Subjective Idealism

Subjective idealism, or empirical idealism, is the monistic metaphysical doctrine that only minds and mental contents exist. It entails and is generally identified or associated with immaterialism, the doctrine that material things do not exist. Subjective idealism rejects dualism, neutral monism, and materialism; indeed, it is the contrary of eliminative materialism, the doctrine that only material things, and no mental things, exist.

Subjective idealism is a fusion of phenomenalism or empiricism, which confers special status upon the immediately perceived, with idealism, which confers special status upon the mental. Idealism denies the knowability or existence of the non-mental, while phenomenalism serves to restrict the mental to the empirical. Subjective idealism thus identifies its mental reality with the world of ordinary experience, rather than appealing to the unitary world-spirit of pantheism or absolute idealism. This form of idealism is "subjective" not because it denies that there is an objective reality, but because it asserts that this reality is completely dependent upon the minds of the subjects that perceive it.

The earliest thinkers identifiable as subjective idealists were certain members of the Yogācāra school of Indian Buddhism, who reduced the world of experience to a stream of subjective perceptions. Subjective idealism made its mark in Europe in the 18th-century writings of George Berkeley, who argued that the idea of mind-independent reality is incoherent, concluding that the world consists of the minds of humans and of God. Subsequent writers have continuously grappled with Berkeley's skeptical arguments. Immanuel Kant responded by rejecting Berkeley's immaterialism and replacing it with transcendental idealism, which views the mind-independent world as existent but ineffable in itself. Since Kant, true immaterialism has remained a rarity, but is survived by partly overlapping movements such as phenomenalism, subjectivism, and perspectivism.

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Famous quotes containing the words idealism and/or subjective:

    My formula for greatness in human beings is amor fati: that one wants to change nothing, neither forwards, nor backwards, nor in all eternity. Not merely to endure necessity, still less to hide it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of necessity—but rather to love it.
    Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

    Whilst Marx turned the Hegelian dialectic outwards, making it an instrument with which he could interpret the facts of history and so arrive at an objective science which insists on the translation of theory into action, Kierkegaard, on the other hand, turned the same instruments inwards, for the examination of his own soul or psychology, arriving at a subjective philosophy which involved him in the deepest pessimism and despair of action.
    Sir Herbert Read (1893–1968)