Idealism in Philosophy of
REPORTER: LEVI S. OBIAS
A standard by which we judge things in our existence.
“Ideals are the stars. You will not succeed in touching them with your
hands. But like seafaring men on the desert of waters, you choose them as
your guides, and following them, you will reach your destiny.”_Carl Schurz
In philosophy, it applies to the theory that holds ideas as the only reality.
Thus, “Idea-ism” might be a more correct descriptive term for the
philosophy than Idealism.
It came into being as a correction of the view of naturalism.
Idealism vs. Naturalism
Emphasizes that the will governs one’s
Judges behavior in terms of motives
Would say that the knowledge is
obtained by speculation and
Says that one’s conduct is governed
by impulse, instincts and experiences
Judges behavior on the basis of results
Would say that the end justifies the
Regards scientific observation and
scientific knowledge as final
The Development of
(FROM ANCIENT TIMES)
(427-347 B. C.)
A Greek philosopher, who was
remarkably equipped with natural
He became an ardent admirer and
disciple of Socrates.
He opened up his own school, the
Academy in Athens and there developed
and expounded his doctrines as a
Two of his most famous works are “The
Republic” and “The Dialogue.”
Plato did not think that man created
knowledge. Rather, man discovered
(427-347 B. C.)
“Intelligent people should be taken care
of by the government next to the best
school to be of greater service to the
He suggested that the state take a very
active role in educational matters; that
both boys and girls should be given equal
opportunity to develop themselves.
Those showing little abilities in
mathematics go into pursuits which would
assist them in the practical realities of life.
The function of education should be to
determine that which by nature fits men
He lived in a crucial period in the history
In the war against heresies, he was a very
powerful figure. His mother was a
Christian but not his father. His conversion
occurred when he was 32 years old.
Prior to that, he lived a life that was
patterned after the typical life of Roman
provincial of the times.
He was a very outstanding teacher of
He joined for a while the sect of
Manicheans, a group who explained the
universe through the dualistic doctrine of
God and Satan engaged in a struggle to
dominate the world.
Not content with their explanation, which
troubled him, he turned to Greek
philosophy and in particular to Neo-
He rejected the doctrine of pantheistic
conception that the human soul is part of
the World soul.
He incorporated in his own theory of
knowledge the Neo-Platonic doctrine
that the ultimate in knowledge is a
mystical intuition of the Supreme
Reality, which only a few can experience.
He came later under the influence of
Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, who was
instrumental in his conversion to
The teaching of Augustine dominated
Christian education and belief almost
exclusively for more than nine
centuries, after which the scholastic
philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-
1274) shared dominion with it.
He is the first Christian philosopher to
formulate the doctrines of his religion in the
most comprehensive and enduring manner.
The accomplishment of his task is facilitated
by: (1) an effective assimilation of Greek
philosophy to Christian belief of God, (2) the
use of the Neo-Platonic idea of mediating
function of the Logos the Cosmic Reason or
Divine Word), in interpreting the role of Christ
in the Holy Trinity, and
(3) the use of the Neo-Platonic definition
of evil as absence of good in the
resolution of the “problem of evil.”
His works are permeated by the gospel of
love, which unifies and illuminates the
In loving God, Augustine tells us, we love
truth. He also taught that one couldn’t
obtain true knowledge without faith.
Thus, it is the duty of educators to enable
students to be aware that the human
struggle is to turn away from evil and seek
Below are some of the basic tenets of Saint
Augustine as applied to philosophy of
education and moral philosophy:
Every educator must learn to wrestle with
the problem of good and evil, which
means how to reconcile the existence of
evil in the world with the omnipotence
and benevolence of God.
Every learner must be inspired by the
educator to accept that the omnipotent
God does will even in the permission of
All people are themselves responsible for
their own misfortunes; they are free to
choose, and they choose evil.
Education for moral responsibility is the
key concept of Augustinian philosophy.
Every educand must realize that supreme
good and evil refer to eternity, not to the
brief moment of this life.
When educator and learners appreciate
the feebleness of unaided human
reason, they see that faith, hope, and
love are the fundamental virtues to be
developed in schools.
Everyone earnestly desires peace, but the
misdirected methods of the City of Man
fail to achieve it.
(1596-1650) A French philosopher, mathematician
His philosophy became known as the
His basic proposition: I think, therefore I
He thought the world consisted of two
kinds of substances: thinking substance
(mind) and extended substance (matter)
He struggled with how mind and matter
He became the father of dualism insofar
as he divided brain and mind into
separate but equal parts.
A Spanish Jew who lived in Holland.
He accepted Descartes’ idea that the
universe is divided into mind and matter.
But he saw, that if mind and matter are
separate substances, they cannot
He held that people’s highest happiness
consists in coming to understand and
appreciate the truth and that they are
tiny parts of an all-inclusive, pantheistic
God. (Pantheism believes that all is God
and God is all.)
(1646-1716) A German scholar, mathematician and
The characteristic aspect of his
philosophy is his concept of monadism
(Monadology or Leibnizianism). In his
philosophy, each person or thing is a
monad (a completely separate being)
whose existence is in harmony with God
and is separate from outer experience.
According to him, there are dofferent
monads: simple, complex (soul), and
more complex type of monad (spirit).
God is the monad of the last type
according to him.
(1646-1716) He spent most of his professional life as a
As an Anglican Bishop and
philosopher, he was a deeply religious
man who tied to reconcile the science of
his day with the doctrines of Christianity.
His 2 prime doctrines are: “To be is to be
perceived;”and this being the character
of knowledge, the necessary subratum of
the objective world is revealed to the
Spirit, Infinite Mind, God.
Things exist even when nobody is
perceiving them because they are being
thought about by God.
Some of the ethical values of idealism
that he mentioned are:
1. There are universal, moral laws.
2. Man has a feeling of obligation to act
in obedience to these moral laws.
3. It is possible for an individual to act
purely out of desire or intention to do
good, to fulfill the moral law.
4. The immortality of the soul.
5. Belief in the existence of God. God is
your ought – the motivating factor.
(1770-1831) In 1818, he became a professor of
philosophy at the University of Berlin and
there became a prominent and an
overriding figure in philosophy.
Three major aspects of his system are
logic, nature, and spirit.
This system led some of Hegel’s followers to
believe in foreordained destiny in the face
of which individuals are mere parts of the
greater, more complete and unified whole –
The word “dialectic” best fits Hegel’s logic.
The all-inclusive Hegelian triad is
1. Thesis – ideas
2. Antithesis – otherness of the ideas
3. Synthesis – Mind or Spirit
A Systematic Synthesis of
the Philosophy of Idealism
THE METAPHYSICS OF IDEALISM
The self is the prime reality of individual
The ultimate reality is self.
Ultimate reality may be oneself, a
community of selves, or a universal self
within whom are many individual
Evil as it exists is the negation of value
The individual self has all the freedom
essential to self-determination. It does
not mean that we have the freedom
to do whatever we please, without
limits. An individual is a part and not
the whole of reality. Self-determination
might be a more exact term to use
THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF IDEALISM
Idealism and critical realism are alike in
their treatment of perception except
that idealism holds that the qualities we
perceive in the world are rooted in
Berkeley insisted that the character of
the world as we experience it depends
so much upon the mind, that there is no
such thing that exists without someone
perceiving it. Kant, Fichte, and Hegel
advocated a similar idea.
Some idealists hold that we have direct
experience of the self, that it is a self-
evident fact; others find the existence of
self to be a necessary inference.
Selfhood, being what it is, and the world
being so well-tuned to the experience of
self, is believed by idealists. Also, reality is
Since nothing can be conceived to exist
without being in relation to other
things, many idealists believe reality to
be a logically unified total system, a
THE LOGIC OF IDEALISM
The material of logic comes from our
social experience. Two main sources
of such truths are the everyday
knowledge of men and the accurate
knowledge by the various sciences.
The idealist believes that the truths we
believes that the truths we believe in
must support and reinforce one
From the idealist point of view, the
growth and development of
knowledge, whether in the individual
mind or in the experience of the
race, is a matter of extending vision so
that individuals and classes are seen in
their larger and more complete
THE AXIOLOGY OF IDEALISM
The values human beings desire and enjoy are
fundamentally rooted in existence. They are real
The values of human life are what they are largely
because they are individual persons to possess and
One important way in which individual persons can
realize value is by precisely relating parts and wholes.
SYNTHESIS AND IMPLICATIONS
ON KNOWLEDGE AND EDUCATION
Man can arrive at the truth only by an
examination of his own innate ideas
and by testing their consistency. -
Plato, Leibniz and Hegel
The ultimate aim of education is the
happiness of the individual and
welfare of the state. – Plato
Individuals are to be educated
according to their social level and
intellectual ability. – Plato
The self gives meaning and unity into
the objective world. – Kant and
By relating parts and wholes, value
and meaning are obtained. - Hegel
SYNTHESIS AND IMPLICATIONS
On the Human Self
The self is the prime reality in the
person’s consciousness. – Berkeley and
The human self has freedom of the will.
– Kant and Leibniz
Consciousness is a primary datum of
human experience. – Descartes
As a thinking being, man is part of
God. – Spinoza
In that they are spirits, human selves
are similar to God; in that they are
finite, they are unlike him. - Leibniz
Idealism is monistic in its view. The
dualism between God and the world
is overcome by the doctrine of divine
immanence which often leads to
pantheism, the doctrine that God and
the world is one.
SYNTHESIS AND IMPLICATIONS
In idealism, the aim of education is to discover and develop each
individual's abilities and full moral excellence in order to better serve
society. The curricular emphasis is subject matter of mind:
literature, history, philosophy, and religion. Teaching methods focus on
handling ideas through lecture, discussion, and Socratic dialogue (a
method of teaching that uses questioning to help students discover and
clarify knowledge). Introspection, intuition, insight, and whole-part logic
are used to bring to consciousness the forms or concepts which are latent
in the mind. Character is developed through imitating examples and