Idealism: Meaning, Principles, Types, Educational Implications (2023)

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Meaning of Idealism

Idealism is based on concept of idea. It believes in the existence of soul. Everything that we have is due to this soul. Soul is also considered as absolute mind or higher spirit. Soul is directly connected with the spiritual power in a man that creates intellectual culture, morality and religion. The chief aim of idealistic philosophy is to achieve the ultimate reality of life in the form of spiritual knowledge. The highest knowledge in idealism is the knowledge of self. There are three eternal values in idealism as truth, goodness and beauty. Idealism also believes in Mental Discipline, faculty of learning and law of reasoning. It has faith in ideal values and virtues.

According to Ross- “Human personality is of supreme value and constitutes the noblest work of God.”

According to V. Good– “Reality consists of transcendent universals, forms of ideas, which are the objects of true knowledge, which are like shadows or imitation of idea.”


Various meaning of Idealism are as follows-

  1. Popular Meaning- Popularly by word idealism means one who accepts and lives by lofty moral, aesthetic and religious standards. It also means one who is able to visualize and who advocates some plan or program which is non-existent. Hence, idealism can be interpreted as the thought of work for permanent peace or for the elimination of poverty.
  2. Philosophical Meaning- Idealism which is commonly known as spiritualism that communicates with the living things. It seeks to offer an explanation of the man and universe in terms of spirit or mind. In fact, it is the negation of matter and a great force driving man to strive for his becoming one with the ultimate.
  3. Derivative Meaning- The word Idealism may be derived from ideals or ideas. Ideas or higher values are essences. They are of ultimate cosmic significance. They are more important in human life than anything else. They are eternal and unchanging. They have no dimension such as length or breadth and such different from material forces.

Types of Idealism

Various forms of Idealism are as follows-

  1. Subjective Idealism-

    It is sometimes also known as mentalist or sometimes phenomenalist. This type of idealism is the philosophy that believes our idea comes from our mind or spirit. The subjective idealists hold that mind or spirits and their perceptions or ideas are all that exist. The objects of experience are not material things, they are merely perceptions.

  2. Personal Idealism-

    For personal idealism, the basic reality is neither abstract thought nor a particular thought process but it is a person, a self or a thinker. Reality of the nature of conscious is the personality. This type of idealism is the system of personal selves, hence it is pluralistic. The personal idealists hold that life is more important than any verbal forms of expression or fixed meanings. They consider that personality of a person has greater value than anything else and society must be organized as to give fullness to each person in his life and opportunities.

  3. Objectives Idealism-

    The objective idealism is of the view that the external world is the real sense. It says that knowledge of a man is determined by the nature of the world itself. The world is intelligible to mind because the finite mind is the finite reproduction of god through the limiting adjuncts of the physical organism. Its concept is that the world is real as well as ideal. There is the organization and form of the world and knowledge is determined by the nature of the world itself.

  4. Absolute Idealism-

    It deals with the spiritual knowledge of God and soul.

  5. Universe is Rational-

    In this idealism the whole universe is taken as an organism which is the living and mental part of God.

  6. Idealism of Phenomenalism-

    This was proposed by Kant. It accepts the existence of physical world also.

  7. Plato’s Idealism-

    It believes in the moral values of supreme reality truth, justice, knowledge of soul and aesthetics.

  8. Modern Idealism-

    This kind of idealism has been influenced by scientific realities also. It realizes the facts of Biological Evolution, Logic, Psychology and Mechanism.

Main Principles of Idealism

Following are the main principles of education-

  1. Universal Mind-

    Idealists believe that freedom of mind is the highest virtue. According to them, there is a spiritual universe permitted by the universal mind. This little mind is a part of the universal mind. The goal of human life is to realize the universal mind. The whole universe is one organism with its varied parts. So, our mind comes from mind and soul from soul and since they are not matter, they are imperishable. Finally reality is our mind.

    (Video) Idealism Philosophy of Education|For B.ed/CTET/KVS/TET

  2. Realization of higher values of life-

    According to idealism, ideals or higher values of our life is made by man. They have prior existence. Idealists have full faith in eternal and spiritual values of life which never change. The chief aim of human life is to realize these values which are truth, goodness and beauty. Idealism visualizes glimpse of God in whatever is true, good and beautiful.

  3. Knowledge is perceived crystallized in mind-

    Our knowledge which is acquired from the activity, creativity and exercise of the mind is more important than the knowledge acquired through senses.

  4. Emphasis upon normative and social sciences-

    In the field of education, idealists lay more emphasis upon the natural and physical. The normative sciences are ethics, logic and aesthetics. Sociology and psychology are considered as the main subjects of the normative sciences. Idealists explain the universe on the basis of these sciences.

  5. Conceptualism in epistemology-

    Idealism is conceptualism in its epistemology. It believes that objects have no existence apart from the concept related to them. Our knowledge influences the object but this knowledge is not obtained through the perception or senses. The knowledge comes indirectly from the medium of concepts, ideas or the activity of the mind. The important aspect of reality is the physical universe.

  6. Spirit and Mind constitute the reality-

    The mind or spirit is the essential world stuff and the true reality is of mental character. Idealism believes that the spiritual nature of man is the essence of his being. The mental or spiritual is more real and important than the material. Idealism holds that the final truth is the nature of mind therefore idealist emphasis the priority of mind and the self.

  7. Man being spiritual is a superior creation-

    Idealists believe that man is not a mere animal. He is a superior creation. He possess dignity and distinctiveness. Man is an incarnation of god, the roof and crown of all creation. His spiritual side distinguishes him from other animals. He has a will to perfection, an inner striving for self-realization with which he can apprehend the absolute moral values.

Educational Implications of Idealism

Following are the educational implications of Idealism-

  1. An idealist’s concept of education is something which deals one to the highest moral conduct and deepest spiritual insight. It is believed that only through education a man led to realize the truth, beauty and goodness, the value of our life.
  2. According to Ross, the function of education is help us in our exploration of the ultimate universal values so that the truth of the universe may become our truth and give power to our life. So, he mentioned that education is expected to enlarge the boundaries of the spiritual realm.
  3. The idealists believed that the potentiality of a man knows no bounds; therefore, his education will remain incomplete. In the field of education, idealists have talk more of objectives and aims, that is, the theory of education than he devices, methods and organization of the education, that is, the practice of education.
  4. In the words of idealists man’s nature is spiritual and divine. A man can realize himself only through education. The social aspect of education is not altogether neglected by the idealists. They regard education as a social necessity as well. Such a projection should reflect the good of the society.

Important links

  • Language Laboratory: Meaning and Benefits/Advantages
  • Various Types of E-Learning | Right form of E-learning
  • Meaning | Concept and Essential Elements of Measurement | B.Ed notes

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Idealism: Meaning, Principles, Types, Educational Implications (1)

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What are the 4 basic principles of idealism? ›

The essential orientation of idealism can be sensed through some of its typical tenets: “Truth is the whole, or the Absolute”; “to be is to be perceived”; “reality reveals its ultimate nature more faithfully in its highest qualities (mental) than in its lowest (material)”; “the Ego is both subject and object.”

What are the types of idealism? ›

Idealist perspectives are in two categories: subjective idealism, which proposes that a material object exists only to the extent that a human being perceives the object; and objective idealism, which proposes the existence of an objective consciousness that exists prior to and independently of human consciousness, ...

What are the 7 philosophy of education and their meaning? ›

These include Essentialism, Perennialism, Progressivism, Social Reconstructionism, Existentialism, Behaviorism, Constructivism, Conservatism, and Humanism.

What does idealism mean in education? ›

Idealism in education is a belief that knowledge comes from within. Originally conceived by Plato, idealism states that the only true reality is the reality within the mind. For teachers, this implies the need to develop children to their true potential and guide their minds so that they are living up to their purpose.

What are the 5 main principles? ›

The Five Principles are: quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom.

What are principles of idealism? ›

The underlying principle of idealism is that reality is largely an extension of mental processes, which are the true reality. Idealism proposes that ideas are universal and eternal, unlike physical objects, which are subject to the alteration of the forces of nature.

What is the meaning and definition of idealism? ›

noun. 1. behavior or thought based on a conception of things as they should be or as one would wish them to be; idealization. 2. a striving to achieve one's ideals.

What is the best example of idealism? ›

The saying "mind over matter" is another one that provides an example of idealism in everyday life. The idea behind that saying is that if you believe something to be true and focus on that, then ultimately it will come to reflect your reality.

What are the 4 types of educational philosophy? ›

They are Perennialism, Essentialism, Progressivism, and Reconstructionism. These educational philosophies focus heavily on WHAT we should teach, the curriculum aspect.

What are the 8 elements of educational philosophy? ›

What are the 8 philosophies in education?
  • Perennialism. It is a teacher-centered philosophy that believes in teaching great works. ...
  • Progressivism. It is a student-centric philosophy that believes in learning by experimentation. ...
  • Reconstructionism. ...
  • Positivism. ...
  • Constructivism. ...
  • Behaviorism. ...
  • Humanism. ...
  • Essentialism.
Jul 15, 2022

What are the six 6 major philosophies of education? ›

These six main areas of educational philosophy are perennialism, essentialism, behaviorism, progressivism, reconstructionism, and existentialism. These philosophical areas evolved and broadened from the four classical views of philosophy to shape to the different styles of teachers in today's schools.

How does idealism view education? ›

Idealists generally agree that education should not only stress development of the mind but also encourage students to focus on all things of lasting value. Along with Plato, they believe that the aim of education should be directed toward the search for true ideas.

What are the 7 major principles? ›

The Constitution rests on seven basic principles. They are popular sovereignty, limited government, separation of powers, federalism, checks and balances, republicanism, and individual rights. Popular Sovereignty The framers of the Constitution lived at a time when monarchs claimed that their power came from God.

What are the 3 types of principles? ›

Three such fundamental principles, that of Justice, Rational Self-Love, and Rational Benevolence, are often called 'maxims', for they are not principles that simply state facts, but are those that serve as a guide for determining actions that ought to be done.

What are 7 fundamental principles? ›

Humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality: these seven Fundamental Principles sum up the Movement's ethics and are at the core of its approach to helping people in need during armed conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies.

What are the major principles of education under idealism? ›

Idealist philosophers advocate that education should be religious, moral, intellectual, aesthetic and physical. Emphasis should be given on physical health i.e. sound health through spiritual values. Education should aim at developing child into a complete man with full mental, intellectual, moral and cultural uplift.

What are the major features of idealism? ›

Features of Idealism:

(1) “Ideas are to ultimate cosmic significance”. (2) Emancipation of spirit. (3) Spirit and intellect are of supreme value and not physical matter. (4) Realization of higher values of life.

Why is it called idealism? ›

One is that idealism derives from Descartes' mind-body dualism and his Platonist theory of ideas as "innate archetypes common to all rational beings" (p. 35). Hence, the term 'idealism'. Accordingly, ideas are what is in our or God's mind and what gives us access to the external world.

What is the main conclusion of idealism? ›

Idealism says that material things are, in the end, fundamentally mental. Materialism and idealism are both forms of monism, since they both hold that there is only one fundamental kind of thing in the world; they just disagree about what this kind of thing is.

What is a simple example of idealism? ›

When you're idealistic, you dream of perfection, whether in yourself or other people. For example, you might have the idealistic goal of bringing an end to childhood poverty in the world. The adjective idealistic describes someone whose plans or goals of helping others are lofty, grand, and possibly unrealistic.

How do teachers apply idealism in the classroom? ›

Idealists have high expectations of the teacher. It is believed students should be taught how to think in school. The teacher passes on knowledge to the students, and the students gain and adapt the knowledge. Idealist think lecture is the most important method to deliver knowledge to students.

What is an example of idealism in classroom situation? ›

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is an example of an idealistic educational policy. The purpose of this act is to provide all students with a high quality education. This will be accomplished by setting minimum academic standards and testing all children to ensure that they meet those standards.

What are the 4 core branches of philosophy? ›

The major branches of philosophy are epistemology (knowledge & truth), metaphysics (reality & being), logic (argumentation & reason), axiology (aesthetics & ethics), and political philosophy (the state & government).

What are the 7 dimensions of philosophy? ›

They are physical, social, environmental, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional, especially as they influence the seventh dimension, occupational wellness.

What are the 7 philosophical foundation of education? ›

Idealism, Realism, Naturalism, Pragmatism, Existentialism, and Marxism with special reference to the concepts of knowledge, reality and values their educational implications of aims, contents and methods of education.

What is the difference between subjective and objective idealism? ›

Objective idealism

Take 'idealism' to be the view that ultimate reality is non-physical. It is generally assumed, though I have reservations, that this implies that it is mental. Subjective idealism would then be the view that only I, this subject, this mind and its ideas or other mental states, exist.

What is actual idealism in philosophy? ›

Central tenets. Actual idealism holds that it is the act of thinking as perception, not creative thought as imagination, which defines reality. Therefore, one idea, or another, can only be a formulation of particulars within the bounds of a known totality, in which one idea is not on any side of those particulars.

What personality types are idealistic? ›

The Idealist is the same as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator/Intuitive Feeler and includes the following four personality types: ENFJ, ENFP, INFJ, and INFP. Idealists are one of the rarest types of personality, the other being the Rationals.

What is the main difference between realism and idealism? ›

From a modal perspective, the defining premise of idealism asserts that all manifest certainties emerge from conceivable possibilities; where realism contends that all manifestable possibilities emerge from preexisting certainties.

What is objective idealism with example? ›

philosophy is a form of objective idealism, which argues, against materialism, that our experience of reality is mediated by thought while also rejecting the notion that reality is solely subjective and thus relative (subjective idealism).


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