Subjectivism has been the term used since modern times to describe a basic philosophical attitude according to which all knowledge and the actions arising from it can only be justified subjectively. Only when the objective world of ideas shines forth in consciousness with the evidence associated with it, as it can be found, for example, in mathematical proofs, is the bridge to objectivity and thus to reality found, in which the opposition of subject and object is abolished.
„The cognitive faculty appears to man as subjective only so long as he does not notice that it is nature itself which speaks through it. Subjective and objective meet when the objective world of ideas comes to life in the subject, and that which is active in nature itself lives in the spirit of man. When this is the case, then all opposition of subjective and objective ceases. This opposition only has a meaning as long as man artificially maintains it, as long as he regards the ideas as his thoughts, through which the essence of nature is represented, but in which it is not itself active. Kant and the Kantians had no idea that in the ideas of reason the essential being of things is directly experienced. For them, everything ideal is merely subjective.“ (Lit.:GA 6, p. 55f)
In 1925, Rudolf Steiner retrospectively described his own philosophical position as objective idealism.
„At that time I could find no other word for my way of thinking than "objective idealism". By this I meant that for me the essential thing about the idea is not that it appears in the human subject, but that it appears in the spiritual object as, for example, colour appears in the sense being, and that the human soul - the subject - perceives it there as the eye perceives colour in a living being.“ (Lit.:GA 28, p. 93)
In his "Philosophy of Freedom" Rudolf Steiner made it clear that it is thinking that leads us beyond subjectivity and connects us with objects:
„In so far as man observes an object, it appears to him as given; in so far as he thinks, he appears to himself as active. He regards the object as object, himself as the thinking subject. Because he directs his thinking towards observation, he has consciousness of the objects; because he directs his thinking towards himself, he has consciousness of himself or self-consciousness. Human consciousness must necessarily be self-consciousness at the same time, because it is thinking consciousness. For when thinking directs its gaze to its own activity, it has as its object its very own being, that is, its subject.
Now it must not be overlooked that only with the help of thinking can we determine ourselves as subject and oppose ourselves to the objects. Therefore, thinking must never be understood as a merely subjective activity. Thinking is beyond subject and object. It forms these two concepts as well as all others. If, therefore, as a thinking subject, we relate the concept to an object, we must not conceive of this relation as something merely subjective. It is not the subject that brings about the relation, but thinking. The subject does not think because it is a subject; rather, it appears to itself as a subject because it is able to think. The activity that man performs as a thinking being is therefore not a merely subjective one, but one that is neither subjective nor objective, one that transcends these two concepts. I must never say that my individual subject thinks; rather, this subject itself lives by the grace of thinking. Thought is thus an element that leads me beyond my self and connects me with the objects. But at the same time it separates me from them by confronting me with them as a subject.“ (Lit.:GA 4, p. 59f)
- Rudolf Steiner: Einleitungen zu Goethes Naturwissenschaftlichen Schriften, GA 1 (1987), ISBN 3-7274-0011-0 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Die Philosophie der Freiheit, GA 4 (1995), ISBN 3-7274-0040-4 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Goethes Weltanschauung, GA 6 (1990), ISBN 3-7274-0060-9 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Mein Lebensgang, GA 28 (2000), ISBN 3-7274-0280-6 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: email@example.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.