thank you for your interest. I define ‘idealism’ as ‘the inspiration to that which is felt to be “higher than”.’
My definition places emphasis on the emotions and brain functions ‘below’ (possibly more primitive than) conscious thought because I think of idealism as an emotional orientation (‘Sarah is an idealistic girl’) or potential (just as we can love or hate), without a specific focus.
That focus is given to it – it could be spiritual, religious (organised spirituality), political or in a personal relationship (‘I love you absolutely’).
The Nazis (German capitalism in extremis) exploited it with skill (appealing to a primal mythology) as other governments aspire to do and those who achieve power.
The manipulation of idealism is essential to the practice of power.
In the US, developing on Winthrop’s ‘We shall be as a city upon a hill’ speech, idealism came to be focused on the flag. In Australia, because of the convict origin of white domination (Phillip’s words after landing reportedly included the instruction that ‘Men are not to go into the womens’ tents at night’) it has been very difficult for the bourgeoisie to find that focus, as they search and stumble from one symbol of loss, failure and defeat to another.
The military disaster at Gallipoli in the first world war – in a far-away country and in the service of the dominant power has finally been turned into some success, ideologically. The requisite amount of gore should silence all criticism.
Idealism is the source of an immense and immensely creative energy (Plato and Plotinus fully understood this) and large amounts of it (together with many of those who embody it) are consumed in every revolution, after which there is the slow but inevitable re-accumulation of its depleted reserves as idealism, having attained far short of perfection, goes into retreat to lick its wounds and prepare to dare again.
And this is my point – we are animals, and idealism is an expression of our animality.
‘Philosophical idealism’, beloved of cobweb-spinning academics, is the appropriation of idealism by and to linguistic thought (what is known simplistically in academic philosophy as ‘reason’) – ‘philosophical idealism is the belief that…’ It is the harnessing of, the attempt to control and constrain, the horse drawing the chariot.
Philosophical idealism is not simply the placing of consciousness and its products before objective reality – one never has to go looking too far in its manifestation before one comes upon ‘God’ or another expression for ‘higher than’.
What are your thoughts on the subject?