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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.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> As an ontological doctrine, idealism goes further, asserting that all entities are composed of mind or spirit.<ref name="Brittanica"/> 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 idealists in India and the Greek Neoplatonists gave panentheistic arguments for an all-pervading consciousness as the ground or true nature of reality.<ref name="Noiré"/> In contrast, the Yogācāra school, which arose within Mahayana Buddhism in India in the 4th century CE,<ref>Zim, Robert (1995). Basic ideas of Yogācāra Buddhism. San Francisco State University. Source: [1] (Retrieved 18 October 2007).</ref> 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.


Idealism sections
Intro  Definitions  Classical idealism  Subjective idealism  Transcendental idealism  Objective idealism  See also  Notes  References  External links  

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