Idealism - Classical Idealism

Classical Idealism

Monistic idealism holds that consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all being. It is monist 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 (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 is central to Vedanta philosophy and to such schools as Kashmir Shaivism. Proponents include Amit Goswami, P.R. Sarkar and his disciple Sohail Inayatullah.

Christian theologians have held idealist views, often based on Neoplatonism, despite the influence of Aristotelian scholasticism 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, may be said to have a particularly idealist orientation. The theology of Christian Science includes a form of idealism: it teaches that all that truly 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 (both conceptually and in terms of human experience) through a reorientation (spiritualization) of thought.

Wang Yangming, 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 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 and hence suffering.

In recent years, a form of monistic idealism has been defended by the physicist Amit Goswami:

The current worldview has it that everything is made of matter, and everything can be reduced to the elementary particles of matter, the basic constituents — building blocks — of matter. And cause arises from the interactions of these basic building blocks or elementary particles; elementary particles make atoms, atoms make molecules, molecules make cells, and cells make brain. But all the way, the ultimate cause is always the interactions between the elementary particles. This is the belief — all cause moves from the elementary particles. This is what we call "upward causation." So in this view, what human beings — you and I think of as our free will does not really exist. It is only an epiphenomenon or secondary phenomenon, secondary to the causal power of matter. And any causal power that we seem to be able to exert on matter is just an illusion. This is the current paradigm.
Now, the opposite view is that everything starts with consciousness. That is, consciousness is the ground of all being. In this view, consciousness imposes "downward causation." In other words, our free will is real. When we act in the world we really are acting with causal power. This view does not deny that matter also has causal potency — it does not deny that there is causal power from elementary particles upward, so there is upward causation — but in addition it insists that there is also downward causation. It shows up in our creativity and acts of free will, or when we make moral decisions. In those occasions we are actually witnessing downward causation by consciousness.

Read more about this topic:  Idealism

Other articles related to "classical idealism, idealism, classical":

Idealist - Classical Idealism - Platonism and Neoplatonism
... 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" ... 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 ... there even appears, probably for the first time in Western philosophy, idealism that had long been current in the East even at that time, for it taught… that the soul has ...
Nous - Early Modern Philosophy
... they argued for positions which appear more similar to those of medieval and classical philosophers ... rejected Cartesian dualism and idealism ... early modern philosophy (later referred to as "subjective idealism" by others) ...

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