Objective and Subjective
Objective and Subjective. That is spoken of as objective which is
presented as an object, and that to which the presentation is made as
being affected by it is called the subject. According to the Kantian
philosophy the mind is the only subject, and therefore all that is
external to it if known at all is known only subjectively.
The words objective and subjective are the
creation of the schoolmen, and their use would be better
restrained to scholastic discussion, than extended as now to all
sorts of discourse, in which they do not seem to mean more than
outward and inward, distinct from the mind or in the mind. They
are awkward in their form, though that is no objection to them
as terms of art.
As terms of art indeed their revival has been hailed both by Coleridge
and Sir W. Hamilton. It has not always been noticed, however, that the said
revival has been accompanied by what is almost a reversal of their
meaning. By the schoolmen the outward taken by itself was spoken of as
taken subjectively, viewed as in itself, apart from the perceiving and
thinking mind. The thing in itself is
το ὑποκεῑμενον, the thing as
perceived and thought is objective. This, as may easily be seen, has
been reversed in modern language. The old scholastic force of the terms
survived among English writers down to the middle of the seventeenth
century. Thus speaks the celebrated Mede, "Though the Eucharist be a
sacrifice (that is, an oblation wherein the offerer banquets with his
God), yet is Christ in this sacrifice no otherwise offered, than by way
of commemoration only of his sacrifice once offered upon the Cross, as a
learned prelate of ours (1) hath lately written objectivè only, not
How completely this reverses the polemical terms of the present day I
need not show.
(1) Bishop Morton.