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An object is a person or thing existing outside the self. It is its own thing.

Objective means a view from oneself toward an object with a priority of viewing the facts of the object. Subjective is a view from the self that takes into account that it is a view from the self. In common usage, objectivity tends to get confused with accuracy about an object while subjectivity is confused with projections that lead to inaccuracy about an object. However, objectivity is not accuracy and subjectivity is not inaccuracy. Accuracy is correctly viewing and describing the facts about a thing. Accuracy with regard to an object is enhanced when subjectivity is explored and embraced rather than rejected or denied.

From French political philosophy a subject is a person/object from the perspective of a Ruler; someone who stands under the rules. At times this is celebrated for having a status worthy of protection within the bounds of society and legitimacy under the rules; but at the same time it is mandatory, meaning one does not choose this position, and subordinated, linking personal power to the power of the state. Imported into French linguistic philosophy, a subject is also a subject of a sentence, meaning mostly the agent of the action of the verb in the sentence, and therefore a maker or expresser of power through action. (See Agency) One could say that having a subjective view is what makes a subject.

Agency is the quality of power associated with doing or performing an activity and being deemed the doer of the action. The grammatical structure of the sentence may have the real power to determine the agent of a sentence, however. Feminist philosophy followed the French linguistic turn of the 1960s and evolved into queer and poststructuralist theory in the Americas. This may be counterintuitive to English speakers for whom an agent is often an executive helper behind the scenes (advertising agency supports a business, a secret agent supports the government, call my agent). But then again, the French contains sideways slips in power and so English speakers may have simplified and overcompensated.

In common usage, to objectify someone is bad or wrong because it means to treat someone (a person object) like a thing to be used or consumed (a thing object), piled up or counted under consumer-capitalist conditions. But in another more technical sense, objectification means to make or recognize a thing for itself, in its separate realness. In this sense it is good. It is frustrating that different approaches use the opposition of subject and object to mean morally opposite things even though they may be agreeing on the basic premise that seeing something to be real in itself is both accurate and moral, even if it is highly complex or difficult.

Complexity is an internal set of differences with a pattern. Complication repeats differently, in back and forth movements that fold or tangle threads.

Difficulties in philosophy can be moral or technical. Difficulties in expressions about reality are sometimes so big that they are called impossible. Such an encounter may lead to an invitation to cross the threshold or a warning away from the edge. Either way the impossible is an expression of humility at the threshold of encounter.

I contend that profound respect for the object is the primary motivation for both a philosophy of the subject and a philosophy of the formal concept, and that humility with regard to the object is operating on both sides, on the one hand highlighting the power of the subject in order to critique or contain it, and on the other hand bracketing the subject to empower the object and let it speak for itself.

The error or misattributions in the controversy are due, I suggest to a reversal of pronoun referral at the tuning of the cosmos to the measure of the human at the adventure of the historical enlightenment. Of and From switched places.


Objects may be internal or external. An internal object is an image or part of an external object that shows up in the mind of the viewer through various processes. In my view, the biggest rifts in psychoanalytic theory are due to the difficulty of articulating what is real about mental objects and from what perspective theory is theorizing: the infant or the parent.

Often external things are experienced in parts but mentally fused into a whole, or experienced as wholly terrifying and mentally managed by dividing into parts. Whether part-objects are interior or exterior is indecipherable due to unaccounted-for perspectivalist (non-phenomenological) theorizing referenced above .

Projection in common usage is the often unaware attribution of one’s interior wishes fears an experiences to an outside person or thing. When the process happens in reference to the self it is called introjection. I put something into myself that was or is outside.

When I receive something into myself that is partially outside because there is an interior object or hole shaped like it, that is a prosthetic or self-object experience, on a spectrum of narcissism and projection, often sung about as romantic love in pop songs and experienced in parenting relationships.

When I receive something into myself that is truly outside because I want to join in its activity, that is love. This is what it means to be object oriented, or to be in a mature transference.

When I receive something into myself that is truly outside because someone is listening for me and there is a place for it in me already, that is transference in the therapeutic sense. Transferences occur on a spectrum of kinds from narcissistic/self-object, twinship, to mature love and object relation. Counter-transference refers to the therapist’s side of it.

Some say that transference is a field; interpersonal, or a single subjective unit. Some say it is a part of everyday life, and some say limited to what happens in analysis; mysterious and sacred, or projective and in need of a cure. In psychoanalysis what needs a cure leads to the cure and becomes the cure. I follow the line of thinking that says that transference is that which takes hold in a therapeutic alliance and is a uniquely curative good.


Subjectivity in one set of literature is negative because confined by projections, but in another set, subjectivity is positive because referencing the action power of a doer or maker. And in another set, subjectivity is limited or split by the forces outside that are controlling, whether from partial object experiences, disconnection from vital inner sources, or introjection of state power in the form of ideology.

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