It is important to note that what is objectified in sensory perception is not fully given to it, number, space etc. are not sensory in character, further what is perceived is not purely an object but also a subject. This means that, for example, a plant functions actively in the modes of number, space, movement, energy and organic life, and it does so in its own particular way. Dooyeweerd also gives the example of a biotic subject-object relation of a mother-bird feeding its young. He uses this to show how such a biotic subject-object relation can itself become the object of sensory perception and so be involved in a sensory subject-object relation (NC, II 374).
A natural event, such as a flood, cannot function actively in the mode of feeling, it cannot perceive anything, but it can be perceived. This is what is meant by being an object for sensory perception. Such events can function as objects in all the later modes, so it can have a historical meaning, it can have an economic meaning and so on. This meaning does not exist “in itself” but only in relation to possible subjective functioning in the aspect concerned, Dooyeweerd explains, “The objective-sensory perceptual image of a flash of lightening, for instance, only exists in relationship to possible subjective perception. It has no being “in itself,” in abstraction.” (ESL, I 185). Traditionally a distinction between primary and secondary qualities has been maintained where the mathematical and physical characteristics of a natural phenomenon are held to be in the thing itself whereas the sensory qualities of colour, smell, taste etc. are supposed to exist only for subjective perception and so lack any true ‘objectivity’ (in the sense of mind independent reality). Dooyeweerd’s approach rejects this completely. On his view a natural phenomenon functions actively, and so as a subject, in the mathematical and physical aspects of reality. As a subject, it truly possesses a spatial trajectory, it functions actively as a subject within the physical aspect of movement and energy. It is the sensory qualities that are instead “objective” because related as an object to the active functioning of a subject. The origin of the traditional view is the supposition that investigation by the special sciences is able to inform us with regard to the true and full reality of a phenomenon. However Dooyeweerd holds that “the special sciences must in fact begin by abstracting from the concrete data in order to be able to theoretically study a particular aspect of reality which has been chosen as a field of investigation. The special sciences should never arrogate to themselves the theory of reality. This lies in principle outside the limits of their competency” (ESL, I. 186).
There is an important difference between the objective retrocipations and the objective anticipation in sensory perception. The first are simply and directly given, those with normal vision in enough light cannot help but see these features, in the latter case however the features relate to normative aspects of reality as such they require the opening or deepening of the objective perceptual image. “The normative anticipations in the objective-sensory form of a thing are dependent upon human disclosure; they are not present as a matter of course in the perceptual image itself … but are, rather, presented to human beings as a hidden realm of meaning to be disclosed.” (ESL. I 193)
Reformational philosophy emphasises the relational nature of all that exists. There are no 'things in themselves'. It is a mistake to see a basic relationship between thinking and being, rather 'thinking' is just one function next to and in relationship with others as the logical aspect is just one aspect in connection with all the others. And all aspects are aspects of coherence, both in terms of subject-subject relations and subject-object relations.