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Metaphysics: Philosophy and Idealism Essay

Metaphysics is the branch of Philosophy that focuses on the nature of reality, including abstract concepts such as being and knowing. The term literally means ‘beyond the physical. ’ It attempts to find unity across the domains of experience and thought. There are five broad philosophical schools of thought that apply to education today and these general frameworks provide the base from which the various educational philosophies are derived. Idealism is the view that ideas or thoughts make up fundamental reality.

Idealism is a label which covers a number of philosophical positions with quite different implications and tendencies, including: 1. Objective idealism asserts that the reality of experiencing combines and transcends the reality of the object experienced and that of the mind of the observer. 2 Objective idealists accept common sense realism but reject naturalism. In other words, objective idealists accept the view that material objects exist but reject the concept that the mind and spiritual values have emerged from material things. * Proponents include Thomas Hill Green, Josiah Royce, and Benedetto Croce.

2. Subjective Idealism describes a relationship between experience and the world in which objects are no more than collections or “bundles” of sense data in the perceiver. 2 Subjective idealists assert both metaphysical and epistemological idealism while denying that material objects exist independently of human perception and thus are opposed to both realism and naturalism. * Proponents include Berkeley, the Bishop of Cloyne. 3. Transcendental idealism is a doctrine that maintains that the mind shapes the world we perceive into the form of space-and-time.

2 Transcendental idealists are strong skeptics of a mind-independent world, asserting epistemological and not metaphysical idealism. * Proponents include founder, Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Schelling. 4. Absolute idealism is the view that in order for human reason to be able to know the world at all, there must be, in some sense, an identity of thought and being; otherwise, we would never have any means of access to the world, and we would have no certainty about any of our knowledge. 6 * Proponents include founder, G. W. F. Hegel. As well as several more minor variants or related concepts, including: 5.

Epistemological Idealism asserts that minds perceive only their own ideas, and not external objects; therefore we cannot directly know things in themselves or things as they really are. The only thing we can ever have knowledge about is the world of phenomenal human experience which leaves no reason to suspect that reality mirrors our perceptions and thoughts. 6. Actual Idealism is a form of idealism that contrasted Transcendental Idealism and Absolute Idealism. This system saw thought as all-embracing, and claimed that no-one could actually leave their sphere of thinking, or exceed their own thought.

6 * Proponents include Giovanni Gentile. 7. Buddhist Idealism is the concept in that all existence is nothing but consciousness, and therefore there is nothing that lies outside of the mind. 8. Panpsychism holds that that all parts of matter involve mind or that the whole universe is an organism that possesses a mind. Therefore all objects of experience are also subjects. * Proponents include Gottfried Leibniz. 9. Practical Idealism is a political philosophy which holds it to be an ethical imperative to implement ideals of virtue or good. * Proponents include Mahatma Gandhi.

Realism is the view that entities of a certain type have a reality that is completely ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc. There are many different types and degrees of Realism, including: 1. Platonic Realism is the view that universals exist. A universal is a property of an object, which can exist in more than one place at the same time. * Proponents include founder Plato, who formed a solution to the problem of universals. 2. Moderate Realism is the view that there is no separate realm where universals exist, but that they are located in space and time wherever they happen to be manifest.

* Conceptualism, initiated by Peter Abelard, is the doctrine that universals exist only within the mind and have no external or substantial reality. * Modern Conceptualism, as represented by Immanuel Kant, holds that universals have no connection with external things because they are exclusively produced by our a priori mental structures and functions. 7 * Proponents include Aristotle St. Thomas Aquinas, Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson. 3. Modal Realism is the view that possible worlds are just as real as the actual world we live in, and not just abstract possibilities.

* Propounded by David Lewis. 4. Moral Realism is the meta-ethical view that there are objective moral values which are independent of our perception of them or our stance towards them. Therefore, moral judgments describe moral facts. 7 * Proponents include Plato and Immanuel Kant. There are many others disciplines which are related to Realism, including: 1. Transcendental Realism is the theory that implies individuals have a perfect understanding of the limitations of their own minds. 2. Organic Realism is the metaphysical philosophy in which subjective forms complement Plato’s Forms.

The theory holds that change in not illusory or purely accidental to the substance, but rather the very cornerstone of reality or Being. * Propounded by Alfred North Whitehead. Ontology is traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, while being the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence, or reality, as well as their relations. Ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how these entities can be grouped and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

G. W. F. Hegel Wikipedia. com Wikipedia. com Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher as well as a major figure in German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism. 19 Without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other, he developed the concept that mind manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united.

Hegel attempted to elaborate a comprehensive and systematic ontology from a logical starting point throughout his published writings, as well as in his lectures. In 1801 Hegel moved to Jena to join Schelling at the University of Jena, where Fichte had studied previously; although at that time, the prime of Jena idealism was over. In this same year, Hegel published his first philosophical work, The Difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy. He worked with Schelling closely and together they edited the Critical Journal of Philosophy.

He wanted to develop a system of science in which he displayed in his writings. Phenomenology of Spirit was considered his project and one of his main works where he speaks of his thoughts on the evolution of consciousness from sense perception to absolute knowledge. He also believed that human cognition changes from one generation to the next; as well as the idea that our experiences are what make us who we are and we make our experiences ours. His thinking can be understood as a constructive development within the general tradition that includes Plato and Kant, as well as Plotinus and Gottfried Leibniz.

A common trait that these thinkers share is that they regard freedom or self-determination both as real and as having important ontological implications, for soul or mind or divinity. His concern with Kantian topics such as morality and freedom, including their ontological implications, is omnipresent. He aimed to incorporate it within ‘true infinity’, ‘spirit’ and ‘ethical life’, rather than simply reject his dualism of freedom versus nature. He incorporated it in such as way he rendered Kantian’s duality as intelligible. He saw a relational unity as well as a metaphysical unity between Jesus and God the Father.

Jesus is both divine and human, according to Hegel. He further attested that God not only died, but that a reversal had taken place, that is to say that God maintained himself in the process and the latter is only the death of death. He claimed God rose again to life and thus things are reversed. 19 Karl Marx Wikipedia. com Wikipedia. com Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, journalist, historian and revolutionary socialist. His ideas had a significant influence in the development of social science and the socialist movement.

He wrote and published many works but the most important of all was the Communist Manifesto. Being born into a wealthy middle class family, he studied at the University of Bonn as well as the University of Berlin, where he became interested in the Young Hegelians philosophical ideas. After writing for a couple radical newspapers and being exiled to Brussels, he became a leading figure of the Communist League. Once he returned to Cologne, he founded his own newspaper. Even experiencing poverty, he continued writing and formulating his theories about the nature of society and how he believed that it could be improved.

His theories about society, politics and economics are known as Marxism and these theories hold that all societies progress through a conflict between ownership class which controls production and a lower class which produces the labor for goods. His view of history, which came to be called historical materialism, certainly shows the influence of Hegel’s claim that one should view reality as well as history dialectically. However, Hegel had thought in idealist terms, putting ideas in the forefront, whereas Marx sought to rewrite dialectics in materialist terms, arguing for the primacy of matter over idea.

Where Hegel saw the “spirit” as driving history, Marx saw this as an unnecessary mystification, obscuring the reality of humanity and its physical actions shaping the world. He wrote that Hegelianism stood the movement of reality on its head, and that one needed to set it upon its feet. 21 He believed that only large scale change in the economic system could bring about real change; he criticized utopian socialists by arguing that their favored small scale socialistic communities would be bound to marginalization and poverty.

Engel’s book, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, led Marx to conceive the modern working class as the most progressive force for revolution. In opposition to traditional theology, he believed that human beings had created God in their own image and that worshipping God diverted human beings from enjoying their own human powers. He explains that religion is a response to alienation in material life and that it can’t be removed until human material life is set free, resulting in the deterioration of religion. Epistemology is branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and limitations of knowledge.

It addresses mainly the following questions: * What is knowledge? * How is knowledge acquired? * To what extent is it possible for a given subject or entity to be known? 13 Rene Descartes Wikipedia. com Wikipedia. com Dubbed the ‘Father of Modern Philosophy’, Rene Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He is known for having made an important connection between geometry and algebra, thus allowing a solution for geometrical problems by way of algebraic equations.

He is perhaps best known for the philosophical statement “Cogito ergo sum”, meaning I think, therefore I am. From 1604-1612 he attended Jesuit school, where he learned the standard scholastic, Aristotelian philosophy. In 1619 he embarked on his life’s work of rebuilding the whole universe because he believed everything he had learned was wrong. To do this he used what is known as his method of doubt. He meditated on various possible skeptical scenarios to help him doubt even things that seemed possibly true. First he considered that, when asleep and dreaming, everything seemed just as real and true as when he was awake.

This led him to think that perhaps he is dreaming at that very moment, in which case he may not be really sitting in a chair but dreaming that he is sitting in a chair. Descartes, to make his doubting even more radical, considered the possibility that God is evil and has the aim of deceiving him as much as possible by placing fictitious sensory inputs directly into his conscious mind. This resulted in his famous statement: I think, therefore I am. His argument for the existence of God begins with the belief that ‘I have a concept of God, as perfect and infinite.

This concept is clear and distinct; therefore an idea must have a cause-even an idea cannot appear from nowhere. A greater object can cause a lesser one but the reverse is impossible. Thus, my idea of God, which is supremely great, can only have been caused by just such a being. Thus God, as I conceive him, must exist. ’16 With his belief in the reliability of his senses restored, he was then able to acquire common-sense beliefs about material objects. He went on to build an elaborate system of mechanics, a theory of planetary motions, among many others. David Hume Oregon State.

edu Oregon State. edu The most important philosopher ever to write in English and one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment was David Hume. He was also well-known in his own time as a philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist. Among the interesting features of Hume’s empiricist philosophy are a revolutionary view of causality, the problem of induction, and the distinction between fact and value. Hume advocates various forms of moderate or mitigated skepticism. He was a relentless critic of metaphysics and religion.

10 Hume was born in Edinburgh on April 26, 1711 and spent his childhood at Ninewells, the family’s modest estate near Berwickshire. His family thought he was suited for a career in the law, but he preferred reading classical authors and pursuing the goal of becoming a scholar and philosopher. He followed a rigorous program of reading and reflection for three years while pursuing this goal. Hume’s Problem of Causation has remained unsolved for two-hundred fifty years and this uncertainty has greatly prejudiced our belief in the possibility of metaphysics and the certainty of science, and has ultimately led to postmodernism.

Hume explains that until we know what exists and the ‘necessary connections’ between these things that exist, it is impossible for humanity to have certainty of knowledge. This in return leads to the Problem of Induction, for if we do not know the a priori cause of events then we have no principles from which to logically deduce our conclusions. Then we are simply left observing that one event follows another and somehow they seem connected, yet we don’t know why or how; therefore we must depend upon induction to determine the laws of nature.

This problem of induction can be demonstrated using his simple example of dropping a stone such that when I let go of the stone it falls to earth. And despite the amount of times this experiment is repeated does this inductively infer that the stone must fall the next time I let it go. He argued that it doesn’t, that it is simply a habit of thinking that it does and that it is quite possible that at some point in the future the stone will not fall. Hume stated, ‘The supposition that the future resembles the past, is not founded on arguments of any kind, but is derived entirely from habit.

’11 He believed that a priori ideas did not exist and that they are not innate but derived from experience of perceptions. He believed these perceptions could be divided into impressions and ideas. He believed that humans learned through impressions and if there are no impressions then there is no idea. He also believed that every person’s perceptions were his alone and different from other peoples. 17 For the argument for the existence of God, Hume began by laying down the principle that we can ascribe capacities to a God only if they are evident in the world.

He believed humans have no reason to infer an almighty God from the world because the world is manifestly finite and imperfect and any argument from such is unwarranted. He claimed that the hypothesis of a God is useless; that there is no practical gain in positing such a being. 1. Oregon State. “Section III – Philosophical Perspectives in Education” Web. October 16, 2012. <http://oregonstate. edu/instruct/ed416/PP2. html> 2. Wikipedia. “Idealism” October 13, 2012. Web. October 16, 2012. <en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Idealism> 3. Wikipedia. “Objective Idealism” May 5, 2012. Web.

October 16, 2012. <en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Objective_idealism> 4. Wikipedia. “Transcendental Idealism” September 30, 2012. Web. October 16, 2012. <en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Transcendental_idealism> 5. Wikipedia. “Neo-Platonism” October 6, 2012. Web. October 16, 2012. <en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Neoplatonism> 6. The Basics of Philosophy. “Idealism” Web. October 16, 2012. <philosophybasics. com/branch_idealism. html> 7. The Basics of Philosophy. “Realism” Web. October 16, 2012. <philosophybasics. com/branch_realism. html> 8. Wikipedia. “David Hume” October 12, 2012. Web. October 16, 2012.

<en. wikipedia. org/wiki/David_Hume> 9. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “David Hume” May 15, 2009. Web. October 16, 2012. <plato. stanford. edu/entries/hume> 10. Oregon State. “David Hume” Web. October 16, 2012. <oregonstate. edu/instruct/phl302/philosophers/hume. html> 11. On Truth & Reality. “Meta-physics: David Hume” Web. October 16, 2012. <spaceandmotion. com/metaphysics-david-hume. htm> 12. Wikipedia. “Ontology” October 29, 2012. Web. October 30, 2012. <en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ontology> 13. Wikipedia. “Epistemology” October 30, 2012. Web. October 30, 2012. <en. wikipedia.

org/wiki/Epistemology. 14. Wikipedia. “Rene Descartes” October 29, 2012. Web. October 30, 2012. <en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes> 15. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Rene Descartes” September 20, 2010. Web. October 30, 2012. <plato. stanford. edu/entries/descartes-works> 16. “Descartes and Rationalism” Web. October 30, 2012. <faculty. arts. ubc. ca/rjohns/descartes_rationalism. pdf> 17. Study Mode. “Descartes vs. Hume” Web. October 30, 2012. <studymode. com/essays/Descartes-Vs-Hume-135107. html> 18. Tektonics. “Locke, Hume, Empiricism and the Existence of God” Web.

October 30, 2012. <tektonics. org/guest/pslockhume. htm> 19. Wikipedia. “Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel” November 6, 2012. Web. November 8, 2012. <en. wikipedia. org/wiki/G. _W. _F. _Hegel> 20. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel” July 22, 2012. Web. November 8, 2012. <plato. stanford. edu/entries/hegel> 21. Wikipedia. “Karl Marx” November 10, 2012. Web. November 10, 2012. <en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Karl_Marx> 22. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Karl Marx” June 14, 2010. Web. November 21, 2012. <plato. stanford. edu/entries/marx>.


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