Idealism (check definition)
musides at SPAMadelaide.on.net
Tue Aug 17 05:44:44 MDT 1999
I have written a brief definition for Idealism (for the Encyclopedia
of Marxism -- soon to come), and would appreciate comments. I would
especially appreciate hearing form anyone who is not certain about
Idealism, and whether or not this does a good job in explaining it.
For those who know, if there are any objections, please let me know.
Idealism is the philosophical tradition that fundamentally believes
that some non-real force (eg. thoughts, feelings), that exists beyond
our knowledge (beyond our ability to prove rationally), is the basis
for all things: matter is built upon the reality of the ideal world.
This is in contrast to Materialism, the tradition that fundamentally
believes that some real force (eg. physics, events) that exists
beyond our knowledge (beyond our ability to prove empirically) is the
basis for all things: ideas are built upon the reality of the
Both Idealism and Materialism are based on the premise (a rational
proof in Idealism, an empirical proof in Materialism) that humans
cannot be certain of knowledge (eg. humans are fallible), and that
therefore all knowledge is beyond what humans are capable of knowing
for certain, save for the certainty that humans are fallible.
We can see the fundamental difference between the two in the familiar
riddle: What came first: the chicken or the egg? The difficulty is
that one presupposes the other: a chicken is not possible without
having been borne from an egg! An egg is not possible without having
been laid by a chicken!
To save us from this problem that cannot be solved rationally nor
empirically comes that one thing we are certain: we do not know!
Most philosophers are not happy with this (the notable exception
being Daoists) and so have choosen which one comes before the other
-- either the idealistic conditions existed first (eg. the design);
or the materialist conditions existed first (eg. the productive
The 'truth' in either path is beyond our ability to rationally or
empirically prove, and so neither can be right nor wrong. But choose
one path they must and so be philosophers or choose the other path
and be revolutionaries.
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