Subject and Object
Here are some notes on the terms subject and object and subject-object relationship. The notes that I have written, first of all consider the understanding for subject and object as two separate thought processes, which are at the base of further philosophical discussions.
Often the term subjective is being used in common language; a shortcut referring to one’s own self-consciousness. However in general one has to differentiate any terminology with meaning, understanding and the use of language.
If there is an opposite to subject, it is object but it plays various ambiguous roles in epistemology and in cognitive science. Foucault and Derrida (‘Speech and Phenomena’, Evanston, 1II, 1973) have rejected the notion of subjectivity insisting that it has been misused in the construction of politics, language and culture. The meaning of subject is not relating to a material ‘thing’ but states the pure being or the notion of subjective arbitrariness. Subject depends upon feeling, belief, character, individuality and authenticity and also contains the sense of subjective knowing. Søren Kierkegaard understood the idea of subjective truth to be a force of passionate conviction.
The meaning of subject changes when the intentional action is seen as ‘real’, i.e. an action is initiated by the subject. This means that it reflects itself and is not directed towards an object or ‘Another’. However the development of an action is such that the person releases its subjectivity and becomes object.
The content of object has an intentional relation to the world, space and time. The initial separation of subject and object as inside and outside, external or internal can be accepted first of all (but this does not presume that ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ is part of a reality or that it should claim a truth). Subject is in the process to be investigated and is explored in terms of its own existence (German: das auf sich selbst bezogene Sein) contrary to object meaning thought-process which has its existence in the ‘thing’ (German: das bestehende Gedankending), this is why subject can be the object of a specific thought process. It indicates that the objectiveness is part of the thought construction initiating a theoretical, hypothetical dialog.
Though there is subject-object relationship, which is a thought towards an interdependence of two apparent opposing positions and resolving the thought of separation between two conditions, a relationship offers a wider understanding for a stance, which is interchangeable and perhaps transient.
A presumption is that subject is real and object is imagined. It could be said, that the action is assumed and reasoned from the object itself, i.e. in the direction from outside to the inside. Or the object is immune to feelings and appears solely in the realm of reason, reflection and scientific evidence.
This is a very brief thought encounter and it shows that its contemplation about the two terms is bound to several thought processes. It will be interesting to spin the web of thought and consider these ideas with the practical approach in the workshop situation with the aim of Art Action, Performance Art, documentation and the understanding of performative processes.
The source material for the above definitions so far stems from Walter Brugger, Philosophisches Woerterbuch, Herder Verlag.
Jerxheim September 2010 the aftermath of TaT Performance Art Workshop
For Mari and Eva Beatrice