Object (philosophy)

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The term object (from the Latin obiectum, the 'opposing') is a concept that is widely used in philosophy . In ontology , “object” is often used synonymously with “ object ”. In this sense, “object” with “ property ” and “ event ” is a basic ontological category that should encompass everything that exists, every entity . In the ontological debate, the relationship between the object concept and the other fundamental concepts is discussed in particular. For example, it is discussed whether properties can be assigned an existence independent of objects , or whether events can be traced back to the distribution of properties over time .

Since Descartes' dualism , the object has also been confronted with the subject ( subject-object split ). A subject may well be considered an object in the ontological sense. The decisive difference here is rather that the subject is defined as that which is actively perceiving, while the object is that which is given passively in perception .

Concept of object in different traditions

In addition to the general meanings of the object concept in the sense of ontology and the subject-object dichotomy , the object concept has been used repeatedly as a technical term in various traditions :

  • With Thomas Aquinas , the classical substance ( Latin substantia , paradoxically the grammatical subject of a sentence about which something is said) is understood as a material object .
  • In Immanuel Kant's transcendental philosophy , the impressions ordered by categories are considered objects. Thus, for Kant, objects are the phenomena to which an empirical reality belongs. However, they are transcendentally ideal, i.e. to be separated from the thing-in-itself : "But the object is that in whose concept the manifold of a given view is united." (Kant: Critique of pure reason, p. B137)
  • In the philosophy of the 18th and 19th centuries, subject and object constitute one another, especially in epistemology . In the Hegelian dialectic the split is idealistically canceled .
  • In symbolic interactionism , the meaning of social objects is produced in the symbolically mediated process of action. Similarly, action theory tries to let philosophy begin with action, thereby avoiding the object's opposition in advance.

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