- Subject-object problem
refimprove=July 2008 The subject-object problem is a longstanding philosophical issue. It arises from the notion that the world consists of "objects" (what is observed) which are perceived or otherwise acted upon by "subjects" (observers). This results in multiple questions regarding how subjects relate to objects.
Kant's " Copernican revolution" was the inversion of the traditional relation between the subject of knowledgeand the object of that knowledge. Instead of the observed objects affecting the observing subject, the subject's constitution affects the way that the objects are observed. Following this transcendental idealismtheory, the possibility of knowledge was thus to be found in the structure of the subject itself, instead of in an objective realityfrom which nothing can be said.
The omniscient perspective
By far the most common problem in discourse since
the Enlightenmentis the assumption of the existence of a God's eye view. That is, assuming that society can select a single perspective and apply it to all events, without needing to take into account the varying point of view of many cognitive beings moving through timeand the fusion of this into one, omniscient, unified, perception of what "is". E Primeis a proposed solution to this problem in the field of General Semantics. This objective perspective, as opposed to all others subjective points of view, is also what Georg Lukacsrefers to with the concept of "totality". Writers and critics of narrative prose call this view the omniscient narrator, who appears to know everything about the story being told, including what all the characters are thinking, and usually speaks in the third person.
In 19th and 20th Century philosophy
Immanuel Kantand especially his followers Fichte, Schelling and Hegelraised the issue of the relationship between the subject and the object, or what perceives and what is perceived. Fichte reduced the notion of the self to the pure passive self that is not really an object. This notion was later explored by Husserland by Diltheyin his notion of Das Verstehen. Karl Marx's philosophy of dialectical materialismis founded on Hegel's doctrine of dialectics; although Marx, being concerned mostly with economicsand political matters, rejected Hegel's idealismfor materialismwhile keeping the Hegelian dialectic. 1960s New Leftthinkers like Herbert Marcuseand the Frankfurt School, while coming out of a Marxist background, found the class struggleseemed irrelevant to current political issues. Racial, and later, sexual politics were important matters of social debate at the time, leading the New Left to use sex roles, race, and similar identity politicsdivisions as proxies for the proletariatand the bourgeois capitalismof orthodox Marxism.
A firm conviction that race and sex were subject to political manipulation therefore became an article of faith for these Marxist revisionists. This opened the back door for a sort of linguistic, anti-materialist idealism. The doctrine of social construction took centre stage, as does the incorporation of
deconstructionand critical theory. We are ultimately barred from certain knowledge of an outside world, if it exists, because all we know is in our mind, mediated by language; and language is a social game and a social convention. Therefore, not only is "the personal political," but indeed, all of science, physics, and anything else that is the subject of human discourse can and must be politicized.
The popular names of concepts from physics and mathematics, from
Albert Einstein's theory of relativityto the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, were used as metaphors, with the assurance that difficulty in observing subatomic particles translated into a universal, epistemological malaise, and that Einstein's relativity somehow lent support to moral relativism.
Those who accept these premises believe that in
ethics, social scienceand linguistics, the subject-object problem is a confusion resulting from a shifting, inconsistent or vague assignment of observer and observed, active and passive, status in a sentence. Depending on how one views language, and mathematics as a language, this confusion may extend quite deeply into philosophyof all kinds including that of law, science and mathematicsitself.
There are related concerns in
philosophy of physicswhere observers are known to affect a result, e.g. in quantum mechanics, in a way which defies the conventional assignment of an object role to experimenter, with everything else as a subject. This can lead among other things to confirmation bias.
Cognitive science of mathematicsraises some similar concerns with philosophy of mathematics. Among them, the assignment of objective status to mathematical objects as in Platonism, although they are formalisms used in a linguistic fashion for communications between living beings, and thus subject to the same subject-object problems as other forms of such communication. This raises some concerns, dating back as far as Eugene Wigner's 1960 observations on the matter, that what we call foundations of mathematicsand cosmology may be not observable or discoverable absolutes, but rather, aspects of humanity and its cognition. Nick Bostromin 2002 addressed this concern with a theory of anthropic bias.
In clinical trials
One of the purposes of blinding clinical trials is to avoid the introduction of bias caused by investigators beliefs about the therapy being tested influencing perceptions, measurements, and actions. Making effective decisions and ensuring patient care while investigators remain unaware of what treatment particular patients receive has been a continuing problem in the design of clinical trials.
The phenomenon of
adaptive designs- designs whose characteristics can change mid-trial based on the information obtained so far -- has created further problems in avoiding bias. Susan Ellenberg, Thomas Fleming, and David DeMetsexpressed concern that using data monitoring committees to alter the parameters of a clinical trial through an adaptive design in a manner known to the investigators could introduce bias into the trial. Increasing the sample size, for example, could signal that the experimental product was not as efficacious as originally hoped. The authors expressed concern that participant-observer bias would need to be assessed and addressed in order to ensure the reliability of adaptive designs. [Susan Ellenberg, Thomas Fleming, David DeMets, "Data Monitoring Committees in Clinical Trials: A Practical Perspective" (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2002) ISBN 0-471-48986-7]
Analytic philosophydiscusses various aspects of the problem of subject and object such as the mind body problem, first-person versus third-person perspective and also issues of non-referential use of I presented by G. E. M. Anscombe.
Robert M. Pirsig's philosophy of the Metaphysics of Quality is largely concerned with the subject-object problem.
Sun Myung Moon's philosophy, Unification Thought, treats subject and objectin a way different from classical ideas of Hegel and Marx.
Ken Wilberhas written extensively on this, calling the omniscient view (or subject-object distinction) the fundamental modernist paradigm, and cataloging its effects on society, and in the way many subjects have been compressed into a "flat" view by this perspective
* [http://www.ccsr.ac.uk/staff/wkolsen/smithrev.htm Subject-object problem and double hermeneutic]
* [http://www.marxists.org/subject/psychology/works/lektorsky/essay_77.htm N. Lektorsky's approach]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Subject — may refer to: *An area of interest, also called a topic meaning , thing you are talking or discussing about . It can also be termed as the area of discussion . See Lists of topics and Lists of basic topics. **An area of knowledge; **The focus of… … Wikipedia
Subject (philosophy) — Not to be confused with the subiectum or hypokeimenon in Aristotelianism. In philosophy, a subject is a being that has subjective experiences, subjective consciousness or a relationship with another entity (or object ). A subject is an observer… … Wikipedia
subject — [adj] at the mercy of; answerable accountable, apt, at one’s feet*, bound by, captive, collateral, conditional, contingent, controlled, dependent, directed, disposed, enslaved, exposed, governed, in danger of, inferior, liable, likely, obedient,… … New thesaurus
Object recognition — in computer vision is a task of finding given object in an image or video sequence. Humans recognize a multitude of objects in images with little effort, despite the fact that the image of the objects may vary somewhat in different view points,… … Wikipedia
Object Desktop — ObjectBar used with DesktopX to create a theme Developer(s) Stardock … Wikipedia
Object (philosophy) — Philosophy ( … Wikipedia
Object-oriented programming — Programming paradigms Agent oriented Automata based Component based Flow based Pipelined Concatenative Concurrent computing … Wikipedia
Object-relational impedance mismatch — The object relational impedance mismatch is a set of conceptual and technical difficulties that are often encountered when a relational database management system (RDBMS) is being used by a program written in an object oriented programming… … Wikipedia
object — by William Pawlett The object is possibly the most important notion in Baudrillard s oeuvre (RC). He writes of an obsession with the object . . . the magic of the object (F, 3). His Passwords (2003b [2000c]) begins with The Object : wanted… … The Baudrillard dictionary
Problem of universals — The problem of universals is an ancient problem in metaphysics about whether universals exist. Universals are general or abstract qualities, characteristics, properties, kinds or relations, such as being male/female, solid/liquid/gas or a certain … Wikipedia