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An object is a
philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such quest ...
term often used in contrast to the term '' subject''. A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed. For modern philosophers like Descartes,
consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience and awareness of internal and external existence. However, the lack of definitions has led to millennia of analyses, explanations and debates by philosophers, theologians, linguisticians, and scient ...
is a state of
cognition Cognition refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses all aspects of Intellect, intellectual functions and processes such as: perception, attentio ...
that includes the subject—which can never be doubted as only it can be the one who doubts—and some object(s) that may be considered as not having real or full existence or value independent of the subject who observes it.
Metaphysical Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality, the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity, and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of conscio ...
frameworks also differ in whether they consider objects existing independently of their
properties Property is the ownership of land, resources, improvements or other tangible objects, or intellectual property. Property may also refer to: Mathematics * Property (mathematics) Philosophy and science * Property (philosophy), in philosophy and ...
and, if so, in what way. The pragmatist Charles S. Peirce defines the broad notion of an object as anything that we can think or talk about. In a general sense it is any
entity An entity is something that exists as itself, as a subject or as an object, actually or potentially, concretely or abstractly, physically or not. It need not be of material existence. In particular, abstractions and legal fictions are usually r ...
: the
pyramids A pyramid (from el, πυραμίς ') is a Nonbuilding structure, structure whose outer surfaces are triangular and converge to a single step at the top, making the shape roughly a Pyramid (geometry), pyramid in the geometric sense. The base o ...
, gods,
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher from Classical Athens, Athens who is credited as the founder of Western philosophy and among the first moral philosophers of the Ethics, ethical tradition of thought. An enigmati ...
,
Alpha Centauri Alpha Centauri (α Centauri, Alpha Cen, or α Cen) is a triple star system in the constellation of Centaurus (constellation), Centaurus. It consists of 3 stars: Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri A), Toliman (B) and Proxima Centauri ( ...
, the number seven, a disbelief in
predestination Predestination, in theology, is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God in Christianity, God, usually with reference to the eventual fate of the individual soul. Explanations of predestination often seek to address the Argument fro ...
or the fear of cats. In a strict sense it refers to any definite
being In metaphysics, ontology is the philosophy, philosophical study of being, as well as related concepts such as existence, Becoming (philosophy), becoming, and reality. Ontology addresses questions like how entities are grouped into Category ...
. A related notion is objecthood. Objecthood is the state of being an object. One approach to defining it is in terms of objects' properties and relations. Descriptions of all bodies, minds, and persons must be in terms of their properties and relations. The philosophical question of the nature of objecthood concerns how objects are related to their properties and relations. For example, it seems that the only way to describe an apple is by describing its properties and how it is related to other things. Its properties may include its redness, its size, and its composition, while its relations may include "on the table", "in the room" and "being bigger than other apples". The notion of an object must address two problems: the change problems and the problems of substances. Two leading theories about objecthood are
substance theory Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an ontology, ontological theory positing that Object (philosophy), objects are constituted each by a ''substance'' and property (philosophy), properties borne by the substance but distinct from ...
, wherein substances (objects) are distinct from their properties, and
bundle theory Bundle theory, originated by the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, is the ontology, ontological theory about Object (philosophy), objecthood in which an object consists only of a collection (''bundle'') of properties, relations or tro ...
, wherein objects are no more than bundles of their properties.


Etymology

In English the word ''object'' is derived from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
''objectus'' (p.p. of ''obicere'') with the meaning "to throw, or put before or against", from ''ob''- and ''jacere'', "to throw". As such it is a root for several important words used to derive meaning, such as objectify (to materialize), objective (a future
reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object. The first object in this relation is said to ''refer to'' the second object. It is called a ''name'' ...
), and
objectivism Objectivism is a philosophical system developed by Russian-American Russian Americans ( rus, русские американцы, r=russkiye amerikantsy, p= ˈruskʲɪje ɐmʲɪrʲɪˈkant͡sɨ) are Americans of full or partial Russians, Rus ...
(a philosophical doctrine that knowledge is based on objective reality).


Terms and usage

Broadly construed, the word ''object'' names a maximally general category, whose members are eligible for being referred to, quantified over and thought of. Terms similar to the broad notion of ''object'' include ''thing'', ''being'', ''entity'', ''item'', ''existent'', ''term'', ''unit'', and ''individual''. In ordinary language, one is inclined to call only a material object "object". In certain contexts, it may be socially inappropriate to apply the word ''object'' to animate beings, especially to human beings, while the words ''entity'' and ''being'' are more acceptable. Some authors use ''object'' in contrast to ''
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to Consumables, consume, alte ...
''; that is to say, an object is an entity that is not a
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to Consumables, consume, alte ...
. Objects differ from properties in that objects cannot be referred to by predicates. Such usage may exclude abstracts objects from counting as objects. Terms similar to such usage of ''object'' include ''substance'', ''individual'', and ''particular''. The word ''object'' can be used in contrast to ''subject'' as well. There are two definitions. The first definition holds that an object is an entity that fails to experience and that is not conscious. The second definition holds that an object is an entity experienced. The second definition differs from the first one in that the second definition allows for a subject to be an object at the same time.


Change

An attribute of an object is called a property if it can be experienced (e.g. its color, size, weight, smell, taste, and location). Objects manifest themselves through their properties. These manifestations seem to change in a regular and unified way, suggesting that something underlies the properties. The change problem asks what that underlying thing is. According to
substance theory Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an ontology, ontological theory positing that Object (philosophy), objects are constituted each by a ''substance'' and property (philosophy), properties borne by the substance but distinct from ...
, the answer is a substance, that which stands for the change.


Problem of substance

Because substances are only experienced through their properties a substance itself is never directly experienced. The problem of substance asks on what basis can one conclude the existence of a substance that cannot be seen or scientifically verified. According to
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 New Style, NS (26 April 1711 Old Style, OS) – 25 August 1776)Maurice Cranston, Cranston, Maurice, and T. E. Jessop, Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999avid Hume" ''Encyclopædia Britannica''. Retrieve ...
's
bundle theory Bundle theory, originated by the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, is the ontology, ontological theory about Object (philosophy), objecthood in which an object consists only of a collection (''bundle'') of properties, relations or tro ...
, the answer is none; thus an object is merely its properties. In the '' Mūlamadhyamakakārikā''
Nagarjuna Nāgārjuna . 150 – c. 250 CE (disputed)was an Indian Mahayana, Mahāyāna Buddhist thinker, scholar-saint and philosopher. He is widely considered one of the most important Buddhist philosophers.Garfield, Jay L. (1995), ''The Fundamenta ...
seizes the dichotomy between objects as collections of properties or as separate from those properties to demonstrate that both assertions fall apart under analysis. By uncovering this paradox he then provides a solution (''
pratītyasamutpāda ''Pratītyasamutpāda'' (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia afte ...
'' – "dependent origination") that lies at the very root of
Buddhist Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on teachings attributed to the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha, was a ...
praxis. Although Pratītyasamutpāda is normally limited to caused objects, Nagarjuna extends his argument to objects in general by differentiating two distinct ideas – dependent designation and dependent origination. He proposes that all objects are dependent upon designation, and therefore any discussion regarding the nature of objects can only be made in light of the context. The validity of objects can only be established within those conventions that assert them.


Facts

Bertrand Russell Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British mathematician, philosopher, logician, and public intellectual. He had a considerable influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, linguistics, ar ...
updated the classical terminology with one more term, the ''
fact A fact is a datum about one or more aspects of a circumstance, which, if accepted as true and proven true, allows a logical conclusion to be reached on a True and false, true–false evaluation. Standard reference works are often used to Fact- ...
''; "Everything that there is in the world I call a fact." Facts, objects, are opposed to
belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the world which can be either truth value, true o ...
s, which are "subjective" and may be errors on the part of the subject, the knower who is their source and who is certain of himself and little else. All doubt implies the possibility of error and therefore admits the distinction between subjectivity and objectivity. The knower is limited in ability to tell fact from belief, false from true objects and engages in reality testing, an activity that will result in more or less certainty regarding the reality of the object. According to Russell, "we need a description of the fact which would make a given belief true" where "Truth is a property of beliefs." Knowledge is "true beliefs".


Applications


Value theory

Value theory In ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of morality, right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' The field of ...
concerns the value of objects. When it concerns
economic value In economics, economic value is a measure of the benefit provided by a goods, good or service (economics), service to an Agent (economics), economic agent. It is generally measured through units of currency, and the interpretation is therefore ...
, it generally deals with physical objects. However, when concerning philosophic or ethic value, an object may be both a
physical object In common usage and classical mechanics, a physical object or physical body (or simply an object or body) is a collection of matter within a defined contiguous boundary in three-dimensional space. The boundary must be defined and identified by t ...
and an
abstract object In metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality, the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity, and possibility. It includes questions about the ...
(e.g. an action).


Physics

Limiting discussions of objecthood to the realm of physical objects may simplify them. However, defining physical objects in terms of
fundamental particle In particle physics Particle physics or high energy physics is the study of Elementary particle, fundamental particles and fundamental interaction, forces that constitute matter and radiation. The fundamental particles in the universe are c ...
s (e.g.
quark A quark () is a type of elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nucleus, atomic nuclei ...
s) leaves open the question of what is the nature of a fundamental particle and thus asks what categories of being can be used to explain physical objects.


Semantics

Symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different ...
s represent objects; how they do so, the
map–territory relation The map–territory relation is the relationship between an object and a representation of that Object (philosophy), object, as in the relation between a geographical territory and a map of it. Polish-American scientist and philosopher Alfred Kor ...
, is the basic problem of
semantics Semantics (from grc, wikt:σημαντικός, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference, Meaning (philosophy), meaning, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct discipline ...
.


See also

* Abstract object theory *
Abstraction Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual process wherein general rules and concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas. They are understood to be the fundamental building blocks of the concept behind principles, thoughts and beliefs. T ...
*
Category theory Category theory is a general theory of mathematical structures and their relations that was introduced by Samuel Eilenberg and Saunders Mac Lane in the middle of the 20th century in their foundational work on algebraic topology. Nowadays, categ ...
* Continuous predicate *
Concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas. They are understood to be the fundamental building blocks of the concept behind principles, thoughts and beliefs. They play an important role in all aspects of cognition. As such, concepts are studied by sev ...
* Hypostatic abstraction *
Hypostasis (philosophy and religion) Hypostasis ( Greek: ὑπόστασις, ''hypóstasis'') is the underlying state or underlying substance and is the fundamental reality that supports all else. In Neoplatonism the hypostasis of the soul In many religious and philosophical ...
*
Noumenon In philosophy, a noumenon (, ; ; noumena) is a posited Object (philosophy), object or an Phenomenon, event that exists independently of human sense and/or perception. The term ''noumenon'' is generally used in contrast with, or in relation to ...
and
phenomenon A phenomenon (plural, : phenomena) is an observable event. The term came into its modern Philosophy, philosophical usage through Immanuel Kant, who contrasted it with the noumenon, which ''cannot'' be directly observed. Kant was heavily influe ...
*
Objectivity (philosophy) In philosophy, objectivity is the concept of truth independent from individual subjectivity (bias caused by one's perception, emotions, or imagination). A proposition is considered to have objective truth when its truth conditions are met withou ...
* Observer (physics) *
Sign relation A sign relation is the basic construct in the theory of signs, also known as semiotics, as developed by Charles Sanders Peirce. Anthesis Thus, if a sunflower, in turning towards the sun, becomes by that very act fully capable, without further ...
*
Ship of Theseus The Ship of Theseus is a thought experiment A thought experiment is a hypothetical situation in which a hypothesis, theory, or principle is laid out for the purpose of thinking through its consequences. History The ancient Greek ''deiknymi' ...
* Object-oriented ontology *
Subject (grammar) The subject in a simple English Sentence (linguistics), sentence such as ''John runs'', ''John is a teacher'', or ''John drives a car'', is the person or thing about whom the statement is made, in this case ''John''. Traditionally the subject is ...
*
Subject (philosophy) A subject is a being who has a Consciousness#Types of consciousness, unique consciousness and/or unique Person, personal experiences, or an entity that has a relationship with another entity that exists outside itself (called an "Object (philosop ...
* Nonexistent object


References


Sources

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External links

* * * {{Authority control Concepts in epistemology Concepts in metaphysics Dichotomies Ontology Physical objects