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This article is about the philosophical notion of idealism. For the ethical principle, see Ideal (ethics). For other uses,
see Idealism (disambiguation).

The 20th-century British scientist Sir James Jeans wrote that "the Universe begins to look more like a great
thought than like a great machine."
In philosophy, idealism is the group of philosophies which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is
fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as
a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In a sociological sense, idealism
emphasizes how human ideas—especially beliefs and values—shape society.[1] As an ontological doctrine, idealism
goes further, asserting that all entities are composed of mind or spirit.[2] Idealism thus
rejects physicalist and dualist theories that fail to ascribe priority to the mind.
The earliest extant arguments that the world of experience is grounded in the mental derive from India and Greece.
The Hindu idealistsin India and the Greek Neoplatonists gave panentheistic arguments for an all-pervading
consciousness as the ground or true nature of reality.[3] In contrast, the Yogācāra school, which arose
within Mahayana Buddhism in India in the 4th century CE,[4] based its "mind-only" idealism to a greater extent
on phenomenological analyses of personal experience. This turn toward the subjective anticipated empiricists such
as George Berkeley, who revived idealism in 18th-century Europe by employing skeptical arguments
against materialism.
Beginning with Immanuel Kant, German idealists such as G. W. F. Hegel, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm
Joseph Schelling, and Arthur Schopenhauer dominated 19th-century philosophy. This tradition, which emphasized
the mental or "ideal" character of all phenomena, gave birth to idealistic and subjectivist schools ranging from British
idealism to phenomenalism to existentialism. The historical influence of this branch of idealism remains central even
to the schools that rejected its metaphysical assumptions, such as Marxism, pragmatism and positivism.


 1Definitions
 2Classical idealism
o 2.1Platonism and neoplatonism
 3Subjective idealism
 4Transcendental idealism
 5Objective idealism
o 5.1Absolute idealism
o 5.2Actual idealism
o 5.3Pluralistic idealism
 6See also
 7Notes
 8References
 9External links

Idealism is a term with several related meanings. It comes via idea from the Greek idein (ἰδεῖν), meaning "to see".
The term entered the English language by 1743.[5] In ordinary use, as when speaking of Woodrow Wilson's political
idealism, it generally suggests the priority of ideals, principles, values, and goals over concrete realities. Idealists are
understood to represent the world as it might or should be, unlike pragmatists, who focus on the world as it presently
is. In the arts, similarly, idealism affirms imagination and attempts to realize a mental conception of beauty, a
standard of perfection, juxtaposed to aesthetic naturalism and realism.[6][7]
Any philosophy that assigns crucial importance to the ideal or spiritual realm in its account of human existence may
be termed "idealist". Metaphysical idealism is an ontologicaldoctrine that holds that reality itself is incorporeal or
experiential at its core. Beyond this, idealists disagree on which aspects of the mental are more basic. Platonic
idealismaffirms that abstractions are more basic to reality than the things we perceive, while subjective
idealists and phenomenalists tend to privilege sensory experience over abstract reasoning. Epistemological idealism
is the view that reality can only be known through ideas, that only psychological experience can be apprehended by
the mind.[2][8][9]
Subjective idealists like George Berkeley are anti-realists in terms of a mind-independent world,
whereas transcendental idealists like Immanuel Kant are strong skeptics of such a world, affirming epistemological
and not metaphysical idealism. Thus Kant defines idealism as "the assertion that we can never be certain whether
all of our putative outer experience is not mere imagining".[10] He claimed that, according to idealism, "the reality of
external objects does not admit of strict proof. On the contrary, however, the reality of the object of our internal
sense (of myself and state) is clear immediately through consciousness." [11] However, not all idealists restrict the
real or the knowable to our immediate subjective experience. Objective idealists make claims about a transempirical
world, but simply deny that this world is essentially divorced from or ontologically prior to the mental.
Thus Plato and Gottfried Leibniz affirm an objective and knowable reality transcending our subjective awareness—a
rejection of epistemological idealism—but propose that this reality is grounded in ideal entities, a form of
metaphysical idealism. Nor do all metaphysical idealists agree on the nature of the ideal; for Plato, the fundamental
entities were non-mental abstract forms, while for Leibniz they were proto-mental and concrete monads.[12]
As a rule, transcendental idealists like Kant affirm idealism's epistemic side without committing themselves to
whether reality is ultimately mental; objective idealists like Plato affirm reality's metaphysical basis in the mental or
abstract without restricting their epistemology to ordinary experience; and subjective idealists like Berkeley affirm
both metaphysical and epistemological idealism.[13]

Classical idealism[edit]
Monistic idealism holds that consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all being. It is monist because it holds that
there is only one type of thing in the universe and idealist because it holds that one thing to be consciousness.
Anaxagoras (480 BC) was known as "Nous" ("Mind") because he taught that "all things" were created by Mind, that
Mind held the cosmos together and gave human beings a connection to the cosmos or a pathway to the divine.
Many religious philosophies are specifically idealist. The belief that beings with knowledge (God/s, angels & spirits)
preceded insentient matter seems to suggest that an experiencing subject is a necessary reality. Hindu idealism is
central to Vedanta philosophy and to such schools as Kashmir Shaivism.[14] Proponents include P.R. Sarkar and his
disciple Sohail Inayatullah.
Christian theologians have held idealist views, often based on Neoplatonism, despite the influence of
Aristotelian scholasticism from the 12th century onward. Later western theistic idealism such as that of Hermann
Lotze offers a theory of the "world ground" in which all things find their unity: it has been widely accepted by
Protestant theologians.[15]Several modern religious movements, for example the organizations within the New
Thought Movement and the Unity Church, may be said to have a particularly idealist orientation.
The theology of Christian Science includes a form of idealism: it teaches that all that truly exists is God and God's
ideas; that the world as it appears to the senses is a distortion of the underlying spiritual reality, a distortion that may
be corrected (both conceptually and in terms of human experience) through a reorientation (spiritualization) of
Wang Yangming, a Ming Chinese neo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general, held
that objects do not exist entirely apart from the mind because the mind shapes them. It is not the world that shapes
the mind but the mind that gives reason to the world, so the mind alone is the source of all reason, having an inner
light, an innate moral goodness and understanding of what is good.
The consciousness-only approach of the Yogācāra school of Mahayana Buddhism is not true metaphysical
idealism[16] as Yogācāra thinkers did not focus on consciousness to assert it as ultimately real, it is only
conventionally real since it arises from moment to moment due to fluctuating causes and conditions and is
significant because it is the cause of karma and hence suffering.[17]
Platonism and neoplatonism[edit]
Plato's theory of forms or "ideas" describes ideal forms (for example the platonic solids in geometry or abstracts like
Goodness and Justice), as universals existing independently of any particular instance.[18] Arne Grøn calls this
doctrine "the classic example of a metaphysical idealism as a transcendent idealism",[19] while Simone Klein calls
Plato "the earliest representative of metaphysical objective idealism". Nevertheless, Plato holds that matter is real,
though transitory and imperfect, and is perceived by our body and its senses and given existence by the eternal
ideas that are perceived directly by our rational soul. Plato was therefore a metaphysical and
epistemological dualist, an outlook that modern idealism has striven to avoid:[20] Plato's thought cannot therefore be
counted as idealist in the modern sense.
With the neoplatonist Plotinus, wrote Nathaniel Alfred Boll "there even appears, probably for the first time in Western
philosophy, idealism that had long been current in the East even at that time, for it taught... that the soul has made
the world by stepping from eternity into time...".[21][22] Similarly, in regard to passages from the Enneads, "The only
space or place of the world is the soul" and "Time must not be assumed to exist outside the soul".[23] Ludwig Noiré
wrote: "For the first time in Western philosophy we find idealism proper in Plotinus".[3] However, Plotinus does not
address whether we know external objects, unlike Schopenhauer and other modern philosophers.

Subjective idealism[edit]
Main article: Subjective idealism
Subjective Idealism (immaterialism or phenomenalism) describes a relationship between experience and the world
in which objects are no more than collections or "bundles" of sense data in the perceiver. Proponents include
Berkeley,[24] Bishop of Cloyne, an Anglo-Irish philosopher who advanced a theory he called immaterialism, later
referred to as "subjective idealism", contending that individuals can only know sensations and ideas of objects
directly, not abstractions such as "matter", and that ideas also depend upon being perceived for their very existence
- esse est percipi; "to be is to be perceived".
Arthur Collier[25] published similar assertions though there seems to have been no influence between the two
contemporary writers. The only knowable reality is the represented image of an external object. Matter as a cause of
that image, is unthinkable and therefore nothing to us. An external world as absolute matter unrelated to an
observer does not exist as far as we are concerned. The universe cannot exist as it appears if there is no perceiving
mind. Collier was influenced by An Essay Towards the Theory of the Ideal or Intelligible World by "Cambridge
Platonist" John Norris (1701).
Bertrand Russell's popular book The Problems of Philosophy highlights Berkeley's tautological premise for
advancing idealism;
"If we say that the things known must be in the mind, we are either unduly limiting the mind's power of
knowing, or we are uttering a mere tautology. We are uttering a mere tautology if we mean by 'in the mind'
the same as by 'before the mind', i.e. if we mean merely being apprehended by the mind. But if we mean
this, we shall have to admit that what, in this sense, is in the mind, may nevertheless be not mental. Thus
when we realize the nature of knowledge, Berkeley's argument is seen to be wrong in substance as well as
in form, and his grounds for supposing that 'idea'-i.e. the objects apprehended-must be mental, are found to
have no validity whatever. Hence his grounds in favour of the idealism may be dismissed."
The Australian philosopher David Stove harshly criticized philosophical idealism, arguing that it rests on what he
called "the worst argument in the world".[26] Stove claims that Berkeley tried to derive a non-tautological
conclusion from tautological reasoning. He argued that in Berkeley's case the fallacy is not obvious and this is
because one premise is ambiguous between one meaning which is tautological and another which, Stove
argues, is logically equivalent to the conclusion.
Alan Musgrave[27] argues that conceptual idealists compound their mistakes with use/mention confusions;
Santa Claus the person does not exist.
"Santa Claus" the name/concept/fairy tale does exist because adults tell children this every Christmas
season (the distinction is highlighted by using quotation-marks when referring only to the name and not the
and proliferation of hyphenated entities such as "thing-in-itself" (Immanuel Kant), "things-as-interacted-
by-us" (Arthur Fine), "table-of-commonsense" and "table-of-physics" (Sir Arthur Eddington) which are
"warning signs" for conceptual idealism according to Musgrave because they allegedly do not exist but
only highlight the numerous ways in which people come to know the world. This argument does not
take into account the issues pertaining to hermeneutics, especially at the backdrop of analytic
philosophy. Musgrave criticized Richard Rorty and Postmodernist philosophy in general for confusion of
use and mention.
A. A. Luce[28] and John Foster are other subjectivists.[29] Luce, in Sense without Matter (1954), attempts
to bring Berkeley up to date by modernizing his vocabulary and putting the issues he faced in modern
terms, and treats the Biblical account of matter and the psychology of perception and nature.
Foster's The Case for Idealism argues that the physical world is the logical creation of natural, non-
logical constraints on human sense-experience. Foster's latest defense of his views is in his book A
World for Us: The Case for Phenomenalistic Idealism.
Paul Brunton, a British philosopher, mystic, traveler, and guru, taught a type of idealism
called "mentalism", similar to that of Bishop Berkeley, proposing a master world-image, projected or
manifested by a world-mind, and an infinite number of individual minds participating. A tree does not
cease to exist if nobody sees it because the world-mind is projecting the idea of the tree to all minds.[30]
John Searle, criticizing some versions of idealism, summarizes two important arguments for subjective
idealism. The first is based on our perception of reality:
(1) All we have access to in perception are the contents of our own experience and
(2) The only epistemic basis for claims about the external world are our perceptual experiences
(3) The only reality we can meaningfully speak of is that of perceptual experience [31]
Whilst agreeing with (2) Searle argues that (1) is false and points out that (3) does not
follow from (1) and (2). The second argument runs as follows;
Premise: Any cognitive state occurs as part of a set of cognitive states and within a cognitive system
Conclusion 1: It is impossible to get outside all cognitive states and systems to survey the relationships
between them and the reality they cognize
Conclusion 2: There is no cognition of any reality that exists independently of cognition[32]
Searle contends that Conclusion 2 does not follow from the premises.
Epistemological idealism is a subjectivist position in epistemology that holds that what one knows about an object
exists only in one's mind. Proponents include Brand Blanshard.

Transcendental idealism[edit]
Main article: Transcendental idealism
Transcendental idealism, founded by Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century, maintains that the mind shapes the
world we perceive into the form of space-and-time.
... if I remove the thinking subject, the whole material world must at once vanish because it is nothing but a
phenomenal appearance in the sensibility of ourselves as a subject, and a manner or species of representation.

— Critique of Pure Reason A383

The 2nd edition (1787) contained a Refutation of Idealism to distinguish his transcendental idealism
from Descartes's Sceptical Idealism and Berkeley's anti-realist strain of Subjective Idealism. The
section Paralogisms of Pure Reason is an implicit critique of Descartes' idealism. Kant says that it is not possible to
infer the 'I' as an object (Descartes' cogito ergo sum) purely from "the spontaneity of thought". Kant focused on
ideas drawn from British philosophers such as Locke, Berkeley and Hume but distinguished his transcendental or
critical idealism from previous varieties;
The dictum of all genuine idealists, from the Eleatic school to Bishop Berkeley,is contained in this formula: “All
knowledge through the senses and experience is nothing but sheer illusion, and only in the ideas of the
pure understanding and reason is there truth.” The principle that throughout dominates and determines my
[transcendental] idealism is, on the contrary: “All knowledge of things merely from pure understanding or pure
reason is nothing but sheer illusion, and only in experience is there truth.”

— Prolegomena, 374
Kant distinguished between things as they appear to an observer and things in themselves, "that is, things
considered without regard to whether and how they may be given to us".[33] We cannot approach the noumenon, the
"thing in Itself" (German: Ding an sich) without our own mental world. He added that the mind is not a blank
slate, tabula rasa but rather comes equipped with categories for organising our sense impressions.
In the first volume of his Parerga and Paralipomena, Schopenhauer wrote his "Sketch of a History of the Doctrine of
the Ideal and the Real". He defined the ideal as being mental pictures that constitute subjective knowledge. The
ideal, for him, is what can be attributed to our own minds. The images in our head are what comprise the ideal.
Schopenhauer emphasized that we are restricted to our own consciousness. The world that appears is only
a representation or mental picture of objects. We directly and immediately know only representations. All objects
that are external to the mind are known indirectly through the mediation of our mind. He offered a history of
the concept of the "ideal" as "ideational" or "existing in the mind as an image".
[T]rue philosophy must at all costs be idealistic; indeed, it must be so merely to be honest. For nothing is more
certain than that no one ever came out of himself in order to identify himself immediately with things different from
him; but everything of which he has certain, sure, and therefore immediate knowledge, lies within his
consciousness. Beyond this consciousness, therefore, there can be no immediate certainty ... There can never be
an existence that is objective absolutely and in itself; such an existence, indeed, is positively inconceivable. For the
objective, as such, always and essentially has its existence in the consciousness of a subject; it is therefore the
subject's representation, and consequently is conditioned by the subject, and moreover by the subject's forms of
representation, which belong to the subject and not to the object.

— The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II, Ch. 1

Charles Bernard Renouvier was the first Frenchman after Nicolas Malebranche to formulate a complete idealistic
system, and had a vast influence on the development of French thought. His system is based on Immanuel Kant's,
as his chosen term "néo-criticisme" indicates; but it is a transformation rather than a continuation of Kantianism.
Friedrich Nietzsche argued that Kant commits an agnostic tautology and does not offer a satisfactory answer as to
the source of a philosophical right to such-or-other metaphysical claims; he ridicules his pride in tackling "the most
difficult thing that could ever be undertaken on behalf of metaphysics."[34] The famous "thing-in-itself" was called a
product of philosophical habit, which seeks to introduce a grammatical subject: because wherever there is cognition,
there must be a thing that is cognized and allegedly it must be added to ontology as a being (whereas, to Nietzsche,
only the world as ever changing appearances can be assumed).[35] Yet he attacks the idealism of Schopenhauer
and Descartes with an argument similar to Kant's critique of the latter (see above).[36]

Objective idealism[edit]
Main article: Objective idealism
Objective idealism asserts that the reality of experiencing combines and transcends the realities of the object
experienced and of the mind of the observer.[37] Proponents include Thomas Hill Green, Josiah Royce, Benedetto
Croce and Charles Sanders Peirce.[38]
Absolute idealism[edit]
Main article: Absolute idealism
Schelling (1775–1854) claimed that the Fichte's "I" needs the Not-I, because there is no subject without object, and
vice versa. So there is no difference between the subjective and the objective, that is, the ideal and the real. This is
Schelling's "absolute identity": the ideas or mental images in the mind are identical to the extended objects which
are external to the mind.
Absolute idealism is G. W. F. Hegel's account of how existence is comprehensible as an all-inclusive whole. Hegel
called his philosophy "absolute" idealism in contrast to the "subjective idealism" of Berkeley and the "transcendental
idealism" of Kant and Fichte,[39] which were not based on a critique of the finite and a dialectical philosophy of history
as Hegel's idealism was. The exercise of reason and intellect enables the philosopher to know ultimate historical
reality, the phenomenological constitution of self-determination, the dialectical development of self-awareness and
personality in the realm of History.
In his Science of Logic (1812–1814) Hegel argues that finite qualities are not fully "real" because they depend on
other finite qualities to determine them. Qualitative infinity, on the other hand, would be more self-determining and
hence more fully real. Similarly finite natural things are less "real"—because they are less self-determining—than
spiritual things like morally responsible people, ethical communities and God. So any doctrine, such as materialism,
that asserts that finite qualities or natural objects are fully real is mistaken.[40]
Hegel certainly intends to preserve what he takes to be true of German idealism, in particular Kant's insistence that
ethical reason can and does go beyond finite inclinations.[41]For Hegel there must be some identity of thought and
being for the "subject" (any human observer)) to be able to know any observed "object" (any external entity, possibly
even another human) at all. Under Hegel's concept of "subject-object identity," subject and object both have Spirit
(Hegel's ersatz, redefined, nonsupernatural "God") as their conceptual (not metaphysical) inner reality—and in that
sense are identical. But until Spirit's "self-realization" occurs and Spirit graduates from Spirit to Absolute Spirit
status, subject (a human mind) mistakenly thinks every "object" it observes is something "alien," meaning something
separate or apart from "subject." In Hegel's words, "The object is revealed to it [to "subject"] by [as] something alien,
and it does not recognize itself."[42] Self-realization occurs when Hegel (part of Spirit's nonsupernatural Mind, which
is the collective mind of all humans) arrives on the scene and realizes that every "object" is himself, because both
subject and object are essentially Spirit. When self-realization occurs and Spirit becomes Absolute Spirit, the "finite"
(man, human) becomes the "infinite" ("God," divine), replacing the imaginary or "picture-thinking" supernatural God
of theism: man becomes God.[43] Tucker puts it this way: "Hegelianism . . . is a religion of self-worship whose
fundamental theme is given in Hegel's image of the man who aspires to be God himself, who demands 'something
more, namely infinity.'" The picture Hegel presents is "a picture of a self-glorifying humanity striving compulsively,
and at the end successfully, to rise to divinity."[44]
Kierkegaard criticised Hegel's idealist philosophy in several of his works, particularly his claim to a comprehensive
system that could explain the whole of reality. Where Hegel argues that an ultimate understanding of the logical
structure of the world is an understanding of the logical structure of God's mind, Kierkegaard asserting that for God
reality can be a system but it cannot be so for any human individual because both reality and humans are
incomplete and all philosophical systems imply completeness. A logical system is possible but an existential system
is not. "What is rational is actual; and what is actual is rational".[45] Hegel's absolute idealism blurs the distinction
between existence and thought: our mortal nature places limits on our understanding of reality;
So-called systems have often been characterized and challenged in the assertion that they abrogate the distinction
between good and evil, and destroy freedom. Perhaps one would express oneself quite as definitely, if one said that
every such system fantastically dissipates the concept existence. ... Being an individual man is a thing that has been
abolished, and every speculative philosopher confuses himself with humanity at large; whereby he becomes
something infinitely great, and at the same time nothing at all.

A major concern of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) and of the philosophy of Spirit that he lays out in
his Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1817–1830) is the interrelation between individual humans, which
he conceives in terms of "mutual recognition." However, what Climacus means by the aforementioned statement, is
that Hegel, in the Philosophy of Right, believed the best solution was to surrender one's individuality to the customs
of the State, identifying right and wrong in view of the prevailing bourgeois morality. Individual human will ought, at
the State's highest level of development, to properly coincide with the will of the State. Climacus rejects Hegel's
suppression of individuality by pointing out it is impossible to create a valid set of rules or system in any society
which can adequately describe existence for any one individual. Submitting one's will to the State denies personal
freedom, choice, and responsibility.
In addition, Hegel does believe we can know the structure of God's mind, or ultimate reality. Hegel agrees with
Kierkegaard that both reality and humans are incomplete, inasmuch as we are in time, and reality develops through
time. But the relation between time and eternity is outside time and this is the "logical structure" that Hegel thinks we
can know. Kierkegaard disputes this assertion, because it eliminates the clear distinction
between ontology and epistemology. Existence and thought are not identical and one cannot possibly think
existence. Thought is always a form of abstraction, and thus not only is pure existence impossible to think, but all
forms in existence are unthinkable; thought depends on language, which merely abstracts from experience, thus
separating us from lived experience and the living essence of all beings. In addition, because we are finite beings,
we cannot possibly know or understand anything that is universal or infinite such as God, so we cannot know God
exists, since that which transcends time simultaneously transcends human understanding.
Bradley saw reality as a monistic whole apprehended through "feeling", a state in which there is no distinction
between the perception and the thing perceived. Like Berkeley, Bradley thought that nothing can be known to exist
unless it is known by a mind.
We perceive, on reflection, that to be real, or even barely to exist, must be to fall within sentience ... . Find any piece
of existence, take up anything that any one could possibly call a fact, or could in any sense assert to have being,
and then judge if it does not consist in sentient experience. Try to discover any sense in which you can still continue
to speak of it, when all perception and feeling have been removed; or point out any fragment of its matter, any
aspect of its being, which is not derived from and is not still relative to this source. When the experiment is made
strictly, I can myself conceive of nothing else than the experienced.

— F.H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality, Chapter 14

Bradley was the apparent target of G. E. Moore's radical rejection of idealism. Moore claimed that Bradley did not
understand the statement that something is real. We know for certain, through common sense and prephilosophical
beliefs, that some things are real, whether they are objects of thought or not, according to Moore. The 1903
article The Refutation of Idealism is one of the first demonstrations of Moore's commitment to analysis. He examines
each of the three terms in the Berkeleian aphorism esse est percipi, "to be is to be perceived", finding that it must
mean that the object and the subject are necessarily connected so that "yellow" and "the sensation of yellow" are
identical - "to be yellow" is "to be experienced as yellow". But it also seems there is a difference between "yellow"
and "the sensation of yellow" and "that esse is held to be percipi, solely because what is experienced is held to be
identical with the experience of it". Though far from a complete refutation, this was the first strong statement by
analytic philosophy against its idealist predecessors, or at any rate against the type of idealism represented by
Berkeley. This argument did not show that the GEM (in post–Stove vernacular, see below) is logically invalid.
Actual idealism[edit]
Actual Idealism is a form of idealism developed by Giovanni Gentile that grew into a "grounded" idealism contrasting
Kant and Hegel.
Pluralistic idealism[edit]
Pluralistic idealism such as that of Gottfried Leibniz[47] takes the view that there are many individual minds that
together underlie the existence of the observed world and make possible the existence of the physical
universe.[48] Unlike absolute idealism, pluralistic idealism does not assume the existence of a single ultimate mental
reality or "Absolute". Leibniz' form of idealism, known as Panpsychism, views "monads" as the true atoms of the
universe and as entities having perception. The monads are "substantial forms of being, "elemental, individual,
subject to their own laws, non-interacting, each reflecting the entire universe. Monads are centers of force, which
is substance while space, matter and motion are phenomenal and their form and existence is dependent on the
simple and immaterial monads. There is a pre-established harmony established by God, the central monad,
between the world in the minds of the monads and the external world of objects. Leibniz's cosmology embraced
traditional Christian Theism. The English psychologist and philosopher James Ward inspired by Leibniz had also
defended a form of pluralistic idealism.[49] According to Ward the universe is composed of "psychic monads" of
different levels, interacting for mutual self- betterment.[50]
Personalism is the view that the minds that underlie reality are the minds of persons. Borden Parker Bowne, a
philosopher at Boston University, a founder and popularizer of personal idealism, presented it as a substantive
reality of persons, the only reality, as known directly in self-consciousness. Reality is a society of interacting persons
dependent on the Supreme Person of God. Other proponents include George Holmes Howison[51] and J. M. E.
Howison's personal idealism [53] was also called "California Personalism" by others to distinguish it from the "Boston
Personalism" which was of Bowne. Howison maintained that both impersonal, monistic idealism and materialism run
contrary to the experience of moral freedom. To deny freedom to pursue truth, beauty, and "benignant love" is to
undermine every profound human venture, including science, morality, and philosophy. Personalistic
idealists Borden Parker Bowne and Edgar S. Brightman and realistic personal theist Saint Thomas Aquinas address
a core issue, namely that of dependence upon an infinite personal God.[54]
Howison, in his book The Limits of Evolution and Other Essays Illustrating the Metaphysical Theory of Personal
Idealism, created a democratic notion of personal idealism that extended all the way to God, who was no more the
ultimate monarch but the ultimate democrat in eternal relation to other eternal persons. J. M. E. McTaggart's idealist
atheism and Thomas Davidson's Apeirionism resemble Howisons personal idealism.[55]
J. M. E. McTaggart of Cambridge University, argued that minds alone exist and only relate to each other through
love. Space, time and material objects are unreal. In The Unreality of Time he argued that time is an illusion
because it is impossible to produce a coherent account of a sequence of events. The Nature of Existence (1927)
contained his arguments that space, time, and matter cannot possibly be real. In his Studies in Hegelian
Cosmology (Cambridge, 1901, p196) he declared that metaphysics are not relevant to social and political action.
McTaggart "thought that Hegel was wrong in supposing that metaphysics could show that the state is more than a
means to the good of the individuals who compose it".[56] For McTaggart "philosophy can give us very little, if any,
guidance in action... Why should a Hegelian citizen be surprised that his belief as to the organic nature of the
Absolute does not help him in deciding how to vote? Would a Hegelian engineer be reasonable in expecting that his
belief that all matter is spirit should help him in planning a bridge?[57]
Thomas Davidson taught a philosophy called "apeirotheism", a "form of pluralistic idealism...coupled with a stern
ethical rigorism"[58] which he defined as "a theory of Gods infinite in number." The theory was indebted to Aristotle's
pluralism and his concepts of Soul, the rational, living aspect of a living substance which cannot exist apart from the
body because it is not a substance but an essence, and nous, rational thought, reflection and understanding.
Although a perennial source of controversy, Aristotle arguably views the latter as both eternal and immaterial in
nature, as exemplified in his theology of unmoved movers.[59] Identifying Aristotle's God with rational thought,
Davidson argued, contrary to Aristotle, that just as the soul cannot exist apart from the body, God cannot exist apart
from the world.[60]
Idealist notions took a strong hold among physicists of the early 20th century confronted with the paradoxes
of quantum physics and the theory of relativity. In The Grammar of Science, Preface to the 2nd Edition, 1900, Karl
Pearson wrote, "There are many signs that a sound idealism is surely replacing, as a basis for natural philosophy,
the crude materialism of the older physicists." This book influenced Einstein's regard for the importance of the
observer in scientific measurements[citation needed]. In § 5 of that book, Pearson asserted that " is in reality a
classification and analysis of the contents of the mind...." Also, "...the field of science is much
more consciousness than an external world."
Sir Arthur Eddington, a British astrophysicist of the early 20th century, wrote in his book The Nature of the Physical
World; "The stuff of the world is mind-stuff";
"The mind-stuff of the world is, of course, something more general than our individual conscious minds.... The mind-
stuff is not spread in space and time; these are part of the cyclic scheme ultimately derived out of it.... It is necessary
to keep reminding ourselves that all knowledge of our environment from which the world of physics is constructed,
has entered in the form of messages transmitted along the nerves to the seat of consciousness.... Consciousness is
not sharply defined, but fades into subconsciousness; and beyond that we must postulate something indefinite but
yet continuous with our mental nature.... It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the
substratum of everything is of mental character. But no one can deny that mind is the first and most direct thing in
our experience, and all else is remote inference."[61]
Ian Barbour in his book Issues in Science and Religion (1966), p. 133, cites Arthur Eddington's The Nature of the
Physical World (1928) for a text that argues The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principles provides a scientific basis for
"the defense of the idea of human freedom" and his Science and the Unseen World (1929) for support of
philosophical idealism "the thesis that reality is basically mental".
Sir James Jeans wrote; "The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins
to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into
the realm of matter... we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter."[62]
Jeans, in an interview published in The Observer (London), when asked the question: "Do you believe that life on
this planet is the result of some sort of accident, or do you believe that it is a part of some great scheme?" replied:
"I incline to the idealistic theory that consciousness is fundamental, and that the material universe is derivative from
consciousness, not consciousness from the material universe... In general the universe seems to me to be nearer to
a great thought than to a great machine. It may well be, it seems to me, that each individual consciousness ought to
be compared to a brain-cell in a universal mind.

Addressing the British Association in 1934, Jeans said:

"What remains is in any case very different from the full-blooded matter and the forbidding materialism of the
Victorian scientist. His objective and material universe is proved to consist of little more than constructs of our own
minds. To this extent, then, modern physics has moved in the direction of philosophic idealism. Mind and matter, if
not proved to be of similar nature, are at least found to be ingredients of one single system. There is no longer room
for the kind of dualism which has haunted philosophy since the days of Descartes." [63]
In The Universe Around Us, Jeans writes:
"Finite picture whose dimensions are a certain amount of space and a certain amount of time; the protons and
electrons are the streaks of paint which define the picture against its space-time background. Traveling as far back
in time as we can, brings us not to the creation of the picture, but to its edge; the creation of the picture lies as much
outside the picture as the artist is outside his canvas. On this view, discussing the creation of the universe in terms
of time and space is like trying to discover the artist and the action of painting, by going to the edge of the canvas.
This brings us very near to those philosophical systems which regard the universe as a thought in the mind of its
Creator, thereby reducing all discussion of material creation to futility." [64]

The chemist Ernest Lester Smith wrote a book Intelligence Came First (1975) in which he claimed that
consciousness is a fact of nature and that the cosmos is grounded in and pervaded by mind and intelligence.[65]
Bernard d'Espagnat, a French theoretical physicist best known for his work on the nature of reality, wrote a paper
titled The Quantum Theory and Reality. According to the paper:
"The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns
out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment."[66]

In an article in the Guardian titled Quantum weirdness: What We Call 'Reality' is Just a State of Mind, d'Espagnat
"What quantum mechanics tells us, I believe, is surprising to say the least. It tells us that the basic components of
objects – the particles, electrons, quarks etc. – cannot be thought of as "self-existent".

He further writes that his research in quantum physics has led him to conclude that an "ultimate reality" exists, which
is not embedded in space or time.[67]

Plato: Aims and Philosophy of Education

The Revolution: A novel from prehistoric times

Although it is not apt to start an essay on a philosophy with a critical remark, for before learning how to
criticize, one should learn the content to be criticized, yet , notwithstanding its great merits and value, it
seems necessary to criticize Plato's philosophy of education right at the outset.

Plato's philosophy of education aims at preparing learners for future life. This preparation for the future life
is almost rejected by modern educational philosophers like Rousseau and Dewey. But this rejection of the
aim to prepare children for future life does not in any sense divest Plato's thought of its significance even
in the 21st century. Heidegger in his essay On Plato's doctrine of truth clearly established the relevance of
Plato's thought for the 20th century, and those remarks are well taken even in the 21st century.

Plato's significance lies in giving a clear understanding to educators about the meaning of different
concepts that appeared in the discourse on education in the history. These concepts include ideas,
reason, goodness, metaphysics, dialectics, sense perception, representation, virtue, art as a medium of
instruction, motivation and truth. If one looks closely at these concepts , one can easily find that in any
discourse on educational philosophy, these words make more frequent appearances. Plato's philosophy
helps us in understanding these terms.

Moreover, traditional education , and age old believes about education have their origin in Plato's
philosophy, so it is only through a study of Plato that one can understand these things right at the source.

Plato presented his philosophy of education in his Republic. Like most of his other dialogs , the
main interlocutor in Republic is Socrates.In the Republic , the basic theme of inquiry is justice. The basic
question around which the dialog revolves is , " what is the meaning of justice." Socrates defines justice
through establishing an analogy between society and individual. Just as a society comprises classes, an
individual has faculties. According to Socrates, a society has three classes. These are:

1. Rulers or Guardians
2. Warriors
3. Artisans and Workers

Corresponding to these classes individual has three faculties:

1. Intellect corresponding to Ruling Class
2. Feelings corresponding to Warriors
3. Desires and Appetites corresponding to Working or artisan class

Each of the the classes and faculties has its own guiding virtue. So the virtue of intellect is wisdom. An
intellect works properly when it is guided by wisdom , and wisdom is to know the ultimate truth , the
absolute good. Wisdom means to know what lies beyond the appearance , the metaphysical truth. Thus
wisdom is equated to philosophical knowledge.

Moreover, the virtue that the class of rulers or guardians should possess is of wisdom. So, according to
Plato it is because of their wisdom , the knowledge of the ultimate reality, that rulers become proper
rulers. Wisdoms or philosophical knowledge , termed as Sophia in Greek, is the ability to know the
metaphysical causes behind the reality, the truth and knowledge of the God.

In order to express feeling, one needs courage. So the virtue or the goodness of feelings lies in their
courageous expression. Therefore, warriors should have courage, for they are responsible for expressing
the discontent of society, they have to defend any infringement in the values or geographical boundaries
of society. They have to guard the economic interests as well, for a society accumulates wealth and
neighbors can covet it. Courage According to Aristotle is a mean between cowardice and rashness. A
person who is not able to feel fear is not courageous. Only that person is courageous who feels fear and
is naturally inclined to deal with fearful situations.

Homer in his Iliad wrote that cowards and courageous people are differentiated clearly in an ambush. In
an ambush a coward sweats and trembles, and feels like fleeing away from the situation. Whereas a
courageous person , who is naturally inclined towards dealing with his fears, feels excitement and remains

Artisans or the producers class has to create wealth . However their goodness lies in temperance, self
control. They have control their appetites, for if they can't control their appetites than anarchy can result.
So the virtue of the working class is temperance. Temperance, according to Aristotle , is a mean between
licentious attitude and insensitivity towards pleasures. So masses should neither be licentious nor
insensitive towards pleasure, but in between these two states.

So , according to Plato a society maintains justice if its classes are virtuous according to their class
specific needs, warriors are courageous, Rulers are wise and masses have temperance . If these classes
act in complete harmony with each other and in each class members have the class specific virtue, then
the society will become a just society.

Now the question is , how one can ensure that each class has its virtue? How this can be ensured that
rulers are wise, warriors are courageous and masses have self control? Plato suggests that this can be
ensure through education alone.

So Plato recommends an education system which is uniform and which pursues the general aims of
the society itself. The aim of the society is to maintain both justice and peace.

Plato has designed his educational plan for the education of guardians or rulers. Thus his basic question
is how to educate a person in the earlier part of his life to enable him to become a philosopher, a lover of
wisdom and truth in the later years. How a person becomes a philosopher? Plato says that through the
knowledge of absolute good, or the metaphysical truths , one becomes a philosopher. So the aim of
education in Plato is to enable the learners to know the metaphysical truth. Thus metaphysics is the aim
of education and learning .

Now the question is what is metaphysics? Plato has answered this question in his famous allegory of cave
. Metaphysics , initially means to know the causes of the things present in this world ; causes that are
behind the appearances. For Plato these are ideas, intelligible forms that allow things to appear as they
are, things on the other hand , in their existence, are only imperfect copies to these eternal forms or ideas.

The highest idea or the highest form is the absolute good , or God for Plato. True knowledge lies in
knowing this cause of the causes, the absolute truth. Plato in his allegory of cave explained the absolute
truth or the cause behind everything through the simile of the Sun.

Plato actually used the metaphor of vision and light to explain metaphysics and the reality. Things are
there and eye is also there , but if there is no light , eye can't see anything. So, light is the precondition for
vision, without light no vision is possible.

The greatest source of light is the Sun, it is because of the bounty of the sun light that everything is
visible; without sunlight no vision is possible. Similarly , the reality of the things present in the world is not
in them , in concrete things, but in the ideas of which these things are mere copies. However, ideas and
form cannot be perceived by senses, these can only be intellectualized; ideas are intelligible and not

But these ideas cannot be understood until the great enabler, the truth of the truth , the God does not
allow the mind to understand these objects. So ideas can only be understood with the help of divine light.
And the absolute good , the great enabler is also knowable; one can know the God.

Thus, the aim of education is to enable a person to acquire the knowledge of this cause of the causes, the
absolute good. Education prepares a man for the vision of absolute reality.And that is why, education right
from the beginning is a preparation for the future.


Immanuel Kant by Carle Vernet(1758–1836)

In Kant's essay "Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?", Kant defined the
Enlightenment as an age shaped by the Latin motto Sapere aude ("Dare to be wise"). Kant
maintained that one ought to think autonomously, free of the dictates of external authority. His
work reconciled many of the differences between the rationalist and empiricist traditions of the
18th century. He had a decisive impact on the Romantic and German Idealist philosophies of the
19th century. His work has also been a starting point for many 20th century philosophers.
Kant asserted that, because of the limitations of argumentation in the absence of
irrefutable evidence, no one could really know whether there is a God and an afterlife or not. For
the sake of morality and as a ground for reason, Kant asserted, people are justified in believing in
God, even though they could never know God's presence empirically. He explained:
All the preparations of reason, therefore, in what may be called pure philosophy, are in reality
directed to those three problems only [God, the soul, and freedom]. However, these three
elements in themselves still hold independent, proportional, objective weight individually.
Moreover, in a collective relational context; namely, to know what ought to be done: if the will is
free, if there is a God, and if there is a future world. As this concerns our actions with reference to
the highest aims of life, we see that the ultimate intention of nature in her wise provision was
really, in the constitution of our reason, directed to moral interests only.[51]
The sense of an enlightened approach and the critical method required that "If one cannot prove
that a thing is, he may try to prove that it is not. If he fails to do either (as often occurs), he may
still ask whether it is in his interest to accept one or the other of the alternatives hypothetically,
from the theoretical or the practical point of view. Hence the question no longer is as to
whether perpetual peace is a real thing or not a real thing, or as to whether we may not be
deceiving ourselves when we adopt the former alternative, but we must act on the supposition of
its being real."[52] The presupposition of God, soul, and freedom was then a practical concern, for
"Morality, by itself, constitutes a system, but happiness does not, unless it is distributed in exact
proportion to morality. This, however, is possible in an intelligible world only under a wise author
and ruler. Reason compels us to admit such a ruler, together with life in such a world, which we
must consider as future life, or else all moral laws are to be considered as idle dreams... ." [53]
Kant claimed to have created a "Copernican revolution" in philosophy. This involved two
interconnected foundations of his "critical philosophy":

 the epistemology of transcendental idealism and

 the moral philosophy of the autonomy of practical reason.
These teachings placed the active, rational human subject at the center of the cognitive and
moral worlds. Kant argued that the rational order of the world as known by science was not just
the accidental accumulation of sense perceptions.
Conceptual unification and integration is carried out by the mind through concepts or the
"categories of the understanding" operating on the perceptual manifold within space and time.
The latter are not concepts,[54] but are forms of sensibility that are a priori necessary conditions for
any possible experience. Thus the objective order of nature and the causal necessity that
operates within it depend on the mind's processes, the product of the rule-based activity that Kant
called, "synthesis." There is much discussion among Kant scholars about the correct
interpretation of this train of thought.
The 'two-world' interpretation regards Kant's position as a statement of epistemological limitation,
that we are not able to transcend the bounds of our own mind, meaning that we cannot access
the "thing-in-itself". However, Kant also speaks of the thing in itself or transcendental object as a
product of the (human) understanding as it attempts to conceive of objects in abstraction from the
conditions of sensibility. Following this line of thought, some interpreters have argued that the
thing in itself does not represent a separate ontological domain but simply a way of considering
objects by means of the understanding alone – this is known as the two-aspect view.
The notion of the "thing in itself" was much discussed by philosophers after Kant. It was argued
that because the "thing in itself" was unknowable, its existence must not be assumed. Rather
than arbitrarily switching to an account that was ungrounded in anything supposed to be the
"real," as did the German Idealists, another group arose to ask how our (presumably reliable)
accounts of a coherent and rule-abiding universe were actually grounded. This new kind of
philosophy became known as Phenomenology, and its founder was Edmund Husserl.
With regard to morality, Kant argued that the source of the good lies not in anything outside
the human subject, either in nature or given by God, but rather is only the good will itself. A good
will is one that acts from duty in accordance with the universal moral law that the autonomous
human being freely gives itself. This law obliges one to treat humanity – understood as rational
agency, and represented through oneself as well as others – as an end in itself rather than
(merely) as means to other ends the individual might hold. This necessitates practical self-
reflection in which we universalize our reasons.
These ideas have largely framed or influenced all subsequent philosophical discussion and
analysis. The specifics of Kant's account generated immediate and lasting controversy.
Nevertheless, his theses – that the mind itself necessarily makes a constitutive contribution to
its knowledge, that this contribution is transcendental rather than psychological, that philosophy
involves self-critical activity, that morality is rooted in human freedom, and that to act
autonomously is to act according to rational moral principles – have all had a lasting effect on
subsequent philosophy.
Theory of perception[edit]
Main article: Critique of Pure Reason
Kant defines his theory of perception in his influential 1781 work the Critique of Pure Reason,
which has often been cited as the most significant volume of metaphysics and epistemology in
modern philosophy. Kant maintains that our understanding of the external world had its
foundations not merely in experience, but in both experience and a prioriconcepts, thus offering
a non-empiricist critique of rationalist philosophy, which is what he and others referred to as his
"Copernican revolution".[55]
Firstly, Kant distinguishes between analytic and synthetic propositions:

1. Analytic proposition: a proposition whose predicate concept is contained in its subject

concept; e.g., "All bachelors are unmarried," or, "All bodies take up space."
2. Synthetic proposition: a proposition whose predicate concept is not contained in its subject
concept; e.g., "All bachelors are happy," or, "All bodies have weight."
An analytic proposition is true by nature of the meaning of the words in the sentence — we
require no further knowledge than a grasp of the language to understand this proposition. On the
other hand, a synthetic statement is one that tells us something about the world. The truth or
falsehood of synthetic statements derives from something outside their linguistic content. In this
instance, weight is not a necessary predicate of the body; until we are told the heaviness of the
body we do not know that it has weight. In this case, experience of the body is required before its
heaviness becomes clear. Before Kant's first Critique, empiricists (cf. Hume) and rationalists
(cf. Leibniz) assumed that all synthetic statements required experience to be known.
Kant, however, contests this: he claims that elementary mathematics, like arithmetic, is
synthetic a priori, in that its statements provide new knowledge, but knowledge that is not derived
from experience. This becomes part of his over-all argument for transcendental idealism. That is,
he argues that the possibility of experience depends on certain necessary conditions — which he
calls a priori forms — and that these conditions structure and hold true of the world of experience.
In so doing, his main claims in the "Transcendental Aesthetic" are that mathematic judgments are
synthetic a priori and in addition, that Space and Time are not derived from experience but rather
are its preconditions.
Once we have grasped the functions of basic arithmetic, we do not need any empirical
experience to know that 100 + 100 = 200, and so it appears that arithmetic is analytic. However,
that it is analytic can be disproved by considering the calculation 5 + 7 = 12: there is nothing in
the numbers 5 and 7 by which the number 12 can be inferred. Thus "5 + 7" and "the cube root of
1,728" or "12" are not analytic because their reference is the same but their sense is not — the
mathematical judgment "5 + 7 = 12" tells us something new about the world. It is self-evident, and
undeniably a priori, but at the same time it is synthetic. Thus Kant proved that a proposition can
be synthetic and known a priori.
Kant asserts that experience is based both on the perception of external objects and a
priori knowledge.[56] The external world, he writes, provides those things that we sense. But it is
our mind that processes this information and gives it order, allowing us to comprehend it. Our
mind supplies the conditions of space and time to experience objects. According to the
"transcendental unity of apperception", the concepts of the mind (Understanding) and the
perceptions or intuitions that garner information from phenomena (Sensibility) are synthesized by
comprehension. Without the concepts, perceptions are nondescript; without the perceptions,
concepts are meaningless — thus the famous statement, "Thoughts without content are empty,
intuitions (perceptions) without concepts are blind."[57]
Kant also claims that an external environment is necessary for the establishment of the self.
Although Kant would want to argue that there is no empirical way of observing the self, we can
see the logical necessity of the self when we observe that we can have different perceptions of
the external environment over time. By uniting all of these general representations into one global
representation, we can see how a transcendental self emerges. "I am therefore conscious of the
identical self in regard to the manifold of the representations that are given to me in an intuition
because I call them all together my representations.



Education: Interpretations and Commentary

Klas Roth and Chris W. Surprenant (eds.), Kant and Education: Interpretations and Commentary, Routledge, 2012,
233pp., $125.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780415889803.
Reviewed byOwen Ware, Temple University
Kant was often ambivalent about the power of philosophy to affect the world.[1] One exception
was his view of educational theory. Philosophy, he believed, is responsible for guarding this
science: the science that should serve educators "as a guide to prepare well and clearly the path
to wisdom which everyone should travel, and to secure others against taking the wrong way"
(KpV 5:163). Philosophy is at the "narrow gate" that leads, through practitioners of education, to
the public at large. Only a few, however, need bother with the "subtle investigations" of its
Kant and Education brings together sixteen essays by an international group of scholars. The
range of topics covered in the anthology is impressive. Kant's contribution to contemporary
theories of education is central, as well as Kant's intellectual debt to Rousseau, the role of
education in Kant's normative theories, and the impact of Kant's ideas on subsequent
generations. Add to this the relative shortness of each essay (ten to fifteen pages), and one is
left with an accessible introduction to a fascinating, but often neglected, topic of Kant's ethical
theory. The editors, Klas Roth and Chris W. Surprenant, have done an admirable job.

Below I will discuss three of the volume's unifying themes. Due to restrictions of space I will not
be able to discuss each essay individually.

I. Paradoxes of Education and Autonomy

Many authors in the volume examine the paradoxes that surround both Kant's writings on
education and contemporary theories of pedagogy. Jørgan Huggler explores the idea of
education as a bridge from nature to culture in Kant's philosophy. Lars Løvlie offers a series of
reflections on the relevance of Kant's writings on education for our contemporary practices and
policies. Paul Formosa and James Scott Johnston compare Kant's ideas to theories of moral
development by Lawrence Kohlberg and John Rawls. Lastly, Roth turns to Kant to bring into
focus a number of tensions which lie in the education policy texts of the European Union.
One question that surfaces in these discussions is the so-called "moral paradox." The paradox
relates to the question of how autonomy can be taught. In Kant's ethics this has special
urgency. We can ask how any educational process can, through extrinsic motivational forces,
bring an agent to exercise his or her moral judgment in a genuinely autonomous way.

In "Kant's Contribution to Moral Education," Surprenant argues that Kant's method of "moral
catechism," outlined in the Metaphysics of Morals (1797), works toward answering this. Moral
catechism involves having the student repeat a series of questions and answers in a way that
enables her to exercise and cultivate moral judgment (MS 6:479). For Kant, the question-answer
interplay is designed to promote two things: (i) the pupil's reflection on her happiness as the
greatest desire she has, and (ii) the condition of her worthiness to be happy, which Kant argues
resides in acting out of respect for the moral law.
Surprenant argues that the catechistic education is unable to cause a transition to (ii): it cannot
explain how the child is to have an appropriate motivational response to the moral law. Kant
acknowledges this too, and in the second Critique (1788) he argues that examples of people
who have upheld their moral commitments on pain of suffering (or death) serve this role. Moral
examples represent in an especially vivid manner our capacity for freedom, a capacity which
makes overcoming our strongest inclinations a real possibility for us. Surprenant again points
out that Kant is not clear how the stages of this process are linked (p. 9). How does the
catechistic method relate to moral examples? And how do moral examples elicit within the child
a sense of her own freedom?
I think the answer is contained in Chapter III of the second Critique, titled "On the Incentives of
Pure Practical Reason." Kant argues that our consciousness of the moral law must have an
influence on sensibility. We must feel something like "pain" when we recognize the limited value
and authority of our inclinations (KpV 5:73). Yet we must also feel something like "pleasure," for
in limiting our self-love we are in a position to recognize our rational nature, i.e., our capacity to
act autonomously. From this point of view Kant's remarks on moral examples make sense. For
he says that when the pupil reflects on examples of pure resolution,
the pupil's attention is fixed on the consciousness of his freedom and, although this
renunciation excites an initial feeling of pain, nevertheless, by its withdrawing the pupil
from the constraint of even true needs, there is made known to him . . . the inner
freedom to release himself from the impetuous importunity of inclinations (KpV 160-161).
II. Moral Education in Kant's Normative Ethics

For the most part the place of moral education in Kant's normative ethics is unclear. A number
of the essays address this topic. Gary B. Herbert discusses some parallels between Kant's
theoretical and practical philosophy, arguing that moral education "schematizes" the principles
of virtue by providing children with the conditions in which these principles can be meaningfully
imposed onto them. Richard Dean takes up the question of why Kant never specified a duty to
moral education. And Alix Cohen addresses what she calls the "anthropological dimension" of
moral education, focusing on the apparent tension between the child's educability and her
freedom of will.

In "Examples of Moral Possibility," Paul Guyer explains the many uses of examples in Kant's
ethical theory, focusing on their role for bringing about the child's recognition of her capacity to
act out of respect for the moral law. After explaining that the examples Kant uses in Section II of
the Groundwork (1785) are thought experiments, not cases of empirically observed behavior,
Guyer turns to Kant's claim that representations of virtuous behavior have a distinctive value for
allowing people, especially children, to recognize their own freedom. This idea first appears in
the second Critique in the illustration of a prince who would like to have an individual bring
false charges against an innocent man, a request the individual can deny only on pain of
execution (KpV 5:30). Kant takes this to exhibit the "fact" that in our ordinary moral
consciousness we recognize the authority of a formal principle over our own material interests,
a recognition he thinks must elicit from us the judgment that, were we in the place of this poor
individual, we ought to deny the prince.
Guyer next observes that we find a historical version of the thought experiment in Part II of the
second Critique, titled "On the Doctrine of the Method of Pure Practical Reason." The example is
of an individual who refuses to give in to Henry VIII's conspirators against Anne Boleyn -- an
example Kant may have modeled after Henry Norris who, in David Hume's words, "would rather
die a thousand deaths than calumniate an innocent person" (cited by Guyer, p. 136). Guyer
explains that the example works precisely to invoke in the child a sense of awe, first, in the
individual's strength and purity of will, and second, in the child's recognition that the capacity
for such strength resides within her. From this we can see how Kant's theory of moral education
connects with his treatments of moral authority, moral feeling, and autonomy of will. As Guyer
puts it, the second Critique, "which begins with the fact of reason, ends with the story of Anne
Boleyn and one man who refused to join in betraying her" (p. 137).
III. Kant's Philosophy of Education: Context and Influences
Stepping back, many of the essays take up issues relating to the development of Kant's
educational theories and their influence on later generations. Joseph R. Reisert and Phillip
Scuderi compare Rousseau's account on the education of children in Emile to Kant's Lectures on
Pedagogy. Robert B. Louden discusses Kant's work in the 1770s to promote Basedow's
experimental school for children, the Philanthopin in Dessau Germany. Richard Velkley and
Susan Meld Shell offer reflections on Kant's influence, both on post-Kantian philosophy and on
the emergence of the humanities as a university discipline.

In "Kant on Education, Anthropology, and Ethics," Manfred Kuehn explores the link between
Kant's views on education and character formation. Kuehn shows that the early anthropology
lectures from 1772-1773 and 1774-1775 discuss the formation of character in naturalistic
terms. Character is a complex product of education where an individual's natural dispositions
play a decisive role. Education shapes what nature provides, and yet nature may provide a block.
Someone without a capacity for resolutions, for instance, may be unable to possess character.

If we look at these remarks from the standpoint of the Anthropology (1797), we see a striking
contrast. In the mature work Kant distinguishes "temperament" and "natural aptitude" from
character: "The first two predispositions indicate what can be made of the human being; the last
(moral) predisposition indicates what can he can make of himself" (Anth 7:285). Elsewhere in
the Anthropology Kant speaks of the acquisition of character in terms of a revolution or "rebirth"
(Anth 7:294), similar to the account of motivational conversion outlined in the Religion (1793)
(RGV 6:47-48).
Kuehn argues that Kant's anti-naturalist turn sheds light on his changing attitude toward
education (p. 59). If coming to acquire character requires an act of spontaneity, in which one
freely gives rational principles to oneself, then educative practices can only have an indirect role
in moral life. Kuehn suggests that the increasing importance of autonomy in Kant's ethics
between 1772 and 1797 mirrors the decreasing importance of education -- although he argues
that education plays a more positive role in Kant's social and political philosophy (pp. 63-64).
On the first point I would argue that the indirect role Kant came to assign to education was not
a demotion, but rather a necessary response to his mature view of freedom. At any rate I think
Kuehn's broader point is correct, and it resonates well with Kant and Education as a whole:
namely, that "educability is not just one of the essential characteristics of human beings, but the
most important one of all" (p. 66).

In the Introduction Roth and Surprenant state that their aim is "to broaden and deepen
discussion of the implications of Kant's moral and political philosophy and aesthetics for
education, and also of the value and significance of his ideas on education" (p. iv). I believe they
are largely successful, and that the clarity of the essays makes the book appropriate for a
broader philosophical audience.

One criticism I have is that the volume lacks the degree of analytical interpretation and
argument one would expect in a work aimed at Kant scholars. For this reason it will be of
greater use for researchers new to the topic who are seeking an overview of the field, not those
standing at philosophy's "narrow gate." More positively, however, I think the collection would be
effective in serving to introduce Kant's ethical theory outside of the Groundwork, giving
students a chance to encounter a more psychologically rich and historically sensitive side to
Kant's thinking.
Overall, Kant and Education is a welcome contribution to what will likely be a fertile area of Kant
scholarship in years to come.