Monday, March 24, 2008

Subject-object division

In another sense than Popper explained, there are two kinds of worlds in which we live: The world of objects which would exist even if we did not exist and even when there were no other (human) beings that could give it a certain meaning, and the world as it is for us, for the human beings that we are. This implies that there are two kinds of subject-object divisions. (1) On the one hand we have the division between the subject that we are and the objects of the physical world around us and from which are physically separated. We could call it the ontological subject-object division. (2) On the other hand we have the division between the interpreting and knowing subject that we are and the fundamentally interpreted objects around us. These objects exist only for us, because we see them and we can see them only because they fit, in one sense or another, how minimal that may be, in our scheme of interpretation (“scheme” in the sense of Schank and Abelson). We could call it the epistemological subject-object division.These fundamentally interpreted objects of the epistemological subject-object division can be divided into (2a) objects that are only interpreted by us and (2b) objects that give themselves an interpretation (“human beings”). We can interpret (“explain”) these self-interpreting objects only by taking part in their self-interpretations. The subject-object divisions in the sense of 2a and 2b are fundamental for science. Nowadays, the subject-object division between subjects and self-interpreting objects (or subject-objects, as Apel called them) is widely recognized, but hardly any investigator of man and his or her institutions takes it seriously in practice.

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