Idealism

Idealism

Overview
In philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism
Skepticism
Skepticism has many definitions, but generally refers to any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere...

 about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. As an ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 doctrine, idealism goes further, asserting that all entities are composed of mind or spirit.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Idealism'
Start a new discussion about 'Idealism'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
In philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism
Skepticism
Skepticism has many definitions, but generally refers to any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere...

 about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. As an ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 doctrine, idealism goes further, asserting that all entities are composed of mind or spirit. Idealism thus rejects physicalist
Physicalism
Physicalism is a philosophical position holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties; that is, that there are no kinds of things other than physical things...

 and dualist
Dualism (philosophy of mind)
In philosophy of mind, dualism is a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, which begins with the claim that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical....

 theories that fail to ascribe priority to the mind.

Religious and philosophical thought privileging the immaterial or supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 over the material and natural is ubiquitous and ancient. However, the earliest extant arguments that the world of experience is grounded in the mental derive from India and Greece. The Hindu idealists
Hindu idealism
There are currents of idealism in classical Hindu philosophy.Idealism and materialism are the principal monist ontologies.A related branch is the Buddhist concept of consciousness-only.Idealist notions have been supported by the Vedanta and Yoga schools...

 in India and the Greek Neoplatonists
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 gave pantheistic
Pantheism
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

 arguments for an all-pervading consciousness as the ground or true nature of reality. In contrast, the Yogācāra
Yogacara
Yogācāra is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and ontology through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It developed within Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism in about the 4th century CE...

 school of Buddhism based their "mind-only" idealism to a greater extent on phenomenological
Phenomenology
Phenomenology is a broad philosophical movement emphasizing the study of conscious experience...

 analyses of personal experience. This turn toward the subjective
Subjective idealism
Subjective idealism, or empirical idealism, is the monistic metaphysical doctrine that only minds and mental contents exist. It entails and is generally identified or associated with immaterialism, the doctrine that physical things do not exist...

 anticipated empiricists
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

 such as George Berkeley
George Berkeley
George Berkeley , also known as Bishop Berkeley , was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism"...

, who revived idealism in 18th-century Europe by employing skeptical arguments against materialism
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

.

Beginning with Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

, German idealists
German idealism
German idealism was a philosophical movement that emerged in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It developed out of the work of Immanuel Kant in the 1780s and 1790s, and was closely linked both with romanticism and the revolutionary politics of the Enlightenment...

 such as G. W. F. Hegel, Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher. He was one of the founding figures of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, a movement that developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant...

, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling , later von Schelling, was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German idealism, situating him between Fichte, his mentor prior to 1800, and Hegel, his former university roommate and erstwhile friend...

, and Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

 dominated 19th-century philosophy. This tradition, which emphasized the mental or "ideal" character of all phenomena, birthed idealistic and subjectivist
Subjectivism
Subjectivism is a philosophical tenet that accords primacy to subjective experience as fundamental of all measure and law. In extreme forms like Solipsism, it may hold that the nature and existence of every object depends solely on someone's subjective awareness of it...

 schools ranging from British idealism
British idealism
A species of absolute idealism, British idealism was a philosophical movement that was influential in Britain from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. The leading figures in the movement were T.H. Green , F. H. Bradley , and Bernard Bosanquet . They were succeeded by the...

 to phenomenalism
Phenomenalism
Phenomenalism is the view that physical objects do not exist as things in themselves but only as perceptual phenomena or sensory stimuli situated in time and in space...

 to existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 to postmodernism
Postmodernism
Postmodernism is a philosophical movement evolved in reaction to modernism, the tendency in contemporary culture to accept only objective truth and to be inherently suspicious towards a global cultural narrative or meta-narrative. Postmodernist thought is an intentional departure from the...

. The historical influence of this branch of idealism remains central even to the schools that rejected its metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 assumptions, such as Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

, pragmatism
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...

, and positivism
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

.

Definitions


Idealism is a term with several related meanings. It comes via idea
Idea
In the most narrow sense, an idea is just whatever is before the mind when one thinks. Very often, ideas are construed as representational images; i.e. images of some object. In other contexts, ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear as images...

from the Greek idein (ἰδεῖν), meaning "to see". The term entered the English language by 1796. In ordinary use, as when speaking of Woodrow Wilson's political idealism
Idealism (international relations)
In the American study of international relations, idealism usually refers to the school of thought personified in American diplomatic history by Woodrow Wilson, such that it is sometimes referred to as Wilsonianism, or Wilsonian Idealism. Idealism holds that a state should make its internal...

, it generally suggests the priority of ideals, principles, values, and goals over concrete realities. Idealists are understood to represent the world as it might or should be, unlike pragmatists
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...

, who focus on the world as it presently is. In the arts, similarly, idealism affirms imagination and attempts to realize a mental conception of beauty, a standard of perfection, in opposition to aesthetic naturalism and realism
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

.

Any philosophy that assigns crucial importance to the ideal or spiritual realm in its account of human existence may be termed "idealist". Metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 idealism is an ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 doctrine that holds that reality itself is incorporeal or experiential at its core. Beyond this, idealists disagree on which aspects of the mental are more basic. Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism usually refers to Plato's theory of forms or doctrine of ideas,Some commentators hold Plato argued that truth is an abstraction...

 affirms that abstractions
Abstract object
An abstract object is an object which does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing . In philosophy, an important distinction is whether an object is considered abstract or concrete. Abstract objects are sometimes called abstracta An abstract object is an...

 are more basic to reality than the things we perceive, while subjective idealists
Subjective idealism
Subjective idealism, or empirical idealism, is the monistic metaphysical doctrine that only minds and mental contents exist. It entails and is generally identified or associated with immaterialism, the doctrine that physical things do not exist...

 and phenomenalists
Phenomenalism
Phenomenalism is the view that physical objects do not exist as things in themselves but only as perceptual phenomena or sensory stimuli situated in time and in space...

 tend to privilege sensory experience over abstract reasoning. Epistemological idealism is the weaker view that reality can only be known through ideas, that only psychological experience can be apprehended by the mind.

Subjective idealists like George Berkeley
George Berkeley
George Berkeley , also known as Bishop Berkeley , was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism"...

 are anti-realists
Anti-realism
In analytic philosophy, the term anti-realism is used to describe any position involving either the denial of an objective reality of entities of a certain type or the denial that verification-transcendent statements about a type of entity are either true or false...

 about a mind-independent world, whereas transcendental idealists
Transcendental idealism
Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century. Kant's doctrine maintains that human experience of things is similar to the way they appear to us — implying a fundamentally subject-based component, rather than being an activity that...

 like Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

 are strong skeptics
Skepticism
Skepticism has many definitions, but generally refers to any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere...

 about such a world, affirming epistemological and not metaphysical idealism. Thus Kant defines idealism as "the assertion that we can never be certain whether all of our putative outer experience is not mere imagining". However, not all idealists restrict the real or the knowable to our immediate subjective experience. Objective idealists
Objective idealism
Objective idealism is an idealistic metaphysics that postulates that there is in an important sense only one perceiver, and that this perceiver is one with that which is perceived. One important advocate of such a metaphysics, Josiah Royce, wrote that he was indifferent "whether anybody calls all...

 make claims about a transempirical world, but simply deny that this world is essentially divorced from or ontologically prior to the mental. Thus Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

 affirm an objective and knowable reality transcending our subjective awareness—a rejection of epistemological idealism—but propose that this reality is grounded in ideal entities, a form of metaphysical idealism. Nor do all metaphysical idealists agree on the nature of the ideal; for Plato, the fundamental entities were non-mental abstract forms
Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism usually refers to Plato's theory of forms or doctrine of ideas,Some commentators hold Plato argued that truth is an abstraction...

, while for Leibniz they were proto-mental and concrete monads
Monadology
The Monadology is one of Gottfried Leibniz’s best known works representing his later philosophy. It is a short text which sketches in some 90 paragraphs a metaphysics of simple substances, or monads.- Text :...

.

As a rule, transcendental idealists like Kant affirm idealism's epistemic side without committing themselves to whether reality is ultimately mental; objective idealists like Plato affirm reality's metaphysical basis in the mental or abstract without restricting their epistemology to ordinary experience; and subjective idealists like Berkeley affirm both metaphysical and epistemological idealism.

Classical idealism


Monistic idealism holds that consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all being. It is monist
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

 because it holds that there is only one type of thing in the universe and idealist because it holds that one thing to be consciousness.

Anaxagoras
Anaxagoras
Anaxagoras was a Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Born in Clazomenae in Asia Minor, Anaxagoras was the first philosopher to bring philosophy from Ionia to Athens. He attempted to give a scientific account of eclipses, meteors, rainbows, and the sun, which he described as a fiery mass larger than...

 (480 BC) was known as "Nous" ("Mind") because he taught that "all things" were created by Mind, that Mind held the cosmos together and gave human beings a connection to the cosmos or a pathway to the divine.

Many religious philosophies are specifically idealist. The belief that beings with knowledge (God/s, angels & spirits) preceded insentient matter seems to suggest that an experiencing subject is a necessary reality. Hindu idealism
Hindu idealism
There are currents of idealism in classical Hindu philosophy.Idealism and materialism are the principal monist ontologies.A related branch is the Buddhist concept of consciousness-only.Idealist notions have been supported by the Vedanta and Yoga schools...

 is central to Vedanta philosophy and to such schools as Kashmir Shaivism
Kashmir Shaivism
Among the various Hindu philosophies, Kashmir Shaivism is a school of Śaivism consisting of Trika and its philosophical articulation Pratyabhijña...

.. Proponents include Amit Goswami
Amit Goswami
Amit Goswami is a theoretical nuclear physicist and member of The University of Oregon Institute for Theoretical Physics since 1968, teaching physics for 32 years...

, P.R. Sarkar and his disciple Sohail Inayatullah
Sohail Inayatullah
Sohail Tahir Inayatullah is a Pakistan-born political scientist and futurist who lives in Australia. He holds a number of academic positions:*Professor, Graduate Institute of Futures Studies, Tamkang University...

.

Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 theologians have held idealist views, often based on Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

, despite the influence of Aristotelian scholasticism
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 from the 12th century onward. Later western theistic idealism such as that of Hermann Lotze offers a theory of the "world ground" in which all things find their unity: it has been widely accepted by Protestant theologians. Several modern religious movements, for example the organizations within the New Thought Movement and the Unity Church
Unity Church
Unity, known informally as Unity Church, is a religious movement within the wider New Thought movement and is best known to many through its Daily Word devotional publication...

, may be said to have a particularly idealist orientation. One interpretation of the theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 of Christian Science
Christian Science
Christian Science is a system of thought and practice derived from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and the Bible. It is practiced by members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist as well as some others who are nonmembers. Its central texts are the Bible and the Christian Science textbook,...

 includes a form of subjective idealism: it teaches that all that exists is God and God's ideas; that the world as it appears to the senses is a distortion of the underlying spiritual reality, a distortion that may be corrected by a reorientation (spiritualization) of thought.

Wang Yangming
Wang Yangming
Wang Yangming was a Ming Chinese idealist Neo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general. After Zhu Xi, he is commonly regarded as the most important Neo-Confucian thinker, with interpretations of Confucianism that denied the rationalist dualism of the orthodox...

, a Ming Chinese neo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general, held that objects do not exist entirely apart from the mind because the mind shapes them. It is not the world that shapes the mind but the mind that gives reason to the world, so the mind alone is the source of all reason, having an inner light, an innate moral goodness and understanding of what is good.

The consciousness-only approach of the Yogācāra
Yogacara
Yogācāra is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and ontology through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It developed within Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism in about the 4th century CE...

 school of Mahayana Buddhism is not true metaphysical idealism as Yogācāra thinkers did not focus on consciousness to assert it as ultimately real, it is only conventionally real since it arises from moment to moment due to fluctuating causes and conditions and is significant because it is the cause of karma
Karma in Buddhism
Karma means "action" or "doing"; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma. In Buddhism, the term karma is used specifically for those actions which spring from the intention of an unenlightened being.These bring about a fruit or result Karma (Sanskrit, also karman, Pāli: Kamma) means...

 and hence suffering
Dukkha
Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

.

Platonism and neoplatonism


Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's theory of forms
Theory of Forms
Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that non-material abstract forms , and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. When used in this sense, the word form is often capitalized...

 or "ideas" describes ideal forms (for example the platonic solids in geometry or abstracts like Goodness and Justice), as universals
Problem of universals
The problem of universals is an ancient problem in metaphysics about whether universals exist. Universals are general or abstract qualities, characteristics, properties, kinds or relations, such as being male/female, solid/liquid/gas or a certain colour, that can be predicated of individuals or...

 existing independently of any particular instance. Arne Grøn calls this doctrine "the classic example of a metaphysical idealism as a transcendent idealism", while Simone Klein calls Plato "the earliest representative of metaphysical objective idealism". Nevertheless Plato holds that matter is real, though transitory and imperfect, and is perceived by our body and its senses and given existence by the eternal ideas that are perceived directly by our rational soul. Plato was therefore a metaphysical and epistemological dualist, an outlook that modern idealism has striven to avoid: Plato's thought cannot therefore be counted as idealist in the modern sense.

With the neoplatonist Plotinus
Plotinus
Plotinus was a major philosopher of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition...

, wrote Nathaniel Alfred Boll; "there even appears, probably for the first time in Western philosophy
Western philosophy
Western philosophy is the philosophical thought and work of the Western or Occidental world, as distinct from Eastern or Oriental philosophies and the varieties of indigenous philosophies....

, idealism that had long been current in the East even at that time, for it taught… that the soul has made the world by stepping from eternity
Eternity
While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existence for a limitless amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside time. By contrast, infinite temporal existence is then called sempiternity. Something eternal exists outside time; by contrast,...

 into time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

…". Similarly, in regard to passages from the Enneads
Enneads
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads , is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry . Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism...

, "The only space or place of the world is the soul" and "Time must not be assumed to exist outside the soul", Ludwig Noiré wrote: "For the first time in Western philosophy we find idealism proper in Plotinus, However, Plotinus does not address whether we know external objects, unlike Schopenhauer and other modern philosophers.

Subjective idealism



Subjective Idealism (immaterialism or phenomenalism
Phenomenalism
Phenomenalism is the view that physical objects do not exist as things in themselves but only as perceptual phenomena or sensory stimuli situated in time and in space...

) describes a relationship between experience and the world in which objects are no more than collections or "bundles" of sense data in the perceiver. Proponents include Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, an Irish philosopher who advanced a theory he called immaterialism, later referred to as "subjective idealism", contending that individuals can only know sensations and ideas of objects directly, not abstractions such as "matter", and that ideas also depend upon being perceived for their very existence - esse est percipi; "to be is to be perceived".

Arthur Collier
Arthur Collier
Arthur Collier was an English Anglican priest and philosopher.-Early life:Collier was born at the rectory of Steeple Langford, Wiltshire...

 published similar assertions though there seems to have been no influence between the two contemporary writers. The only knowable reality is the represented image of an external object. Matter as a cause of that image, is unthinkable and therefore nothing to us. An external world as absolute matter unrelated to an observer does not exist as far as we are concerned. The universe cannot exist as it appears if there is no perceiving mind. Collier was influenced by An Essay Towards the Theory of the Ideal or Intelligible World by "Cambridge Platonist" John Norris (1701).

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

's popular book The Problems of Philosophy
The Problems of Philosophy
The Problems of Philosophy is one of Bertrand Russell's attempts to create a brief and accessible guide to the problems of philosophy...

highlights Berkeley's tautological premise for advancing idealism;
"If we say that the things known must be in the mind, we are either un-duly limiting the mind's power of knowing, or we are uttering a mere tautology. We are uttering a mere tautology if we mean by 'in the mind' the same as by 'before the mind', i.e. if we mean merely being apprehended by the mind. But if we mean this, we shall have to admit that what, in this sense, is in the mind, may nevertheless be not mental. Thus when we realize the nature of knowledge, Berkeley's argument is seen to be wrong in substance as well as in form, and his grounds for supposing that 'idea'-i.e. the objects apprehended-must be mental, are found to have no validity whatever. Hence his grounds in favour of the idealism may be dismissed."


The Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n philosopher David Stove
David Stove
David Charles Stove , was an Australian philosopher of science.His work in philosophy of science included detailed criticisms of David Hume's inductive skepticism, as well as what he regarded as the irrationalism of his disciplinary contemporaries Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Imre Lakatos, and Paul...

 harshly criticized philosophical idealism, arguing that it rests on what he called "the worst argument in the world". Stove claims that Berkeley tried to derive a non-tautological conclusion from tautological reasoning. He argued that in Berkeley's case the fallacy
Fallacy
In logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is usually an incorrect argumentation in reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption. By accident or design, fallacies may exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor , or take advantage of social relationships between people...

 is not obvious and this is because one premise is ambiguous between one meaning which is tautological
Tautology (logic)
In logic, a tautology is a formula which is true in every possible interpretation. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein first applied the term to redundancies of propositional logic in 1921; it had been used earlier to refer to rhetorical tautologies, and continues to be used in that alternate sense...

 and another which, Stove argues, is logically equivalent
Logical equivalence
In logic, statements p and q are logically equivalent if they have the same logical content.Syntactically, p and q are equivalent if each can be proved from the other...

 to the conclusion.

Alan Musgrave
Alan Musgrave
Alan Musgrave is an English born New Zealand philosopher. Musgrave was educated at the London School of Economics with a BA Honours Philosophy and Economics 1961. Sir Karl Popper supervised Musgrave's PhD which was completed in 1969. Musgrave worked as Popper's Research Assistant initially then...

 argues that conceptual idealists compound their mistakes with use/mention confusions;
Santa Claus the person does not exist.
"Santa Claus" the name/concept/fairy tale does exist because adults tell children this every Christmas season (the distinction is highlighted by using quotation-marks when referring only to the name and not the object)


and proliferation of hyphenated entities such as "thing-in-itself" (Immanuel Kant), "things-as-interacted-by-us" (Arthur Fine
Arthur Fine
Arthur Fine is an American philosopher of science teaching at the University of Washington . Before moving to UW he taught for many years at Northwestern University and, before that, at Cornell University and the University of Illinois at Chicago...

), "table-of-commonsense" and "table-of-physics" (Sir Arthur Eddington) which are "warning signs" for conceptual idealism according to Musgrave because they allegedly do not exist but only highlight the numerous ways in which people come to know the world. This argument does not take into account the issues pertaining to hermeneutics, especially at the backdrop of analytic philosophy. Musgrave criticized Richard Rorty
Richard Rorty
Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher. He had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University...

 and Postmodernist philosophy in general for confusion of use and mention.

A. A. Luce
A. A. Luce
Arthur Aston Luce MC was professor of philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin and also Precentor of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin . Throughout his life he held many clerical appointments and was Vice-Provost of Trinity from 1946-1952. He was widely known as an authority on the philosopher George...

 and John Foster
John Foster (philosopher)
John Foster was a British philosopher. He authored several books, among which The Case for Idealism and A World for Us: The Case for Phenomenalistic Idealism, which defend Berkelian subjective idealism....

 are other subjectivists. Luce, in Sense without Matter (1954), attempts to bring Berkeley up to date by modernising his vocabulary and putting the issues he faced in modern terms, and treats the Biblical account of matter and the psychology of perception and nature. Foster's The Case for Idealism argues that the physical world is the logical creation of natural, non-logical constraints on human sense-experience. Foster's latest defence of his views is in his book A World for Us: The Case for Phenomenalistic Idealism.

Paul Brunton
Paul Brunton
Paul Brunton was probably born as Hermann Hirsch of German Jewish origin. Later he changed his name to Raphael Hurst, and then Brunton Paul and finally Paul Brunton. He was a British philosopher, mystic, traveler, and guru...

, a British philosopher, mystic, traveler, and guru, taught a type of idealism called "mentalism"
Mentalism (philosophy)
In philosophy of mind, mentalism is the view that the mind and mental states exist as causally efficacious inner states of persons. The view should be distinguished from substance dualism, which is the view that the mind and the body are two distinct kinds of things which nevertheless interact ...

, similar to that of Bishop Berkeley, proposing a master world-image, projected or manifested by a world-mind, and an infinite number of individual minds participating. A tree does not cease to exist if nobody sees it because the world-mind is projecting the idea of the tree to all minds.

John Searle
John Searle
John Rogers Searle is an American philosopher and currently the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.-Biography:...

 criticising some versions of idealism, summarises two important arguments for subjective idealism. The first is based on our perception of reality;
All we have access to in perception are the contents of our own experience and
The only epistemic basis for claims about the external world are our perceptual experiences

therefore;
The only reality we can meaningfully speak of is that of perceptual experience

Whilst agreeing with (2) Searle argues that (1) is false and points out that (3) does not follow from (1) and (2). The second argument runs as follows;
Premise: Any cognitive state occurs as part of a set of cognitive states and within a cognitive system

Conclusion 1: It is impossible to get outside all cognitive states and systems to survey the relationships between them and the reality they cognize

Conclusion 2: There is no cognition of any reality that exists independently of cognition


Searle contends that Conclusion 2 does not follow from the premises.

Epistemological idealism
Epistemological idealism
Epistemological idealism is a subjectivist position in epistemology that holds that what one knows about an object exists only in one's mind. It is opposed to epistemological realism.Epistemological idealism can mean one of two unrelated positions:...

 is a subjectivist position in epistemology that holds that what one knows about an object exists only in one's mind. Proponents include Brand Blanshard
Brand Blanshard
Percy Brand Blanshard was an American philosopher known primarily for his defense of reason. A powerful polemicist, by all accounts he comported himself with courtesy and grace in philosophical controversies and exemplified the "rational temper" he advocated.-Life:Brand Blanshard was born August...

.

Transcendental idealism



Transcendental idealism, founded by Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century, maintains that the mind shapes the world we perceive into the form of space-and-time.
The 2nd edition (1787) contained a Refutation of Idealism to distinguish his transcendental idealism from Descartes's Sceptical Idealism and Berkeley's Dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

tic Idealism. The section Paralogisms of Pure Reason is an implicit critique of Descartes' idealism. Kant says that it is not possible to infer the 'I' as an object (Descartes' Cogito ergo sum) purely from "the spontaneity of thought". Kant focused on ideas drawn from British philosophers such as Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, Berkeley and Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

 but distinguished his transcendental or critical idealism from previous varieties;
Kant distinguished things as they appear to an observer and things in themselves, "that is, things considered without regard to whether and how they may be given to us". We cannot approach the noumenon
Noumenon
The noumenon is a posited object or event that is known without the use of the senses.The term is generally used in contrast with, or in relation to "phenomenon", which refers to anything that appears to, or is an object of, the senses...

, the "thing in Itself" without our own mental world. He added that the mind is not a blank slate
Blank Slate
Blank Slate is an initiative run by UK film production company B3 Media that seeks to develop and nurture film making talent from a minority background...

, tabula rasa but rather comes equipped with categories for organising our sense impressions.

In the first volume of his Parerga and Paralipomena, Schopenhauer wrote his "Sketch of a History
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 of the Doctrine of the Ideal
Ideal (ethics)
An ideal is a principle or value that one actively pursues as a goal. Ideals are particularly important in ethics, as the order in which one places them tends to determine the degree to which one reveals them as real and sincere. It is the application, in ethics, of a universal...

 and the Real
The Real
The Real refers to that which is authentic, the unchangeable truth in reference both to being/the Self and the external dimension of experience, also referred to as the infinite and absolute - as opposed to a reality based on sense perception and the material order.-In psychoanalysis:The Real is a...

". He defined the ideal as being mental pictures that constitute subjective knowledge
Knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

. The ideal, for him, is what can be attributed to our own minds. The images in our head are what comprise the ideal. Schopenhauer emphasized that we are restricted to our own consciousness
Consciousness
Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

. The world
World
World is a common name for the whole of human civilization, specifically human experience, history, or the human condition in general, worldwide, i.e. anywhere on Earth....

 that appears is only a representation or mental picture of objects. We directly and immediately know only representations. All objects that are external to the mind are known indirectly through the mediation of our mind. He offered a history of the concept
Concept
The word concept is used in ordinary language as well as in almost all academic disciplines. Particularly in philosophy, psychology and cognitive sciences the term is much used and much discussed. WordNet defines concept: "conception, construct ". However, the meaning of the term concept is much...

 of the "ideal" as "ideational" or "existing in the mind as an image".
Charles Bernard Renouvier
Charles Bernard Renouvier
Charles Bernard Renouvier was a French philosopher.-Biography:Charles B. Renouvier was born in Montpellier and educated in Paris at the École Polytechnique. He took an early interest in politics...

 was the first Frenchman after Nicolas Malebranche to formulate a complete idealistic system, and had a vast influence on the development of French thought. His system is based on Immanuel Kant's, as his chosen term "néo-criticisme" indicates; but it is a transformation rather than a continuation of Kantianism.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

 argued that Kant confuses tautology
Tautology (logic)
In logic, a tautology is a formula which is true in every possible interpretation. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein first applied the term to redundancies of propositional logic in 1921; it had been used earlier to refer to rhetorical tautologies, and continues to be used in that alternate sense...

 and petitio principii
Begging the question
Begging the question is a type of logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proven is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premise....

, and ridicules his pride in tackling "the most difficult thing that could ever be undertaken on behalf of metaphysics.". Yet he attacks the idealism of Schopenhauer and Descartes with an argument similar to Kant's critique of the latter (see above);

Objective idealism



Objective idealism asserts that the reality of experiencing combines and transcends the realities of the object experienced and of the mind of the observer. Proponents include Thomas Hill Green
Thomas Hill Green
Thomas Hill Green was an English philosopher, political radical and temperance reformer, and a member of the British idealism movement. Like all the British idealists, Green was influenced by the metaphysical historicism of G.W.F. Hegel...

, Josiah Royce
Josiah Royce
Josiah Royce was an American objective idealist philosopher.-Life:Royce, born in Grass Valley, California, grew up in pioneer California very soon after the California Gold Rush. He received the B.A...

, Benedetto Croce
Benedetto Croce
Benedetto Croce was an Italian idealist philosopher, and occasionally also politician. He wrote on numerous topics, including philosophy, history, methodology of history writing and aesthetics, and was a prominent liberal, although he opposed laissez-faire free trade...

 and Charles Sanders Peirce.

Absolute idealism



Johann Fichte was the first German philosopher to make an attempt at a presuppositionless theory of knowledge, wherein nothing outside of thought is assumed to exist apart from the primordial analysis of the Ego. So that his philosophy could be solely grounded in itself, he assumed nothing without his Fichtean deductions from first principles, and elaborated what he called a Wissenschaftslehre. Fichte denied Kant's noumenon
Noumenon
The noumenon is a posited object or event that is known without the use of the senses.The term is generally used in contrast with, or in relation to "phenomenon", which refers to anything that appears to, or is an object of, the senses...

 and held that consciousness constitutes its own foundation, that the mental life of the Ego, of pure selfhood, relies upon nothing wholly external to itself and that the hypothesis of an outer world of any kind is the same thing as admitting a Kantian realm.

Schelling (1775–1854) claimed that the Fichte's "I" needs the Not-I, because there is no subject without object, and vice versa. So there is no difference between the subjective and the objective, that is, the ideal and the real. This is the Schelling's "absolute identity
Identity (philosophy)
In philosophy, identity, from , is the relation each thing bears just to itself. According to Leibniz's law two things sharing every attribute are not only similar, but are the same thing. The concept of sameness has given rise to the general concept of identity, as in personal identity and...

": the ideas
Idea
In the most narrow sense, an idea is just whatever is before the mind when one thinks. Very often, ideas are construed as representational images; i.e. images of some object. In other contexts, ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear as images...

 or mental images in the mind are identical to the extended objects which are external to the mind.

Absolute idealism is G. W. F. Hegel's account of how existence is comprehensible as an all-inclusive whole. Hegel called his philosophy "absolute" idealism in contrast to the "subjective idealism" of Berkeley and the "transcendental idealism" of Kant and Fichte, which were not based on a critique of the finite and a dialectical philosophy of history as Hegel's idealism was. The exercise of reason and intellect enables the philosopher to know ultimate historical reality, the phenomenological constitution of self-determination, the dialectical development of self-awareness and personality in the realm of History.

In his Science of Logic (1812–1814) Hegel argues that finite qualities are not fully "real" because they depend on other finite qualities to determine them. Qualitative infinity, on the other hand, would be more self-determining and hence more fully real. Similarly finite natural things are less "real"—because they are less self-determining—than spiritual things like morally responsible people, ethical communities and God. So any doctrine, such as materialism, that asserts that finite qualities or natural objects are fully real is mistaken.

Hegel certainly intends to preserve what he takes to be true of German idealism, in particular Kant's insistence that ethical reason can and does go beyond finite inclinations. For Hegel there must be some identity of thought and being for the subject (human reason or consciousness) to be able to know an object (the world) at all.

Kierkegaard
Søren Kierkegaard
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish Christian philosopher, theologian and religious author. He was a critic of idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel...

 criticised Hegel's idealist philosophy in several of his works, particularly his claim to a comprehensive system that could explain the whole of reality. Where Hegel argues that an ultimate understanding of the logical structure of the world is an understanding of the logical structure of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

's mind, Kierkegaard asserting that for God reality can be a system but it cannot be so for any human individual because both reality and humans are incomplete and all philosophical systems imply completeness. A logical system is possible but an existential system is not. "What is rational is actual; and what is actual is rational". Hegel's absolute idealism blurs the distinction between existence and thought: our mortal nature places limits on our understanding of reality;

So-called systems have often been characterized and challenged in the assertion that they abrogate the distinction between good and evil, and destroy freedom. Perhaps one would express oneself quite as definitely, if one said that every such system fantastically dissipates the concept existence. ... Being an individual man is a thing that has been abolished, and every speculative philosopher confuses himself with humanity at large; whereby he becomes something infinitely great, and at the same time nothing at all.


A major concern of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) and of the philosophy of Spirit that he lays out in his Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1817–1830) is the interrelation between individual humans, which he conceives in terms of "mutual recognition." However, what Climacus means by the aforementioned statement, is that Hegel, in the Philosophy of Right, believed the best solution was to surrender one's individuality to the customs of the State, identifying right and wrong in view of the prevailing bourgeois morality. Individual human will ought, at the State's highest level of development, to properly coincide with the will of the State. Climacus rejects Hegel's suppression of individuality by pointing out it is impossible to create a valid set of rules or system in any society which can adequately describe existence for any one individual. Submitting one's will to the State denies personal freedom, choice, and responsibility.

In addition, Hegel does believe we can know the structure of God's mind, or ultimate reality. Hegel agrees with Kierkegaard that both reality and humans are incomplete, inasmuch as we are in time, and reality develops through time. But the relation between time and eternity is outside time and this is the "logical structure" that Hegel thinks we can know. Kierkegaard disputes this assertion, because it eliminates the clear distinction between ontology
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 and epistemology. Existence and thought are not identical and one cannot possibly think existence. Thought is always a form of abstraction, and thus not only is pure existence impossible to think, but all forms in existence are unthinkable; thought depends on language, which merely abstracts from experience, thus separating us from lived experience and the living essence of all beings. In addition, because we are finite beings, we cannot possibly know or understand anything that is universal or infinite such as God, so we cannot know God exists, since that which transcends time simultaneously transcends human understanding.

Bradley saw reality as a monistic
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

 whole apprehended through "feeling", a state in which there is no distinction between the perception and the thing perceived. Like Berkeley Bradley thought that nothing can be known to exist unless it is known by a mind.
Bradley was the apparent target of G. E. Moore's radical rejection of idealism. Moore claimed that Bradley did not understand the statement that something is real. We know for certain, through common sense and prephilosophical beliefs, that some things are real, whether they are objects of thought or not, according to Moore. The 1903 article The Refutation of Idealism is one of the first demonstrations of Moore's commitment to analysis. He examines each of the three terms in the Berkeleian aphorism esse est percipi, "to be is to be perceived", finding that it must mean that the object and the subject are necessarily connected so that "yellow" and "the sensation of yellow" are identical - "to be yellow" is "to be experienced as yellow". But it also seems there is a difference between "yellow" and "the sensation of yellow" and "that esse is held to be percipi, solely because what is experienced is held to be identical with the experience of it". Though far from a complete refutation, this was the first strong statement by analytic philosophy against its idealist predecessors, or at any rate against the type of idealism represented by Berkeley. This argument did not show that the GEM (in post–Stove vernacular, see below) is logically invalid.

Actual idealism


Actual Idealism
Actual Idealism
Actual Idealism was a form of idealism, developed by Giovanni Gentile, that grew into a 'grounded' idealism, contrasting the Transcendental Idealism of Immanuel Kant, and the Absolute idealism of G. W. F. Hegel...

 is a form of idealism developed by Giovanni Gentile
Giovanni Gentile
Giovanni Gentile was an Italian neo-Hegelian Idealist philosopher, a peer of Benedetto Croce. He described himself as 'the philosopher of Fascism', and ghostwrote A Doctrine of Fascism for Benito Mussolini. He also devised his own system of philosophy, Actual Idealism.- Life and thought :Giovanni...

 that grew into a "grounded" idealism contrasting Kant and Hegel.

Pluralistic idealism


Pluralistic idealism such as that of Gottfried Leibniz takes the view that there are many individual minds that together underlie the existence of the observed world and make possible the existence of the physical universe. Unlike absolute idealism, pluralistic idealism does not assume the existence of a single ultimate mental reality or "Absolute". Leibniz' form of idealism, known as Panpsychism
Panpsychism
In philosophy, panpsychism is the view that all matter has a mental aspect, or, alternatively, all objects have a unified center of experience or point of view...

, views "monads" as the true atoms of the universe and as entities having perception. The monads are "substantial forms of being",elemental, individual, subject to their own laws, non-interacting, each reflecting the entire universe. Monads are centers of force, which is substance
Substance
Substance may refer to:*Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition*Drug substance*Matter, the substance of which all physical objects are made*Substance theory, theory positing that a substance is distinct from its properties....

 while space, matter and motion are phenomenal and their form and existence is dependent on the simple and immaterial monads. There is a pre-established harmony
Pre-established harmony
Gottfried Leibniz's theory of pre-established harmony is a philosophical theory about causation under which every "substance" only affects itself, but all the substances in the world nevertheless seem to causally interact with each other because they have been programmed by God in advance to...

 established by God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, the central monad, between the world in the minds of the monad
Monadology
The Monadology is one of Gottfried Leibniz’s best known works representing his later philosophy. It is a short text which sketches in some 90 paragraphs a metaphysics of simple substances, or monads.- Text :...

s and the external world of objects. Leibniz's cosmology embraced traditional Christian Theism
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

.

Personalism
Personalism
Personalism is a philosophical school of thought searching to describe the uniqueness of a human person in the world of nature, specifically in relation to animals...

 is the view that the minds that underlie reality are the minds of persons. Borden Parker Bowne
Borden Parker Bowne
Borden Parker Bowne was an American Christian philosopher and theologian in the Methodist tradition. In 1876 he became a professor of philosophy at Boston University, where he taught for more than thirty years. He later served as dean of the graduate school. Bowne was an acute critic of positivism...

, a philosopher at Boston University, a founder and popularizer of personal idealism, presented it as a substantive reality of persons, the only reality, as known directly in self-consciousness. Reality is a society of interacting persons dependent on the Supreme Person of God. Other proponents include George Holmes Howison
George Holmes Howison
George Holmes Howison was an American philosopher who established the philosophy department at the University of California, Berkeley and held the position there of Mills Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy and Civil Polity. He also founded the Philosophical Union, one of the oldest...

  and J. M. E. McTaggart
J. M. E. McTaggart
John McTaggart was an idealist metaphysician. For most of his life McTaggart was a fellow and lecturer in philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was an exponent of the philosophy of Hegel and among the most notable of the British idealists.-Personal life:J. M. E. McTaggart was born in 1866...

.

Howison's personal idealism was also called "California Personalism" by others to distinguish it from the "Boston Personalism" which was of Bowne. Howison maintained that both impersonal, monistic idealism and materialism run contrary to the experience of moral freedom. To deny freedom to pursue truth, beauty, and "benignant love" is to undermine every profound human venture, including science, morality, and philosophy. Personalistic idealists Borden Parker Bowne
Borden Parker Bowne
Borden Parker Bowne was an American Christian philosopher and theologian in the Methodist tradition. In 1876 he became a professor of philosophy at Boston University, where he taught for more than thirty years. He later served as dean of the graduate school. Bowne was an acute critic of positivism...

 and Edgar S. Brightman
Edgar S. Brightman
Edgar Sheffield Brightman was a philosopher and Christian theologian in the Methodist tradition, associated with Boston University and liberal theology, and promulgated the philosophy known as Boston personalism....

 and realistic personal theist Saint Thomas Aquinas address a core issue, namely that of dependence upon an infinite personal God.

Howison, in his book The Limits of Evolution and Other Essays Illustrating the Metaphysical Theory of Personal Idealism, created a democratic notion of personal idealism that extended all the way to God, who was no more the ultimate monarch but the ultimate democrat in eternal relation to other eternal persons. J. M. E. McTaggart's idealist atheism and Thomas Davidson
Thomas Davidson (philosopher)
Thomas Davidson was a Scottish-American philosopher and lecturer.-Biography:Davidson was born of Presbyterian parents at Old Deer, near Aberdeen. After graduating from Aberdeen University as first graduate and Greek prizeman, he held the position of rector of the grammar school of Old Aberdeen...

's Apeirionism resemble Howisons personal idealism.

J. M. E. McTaggart, of Cambridge University
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

, argued that minds alone exist and only relate to each other through love. Space
Space
Space is the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum...

, time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 and material objects are unreal. In The Unreality of Time
The Unreality of Time
The Unreality of Time is the best-known philosophical work of the Cambridge idealist J. M. E. McTaggart. In the paper, first published in 1908 in Mind 17: 457-73, McTaggart argues that time is unreal because our descriptions of time are either contradictory, circular, or insufficient...

he argued that time is an illusion because it is impossible to produce a coherent account of a sequence of events. The Nature of Existence (1927) contained his arguments that space, time, and matter cannot possibly be real. In his Studies in Hegelian Cosmology (Cambridge, 1901, p196) he declared that metaphysics are not relevant to social and political action. McTaggart "thought that Hegel was wrong in supposing that metaphysics could show that the state is more than a means to the good of the individuals who compose it". For McTaggart "philosophy can give us very little, if any, guidance in action... Why should a Hegelian citizen be surprised that his belief as to the organic nature of the Absolute does not help him in deciding how to vote? Would a Hegelian engineer be reasonable in expecting that his belief that all matter is spirit should help him in planning a bridge?

Thomas Davidson taught a philosophy called "apeirotheism", a "form of pluralistic idealism...coupled with a stern ethical rigorism"which he defined as "a theory of Gods infinite in number." The theory was indebted to Aristotle's pluralism and his concepts of Soul, the rational, living aspect of a living substance which cannot exist apart from the body because it is not a substance but an essence, and nous
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

, rational thought, reflection and understanding. Although a perennial source of controversy, Aristotle arguably views the latter as both eternal and immaterial in nature, as exemplified in his theology of unmoved movers. Identifying Aristotle's God with rational thought, Davidson argued, contrary to Aristotle, that just as the soul cannot exist apart from the body, God cannot exist apart from the world.

Idealism in the philosophy of science


Nicolas Malebranche
Nicolas Malebranche
Nicolas Malebranche ; was a French Oratorian and rationalist philosopher. In his works, he sought to synthesize the thought of St. Augustine and Descartes, in order to demonstrate the active role of God in every aspect of the world...

, though a student of Cartesian rationalism, disagreed that the existence of the external world is dubious and known only indirectly and declared instead that the real external world is actually God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

. For Malebranche we directly know internally the ideas in our mind. Externally, we directly know God's operations. This kind of idealism led to the pantheism
Pantheism
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

 of Spinoza.

Idealist notions took a strong hold among physicists of the early 20th century confronted with the paradoxes of quantum physics and the theory of relativity
Theory of relativity
The theory of relativity, or simply relativity, encompasses two theories of Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity. However, the word relativity is sometimes used in reference to Galilean invariance....

. In The Grammar of Science
The Grammar of Science
The Grammar of Science is a book by Karl Pearson first published in hardback in 1892. In 1900, the second edition, published by Adam & Charles Black, appeared. The third, revised, edition was also published by Adam & Charles Black in 1911. It was recommended by Einstein to his friends of the...

, Preface to the 2nd Edition, 1900, Karl Pearson
Karl Pearson
Karl Pearson FRS was an influential English mathematician who has been credited for establishing the disciplineof mathematical statistics....

 wrote, "There are many signs that a sound idealism is surely replacing, as a basis for natural philosophy, the crude materialism
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

 of the older physicists." This book influenced Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

's regard for the importance of the observer in scientific measurements. In § 5 of that book, Pearson asserted that "...science is in reality a classification and analysis of the contents of the mind...." Also, "...the field of science is much more consciousness
Consciousness
Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

 than an external world."

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, a British astrophysicist of the early 20th century, wrote in his book The Nature of the Physical World; "The stuff of the world is mind-stuff";

"The mind-stuff of the world is, of course, something more general than our individual conscious minds…. The mind-stuff is not spread in space and time; these are part of the cyclic scheme ultimately derived out of it…. It is necessary to keep reminding ourselves that all knowledge of our envi-ronment from which the world of physics is constructed, has entered in the form of messages transmitted along the nerves to the seat of consciousness…. Consciousness is not sharply defined, but fades into subconsciousness; and beyond that we must postulate something indefinite but yet continuous with our mental nature…. It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character. But no one can deny that mind is the first and most direct thing in our experience, and all else is remote inference."

Ian Barbour
Ian Barbour
Ian Graeme Barbour, born 5 October 1923, is an American scholar on the relationship between science and religion. According to the Public Broadcasting Service his mid-1960s Issues in Science and Religion "has been credited with literally creating the contemporary field of science and religion."In...

 in his book Issues in Science and Religion (1966), p. 133, cites Arthur Eddington's The Nature of the Physical World (1928) for a text that argues The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principles provides a scientific basis for "the defense of the idea of human freedom" and his Science and the Unseen World (1929) for support of philosophical idealism "the thesis that reality is basically mental".

Sir James Jeans wrote; "The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter... we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter."

In an interview published in The Observer (London), when asked the question: "Do you believe that life on this planet is the result of some sort of accident, or do you believe that it is a part of some great scheme?", Jeans replied; "I incline to the idealistic theory that consciousness is fundamental, and that the material universe is derivative from consciousness, not consciousness from the material universe... In general the universe seems to me to be nearer to a great thought than to a great machine. It may well be, it seems to me, that each individual consciousness ought to be compared to a brain-cell in a universal mind."

"What remains is in any case very different from the full-blooded matter and the forbidding materialism of the Victorian scientist. His objective and material universe is proved to consist of little more than constructs of our own minds. To this extent, then, modem physics has moved in the direction of philosophic idealism. Mind and matter, if not proved to be of similar nature, are at least found to be ingredients of one single system. There is no longer room for the kind of dualism which has haunted philosophy since the days of Descartes." Sir James Jeans addressing the British Association in 1934.

"Finite picture whose dimensions are a certain amount of space and a certain amount of time; the protons and electrons are the streaks of paint which define the picture against its space-time background. Traveling as far back in time as we can, brings us not to the creation of the picture, but to its edge; the creation of the picture lies as much outside the picture as the artist is outside his canvas. On this view, discussing the creation of the universe in terms of time and space is like trying to discover the artist and the action of painting, by going to the edge of the canvas. This brings us very near to those philosophical systems which regard the universe as a thought in the mind of its Creator, thereby reducing all discussion of material creation to futility." Sir James Jeans "The universe around us" page 317.

External links