OBJECT

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OBJECT, in grammar and philosophy, is opposed to subject, which, in philosophy, designates the being who conceives, thinks, or knows the object. The subject is the conceiving, thinking, knowing; the object, the conceived, thought, known. Every subject may become an object. If A thinks or conceives the thing O, A is the subject, O is the object; but if I conceive A thinking of O, both are the object, and I the subject. Objective, therefore, is used in modern philosophy, particularly by the Germans, for that which truly belongs to an object; subjective,, for the manner in which an object is conceived of by an individual subject. In the same way, objectivity is used to denote the existence of things without us, independently of our ideas of them. It is well known that some philosophers deny this objectivity. There is a great difference between an objective and a subjective knowledge or representation of a thing: the former is the knowledge or representation of the thing as it really is, independently of the impression which it makes upon the individual character of the subject; the latter is limited to this. He who describes ob jectively, shows us the things as they are, free from the bias of his own partialities and prejudices, springing from his education and habitual associations. Such a spirit should be the great aim of a historian. Some works, particularly in belleslettres, however, derive their great charm from their subjectivity; i. e. from giving us only the impression made upon the narrator, if he be an individual of a peculiar character, describing things with which we are already acquainted. But the great question arises, What is objective truth ? xill knowledge has been attained by individuals, and takes its character from the impressions made by the object upon the subject; hence all truth is subjective. Still we may say, that what appears to all reasoning subjects, almost without exception, as right and true, has the value of objectivity. But, as we find on no subject, not even the fact of man's existence, a perfect concurrence of opinion, it is obvious that objective truth cannot be fully obtained. "Here we see through a glass darkly, but there face to face;" i. e. we shall attain to objective truth, and know things as they are. In the fine arts, it is of the first importance that the artist should be objective, i. e. represent things and ideas free from partial, contracted conceptions. On the other hand, his subjectivity is not to be lost in the objectivity of his work; on the contrary, the work should bear the impression of his individual character, but its individuality must be beautiful. We know not a more apposite example of such a character than Shakspeare. Who represents things, men, virtues and vices, more objectively, impartially depicting even vices and crimes with perfect calmness? and whose works, on the other hand, bear more the impress of unequalled genius and individuality than his? The other extreme is the works of young poets, who torment their readers by the constant protrusion of their own partial views.