Subject, Subjective. The word subject, from the Latin
subjaceo, is the
exact translation of the Greek
ὑποκείμενον, and denotes in logic the same thing, that in a
proposition of which something else is
predicated. It is obvious that there can be no predicate without a
subject. I can affirm or deny nothing, except of something.
From subject comes the adjective subjective, which was employed from an
early date by the Latin logicians, and gave rise, though apparently not
till some time after, to its counterpart objective. I have already
stated that these words, so much bandied about in the present day,
have had their original and scholastic meaning quite transposed.
With the schoolmen and such divines as Bishop Morton and Mode, in the
seventeenth century, subjective meant of or belonging to the subject of
a proposition, objective that which is presented to the mind and thought
upon. Hence that is subjective which exists in anything outside the
mind, objective when thought upon by the mind; and hence an
presence in the Eucharist was conceded in the controversy with Rome, a
subjective presence denied, which is exactly the reverse use of the
words as now employed in the same controversy.
The later philosophies of Germany, however, viewing the individual mind
as the only subject,
have naturally used the word subjective for what has its seat there, and
objective for that which is presented to it, or conceived to be so, from
without, and by subjective and objective people nowadays
respectively mean inward and mental, or external and perceived.(1)
Whichever meanings we prefer, it will be well, I think, to confine our
use of these words to philosophical reasoning. In such they are
convenient, if not indispensable. When we are discoursing on subjects
and objects as such, we may well avail ourselves of the paronyms
subjective and objective. But outside the schools they are unnecessary,
and to my mind ugly, words; and as used at present serve no purpose
that could not just as well be achieved by mental and external.
(1) Neither Sir W. Hamilton nor his editor Dean Mansel seem to have
observed this. The former speaks of the use of subject for the subject
of a proposition, an ὑποκέιμενον in external things, as a departure from
scholastic usage (Metaph. vol. I. p. 162). Nor did either Trendelenburg
or Prantl, though known to him, lead his editor to notice the error.