Idealism – Introduction: The Idealist is One Who Hopes and Meaning

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Idealism – Meaning

  • Idealism is a term with several related meanings. It comes via idea from the Greek idein, meaning “to see.”
  • Any of various systems of thought in which the objects of knowledge are held to be in some way dependent on the activity of mind.
  • An approach to philosophy that regards mind, spirit, or ideas as the most fundamental kinds of reality, or at least as governing our experience of the ordinary objects in the world.
  • Idealism is opposed to materialism, naturalism, and realism.

Definition of Idealism

The definition of idealism is believing in or pursuing some perfect vision or belief. An example of idealism is the belief of people who think they can save the world.

Idealism is that ideology of western philosophy that considers:

  • This universe is created by God
  • Considers that spiritual world is superior than materialistic world.
  • God as ultimate truth and soul as part of God and
  • Propounds that aim of human life is self-realization, which can be attained by living spiritual life i.e.. , Adherence of immortal values and moral rules.

Idealism in Western Philosophy

Idealism in Western Philosophy

Metaphysics of Idealism

  • Plato: Believed in moral system of thoughts-Moralistic idealism.
  • Leibniz: World is addition of many monads- Pluralistic idealism.
  • Berkley: Experience qualities by mind- Subjective idealism.
  • Kant: Intellect as basis of knowledge – Intellectualism.
  • Hegel: Accepted authority of mind and matter- Absolute Idealism.

Epistemology and Logic of Idealism


Epistemology and Logic of Idealism: Knowledge

Axiology and Ethics

Ultimate objective of human life is self-realization.

4 Virtues

  • Control
  • Knowledge
  • Patience
  • Justice

3 Values

  • Truth
  • Goodness
  • Beauty

Idealism in Indian Philosophy

  • The concept of Satyam (Truth) , Shivam (Goodness) and Sundaram (Beauty) is one of the most wonderful ones in Indian Philosophy. In three words, this gives a wonderful philosophy of life for people of diverse pursuits.
  • Seeking Beauty is not wrong. But we should remember the priority. Beauty should not take precedence over Goodness. And Goodness should not take precedence over Truth. This is the concept of the popular
  • Sanskrit saying Speak the truth. Speak the pleasant. Never tell untruth to be pleasant. Avoid speaking an unpleasant truth.
  • Then comes the domain where we can express and experience these – physical, intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual.
  • Intellectual beauty is to be preferred more than physical beauty;
  • Emotional beauty is to be preferred more than intellectual beauty; and so on.
  • Similarly, about Goodness and Truth.

Idealism in Indian Philosophy Next Session

  • Yogacara school of Buddhism
  • Madhyamika School of Buddhism
  • Idealism of Sankara

Yogacara School of Buddhism

  • Consciousness alone is the established truth preached by the Buddha.
  • All except consciousness, is unreal.
  • The external world is the creation, not of the individual consciousness, but of the absolute consciousness.
  • No external object exists. All that is, is consciousness.
  • The highest reality is unchanging, calm, and permanent.

Madhyamika School of Buddhism

  • According to this school, what we grasp is the Prapanca, and not the Paramartha.
  • If we put this idea in technical language of Buddhism, we can say that the human knowledge is confined to the Samvarti-Satya, i.e.. , to the phenomenal reality. It is unable to grasp the Paramartha-Satya i.e.. , the noumenal reality.
  • The empirical world is the phenomenal reality, while the ultimate truth is the noumenal reality. “The ultimate truth is intuitional, peaceful, devoid of plurality and one.” This is the nature of reality.

Idealism of Sankara

  • In the philosophy of Sankara the ultimate reality is Brahman or self.
  • Sankara recognizes three grades of reality.
    • The external object of our ordinary experience has only a Vyavaharika Satta (empirical reality) ,
    • The objects appearing in dreams and illusions enjoy only a Pratibhasika Satta (illusory appearance) and
    • Brahman, i.e.. . , the Absolute has the Parmarthika Satta (ultimate reality) .
  • The ultimate reality is the highest reality which is devoid of all differences and contradictions.
  • We cannot know Brahman but we can become Brahman. “He who knows Brahman, becomes Brahman.”

Aims of Idealism

Idealist philosophers advocate that education should be religious, moral, intellectual, aesthetic, and physical. Emphasis should be given on physical health i.e.. , sound health through spiritual values. Education should aim at developing child into a complete man with full mental, intellectual, moral, and cultural uplift.

  • Self-Realization
  • Spiritual Development
  • Cultivation of Moral Values
  • Conservation, Promotion and Transmission of Culture
  • Development of Physical Health


Fill in the Blanks

1. … was the first person, who presented his logic on composition of the universe.

2. As per Idealism, … world is superior than materialistic world

3. Plato divided knowledge into, organ related, … , …

4. Plato considered organ related knowledge as …

5. According to Sankara … is considered as ultimate reality or truth.

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