1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Object and Subject

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6147091911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 19 — Object and Subject

OBJECT and SUBJECT, in philosophy, the terms used to denote respectively the external world and consciousness. The term “object” (from Lat. ob, over against, and jacere, to throw) is used generally in philosophy for that in which an activity of the mind ends, or towards which it is directed. With these may be compared the ordinary uses of the term for “thing” simply, or for that after which one strives, or at which one aims. “Subject,” literally that which is “thrown under” (sub), is originally the material or content of a discussion or thought, but in philosophy is used for the thought or the thinking person. The relation between the thinking subject and the object thought is analogous to the grammatical antithesis of the same terms: the “subject” of a verb is the person or thing from which the action proceeds, while the “object,” direct or indirect, is the person or thing affected. The true relation between mind or thought (subject) and matter or extension (object) is the chief problem of philosophy, and may be investigated from various standpoints (see Psychology and Metaphysics). It should be observed that the philosophical use of “subject” is precisely the opposite of the common use. In ordinary language the “subject” of discussion, of a poem, of a work of art, is that which the speaker, author or artist treats.