Idealism and the Harmony of Thought and Reality

Mind 128 (511):699-734 (2019)


Although idealism was widely defended in the history of philosophy, it is nowadays almost universally considered a non-starter. This holds in particular for a strong form of idealism, which asserts that not just minds or the mental in general, but our human minds in particular are metaphysically central to reality. Such a view seems to be excessively anthropocentric and contrary to what we by now know about our place in the universe. Nonetheless, there is reason to think that such a strong form of idealism is indeed correct. In this paper, I will present an argument for idealism of this kind through considerations about a harmony between our thought and reality. The central argument in favour of idealism will come from a possibly unexpected source: we can see that a strong form of idealism is true simply from considerations about our language alone. I shall argue that thinking about how we represent reality allows us to conclude that idealism is true, and thus that reality must be a certain way. But no argument of this kind seems to allow for a metaphysical conclusion like idealism, since considerations about our language alone only show how we represent reality, not how reality is. And thus idealism can’t possibly follow, since it concerns how reality is, not just how we represent it to be. A good part of the second half of the paper is devoted to showing how such an argument is possible after all, and that it really does establish idealism.

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Author's Profile

Thomas Hofweber
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
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The View from Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 92 (2):280-281.

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Citations of this work

Humean Idealism.Daniel Kodaj - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
Hegel and Formal Idealism.Manish Oza - forthcoming - Hegel Bulletin:1-25.
Metaphysical Idealism Revisited.Plato Tse - 2022 - Wiley: Philosophy Compass 17 (7):e12856.

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