June 8, 2009

subject vs. object

an object is what someone holds objective facts about while a subject is someone one knows intimately through shared experience. to view someone as an object is to limit that person within a set of linguistic boundaries to make this person known universally as an object. it is no longer through subjective experience that a person is known but through a list of words with clear definitions, thus limiting them to the definitions of those words and nothing more. basically the potential to know someone is quenched.
to view someone as a subject is to recognize that the potential to know them is unfathomable. it is to throw away the limitedness of words and engage this person who ends up defying all clear distinctions. you can only know a subject through subjective experience with them.
for example, let’s say that someone asks me to describe my friend travis. this is truly an impossibility. its because whatever word I use to describe him, travis always seems to defy this word and its limited definition although it may be true most of the time. an objective fact: travis is shy. although this may be true when he is around certain people I have seen him do things and say things that would completely and utterly defy the definition of shy. this is because a person can never be known (or made known) by objective facts and words. someone can only be really known by engaging with his or her soul; by being transformed by their life.
I think that most people would probably agree with this. but, what gets me is that if we understand that people can’t be known by objective truth and will end up defying labels we project upon them why do we do both these things to God as if He will fit into our mold or be confined nicely in the definitions of our language despite the eloquence or manner. defining and describing God are important, but if we believe that, afterwards, He must submit to the realm of our description we are no longer treating God as subject but as object. He is not an object to be grasped, but a God to be engaged, a power to be transformed by and a subject to be experienced.