Idealism

Idealism is the family of philosophical theories that assert the primacy of ideas or even their independent existence. They claim that reality, or the reality that we can know, is fundamentally a construct of the mind or immaterial. Idealism assumes that objects cannot have existence without a mind that is aware of them. In order to know things, consciousness, ideas, the subject and thought must be taken into account.

Materialism rejects idealism. Idealism is not exactly antagonistic to realism as there are idealistic philosophies (objective idealism) that postulate an existence of abstract objects independent of the observer.

Epistemologically, idealism manifests itself as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing anything independent of our mind. In a sociological sense, idealism emphasizes how human ideas, especially beliefs and values, shape society. As an ontological doctrine, idealism goes further, asserting that all entities are composed of mind or spirit. Idealism thus rejects physicalist and dualist theories, which do not attribute priority to the mind. An extreme version of this idealism may exist in the philosophical notion of solipsism.

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