Idealism With Its Historical Origins Term Paper

Pages: 3 (923 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy


With its historical origins in the works of Plato as well as the Hindu Vedas, idealism is one of the fundamental and most pervasive metaphysical philosophies. Its only real challenge comes from materialism, a metaphysical perspective that took root relatively recently. In light of many worldly phenomena and subjective experiences, materialism makes far less rational sense than idealism. Materialism accounts for only a limited fragment of reality, one facet of a complex universe. Furthermore, idealism more accurately encompasses the aims of metaphysics, which studies reality from is literally "beyond" the physical world. The term "metaphysics" literally means "beyond physics." Metaphysical theories therefore extend toward the ultimate reality that underlies the physical universe. Any study of metaphysics must therefore extend beyond the world that is observable only by the five physical senses. Idealism is the best metaphysical theory because it dynamically probes the metaphysical origins of the physical universe.

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As Plato postulated, the world of Forms precedes the world that we perceive with our eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin. Plato was not suggesting that the world of Forms exists in an actual physical place, as in some heavenly realm that is divorced from material reality by a thin veil. Rather, Plato suggested that what we perceive with the senses is an imperfect, flawed, sometimes completely delusional view of the real world. For example, Plato's cave allegory shows that people often mistake shadows on the wall for reality. The source of the shadows, the sun, becomes an apt analogy for the world of Forms.

Term Paper on Idealism With Its Historical Origins in the Assignment

Idealism is often set forth as a type of monism, a philosophy that espouses one ultimate source for all of the myriad manifestations of the universe. Berkeley was one of the first philosophers to articulate idealism as a monistic metaphysical philosophy. According to Berkeley, one mental or spiritual source is at the root of all reality. In other words, the source of everything is a mental or spiritual ideal. Matter is essentially of no matter to many idealists. Some types of idealism are set forth as pluralistic, suggesting that a collective set of ideal forms underlies the physical universe. Either way, idealism permits an expansive view of the manifest world. Idealism is the best metaphysical philosophy because it does not stop at matter, but extends beyond matter toward the source of all things. No metaphysical philosophy can be complete without an examination of the world beyond what can be perceived with the human senses. Otherwise, the abstract laws of nature that remain invisible and incomprehensible to most human beings cease to be meaningful. Theoretical physics is a modern branch of science that essentially has its philosophical underpinnings in idealism. Few theoretical physicists could be metaphysical materialists.

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APA Style

Idealism With Its Historical Origins.  (2005, May 12).  Retrieved February 25, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Idealism With Its Historical Origins."  12 May 2005.  Web.  25 February 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Idealism With Its Historical Origins."  May 12, 2005.  Accessed February 25, 2020.