Object (philosophy)

An object is a technical term in modern philosophy 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 is a state of cognition 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 frameworks also differ in whether they consider objects existing independently of their properties 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.[1] In a general sense it is any entity: the pyramids, Alpha Centauri, the number seven, a disbelief in predestination or the fear of cats. In a strict sense it refers to any definite being.

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, wherein substances (objects) are distinct from their properties, and bundle theory, wherein objects are no more than bundles of their properties.


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, the answer is a substance, that which stands for the change.

The 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 bundle theory, the answer is none; thus an object is merely its properties.

In the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā Nagarjuna 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 – "dependent origination") that lies at the very root of Buddhist 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.[2][3]


In English the word object is derived from the Latin objectus (pp. of obicere) with the meaning "to throw, or put before or against", from ob-(pref.) and jacere, "to throw".[4] As such it is a root for several important words used to derive meaning, such as objectify (to materialize), objective (a future reference), and objectivism (a philosophical doctrine that knowledge is based on objective reality).

Reality theory

Bertrand Russell updated the classical terminology with one more term, the fact;[5] "Everything that there is in the world I call a fact." Facts, objects, are opposed to beliefs, 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,[6] "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".[7] This framework of presumptions is termed the Theory of the Real.[8]

Until the true-false distinction can be made, every object must be viewed as possibly true, a quasi-object. This extends even to those "objects" that are known to be "subjective"; individuals may determine to create a logical or rational entity that they treat as if real, a corporation, a fund, a population of elves, etc. These are typically the subjects of cultural anthropology.


Value theory

Value theory concerns the value of objects. When it concerns economic value, it generally deals with physical objects. However, when concerning philosophic or ethic value, an object may be both a physical object and an abstract object (e.g. an action).


Limiting discussions of objecthood to the realm of physical objects may simplify them. However, defining physical objects in terms of fundamental particles (e.g. quarks) 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.


Symbols represent objects; how they do so, the map-territory relation, is the basic problem of semantics.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Peirce, Charles S. "Object". University of Helsinki. Archived from the original on 2009-02-14. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies pp. 296-297 – Karl H. Potter, Harold G Coward
  3. ^ MMK 24-18
  4. ^ Klein, Ernest (1969) A comprehensive etymological dictionary of the English language, Vol II, Elsevier publishing company, Amsterdam, pp. 1066–1067
  5. ^ Russell 1948, p. 143.
  6. ^ Russell 1948, pp. 148–149.
  7. ^ Russell 1948, p. 154.
  8. ^ Taylor 1903, pp. 16–17
  9. ^ Dąmbska, Izydora (2016). "Symbols". Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences & the Humanities. 105: 201–209 – via Humanities Source.


External links

Abstract and concrete

Abstract and concrete are classifications that denote whether the object that a term describes has physical referents. Abstract objects have no physical referents, whereas concrete objects do. They are most commonly used in philosophy and semantics. Abstract objects are sometimes called abstracta (sing. abstractum) and concrete objects are sometimes called concreta (sing. concretum). An abstract object is an object that does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing—i.e., an idea, or abstraction. The term abstract object is said to have been coined by Willard Van Orman Quine. The study of abstract objects is called abstract object theory.

Actor model

The actor model in computer science is a mathematical model of concurrent computation that treats "actors" as the universal primitives of concurrent computation. In response to a message that it receives, an actor can: make local decisions, create more actors, send more messages, and determine how to respond to the next message received. Actors may modify their own private state, but can only affect each other through messages (avoiding the need for any locks).

The actor model originated in 1973. It has been used both as a framework for a theoretical understanding of computation and as the theoretical basis for several practical implementations of concurrent systems. The relationship of the model to other work is discussed in Actor model and process calculi.


In philosophy, being means the existence of a thing. Anything that exists has being. Ontology is the branch of philosophy that studies being. Being is a concept encompassing objective and subjective features of reality and existence. Anything that partakes in being is also called a "being", though often this usage is limited to entities that have subjectivity (as in the expression "human being"). The notion of "being" has, inevitably, been elusive and controversial in the history of philosophy, beginning in Western philosophy with attempts among the pre-Socratics to deploy it intelligibly. The first effort to recognize and define the concept came from Parmenides, who famously said of it that "what is-is". Common words such as "is", "are", and "am" refer directly or indirectly to being.

As an example of efforts in recent times, Martin Heidegger (who himself drew on ancient Greek sources) adopted after German terms like Dasein to articulate the topic. Several modern approaches build on such continental European exemplars as Heidegger, and apply metaphysical results to the understanding of human psychology and the human condition generally (notably in the Existentialist tradition). By contrast, in mainstream Analytical philosophy the topic is more confined to abstract investigation, in the work of such influential theorists as W. V. O. Quine, to name one of many. One of the most fundamental questions that has been contemplated in various cultures and traditions (e.g., Native American) and continues to exercise philosophers is articulated thusly by William James: "How comes the world to be here at all instead of the nonentity which might be imagined in its place? ... from nothing to being there is no logical bridge."


Concepts are mental representations, abstract objects or abilities that make up the fundamental building blocks of thoughts and beliefs. They play an important role in all aspects of cognition.In contemporary philosophy, there are at least three prevailing ways to understand what a concept is:

Concepts as mental representations, where concepts are entities that exist in the mind (mental objects)

Concepts as abilities, where concepts are abilities peculiar to cognitive agents (mental states)

Concepts as Fregean senses (see sense and reference), where concepts are abstract objects, as opposed to mental objects and mental statesConcepts can be organized into a hierarchy, higher levels of which are termed "superordinate" and lower levels termed "subordinate". Additionally, there is the "basic" or "middle" level at which people will most readily categorize a concept. For example, a basic-level concept would be "chair", with its superordinate, "furniture", and its subordinate, "easy chair".

A concept is instantiated (reified) by all of its actual or potential instances, whether these are things in the real world or other ideas.

Concepts are studied as components of human cognition in the cognitive science disciplines of linguistics, psychology and philosophy, where an ongoing debate asks whether all cognition must occur through concepts. Concepts are used as formal tools or models in mathematics, computer science, databases and artificial intelligence where they are sometimes called classes, schema or categories. In informal use the word concept often just means any idea.


An entity is anything that claims independent existence (as opposed to merely being part of a whole), whether as a subject or as an object, actually or potentially, concretely or abstractly.

The term is broad in scope and may refer to animals; natural features like mountains; inanimate objects like tables; abstractions like numbers or sets; human contrivances like laws, corporations and academic disciplines; or supernatural beings like Gods and spirits.

The adjectival form is entitative and refers to something considered in its own right.

If a tree falls in a forest

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception.

J. P. Pickens

Jean Paul "J.P." Pickens (May 6, 1937 – July 6, 1973), was a leading force in the early North Beach, San Francisco, music scene, circa 1963, along with David Meltzer and James Gurley, defining the psychedelic rock genre. J.P. played regularly at the Coffee Gallery on Grant Street in the early sixties, performing with Meltzer, Gurley and Peter Albin (who later formed Big Brother and the Holding Company) and many others.


A kitchen is a room or part of a room used for cooking and food preparation in a dwelling or in a commercial establishment. A modern middle-class residential kitchen is typically equipped with a stove, a sink with hot and cold running water, a refrigerator, and worktops and kitchen cabinets arranged according to a modular design. Many households have a microwave oven, a dishwasher, and other electric appliances. The main functions of a kitchen are to store, prepare and cook food (and to complete related tasks such as dishwashing). The room or area may also be used for dining (or small meals such as breakfast), entertaining and laundry. The design and construction of kitchens is a huge market all over the world. The United States are expected to generate $47,730m in the kitchen furniture industry for 2018 alone.Commercial kitchens are found in restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, hospitals, educational and workplace facilities, army barracks, and similar establishments. These kitchens are generally larger and equipped with bigger and more heavy-duty equipment than a residential kitchen. For example, a large restaurant may have a huge walk-in refrigerator and a large commercial dishwasher machine. In some instances commercial kitchen equipment such as commercial sinks are used in household settings as it offers ease of use for food preparation and high durability.In developed countries, commercial kitchens are generally subject to public health laws. They are inspected periodically by public-health officials, and forced to close if they do not meet hygienic requirements mandated by law.

Maximum PC

Maximum PC, formerly known as boot, is an American magazine and web site published by Future US. It focuses on cutting-edge PC hardware, with an emphasis on product reviews, step-by-step tutorials, and in-depth technical briefs. Component coverage areas include CPUs, motherboards, core-logic chipsets, memory, videocards, mechanical hard drives, solid-state drives, optical drives, cases, component cooling, and anything else to do with recent tech news. Additional hardware coverage is directed at smartphones, tablet computers, cameras and other consumer electronic devices that interface with consumer PCs. Software coverage focuses on games, anti-virus suites, content-editing programs, and other consumer-level applications.

Prior to September 1998, the magazine was called boot. boot and sister magazine MacAddict (now Mac|Life) launched in September 1996, when Future US shut down CD-ROM Today.

In March 2016, Future US announced that the Maximum PC website would be merged with PCGamer.com, appearing as the hardware section of the website from that point forward. The magazine was not affected by this change. As of July 2nd 2018, browsing to MaximumPC.com no longer forwards to the Hardware section of PCGamer.com

Moderate realism

Moderate realism (also called immanent realism) is a position in the debate on the metaphysics of universals that holds that there is no realm in which universals exist (in opposition to Platonic realism who asserts the existence of abstract objects), nor do they really exist within particulars as universals, but rather universals really exist within particulars as particularised, and multiplied.

Outline of metaphysics

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to metaphysics:

Metaphysics – traditional branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world that encompasses it, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:

What is ultimately there?

What is it like?

Problem of universals

In metaphysics, the problem of universals refers to the question of whether properties exist, and if so, what they are. Properties are qualities or relations that two or more entities have in common. The various kinds of properties, such as qualities and relations, are referred to as universals. For instance, one can imagine three cup holders on a table that have in common the quality of being circular or exemplifying circularity, or two daughters that have in common being the female offsprings of Frank. There are many such properties, such as being human, red, male or female, liquid, big or small, taller than, father of, etc.

While philosophers agree that human beings talk and think about properties, they disagree on whether these universals exist in reality or merely in thought and speech.

The ″problem of universals″ relates to a number of questions in close relation to not only metaphysics but, to logic and epistemology, all in efforts to understand how the thought of universals has a connection to those of singular properties. An example best used to explain this, is the question of the Pythagorean theorem. How does one know that this formula will be true universally at all times for all triangles?

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