Among the whole complex of problems, which are studied by that or this branch of knowledge, there are always those that are considered as basic issues for this science. One of the most important problems in philosophy is the ultimate nature of reality and the relationships of its spiritual and material constituents. The given philosophical problem is of a great importance for the whole discipline. In the reality, there exist two groups of phenomena. They are the objective or material phenomena, existing beyond a consciousness, and spiritual phenomena existing in a mind.
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Over the course of history, the ultimate nature of reality was the subject matter of many philosophers and thinkers. In discussing the nature of reality in contemporary philosophy there is a tendency to distinguish between its spiritual and material constituents. Among a great variety of approaches to this philosophical question, it is possible to distinguish four major schools of thought with different treatments of this problem. They are Materialism, Idealism, Dualism and Theism (Dominguez,2015).
From the point of view of the materialistic approach, the ultimate nature of reality is represented with substantial things that can be measured and perceived materially. The authentic Materialists do not believe in a real spirituality or a spiritual realm. This approach views the existing reality as a sort of mechanism, which works in accordance with its arrangements, and which is low influenced by an impact of an individual. Many existing religions have similar approach to the nature of reality with the only difference that this mechanism has been created by God. Moreover, God sometimes meddles in this mechanisms functioning.
From the point of view of the contemporary natural sciences, the objective reality is uncognizable in a full extant and to the last detail. Some scientists apt to think that the term ultimate reality is an example of a logical mistake because the notion reality means the entity, which is free from subjective influences. According to the materialistic approach, a human being is a complicated system whose actions may be explained by casually relevant events. The Materialists believe that people are just who they are and they can act how they prefer unless they avoid negative consequences.
The materialistic ideas concerning the nature of reality can be found in studies of such ancient philosophers as Democritus and Epicurus. According to Democritus the true reality, which can be perceived by means of mind, is atoms that vary in size, form and mutual bracing. They have a property to come into motion, and change their positions. They may combine with each other creating in such a way new things. A human soul, according to Democritus is no more than a combination of atoms, which are characterized by an increased agility.
In spite of the fact that the atoms of a soul are perfect in comparison with the atoms of a body, they have a material nature. The processes of thinking of perception are explained by a separation of small parts of a matter from objects. These parts are material images of an object, which getting through a space are perceived by the organs of senses, arising in such a way the motions of other atoms and creating images in a human mind. In such a way, according to the ancient materialists, the reality is neither more nor less than the combination of atoms and their movements (Brumbaugh,1981).
According to the idealistic approach, the eternal core of the reality is the spiritual constituent. The Idealists do not deny the fact of the existence of physical objects. At the same time, they do not agree that these physical objects exist outside a perception and thinking. Moreover, they reject the material nature of things. The main argument of the idealist is that things do not exist beyond the consciousness.
There are only the existence of these things in our mind and that is why all the objects, which are considered to be physical, have spiritual or mental nature. Sometimes this approach is considered as incompatible with modern scientific discoveries. At the same time, this acquisition is groundless. The theory that the physical is the mental is reconcilable with all modern persuasions and contemporary sciences.
Primarily, the ideas of the idealistic approach may be observed in the doctrine of the ancient philosopher Plotin. He argued that a human consciousness is a reflection of the only cosmic consciousness (Brumbaugh, 1981). The Idealists believe in the existence of the Ideal Spiritual (Dominguez, 2015). Human individuals are just imperfect imitations of it. At the same time, every person should endeavor to come close to this Perfectness.
One of the most prominent representatives of the objective idealism in the history of philosophy is Hegel. Hegel supposes that at the bottom of the reality lies a nonmaterial principle, which is not dependent from a human consciousness. The Hegels study is also known as absolute idealism. According to Hegel, at the bottom of the universe lies the Absolute Idea or the Universal Spirit (Hegels Science of Logic: The Absolut Idea, n,d.). All the rest is the result of a development of this arche. The Absolute principle is understood by Hegel as logos.
Hegel sustains a theory proposed by Kant, according to which the reality is created during the cognitive process of an individual. Nevertheless, this idea is applied by him within a framework of the objective idealism. He states that an individual creates more complicated and more perfect reality during the process of his or her development and perfectibility.
According to Hegel, an idea is primary in relation to a matter. The matter is viewed in Hegels philosophy as a reincarnation of the idea and one of the stages of its development, which is the result of the action of the arche.
One of the essential features of the Hegels philosophy is panlogism, that is the concept which suggests that the reality and all the process taking place in it are distinguished by logical laws, which are inherent to the Absolute Perfect Principle. The Hegels philosophical system consists of three parts, reflecting the stages of the development of the Perfect Arche, which lies at the bottom of the universe. At the first stage, Hegel studies an idea in its primary existence. At the second stage, this idea retreating from its initial state gives rise to the matter.
At the last stage of its development, the idea returns to the perfect state in a form of a human consciousness. Hegel also implements such notions as subjective, objective and absolute spirits. The subjective spirit is a sphere of the human mentality and consciousness. The objective spirit is represented be Hegel as a world of society, morality and government. The absolute spirit consists of art, religion and philosophy. According to Hegel, the highest form of this spirits activity is philosophy, as a process of self-actualization.
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The Dualists believe in the dual nature of reality, which is represented with both the material and spiritual substances. According to this approach, the duality of nature is represented with the complexness of various relations and tensions of life. Every human being is an integrated part of the existing reality, and each existing thing has a perfect nature as an integral part of one universal entity, which is referred as God. According to the Dualists, God exists in everything as well as in humans.
The representatives of such school of thought as theism believe that the spiritual and the material are the constituents of the ultimate reality. They believe that human beings have been created after the image of Supreme Creator who is God. At the same time, the Deists do not believe that an individual possesses the qualities of the supreme intelligence.
In general, it is possible to conclude that the ultimate nature of reality is rather disputable issue, the discussion concerning which is still actual. At the same time, every point of view has a right for existence. Several years ago, there was a tendency to criticize the spiritual nature of things considering it as a mere contradiction to the existing achievements of science.
At the same time, many prominent scientists state that the approach, in accordance with which scientific investigations should be separated from philosophy, is wrong. Long ago Aristotle has said that a nature is impatient of an emptiness. Now contemporary scientists have proved that a vacuum cannot be considered as an emptiness as it can produce particles. Every era is characterized with new scientific discoveries providing humanity with new food for thought. In such a way there is hardly a workable compromise concerning this issue.
Brumbaugh, R. (1981). The Philosophers of Greece. Albany, USA: State University of New York Press
Dominguez, M. (2015). The Trust List.