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The meaning of «idealism»

In philosophy, idealism is a diverse group of metaphysical views which all assert that "reality" is in some way indistinguishable or inseparable from human perception and/or understanding, that it is in some sense mentally constructed, or that it is otherwise closely connected to ideas.[1] In contemporary scholarship, traditional idealist views are generally divided into two groups. Subjective idealism takes as its starting point that objects only exist to the extent that they are perceived by someone. Objective idealism posits the existence of an objective consciousness which exists before and, in some sense, independently of human consciousness, thereby bringing about the existence of objects independently of human minds. Insights from modern quantum mechanics are generally supportive of objective idealism and provide evidence for the creative function of consciousness at the moment of first observation and wave function collapse.[citation needed]

In the early modern period, George Berkeley was often considered the paradigmatic idealist, as he asserted that the essence of objects is to be perceived. By contrast, Immanuel Kant, a pioneer of modern idealist thought, held that his version of idealism does "not concern the existence of things", but asserts only that our "modes of representation" of them, above all space and time, are not "determinations that belong to things in themselves" but essential features of our own minds.[2] Kant called this position "transcendental idealism" (or sometimes "critical idealism"), holding that the objects of experience relied for their existence on the mind, and that the way that things in themselves are outside of our experience cannot be thought without applying the categories which structure all of our experiences. However, since Kant's view affirms the existence of some things independently of experience (namely, "things in themselves"), it is very different from the more traditional idealism of Berkeley.

Epistemologically, idealism is accompanied by skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In its ontological commitments, idealism goes further, asserting that all entities rely on the mind for their existence.[3] Ontological idealism thus rejects both physicalist and dualist views as failing to ascribe ontological priority to the mind. In contrast to materialism, idealism asserts the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of phenomena. Idealism holds consciousness or mind to be the "origin" of the material world – in the sense that it is a necessary condition for our positing of a material world – and it aims to explain the existing world according to these principles.[4] The earliest extant arguments that the world of experience is grounded in the mental derive from India and Greece. The Hindu idealists in India and the Greek neoplatonists gave panentheistic arguments for an all-pervading consciousness as the ground or true nature of reality.[5] In contrast, the Yogācāra school, which arose within Mahayana Buddhism in India in the 4th century CE,[6] based its "mind-only" idealism to a greater extent on phenomenological analyses of personal experience. This turn toward the subjective anticipated empiricists such as George Berkeley, who revived idealism in 18th-century Europe by employing skeptical arguments against materialism. Beginning with Immanuel Kant, German idealists such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, and Arthur Schopenhauer dominated 19th-century philosophy. This tradition, which emphasized the mental or "ideal" character of all phenomena, gave birth to idealistic and subjectivist schools ranging from British idealism to phenomenalism to existentialism.

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