration. If we explore it more closely, it can even lead us to notice what we are in our own first-person experience.

OUTLINE

  • objectifying
    • conventional sense
      • objectify ourselves on social media
      • objectify others, see them primarily as their body, an object
    • looking closer
      • any time we believe a thought, identity, about someone
    • remedies – conventional sense
      • aware of this
      • examine beliefs, identities
    • remedy – finding what we are
      • as what all experience happens within and as
      • remind ourselves that to themselves, others are this too whether they notice or not
    • anti-photo attitude
      • some non-European cultures, initially hesitant to allow themselves be photographed
      • “steal the soul”
      • don’t know if this happened or not, and if it did, why
      • but easy to imagine that this could play a role
      • photos objectify us, depict us as objects
      • while to ourselves, we are capacity, what all happens within and as

….
….

DRAFT

What does it mean to objectify someone, whether it’s ourselves or others?

The essence is that we primarily see the person as an object, and the implication is that we see the other as an object to use one way or another. We overlook their own experience of themselves, their thoughts and feelings, and that they are far more than their body or our ideas about them.

This can happen in an obvious way, whenever we judge or want to use someone mainly due to their body and what we see. We reduce the person to their body.

If we look more closely, we may find that we do this in other ways as well. We reduce someone to an object in our mind. We reduce the person to an idea and assume that’s all they are.

What’s the remedy? The first step is to be aware that this is happening and remind ourselves that the person is like us. They have their own thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants. They are far more than their body, and they are far more than any ideas we have about them.

We can also examine this more thoroughly, through investigating our ideas about others and ourselves.

The reality is that if we do this with others, it’s because we already do this with ourselves. Even without noticing, we may assume we are this body, and that our ideas about who we are is all we are.

There is an ultimate remedy, and that is to explore more closely what we are in our own experience.

Here, we may find that our human self is not what we most fundamentally are.

We are capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as.

Anything happening within our field of experience – this human self, others, our mental representations – is not our most fundamental identity. It’s all happening within and as what we are.

As a kid, I remember reading that non-Europeans sometimes were hesitant to allow themselves be photographed. They thought it would steal their soul, or something similar. Of course, it was presented as if these people were naive and superstitious. But it can also be seen in this context. Perhaps they knew, intuitively or explicitly, that photographs tend to reduce us to our body in the eyes of the viewer. Photos depict us as objects, and when we see photos we tend to objectify the ones we see. In this sense, photos do metaphorically steal our souls.

…..
…..

DRAFT TWO

What does it mean to objectify someone, whether it’s ourselves or others?

The essence is that we primarily see the person as an object, and the implication is that we see the other as an object to use one way or another. We overlook their own experience of themselves, their thoughts and feelings, and that they are far more than their body or our ideas about them.

This can happen in an obvious way, whenever we judge or want to use someone mainly due to their body and what we see. We reduce the person to their body.

If we look more closely, we may find that we do this in other ways as well. We reduce someone to an idea and assume that idea is correct and all they are. We reduce the person to an object in our mind.

What’s the remedy? The first step is to be aware that this is happening and remind ourselves that the person is like us. They have their own thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants. They are far more than their body, our ideas about them may not be accurate, and they are far more than any ideas we have about them.

We can also examine this more thoroughly, through investigating the ideas we have about ourselves, others, and the world.

The reality is that if we do this with others, it’s because we already do this with ourselves. Even without noticing, we may assume we are this body, and that our ideas about ourselves are accurate and the whole picture.

And if we do this with ourselves and others, we also do it with situations, life, and all of existence. We assume what we see is more or less all there is, that our ideas about something are accurate, and that our ideas about something are more or less the full picture. None of that is necessarily accurate.

There is an ultimate remedy, and that is to explore more closely what we are in our own experience.

Here, we may find that our human self is not what we most fundamentally are.

We are capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as.

Anything happening within our field of experience – this human self, others, our mental representations – is not our most fundamental identity. It’s all happening within and as what we are.

When we find this, it’s a reminder that others are this way as well. To themselves, they are capacity for the world and what their experiences happen within and as, whether they notice or not.

As a kid, I remember reading colonial-era stories mentioning that non-Europeans sometimes were hesitant to allow themselves to be photographed. They thought it would steal their soul, or something along those lines. Of course, it was presented as if these people were naive and superstitious. But it can also be seen in this context. Perhaps they knew, intuitively or explicitly, that photographs tend to reduce us to our body in the eyes of the viewer. Photos depict us as objects, and when we see photos we tend to objectify the ones we see. In this sense, photos do metaphorically steal our souls.

….
…..

DRAFT THREE

What does it mean to objectify someone, whether it’s ourselves or others?

The essence is that we primarily see the person as an object, and the implication is that we see the other as an object to use one way or another. We overlook their own experience of themselves, their thoughts and feelings, and that they are far more than their body or our ideas about them.

This can happen in an obvious way, whenever we judge or want to use someone mainly due to their body and what we see. We reduce the person to their body.

If we look more closely, we may find that we do this in other ways as well. We reduce someone to an idea and assume that idea is correct and all they are. We reduce the person to an object in our mind.

What’s the remedy? The first step is to be aware that this is happening and remind ourselves that the person is like us. They have their own thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants. They are far more than their body, our ideas about them may not be accurate, and they are far more than any ideas we have about them.

We can also examine this more thoroughly, through investigating the ideas we have about ourselves, others, and the world.

The reality is that if we do this with others, it’s because we already do this with ourselves. Even without noticing, we may assume we are this body, and that our ideas about ourselves are accurate and the whole picture.

And if we do this with ourselves and others, we also do it with situations, life, and all of existence. We assume what we see is more or less all there is, that our ideas about something are accurate, and that our ideas about something are more or less the full picture. None of that is necessarily accurate.

There is an ultimate remedy, and that is to explore more closely what we are in our own experience.

Here, we may find that our human self is not what we most fundamentally are.

We are capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as.

Anything happening within our field of experience – this human self, others, our mental representations – is not our most fundamental identity. It’s all happening within and as what we are.

When we find this, it’s a reminder that others are this way as well. To themselves, they are capacity for the world and what their experiences happen within and as, whether they notice or not.

As a kid, I remember reading colonial-era stories mentioning that non-Europeans sometimes were hesitant to allow themselves to be photographed. They thought it would steal their soul, or something along those lines. Of course, it was presented as if these people were naive and superstitious. But it can also be seen in this context. Perhaps they knew, intuitively or explicitly, that photographs tend to reduce us to our body in the eyes of the viewer. Photos depict us as objects, and when we see photos we tend to objectify the ones we see. In this sense, photos do metaphorically steal our souls.

Note: Because of strong brain fog these days, my articles tend to be a little disorganized and not very well edited. I may return later to clean them up.

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