Objective Idealism
The philosophical position, to which Barfield claims allegiance as an Anthroposopher, that ideas are not (as subjective idealism contends1) a "subjective process in individual human minds," "in some way as real, or more real, than the objective world," but that they are the result of a "polarity between the subjectivity of the individual mind and the objective world which it perceives." Thus there is no disjunction between subject and object, both of which are generated out of the essential polarity. Objective idealism contends, as Sanderson explains in Worlds Apart, that "if you start from the brain and say it 'constructs' the world it is aware of, you . . . leave out of account the fact that the brain as an object of observation is itself part of a world which you yourself have constructed. Surely you have got to start with the act of construction and not with the brain!" (WA 49).

The modern epistemological outlook, Barfield contends, "is really a very strange marriage of ideas indeed . . . and has led to all sorts of matrimonial jars, all sorts of difficulties, all sorts of uneasy metaphysical arguments about what (if anything) is actually there outside of us and what is not really there, but is only a kind of appearance, or deception. All sorts of lyrical backchat about Juniper trees when there is no one about in the Quad" (RCA 227).2 Barfield's thought strives to avoid these absurdities.

Barfield takes pains to point out that, unlike a hardcore idealist, he is not about to argue that "the solid globe is as insubstantial as a rainbow" (SA 22-23). Rather, objective idealism teaches that, according to "Steiner's insistence--and Goethe's before him--. . . the Thinking on which our experience of nature depends, really is in--objectively in--nature . . ." (RCA 227).

Objective idealism is so counter-intuitive that general acceptance of its truth will not come easily. As Barfield explains in What Coleridge Thought,

Although the outness of phenomena is a law of our nature, we are not conscious of it as a law. We are merely conscious of their outness. The first prejudice may properly be called a "prejudice" because it dissolves upon analysis. It ceases to be a prejudice only when we become conscious of it as a law; when we transcend it, not by a sophisticated and unreal realism of appearances-of-things versus things themselves, but that actual realism, which understands and accepts the law.

By doing so, we become ready to see the truth of objective idealism:

we become aware that reality, although it is indeed real, is also appearance; and that appearance, although it is indeed appearance, is also reality. We emerge from what was essentially a sleeping relation with phenomena into a waking one; and it was this awakening, into which, paradoxically, the unhappy opium addict [Coleridge] was mainly concerned to arouse his contemporaries and posterity, confident, that, once that has been effected, the fact that nature is essentially one with the intelligence in us, will no longer seem a wild and incredible speculation, or a pathetic fallacy, but will become a self-evident fact. (66)

Donna Potts analyzes the influence of objective idealism on the American poet Howard Nemerov in a monograph available in its entirety here.

See in particular "Man, Thought, and Nature" (RCA 223-240).
1In an interview with Shirley Sugerman, Barfield offers, by way of contrast, the following brief history of subjective idealism.
    The general position of subjective idealism is that there are two kinds of idealism, one being a Platonic idealism where the Ideas are conceived as having a kind of independent, separate existence of their own, whereas subjective idealism treats ideas as a subjective process in individual human minds but nevertheless, in the development of this philosophy, it presents them as being more real than the objective world. . . . You can say, then, that the subjective idealists see the two disjunctively: either you believe in Platonic Ideas or you believe in ideas more in the modern sense, but nevertheless also conceive of those ideas as being in some way as real, or more real, than the objective world. Objective idealism contends that the disjunction is itself an unreal one, and that reality, individual being, however you think of it, consists in the polarity between the subjectivity of the individual mind and the objective world which it perceives. They are not two things, but they are one and the same thing and what you call the objective world is merely one pole of what is a unitary process and what we call subjective experience is the other pole, but they are not really divided from each other. (SP 18)
2Barfield appears to be referring to a famous philosophical limerick by Ronald Knox.
    There was a young man who said, "God
    Must think it exceedingly odd
    if he finds that this tree
    continues to be
    When there's no one about in the quad."

    Dear Sir:
    Your astonishment's odd:
    I am always about in the Quad.

    And that's why the tree
    Will continue to be,
    Since observed by
    Yours faithfully GOD.