The nominative case

The nominative case

The nominative case—aka subjective case, straight case or upright case—is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments. Generally, the noun “that is doing something” is in the nominative, and the nominative is often the form listed in dictionaries.

What is nominative in relation to space is accusative in relation to the epistemic subject, as mandated by the necessary outwardness of grammatical intentionality. The nominative case gathers and focuses the attention towards an object.

The nominative is a being towards which we expect its doing. This expectation of doing has its evolutionary origin in the fact that the primary predicate of human interest was motion. The predicate was ultimately detached from motion and extended into other realms, so that the original split between substance and motion became broadened and generalized into one between substance and any attribute whatsoever. To this day, however, the “inherence” of attributes and accidents in substances is taken as a doing. The predicate originates as the structural role of motion (doing), but then gets widened, so that all predicates also have a character of doing.

The dynamic root of the predicate can be discerned from another feature, which is that the content or reference of the predicate is always momentary. The grammatical subject refers to that which which perdures, but the predicate refers to what arises and passes fully. Mutability is the essence of the predicate, and this feature is grasped precisely through its contrast with the subject, which points to a persistent something that “contains” predicational multiplicity—both as logical combination of simultaneous multiple predicates (universals) and as the temporal plurality of flowing empirical contents. Sense contents fall away and are replaced.

The original interest in doing as motion survives in our metaphysics of properties.