The object (Latin: obiectum, the "thrown-against"; Greek: ἀντίκείμενον antikeimenon, the "opposed, opposite, thrown-against") has been conceptualised differently in the history of philosophy, but today it is understood in terms of the subject-object split as the objective counter-concept of the subject, as a non-I that confronts the conscious, individual, self-determined I. Insofar as an object viewed from the outside is at the same time an animate being that experiences itself inwardly as a subject, its subjective inner world remains inaccessible to external observation; in this case one speaks of the third-person perspective, which can, however, be overcome to a certain extent through empathy.
In the philosophy of science, the object of research of a science is called the object of knowledge (object of cognition, object of thought) and its relationship to the subject of cognition is investigated by epistemology.
From an ontological point of view, the object is usually understood as a given thing (in the broadest sense) that exists independently of the subject and to which the attention and activity, namely the activity of cognition, of the subject is directed. The object is thus declared to be an absolute that exists for itself. This overlooks the fact that the gap between subject and object does not exist in reality, but is only torn open in consciousness in the act of cognition, i.e. through thinking - and is also overcome again. Thinking itself is neither subjective nor objective, but is above the opposition of subject and object that it itself produces. The concept of object can therefore only be grasped in relation to a cognising subject. Rudolf Steiner already pointed out in his fundamental philosophical works that the essence of things is expressed or can be expressed in human thinking, provided we do not impose our speculative thinking on it.
„Now, however, it must not be overlooked that only with the help of thinking can we determine ourselves as subjects 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. Thus, when we as thinking subject 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. 60)
„The faculty of knowledge appears to man as subjective only as long as he does not consider 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 essence of things, the thing-in-itself, is directly experienced. For them, everything ideal is merely subjective.“ (Lit.:GA 6, p. 55)
- 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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.