FocusPositioning the ideational and spiritual as the only truths
- Knowledge is … scope of all ideas
- Knowing is … holding ideas
- Learner is … idea-haver (individual)
- Learning is … realizing/developing ideas
- Teaching is … urging
OriginatedAncient (first formally described by ancient Greeks)
SynopsisIdealism might perhaps be better dubbed “idea-ism.” It refers to a range of perspectives that assert that ideas are the only true reality. Most Idealisms accept that there is a material world, but that world is seen to be lesser – subject to change, unstable, uncertain, and corruptible. Associated constructs and theories include
- Epistemological Idealism – reality can only be known through ideas
- Intellectualism – any perspective that prioritizes thought or the activity of the mind (i.e., the “intellect”). Among others, these include Idealism, Rationalism, and those theories in Psychology that emphasis cognitive states.
- Logocentrism – the belief that words can represent presence, essence, truth, and/or reality, and thus act as the foundation of all human thought, language, and experience
- Metaphysical Idealism – interpreted experience is all that is real
- Objective Idealism – an objective consciousness exists prior to and independent of human consciousness
- Platonic Idealism (Theory of Forms) – abstracted ideas are more real than perceptions
- Phenomenalism – physical objects exist only as sensory stimuli or perceptions
- Reminiscence Theory of Knowledge (Plato, c. 400 BCE) – an elaboration of Platonic Idealism that presses into matters of learning. Built on the premise that all knowledge is always and already present in the ideal realm, the theory asserts that learning is a process of recollection or recovery of such knowledge – aided by processes such as the Socratic Method.
- Skepticism – an umbrella notion applied to an array of discourses that, to varying extents, question the possibility of factual knowledge. Positions range from advice to suspend judgment to denying the very possibility of knowledge. Types of Skepticism vary according to scope, method, and associated philosophy
- Subjective Idealism (Immaterialism) (George Berkeley, 1720s)– sensory experiences are more important than abstracted ideas
CommentaryIdealism was largely discounted and dismissed through the 20th century. Even so, many of its principles and assumptions permeate everyday sensibilities – evident in the overwhelming dominance of Mentalisms in popular discussions of learning and teaching.
Authors and/or Prominent InfluencesAncient Greeks
Status as a Theory of LearningIdealism is a theory of existence and knowledge that infuses many popular beliefs and assumptions about learning. As such, it can be described as highly influential of common perspective of learning, if not a proper learning theory itself.
Status as a Theory of TeachingIdealism is not a theory of teaching.
Status as a Scientific TheoryIdealism is not a scientific theory.
- Epistemological Idealism
- Metaphysical Idealism
- Objective Idealism
- Platonic Idealism (Theory of Forms)
- Reminiscence Theory of Knowledge
- Subjective Idealism (Immaterialism)
Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2022). “Idealism” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.
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