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Three Schools

  1. May 8, 2003 #1
    By who you hate, by this are you truly know.
    Frank Herbert

    There are three main schools of thought I can count here that are frequently at odds with one another:




    Anyone care to take a stab at describing the rudamentary schools of thought here? How would you describe yourself? How would you contrast all three schools and their differences of opinion?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2003 #2
    Do you categorize materialism under the label 'realism'?

    My categorization would look a bit different.

    1) Materialism (matter is primary, mind secondary)

    2) Idealism (mind is primary, matter secondary)

    2a) Objective Idealism (the Absolute Idea, etc).

    2b) Subjective Idealism (only one's own mind has existence, solipsism)
  4. May 8, 2003 #3
    What do you mean by "Realism"? People, in either of the other two schools of thought, consider their conception to be "real", do they not?
  5. May 8, 2003 #4
    Yes, of course, materialism goes under the realist catagory. Realists believe their are real objects or things with real properties. Whether or not we look at the moon, it is there and has an independent existence of its own.
  6. May 8, 2003 #5
    The philosophical school is known under the name materialism, not realism. Anyone can invent there own labels, but I would just propose use the conventional labels.
  7. May 8, 2003 #6
    Realism is a more broad term. It includes for example the modern idea that there is no such thing as a material object, that everything could be made of energy instead.
  8. May 8, 2003 #7
    Which only explains that you have a wrong concept of the philosophical term 'matter', which is not the same as the physical term 'matter'. Matter in the philosophical sense implies motion, and does not just denote something that has mass. It includes therefore anything material, which is bot mass-having matter (particles and so), energy, fields, or whatever. Philosophical materialism leaves that up to science, to make more definite statements about the forms of matter.
  9. May 8, 2003 #8
    I am a materialist. I have ideals and try to follow them, but I don't think that makes me an idealist, according to its definition in this thread.
  10. May 8, 2003 #9
    What is the sound of one hand clapping? What is motion without some "thing" to move? What is matter without substance? What is form without shape?

    Being ignorant of ultimate physical or metaphysical basis of existence does not mean one cannot take a realistic perspective that is neither materialistic nor idealistic.
  11. May 8, 2003 #10
    Right! I'm a materialist too, and have ideals too.
    To be a materialist does not imply that one is looking for material benefit or so. We should distinguish the meaning of the philosophical terms materialism and idealism from their ordinary meanings in ordinary language.
  12. May 8, 2003 #11
    It's a bit dimmer then clapping with two hands. Never tried to clap with one hand??? It is doable, and it does make a sound!

    Right! Motion and matter can not be seperated.

    Is in your viewpoint realism a seperate school of philosophy? Name some exponents of this philosophical school.
  13. May 8, 2003 #12
    Realism was founded by Aristotle and Plato. Aristotle believed universals (properties or relationships) exist in everything around us, in space and time. Plato's realism diverged in that he believed in a supernatural heavenly realm of perfect universals after which all earthly ones were imperfect copies. With the advent of Idealism Plato's ideas have largely been divorced from the school of what we now call realism.
  14. May 9, 2003 #13
    Of course if the Divine were real, then it "must" be held as part of realism. Does that mean Plato was also a "spiritualist?"
  15. May 9, 2003 #14
    Exactly, Plato believed God was infinitely real while our ordinary everyday lives are finite but real.

    It occured to me that I left out the forth school of thought, Pragmatism. So, to update the list we have:





    These are listed according to how strong their fundamental assertions are. Realism asserts that the objects and relationships of our ordinary lives are real and have an existence independent from ourselves. The moon is still there whether we look or not. Pragmatism says maybe it doesn't matter if they are real or not, we still have to deal with them. Idealism says they are all constructs of consciousness, and in some sense the moon isn't there when we don't look. Mysticism says its all real, unreal, and neither.
  16. May 9, 2003 #15
    Does that mean it's all relative to the observer then? Or, that there are different ways of looking at things, depending on the situation?

    Of course this would also apply to Plato now -- at this time -- wouldn't it?
  17. May 9, 2003 #16


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    Subjective realism?
    Real objects exist, but we can only observe via virtual concepts.
  18. May 9, 2003 #17
    Since you declared that realism is a seperate school from materialism, it shows up you forgot to mention materialism, and especially the most modern school of materialism: dialectical-materialism.
  19. May 9, 2003 #18
    Mysiticism can be interpreted any way you want. That's where the name comes from: its a mystery. Plato's philosophy was not terribly mysterious but extremely well defined.

    Both subjective and dialectical materialism fall under the catagory of Realism. Each proposes there are real objects in the world with non-arbitrary properties and relationahips. The moon is definitely there when you look away.
  20. May 9, 2003 #19
    Well, I guess then that I a pragmatisic, semi-platonic, idealistic, realist with mystical leanings.
    Pragmatist because I believe that science and knowlege must be based on experimentation and experience.
    Semi-platonic because I am a realist at heart. While I don't agree with Paalto's forms I do agree that we must look at the whole object to know it while Aristotle wanted to disect everything to know its inner workings.
    Idealistic because I do believe in ideals
    A realist be cause I believe that reality exists whether we are looking at it or not and couldn't care less about us looking or not.
    Finally a mystic because I believe that all is one and we are all part of the one and that the universe was created and it in and of itself is a mystery, paradox.
    There are probably more but since I could only choose from the given list I have to stop here.
  21. May 9, 2003 #20
    Sounds ok to me, Royce.

    I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.
    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789
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