Idealism is a philosophical concept that ancient and modern philosophers turn to when all other philosophies fail. The concept of idealism is based on humanitarian values and ideals.
The idea and ideals of philosophy are the major components that are followed by idealists. Philosophers such as Plato, Kant, Hegel, Descartes and Aristotle have been identified as Idealists.
Definition Of Idealism
The word ‘IDEALISM’ is derived from the Latin word ‘IDEALIS’, which means ‘to form. The philosophical system of Idealism is linked to reality, it emphasizes the importance of consciousness in framing reality.
It is based on the theory of human progress. The philosophy is optimistic and believes that good people are more than bad people. It also follows the belief that humanity can be improved through education.
One of the core metaphysical ideologies of idealism is that consciousness has no role to play in reality, hence, objective or absolute idealism does not exist. This is because the individual can never have a piece of absolute knowledge about the outside world. The external world is an impression of the individual in their state of mind.
Idealism is a branch of Philosophy that deals with the central role of the ideal or the spiritual through interpretation of experience. The word ‘Idealism’ is derived from the word ‘ideals’ meaning higher values or essence which are of supreme cosmic significance. They are considered to be the most important thing in human life. These values are eternal and unchanging. They are different from material forces because they do not have dimensions such as length and breadth.
“Idealists point out that it is the mind that is central in understanding the world. To them nothing gives a greater sense of reality than the activity of mind engaged in trying to comprehend its world.”
Harold Titus states,
“Idealism, asserts that reality consists of ideas, thoughts, minds, or selves rather than materials, objects and force.”
Concept of Idealism in Philosophy
Metaphysics is concerned with reality and according to idealism, the mind is real. It suggests that reality is closely related to the mind which includes the selves, thoughts, and ideas. It also believes that the world is not a nature’s phenomena but rather, a creation of the mind. Both mind and universe are constructed of the same elements and hence, the mind can comprehend the universe.
It deals with the issues of knowledge and truth. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that is concerned with exploring how people come to learn what they know. It is derived from the Greek terms “episteme” and “logos” which can be translated to knowledge. It suggests four main knowledge bases which include divine revelation, experience, logic and reason, and intuition. All of these factors influence the teaching, learning, and understanding process that takes place in the classroom. Epistemology can be regarded as,
“the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion.”
Characteristics of Idealism in philosophy
1. Priority of mind and the self: Idealism believes that mind is prior to matter and lays emphasis on the importance of mind and the self. It suggests that the mind is real and its by-product is matter.
2. Universe exists in spirit: Idealism believes that the spirit is the fundamental element of the universe and reality, in truth, is thought or spiritual. It considers experience, thought, personality, and value to be more real than the external world or materialistic things.
3. Distinctive nature of man: Idealism suggests that man is not just a social animal but also a superior creation who possesses the quality of dignity and distinctiveness. In his environment, he cannot be regarded as a helpless creature.
J.S. Ross defines,
“Idealistic philosophy takes many and varied forms, but the postulate underlying all this is that mind of spirit is the essential world stuff, that the true reality is of a mental character.”
He further states,
“Human personality is supreme and constitutes the noblest work of God.”
Types Of Idealism
This type of idealism is central to the route of idealism in education. This school of thought lays down around the fact that absolute reality can be found in reason and thought. Reality is interrelated and contradictory but contradictions are reconciled.
Absolute idealism rules that everything is a whole and part of the cosmos. Everything is a result of self-will, that is, absolute.
This type of idealism has given idealism in education a different perspective. This school of thought is more to do with the state of the mind rather than reality. The ‘I’ in idealism is the main focus.
The environment of perspective an individual sees is created by them. The knowledge one has is the fuel for these thoughts. The concepts a person believes in are supplied by their mind.
The other types of intricate idealism are as follows.
- Epistemological Idealism
- Metaphysical Idealism
- Platonic Idealism
- Aristotelian Idealism
- Kantian Idealism
- Absolute Idealism
- Critical Idealism
- Moralistic Idealism
Aims Of Idealism In Education
The major aims of idealism in education are as follows
The major aim of idealism in education is to make the child realize their inner soul. The child should acknowledge the presence of their soul, heal their inner being and walk towards self-knowledge. Self-realization aims toward full knowledge of the soul.
Above the soul of man, there is the supreme soul. Man achieves self-realization when he becomes one with the Supreme soul. According to Idealism, Man is the greatest creation of God. Idealism in Education aims towards helping man reach self-realization.
Idealists are more biased towards spiritual values than material successes. The culmination of spirituality in humans is when the individual can convert their original nature into spiritual nature.
This happens when an individual realizes spiritual values like beauty, truth, and goodness. The spiritual development of the individual happens when the person enjoys intellectual, aesthetic and moral aesthetics through spiritual development.
Cultivation Of Moral Values
The central pillar of idealism revolves around the importance of moral values in a man’s life. The personality of a Man forms around its aesthetic, moral and intellectual aspects. The moral values of an individual help them to reach perfection in life.
An individual should express their moral values in every aspect of life. The intellectual values of a person help to solve all the problems a person may face in life. Idealism helps in cultivating moral values that can make life noble and perfect.
Conservation, Promotion And Transmission Of Culture
The primary aim of Idealism in education is the conservation, promotion and transmission of culture through Man. Culture should be transmitted from person-to-person, time-to-time and from place to place. The aesthetic, moral and intellectual activities of man should help in promoting, transmitting, and preserving culture through generations.
Mankind should work towards preserving their cultural heritage. Education contributes to the development of culture. It helps to enlarge the boundaries of the spiritual realm. Moral and spiritual values help in developing and conserving culture.
Development Of Physical Health
Philosophers of the Idealist school of thought think that development has to be moral, intellectual, religious, aesthetic, and physical.
The child should develop a good healthy body through spiritual values. Education through idealism aims at developing the child into a complete individual through mental, physical, moral, and cultural upliftment.
Idealism promotes the fact that education and knowledge should be universal. The whole universe along with the Supreme Soul is part of a thought process.
Education should be planned to keep the Universal Truth, which is the central point of all teaching and rationality in the Universe.
Development Of Rationality And Intelligence
Idealism through education aims toward the full development of the mind. As an individual develops they become rational as well. A well-developed mind understands the concept of the Supreme Soul.
Idealism believes that education aims at the total development of the Self, evolution of an individual’s mind, self-realization, and moral values.
Preparation For A Pious Life
Idealism prepares the individual for a pious life, through which they can live a life full of moral values.
Aspects Of Education In Idealism
|Teacher||Curriculum||Methods Of Teaching||Discipline|
|The teacher is the guide of the student into the spiritual world. The teacher is the ideal the student follows.Idealism thinks of the teacher as the spiritual receptor sent by the Supreme Soul to guide the Individual towards spirituality.The teacher is an Idealist, friend and guide.||The curriculum that is developed following idealist views pays attention to values and morals. The curriculum pays attention to cognitive development and conation. The curriculum should be based on the policy of universal education.||Idealism does not have prescribed steps on the methods of teaching.According to Idealism, the classroom is the abode of spiritual learning.Learning through reading, lecturing, discussion and imitation is advocated.||Idealism believes in keeping a child under discipline. No spiritual development is possible without discipline.Self analysis and self insight are the main factors to enhance discipline.|