Differences between Idealism and Naturalism [Philosophy]

Idealism and naturalism are two branches of philosophy, among which a key difference can be identified. Before identifying the difference, let’s first define idealism and naturalism .

Idealism is an approach to philosophy in which reality is believed to be mentally constructed. Naturalism is an approach to philosophy that highlights the governance of the world through natural forces. The fundamental difference between idealism and naturalism is that, while idealism focuses on a state of mind constructed of entities, naturalism focuses on the existing reality of entities that are governed by natural forces .

This article will clarify the difference and provide a clearer picture of the two philosophies.

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What is idealism?

Idealism can be considered as an approach to philosophy in which reality is believed to be mentally constructed, as opposed to what actually exists. This highlights that, for the idealist, what is most important is not the real version of a particular entity, but the mentally constructed version of it. That is why idealists emphasize  how it should be in contrast to the way it is. Idealists focus on concepts, ideas, beliefs and values. One of the fundamental beliefs of idealists is that the mind is the center of all entities.

Immanuel Kant , Arthur Schopenhauer , Hegel, James Jeans, Johann Fichte, George Berkeley, and Fredrich Schelling are some famous idealists. Even within idealism, there are many sub-categories, such as classic idealism, objective idealism, subjective idealism, metaphysical idealism, epistemological idealism, absolute idealism, practical idealism, real idealism , etc. The influence of idealism can be seen in many disciplines. For example, idealism in education can be seen in the learning process, when teachers educate children about different concepts that they believe to be universal.

What is Naturalism?

Naturalism is another approach to philosophy that highlights the governance of the world through natural forces. Naturalists believe that the changes in the world are a result of the interaction of these forces. They reject the idea that the world is governed by supernatural forces. One of the main differences between idealism and naturalism is that, while naturalism focuses more on the material, idealism focuses on the immaterial.

Naturalists believe that scientific methodology should be used to understand and investigate reality. Some of the key figures are Roy Sellars, John Dewey, Sidney Hook, Paul de Vries, Robert T. Pennock and Ernest Nagel. There are many branches of naturalism such as methodological naturalism, metaphysical naturalism, humanistic naturalism, ethical naturalism and sociological naturalism.

What is the difference between idealism and naturalism?

Definitions of idealism and naturalism:

  • Idealism: idealism is an approach to philosophy in which reality is believed to be mentally constructed.
  • Naturalism: naturalism is an approach to philosophy that highlights the governance of the world through natural forces.

Characteristics of idealism and naturalism:

Key figures:

  • Idealism: Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer, Hegel, James Jeans, Johann Fichte, George Berkeley, Fredrich Schelling.
  • Naturalism: Some of the key figures are Roy Sellars, John Dewey, Sidney Hook, Paul de Vries, Robert T. Pennock and Ernest Nagel.

Entities:

  • Idealism: idealism focuses on the idealistic state of entities. This denotes that idealists were more concerned with how entities should be, rather than how they are.
  • Naturalism: Naturalism focuses on the reality of entities.

Branches:

  • Idealism: classic idealism, objective idealism, subjective idealism, metaphysical idealism, epistemological idealism, absolute idealism, practical idealism and real idealism are some branches of idealism.
  • Naturalism: Methodological naturalism, metaphysical naturalism, humanistic naturalism, ethical naturalism and sociological naturalism are some branches of naturalism.

 

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