The arithmetic mean of subjectivities

Fernando Pessoa (1888 - 1935)

Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935)


Objectivity is the coarse mean of the majority of individual subjectivities. If a society consists of, say, five persons, a, b, c, d and e, then the “truth” or “objectivity” for this society will be expressed by the formula:


In the future, each individual should make an effort to conform itself to this mean. Every individual, at least every superior individual, searches for the harmony between the subjectivities of others […] in order to approach as much as possible this Truth – Infinity towards which the arithmetic series of individual truths ideally converges.

From “Ultimatum”, a text by Álvaro de Campos, heteronym of Fernando Pessoa, published in the first and only issue of “Portugal Futurista” (November 1917).

Pessoa argues for what he calls “anti-christian surgery” i.e. the elimination of three dogmas instilled by christianity in the very essence of human spirit: the dogma of personality, the prejudice of individuality and the dogma of individual objectivism. The latter is replaced by the ideal search of an arithmetic mean. In Politics, opinion should be permitted only to those who have accomplished the Mean; in the Arts, Expression is replaced by the idea of balancing Inbetween Expressions; and in Philosophy, the arithmetic mean of subjectivities is the “external universe” itself and therefore, Pessoa argues, Science becomes the arithmetic mean of individual philosophical opinions.


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