Idealism - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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History and Origin of the Term

The word idealism came to be used as a philosophical term in the eighteenth century. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, in his Réponse aux réflexions de Bayle (written 1702; published in Philosophischen Schriften, edited by C. I. Gerhardt, 7 vols. Berlin, 1875–1890), criticized "those who like Epicurus and [Thomas] Hobbes, believe that the soul is material" and held that in his own system "whatever of good there is in the hypotheses of Epicurus and of Plato, of the greatest materialists and the greatest idealists, is combined here" (Vol. IV, pp. 559–560). In this passage Leibniz clearly means by "idealists" philosophers who uphold an antimaterialist metaphysic like that of Plato and himself. When, later in the century, George Berkeley's views came to be discussed, the word idealism was applied, however, to the view that nothing could be known to exist or did...

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This section contains 8,709 words
(approx. 30 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Idealism Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Idealism from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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