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The word object is a polyseme that occurs as a term in epistemology , law or philosophy of science with different content .


A term is a unit of thought “which is obtained from a set of objects by determining the properties that these objects have in common by means of abstraction ”. An object is an “arbitrary section from the perceivable or imaginable world”. The subject is what is confronted with perceptions , memories , judgments or fantasy , or what is or can be imagined. On the one hand, the word object means the independently existing thing towards which our imagination or judgment is directed, and on the other hand the object immanent in consciousness . According to Ludwig Heinrich von Jakob (1788), every conceivable thing either has a characteristic or it does not; therefore an object is determined by thinking . Objects are specific things that we deal with and want to talk about, such as a square key . In a broader sense, we also include abstract facts such as an investment or processes, such as B. calibrate a measuring instrument together.

As a real object, the object is that which can trigger sensory stimuli , as a perceived object that which appears in the sense of perception or, as an imaginary object , that which is presented in thought processes . The recognition of an object is the starting condition for gaining further knowledge , for using the object or for communicating about this object.

Much can therefore fall under the concept of object; some think that one can mean “everything that is mentioned”. In a materialistic-biological context, the term can also include living beings . Since Immanuel Kant in particular , the object has been understood as a designation for everything that “confronts” the subject as a knowing I in the outside world . This also makes it difficult to distinguish between similar terms such as thing , thing , object or an entity .


The German word “Objekt” is a noun made up of “gegenhaben” or “gegenhaben”. The Dictionarum latinogermanicum by Petrus Dasypodius (1536) did not yet contain the term. According to the German dictionary of the Brothers Grimm , the noun developed from the verb "against". The Brothers Grimm traced the word back to the writer Johann Fischart , who in 1579 in his successful book Binkorb Des Heyl. Roman swarms wrote: "From that time on there have always been vil brave men in defense and armor, who have written and preached to the Pope". The legal scholar Gerhard Köbler also refers to this . It has been used in its current meaning since the 16th century.

Since the 18th century it has been used in philosophical contexts as a correspondence to the Latin obiectum (that which is thrown against ) instead of "counter-throw" or "reflection" .

The adjective objective has only been in use since the 19th century to distinguish the graphic and concrete, such as an object of daily use , from the abstract .

Use of words

Science in general

An object is mostly used in science . More often than in other cases, this is a perceptible or at least physically measurable manifestation, whereby the aspect associated with moral implications, whether the nature of the research object contains life , is ignored (e.g. in the grammar ). This comparatively primitive perception , because it is limited to (one's own) sensory stimuli , enables the pejorative use of the word in connection with living beings (e.g. pleasure object ). In other cases, the word is used in the military sector ( flying object , target object ), or in business, especially in the real estate sector . To remain factual or objective means to look at an object with an open mind. For Paul Häberlin in 1921 the special essence of science was characterized by its special object, that is, by what it was supposed to recognize. To determine the essence of a science is to determine its object.


There are also narrower or different uses, for example in the sense of the internal content, content, topic or the meaning of a linguistic utterance, for example. In philosophical debates etc. a. for epistemology , philosophy of language and ontology , “object” is and has been defined differently as a technical term. For example, it was and is controversial whether only - possibly potentially - directly empirical "given" as an "object" come into question; whether chimeras or contradicting combinations of characteristics can also be referred to as “objects” under merely imaginary objects; whether to speak of an "object" goes hand in hand with an existential presupposition.

Visual arts

In the field of visual art is representational painting , for example, defined by abstract, constructivist painting. The object art is another art form in the vorgefundene, edited or ghost objects to artworks are. One example is the “bull's skull” (“  Tête de taureau  ”, also called “bicycle saddle”, 1942) by Pablo Picasso .


In jurisprudence , an object is anything that can be a legal object . The subject is understood as a generic term for things , claims , intellectual property rights and property rights , but not for personal and family rights . According to § 90 BGB , things are only physical objects, from which it follows in reverse that objects other than physical objects are also subject to the scope of the BGB. A thing is always understood to be a physical object; where a rule of law refers to both things and rights, the term object is used. As a result, the purchase of goods is regulated in Section 433 BGB, while Section 453 (1) BGB deals with the “purchase of rights and other objects” and declares the provisions on the purchase of goods to be applicable. This includes aggregates such as entire companies ( company acquisitions ), medical practices or libraries .

Philosophy of science

In the theory of science , the object of knowledge (or the object of knowledge) is the research object of a single science , through which the sciences primarily differ. Each individual science has an object of knowledge to which it aligns its research goals and methods.

Visual arts

As figurative art styles are in the visual arts refers to where people , creatures or objects are represented as opposed to abstract art or concrete art .

History of ideas

Gottlob Frege distinguished between concept and object in his essay On Concept and Object in 1892 . Wilhelm Kamlah defines an object as that which can be referred to with a deictic gesture, or which has a proper name or a label .


See also the standard literature on ontology .

Web links

Wiktionary: Subject  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. DIN 2342, Part 1, 1992
  2. DIN 2342, Part 1, 1992
  3. ^ Verlag Langenscheidt (Ed.), Lebende Sprachen , Volumes 33–34, 1988, p. 2
  4. In-Suk Cha, The Concept of the Object in Edmund Husserl's Phenomenology , 2014, p. 47
  5. In-Suk Cha, The Concept of the Object in Edmund Husserl's Phenomenology , 2014, p. 47
  6. Ludwig Heinrich von Jakob, Outline of General Logic and Critical Beginnings of General Metaphysics , 1800, p. 35
  7. ^ Rat für Deutschsprachige Terminologie (Ed.), Terminologisches Basiswissen für Fachhaben , 2013, p. 4
  8. Erich Heintel / Arno Anzenbacher: Subject, I. In: Historical dictionary of philosophy . Volume 3, 1974, p. 129.
  9. Georgi Schischkoff (Ed.): Philosophical dictionary. 21st edition. Alfred Kröner, Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3-520-01321-5 ; to Wb.-Lemma "Object", p. 499.
  10. ^ Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: German Dictionary. Volume 5, 1838, Col. 2263.
  11. ^ A free adaptation of the Dutch book Biencorf by H. Rommsche Kercke (1569)
  12. Johann Fischart, Bin basket Des Heyligen Römischen Immenschwarms, his Bumblebee cells, Hurnaußnäster, Brämengeschwürm vnd Wespengetöß , 1579, p. 2
  13. Gerhard Köbler, Etymological Legal Dictionary. 1995, p. 148.
  14. Erich Heintel / Arno Anzenbacher, subject, I. In: Historical dictionary of philosophy. Volume 3, 1974, p. 129.
  15. This is how Johann Christoph Adelung refers in The Subject , in: Grammatical-Critical Dictionary he high German dialect. Volume 2, 1811, p. 486, based on a list of words from 1477, in which the Latin obiectum is added to "Wyderschyne".
  16. Erich Heintel / Arno Anzenbacher, subject, I. In: Historical dictionary of philosophy. Volume 3, 1974, p. 129.
  17. Paul Häberlin, The Subject of Psychology. 1921, p. 1 .
  18. Otto Palandt / Jürgen Ellenberger , BGB Commentary , 73rd edition, 2014, preliminary note § 90, Rn. 2.
  19. Otto Palandt / Jürgen Ellenberger, BGB Commentary , 73rd edition, 2014, preliminary note § 90, Rn. 2.
  20. Maximilian Wilhelm Haedicke, Purchase of Rights and Liability for Defects of Title , 2003, p. 55 .
  21. ^ Motives for the draft of a civil code for the German Reich, Volume III: Property Law, 1888, p. 33
  22. Hans-Joachim Forker, The principle of economic efficiency and the profitability principle , 1960, p. 92