What an Ideal Is

Philosophia 43 (4):961-974 (2015)


What I intend to do in the following pages is to focus on what might be termed the most important turn in the very dimension of ideality throughout the history of Western culture: the introduction of the notion of ideal drawn from Plato’s notion of idea, and especially its singular contemporary destiny. In the first part of the article, I am going to analyze Kant’s introduction of the notion of ideal and Hegel’s reading of it, and I am going to argue that the former affirms a dualistic relationship which the latter negates. In the second part of the article, I am going to reason on the actual effects of both the affirmation and the negation of the dualism between the ideal and the real, especially focusing on the forms of totalitarianism and anarchism which characterized the twentieth-century history of Western culture. This will lead me to argue that we should try to avoid both the bad uses of the ideal and the death of the ideal in order to work on a notion of ideal which could be an exceedingly promising tool for us to change and improve the real. This change and improvement can be achieved through the affirmation of the dualistic relationship between the ideal and the real, and more specifically through what I will call an evolutionary notion of ideal versus a revolutionary notion of ideal.

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