To Kierkegaard, subjectivity was one’s truth. It was so not because this truth met some external and objective criteria but because it was truly embraced by the self, it was truly one’s own, not alienable, not reducible to someone else’s perspective, not shakeable by externals.
Of course, this presupposed a titanic or at least honest struggle with defining reality, one which, nevertheless, remains open to investigation by the conscience. Kierkegaard himself called it not so much truth as faith. He realized that it was a leap, a subjective leap in which no one else could assist, reassure, comfort, or elucidate the one who was taking the leap.
Leap always suggests, nevertheless, a gamble taken, or worse, a bluff accepted. What if we lose? Don’t we lose by assuming too much of our supposed perceptiveness, our autonomy, our very ability to choose — the presumption of Sartre that we are completely free to choose the course of our lives and thoughts? Are we?
In contrast to the notion of subjective truth in Kierkegaard, objectivity is truth only as assigned by authority, culture, tradition, or fear. Such objective truth compels us to conform, accept, and obey. It remains not fully understood because it is, in effect, the subjective projection of the culture. This truth is assimilated and is soon lived as subjective truth, made one’s own by psychological and social forces. We end up believing that what is mere social and cultural convention is compelling enough to believe to be true and necessary. “What is real is right,” said Hegel. “And what is right is real.”
What we call objective truth (or at any rate objective consensus) always needs to be assessed in terms of who makes the claim of objectivity and what authority is involved in maintaining the consensus. And how that authority came to be. But irregardless, we need to see if this objective truth has anything to do with the universe and its irrefutable patterns. We need to be able to summon our intuitive core without fear and see what it feels (not just thinks) about the weight of this objectivity.
Ultimately, however, what we affirm on a day-to-day basis becomes, after a while, subjective truth, where it can give us energy or it can give us delusions.
The challenge of content (all that we call objective and subjective, namely our description of reality) is that it remains viable, functional, and in harmony with whatever in fact is reality. This dualism between perception and ground seems inevitable — at least as long as we are still thinking about it!
Just as with daylight, ruled by the sun, versus night time not ruled by any single star, subjectivity has its own compelling philosophy of being, insofar as we may never get to know anything else so intimately.
Daylight gives us objects to cling to, but night is the context for the soul’s darkness. But we do not want darkness as such, not night alone, but night as part of a pattern of change and flux, night with stars.