subject and object


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subject and object

(PHILOSOPHY) twin concepts, subject (person, mind, theorist, etc.) and object (external world), which have been central in much philosophical (and also sociological) discussion, especially EPISTEMOLOGY. The central issues have been: how the subject can come to ‘know’ the object, and how each is constituted (ONTOLOGY). Thus, an empiricist (see EMPIRICISM) may claim that the world is made up of’things’, and that the mind consists of’ideas’, and that the latter ‘picture’ or ‘represent’ the former. Alternatively in IDEALISM, ideas may be claimed to structure our perception of objects. Recent movements in philosophy, (e.g. POSTSTRUCTURALISM, POST-EMPIRICISM) have sought to break with traditional conceptions of subject and object (see DECONSTRUCTION, DECENTRED SELF),and to move away from rigid conceptions of epistemology or ontology. In some forms, such a movement away from traditional conceptions of the foundations of knowledge has been associated with RELATIVISM (see also INCOMMENSURABILITY), but another view is that it can be presented as a move beyond objectivism or relativism (see FEYERABEND).