CriticaLink | Plato: Phaedrus | Terms


The term idealism is applied to a broad range of philosophical approaches that ascribe true reality not to the phenomena available to our sense experience but to some entity--spirit, mind, divinity, or, in the case of Plato, eternal Form that transcends phenomena and can only be grasped by the intellect.

With its emphasis on Absolute Spirit, the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is also idealist. Idealism can be contrasted with materialism.

Although his understanding of reality tends to be more aligned with materialism, the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud recognizes idealist impulses in the human mind, as indicated by his accounts of idealization and the ideal ego. Jacques Lacan's account of the mirror stage builds on a concept of an Ideal-I which founds an individual's self-image, but which is also a driving force in the formation of neuroses.