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In philosophy, a subject is a being which has subjective experiences or a relationship with another entity (or "object"). A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed. This concept is especially important in Continental philosophy, where 'the Subject' is a central term in debates over human autonomy and the nature of the self.
Nietzsche's critique of the subject[edit | edit source]
Nietzsche has criticized the groundworks of the subject, rejecting the notion of substance (Heidegger later showed how subject came from the Greek "substance"). Self-identity is assured by conscience, as John Locke showed, which is, according to Nietzsche, a hypostasis of the body and the multiple forces composing it . Nietzsche stated that the subject was a "grammatical fiction"; "there is no doer behind the doing". Later, Heidegger thought the Dasein as "Being-there", which must not be mistaken with a personal subject. These thinkers opened up the way for the deconstruction of the subject as a core-concept of metaphysics.
Social Construction of the Subject[edit | edit source]
Thinkers such as Althusser, Foucault or Bourdieu theorize the subject as a social construction. According to Althusser, the "subject" is an ideological construction (more exactly, constructed by the "Ideological State Apparatuses"). It is constituted through the process of interpellation; according to Foucault, it is the "effect" of power and "disciplines" (See Discipline and Punish: construction of the subject as student, soldier, "criminal", etc.).
The Psychoanalytic Subject[edit | edit source]
Jacques Lacan, inspired by Heidegger and Althusser, developed a psychoanalytic model of the subject, in which the "split subject" is constituted by a double bind - alienated from jouissance when he enters into the Imaginary during the mirror stage, and separated from the Other when he comes under the Name of the Father and enters into the Symbolic.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Louis Althusser's conception of Ideological State Apparatuses (I.S.A.) and interpellation of the subject
- Cognitive linguistics
- Michel Foucault's critic of the subject and the oxymoron "Historical subject"
- List of ethics topics
- Moral relativism
- Subject-object problem
- Personhood theory
Endnotes[edit | edit source]
relativism and universal moral
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