Objective Idealism

Objective idealism is an idealistic metaphysics that postulates that there is in an important sense only one perceiver, and that this perceiver is one with that which is perceived. One important advocate of such a metaphysics, Josiah Royce (the founder of American idealism), wrote that he was indifferent “whether anybody calls all this Theism or Pantheism”. It is distinct from the subjective idealism of George Berkeley, and it abandons the thing-in-itself of Kant’s dualism.

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Idealism, in terms of metaphysics, is the philosophical view that the mind or spirit constitutes the fundamental reality. It has taken several distinct but related forms. Among them are objective and subjective idealism. Objective idealism accepts common sense realism (the view that material objects exist) but rejects naturalism (according to which the mind and spiritual values have emerged from material things), whereas subjective idealism denies that material objects exist independently of human perception and thus stands opposed to both realism and naturalism.

If subjective idealism locks itself within the sphere of the cognizing individual and the sensuous form of his cognition, objective idealism, on the contrary, lifts the result of human thought, of man’s entire culture, to an absolute, ascribing to it absolutely independent suprapersonal being and active power. — Alexander Spirkin. Fundamentals of Philosophy. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1990. p. 30.

Objective idealism … interprets the spiritual as a reality existing outside and independent of human consciousness.

— Oizerman, T. I., The Main Trends in Philosophy. Moscow, 1988, p. 57.

Schelling[2] and Hegel had forms of objective idealism.

The philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce stated his own version of objective idealism in the following manner:

The one intelligible theory of the universe is that of objective idealism, that matter is effete mind, inveterate habits becoming physical laws (Peirce, CP 6.25).

A. C. Ewing is an analytic philosopher influenced by the objective idealist tradition. His approach has been termed analytic idealism.

Notable proponents

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
  • Charles Sanders Peirce
  • Josiah Royce
  • William Ernest Hocking
  • Brand Blanshard
  • A. C. Ewing
  • Vittorio Hösle


  • Daniel Sommer Robinson, The Self and the World in the Philosophy of Josiah Royce, Christopher Publishing House, 1968, p. 9: “Josiah Royce and William Ernest Hocking were the founders and creators of a unique and distinctly American school of idealistic philosophy.”
  • Frederick BeiserGerman Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectivism, 1781-1801, Harvard University Press, 2002, p. 470.
  • Michael Beaney (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2013, p. 5. n. 6.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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