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Philosophers define “idealism” as a thought that asserts that whatever we call reality is spiritually constructed, immaterial, or fundamentally mental (Cardenas, 2016). From a philosophical perspective, idealism is something that emerges as a skeptical thought about the understanding of mind-independent objects, ideas, or things. Throughout the 19th century, a number of philosophers initiated a new tradition that focused on the ideal (or mental) character of every phenomenon. This new wave of thought is what catalyzed the concept of idealism. The concept led to the establishment of different schools of thought such as existentialism, materialism, and phenomenalism. These thoughts were observed to influence different fields such as the arts, politics, music, and psychology. This discussion gives a succinct definition of idealism from Hegel’s political perspective.
Hegel’s Definition of Idealism
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is one of the famous German philosophers whose ideas and concepts have been embraced by many scholars for decades. According to the famous idealist, doctrines such as materialism are inappropriate because they tend to assert that natural (or finite) objectives are usually not real. The philosopher indicates clearly that material objects tend to have specific finite qualities. However, some objectives will depend on other finite qualities in order to determine them appropriately (Ramón, 2015). Using the concepts of Plato, Hegel argues that self-determination characterized by reason can guide a person to achieve a higher level of reality that differs significantly from physical things or objects. This kind of definition is what has been defined by many philosophers as absolute idealism.
Formulated by G. W. F. Hegel, absolute idealism is a political view that there should be an identity of being and thought in order for the human reason to understand the nature of the natural world. Without this kind of identity of being or thought, human beings’ knowledge and understanding would be uncertain (Cardenas, 2016). The arguments and notions presented by Hegel have been observed to borrow a lot from the works of Plato. According to Plato, the decision to exercise reason is something that makes it easier for the thinker (or person) to come into terms with reality. This kind of reason is what Hegel calls “self-determination”. When the individual has a reality of oneself, he or she will be able to exercise the power of reason. According to the philosopher, this kind of reality (or self-determination) is something that cannot be achieved by material (or physical) objects such as mountains and rocks.
From the very beginning, the philosopher asserts that the human mind is incapable of knowing things by itself (Ramón, 2015). That being the case, the soul and mind might come together in order to realize consciousness. According to Hegel, this individual consciousness is what will become the absolute mind. It is also notable that the individual might not be aware of this kind of mental state. When humans understand that they are part of consciousness, they will be able to think and act in a rational manner. Consequently, individuals will not be worried about their freedoms. Instead, they will be working hard to achieve something known as self-fulfillment. By so doing, the people can be able to redefine their political models and notions. Consequently, the individuals can eventually create new societies and communities that promote diversity and uphold the liberties for all in order to enhance self-determination.
Hegel’s analysis of idealism goes further to explain how the interaction of dialects or opposites will tend to generate the major concepts that can guide human beings to have a clear understanding of the surrounding world and political structures. This is something that will only occur through history and in the individual mind (Ramón, 2015). The state of being, according to the definition, is, therefore, a powerful dynamic. The dynamic is characterized by an intricate historical process that unfolds continuously. This indispensable process unfolds to present every form of diversity in the universe. New concepts will emerge thereby making it easier for an individual to make sense of the surrounding world.
From the above analysis, it is agreeable that the philosopher’s notion of idealism is acceptable since it serves as the culmination of the western thought experienced in Europe for many years. He integrated culture, civil society, politics, and tradition together. According to the thinker, civilization was “the outstanding product of dialectic” (Cardenas, 2016, p. 48).
Hegel’s concept of idealism is something that has always revolved around the state. Using the notions of Fichte and Kant, the philosopher believes that human personality was something founded on self-determination and enlightenment (Cardenas, 2016). Consequently, people would find it easier to establish a nation that has similar political notions.
Additionally, Hegel’s concept of idealism describes how “individuals are evanescent moments of a single substance” (Ramón, 2015, p. 62). That being the case, civil society is not something that should dictate people’s priorities. From a political standpoint, Hegel goes further to indicate that a political society is the one that fosters diversity and dynamism. This is a powerful approach that can uphold the integrity of the entre non-political realm (Cardenas, 2016). The role of idealism, therefore, is to foster freedom and promote societies that promote diversity and welfare for all.
That being the case, Hegel’s idealism indicates that the world is something that should be examined from a historical perspective. By so doing, a political reflection will emerge or exhibit itself from the process of self-consciousness. However, history has been observed to follow a logical pattern or necessity through the use of the dialectical approach or movement. This notion explains why Hegel regarded the achievements and cultural attributes of his society as the culmination of every aspect that had been experienced within the past many decades (Simoniti, 2017).
Different forces such as idealism, Protestantism, romanticism, and nationalism experienced during Hegel’s time are believed to have led to his philosophical expression. With this option, Hegel believed that it was the right time to achieve political confidence and focus on the power of enlightenment (Simoniti, 2017). That being the case, analysts have indicated clearly that Hegel’s idealism has become a modernist and futuristic concept that reshapes political tones across the globe.
The discussion indicates clearly that political idealism, as defined by Hegel, is a philosophy affirming that realism is something that embraces the concept of spiritual unity. The concept discredits materialism because it asserts that finite objects or qualities are real. Although Hegel’s description of idealism is criticized by many philosophers, the undeniable fact is that he manages to present the true picture of humanity working hard to achieve divinity and political correctness (Cardenas, 2016). By so doing, the philosopher succeeds to offer a political and historical interpretation of what has emerged as the true spirit of nationalism in German.
Cardenas, P. (2016). Contemporary Hegelian scholarship: On Robert Stern’s holistic reading of Hegel. Tópicos, Revista de Filosofía, 50(1), 123-149. Web.
Ramón, F. (2015). Hegel’s concept of the free will: Towards a redefinition of an old question. Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics, 3(1), 309-325. Web.
Simoniti, J. (2017). Hegel and the possibility of a new idealism. Crisis & Critique, 4(1), 377-402. Web.