Skip main navigation

Idealism

Wonder of Philosophical Thought
Idealism is a school of philosophy that emphasizes that “ideas or concepts are the essence of all that is worth knowing” (Johnson et. al., 2011, p. 87). Based on the writings of Plato, this school of philosophy encourages conscious reasoning in the mind. Furthermore, idealists look for, and value, universal or absolute truths and ideas. Consequently, idealists believe that ideas should remain constant throughout the centuries.

Platonic idealism

Platonic idealism is the theory that the substantive reality around us is only a reflection of a higher truth. That truth, Plato argued, is the abstraction. He believed that ideas were more real than things. He developed a vision of two worlds: a world of unchanging ideas and a world of changing physical objects.

Plato did not believe that people created knowledge, instead they “discovered it” (Johnson et. al., 2011). In his book, The Republic, Plato talked about two worlds: the spiritual or mental world and the world of appearance. Reacting against what he perceived as too much of a focus on the physical and sensory world, Plato called for education to “develop in the body and the soul of the pupil all the beauty and all the perfection he is capable of.” (Cohen, 1999, p. 1).

Other key philosophers of Idealism are Socrates (whose work is known through his student Plato) and Immanual Kant.

Source 1: Psychology Wiki

Source 2: Social Foundations

Read the information given in the image below.

(You can download the image above as a PDF file)

Watch the video below for more information about Idealism.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Plato was a deep-thinking philosopher, who wondered deeply about the world around him and found wisdom in Idealism.

Idealism. Two Plato quotes: "Nothing ever is, everything is becoming." and "Philosophy is the highest music."

Think about how idealism can be applied in education. Share your thoughts.

© Universiti Malaya
This article is from the free online

How to Develop a Personal Teaching Philosophy in Higher Education

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now