Subject(redirected from subject matter)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Wikipedia.
a major member of a two-part sentence, designating the performer of the action or bearer of the attribute or state contained in the other major member, the predicate (for example: deti igraiut,“the children play”; trava zelenaia,“the grass is green”; dom postroen,“the house is built”).
In most languages, the subject is expressed by the nominative case of nouns, substantive pronouns (“I,” “he,” “someone”), and numerals (“two,” “five”). The subject may also be a substantivized adjective (bol’noi popravliaetsia,“the sick [man] is getting well”), participle (opozdavshie izvinilis’,“the latecomers apologized”), infinitive (chitat—ego strast’,“to read is his passion”), idiomatic word combinations (khodit kto ugodno,“anyone at all walks around”), word combinations of the type otets s synom (“father with son”), and coordinative and asyndetic sequences (voshli otets i syn,“father and son entered”; gibli molodost’, sily, zdorov’e,“youth, strength, health perished”).
As a grammatical category, the subject is to be distinguished from what is called the logical or semantic subject, which may be expressed also in an oblique case (for example, ei plokho,“she feels bad”; u nas radost’,“we have joy”; byt’ groze,“a storm is brewing”). In the Kartvelian-Caucasian languages and certain others, the subject is expressed by the ergative case.
I. N. KRUCHININA
in the representational arts, an event or situation depicted in a work and often designated in the work’s title. Unlike the theme of a work, the subject is a specific, detailed, graphic, and narrative disclosure of the work’s idea. Historical and genre works of art have particularly complex subjects.
(in Russian, sub”ekt), in linguistics, a term combining the concepts of a grammatical, logical (communicative or psychological), and semantic subject, in ideal cases expressed by the grammatical subject (podlezhashchee) of a sentence. For example, in the Russian sentence Petr vesel (“Peter is happy”), Petr combines the features of the grammatical, logical, and semantic subjects. The concept of the subject is divided into categories because the grammatical, logical, and semantic organization of a sentence may not coincide.
The grammatical, or formal, subject is the subject (podlezhashchee) of a sentence. The logical subject, or theme, corresponds to the point of departure, the basis of the communication, and the information being imparted. Representatives of the psychological school have called the logical subject the psychological subject, meaning the idea present in the speaker’s mind from the beginning. Some linguists distinguish between the communicative and the logical subject. The semantic subject refers to the word designating the possessor of a given quality or the agent of action. In the sentence Veselo Petru (“Peter is happy”), the answer to the question Komu veselo? (“Who is happy?”), veselo is the logical subject and Petru the semantic subject; the grammatical subject is lacking.
REFERENCESPaul, H. Printsipy istorii iazyka. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from German.)
Panfilov, V. Z. Grammatika i logika. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
Kolshanskii, G. V. Logika istruktura iazyka. Moscow, 1965.
Mathesius, V. “O tak nazyvaemom aktual’nom chlenenii predlozheniia.” In Prazhskii lingvisticheskii kruzhok. Moscow, 1967. (Translated from Czech.)
Alisova, T. B. Ocherki sintaksisa ital’ianskogo iazyka. Moscow, 1971.
Zolotova, G. A. Ocherk funktsional’nogo sintaksisa russkogo iazyka. Moscow, 1973.
N. D. ARUTIUNOVA
the agent—be it an individual or a social group—of an effected action and of cognition; the source of an activity directed toward an object. In philosophy, the term “subject” has had various meanings. For example, Aristotle used the term to designate individual being as well as matter, or formless substance; for medieval scholasticism, subjects were something real and inherent in things, while objects existed only in the mind.
The modern interpretation of subject begins with R. Descartes, whose sharp juxtaposition of subject and object was the starting point of the analysis of cognition and, in particular, served as a basis for establishing the reliability of knowledge; with the subject seen as the moving principle in the cognitive process, the way was opened for studying the conditions and forms of this process and its subjective premises. I. Kant took the next important step along this path. He revealed some fundamental laws that govern the subject’s internal organization and make it possible to attain universal and necessary knowledge—for example, the doctrine of categories as forms regulating thought; the principle of categorical synthesis; and the concept of the subject as something generic, embracing the entire historical experience of cognition.
G. Hegel worked out an idealistic interpretation of the social and historical nature of the thinking subject. For Hegel, cognition was a suprapersonal process based on the identity of subject, understood as absolute spirit, and object. The pre-Marxist materialists, whose interpretation was a psychologistic one, regarded the subject as an isolated individual whose cognitive faculties are biologically rooted and who only passively reflects external reality.
Dialectical materialism has radically expanded the concept of the subject by linking it directly to the category of practice. In their view the subject is the agent of an effected action and not merely of cognition. Thus the subject’s social and historical nature is newly clarified: according to Marxism, an individual is a self-conscious subject to the extent that he has gained some degree of mastery over human culture—as represented, for example, by the tools of object-oriented activity, forms of language, logical categories, aesthetic norms, and moral values. The subject’s activity is the determining condition that transforms one or another fragment of objective reality into a given object, depending on the subject’s particular form of activity. The assumption here is that the subject, rather than being an entity complete in itself, is an agent that continuously and creatively transforms the environment. The materialist interpretation, having demonstrated the creative nature of the subject, made it possible for Marxism to reveal what is the true subject of history—namely, the popular masses, who are the chief force in the creative and revolutionary transformation of culture and of society as a whole.
REFERENCESMarx, K. “Tezisy o Feierbakhe.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 3.
Lenin, V. I. Filosofskie tetradi. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29.
Lektorskii, V. A. Problema sub”ektn i ob”ekta v klassicheskoi i sovremennoi burzhuaznoi filosofü. Moscow, 1965.
Kopnin, P. V. Gnoseologicheskie i logicheskie osnovy nauki. Moscow, 1974.
V. A. LEKTORSKII