April 14, 2008

This Post is Old!

The post you are reading is years old and may not represent my current views. I started blogging around the time I first began to study philosophy, age 17. In my view, the point of philosophy is to expose our beliefs to rational scrutiny so we can revise them and get better beliefs that are more likely to be true. That's what I've been up to all these years, and this blog has been part of that process. For my latest thoughts, please see the front page.

Philosophers' Carnival 67: Idealism

Welcome to the 67th Philosophers' Carnival, on the theme of idealism! A large number of submissions were received, so among those that were not idealism-themed, I have selected only a few of my favorites. My apologies to those that were not included. Also, for those of you who find the color scheme distasteful (or a cause of headaches), let me point you to the top right of the page, where a link reading "view with boring colors" will magically turn this page to black on white (please let me know if it doesn't work in your browser). And now, without further ado, Philosophers' Carnival 67:

What Is Idealism?

I thought it would be appropriate to begin the carnival with a brief note on just what "idealism" is. We are speaking here of metaphysical idealism, the view that minds and/or their ideas are the fundamental stuff of reality and everything else depends on them. The most famous historical proponent of idealism (and the one with perhaps the simplest system) was George Berkeley (1685-1753). In Berkeley's system, the universe contains many finite minds (us) and one infinite mind (God). The physical world is made up of perceptions which are ideas inserted directly in our minds by God. A current controversy also exists as to whether G.W. Leibniz (1646-1716) was an idealist. Robert Adams argues the Leibniz holds a consistently idealist picture of the world, whereas Daniel Garber argues that in at least some of his writings Leibniz accepts "corporeal substance" as a fundamental entity in his ontology. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) called his theory "transcendental idealism" but denied that this was actually a form of idealism. Later idealists include G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831), Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), and F. H. Bradley (1846-1924).

For Idealism

The first group of Carnival submissions are those arguing for idealism, or defending it from objections.
  • Richard Brown at Philosophy Sucks! presents Has Idealism Been Refuted? which examines three famous "refutations" of idealism and finds them all to be deficient in various ways.

  • Michael Sigrist presents Who's Afraid of Idealism? at The Ends of Thought. I had a bit of difficulty classifying this post, but I've put it here because it argues against conventional notions of realism. Sigrist argues that by adopting a view adapted from Kant and Husserl we can both satisfy our realist intuitions and get the theoretical benefits of idealism.

Against Idealism

The following submissions argue against idealism. As your "impartial" carnival host, I will resist the temptation to offer counter-refutations.

Consequences of Idealism

This group of submissions examines the interaction between idealist positions and arguments and other issues in philosophy.
  • Enigman's submission, Atheism and Explanation, compares the negative existence claims of idealism (about matter), atheism (about God), and Humean supervenience (about laws of nature).

  • In Language and the Metaphysics of the Material World, I discuss how Berkeley's theory of sense perception as language may provide a useful heuristic for solving some difficult problems in the metaphysics of the material world.

History of Idealism

One submission for this carnival discussed the topic of idealism from a purely historical perspective.
  • A submission from Grundlegung is apparently the first part of a series on Hegel and Idealism and discusses the question of in what sense Kant's "transcendental idealism" is idealistic. This provides the foundation for the interpretation of Hegel.

The Best of the Rest

That's all for this time! The next Carnival will be held on April 28 at MQPhil. Submit your posts by Saturday, April 26.

Posted by Kenny at April 14, 2008 9:17 PM
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I am not surprised that Schopenhauer's intelligent and informative "History of the Ideal and the Real" is not mentioned. It is included in the first volume of his "Parerga and Paralipomena." I have never read anything as clear and knowledgeable about Idealism in my years of reading. But, his name is anathema in academia.

Posted by: Bongo Chumunga at May 23, 2008 8:59 AM

Bongo - Thanks for pointing this out. I am not familiar with "Parerga and Paralipomena", though I have previously mentioned Schopenhauer's remarks on the history of materialism and Idealism in Will and Representation vol. 1. I think it is a bit of an exaggeration (fueled by Schopenhauer's own persecution complex) to say that "his name is anathema in academia." Certainly in "Continental" circles he gets plenty of attention, and most courses on "19th century philosophy" - even in "analytic" departments - only cover Schopenhauer and Neitszche. It is true that many of the leading historical scholars (e.g. Paul Guyer) don't consider Schopenhauer to be a very good historian, but certainly he is taken to be a philosopher worthy of study in his own right.

Posted by: Kenny at May 23, 2008 9:28 AM

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