What Is Absolute Idealism, What Does It Mean?

What Is Absolute Idealism, What Does It Mean?

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Absolute idealism is the philosophical system whose ontological basis is monism, associated with the great 19th century German philosophers Hegel, Schelling and the American philosopher Josiah Royce. Although absolute idealism is a movement in which all of these philosophers take an active role, it is basically a product of Hegel’s philosophical ideas.

Hegel’s philosophy is, first of all, a philosophy of human history in which individuals reach a free consciousness of themselves. But consciousness itself is not free; Liberation of consciousness takes place through a complex process described in the ‘phenology of Spirit’.

In this work, Hegel reveals how consciousness tests itself on a world scale and arrives at objective knowledge of itself with a simple subjective certainty. Consciousness, by becoming conscious of the world, will also become conscious of itself ‘through what is called the dialectic between master and slave’.

In fact, this dialectic depicts in humanity the enslavement and domination between two forms of consciousness, each of which wants to present itself as it is, for humanity, quite unlike the animals, is capable of transcending life. Each will do this for both himself and the other, in a fight for life and death. The slave will lose, kneel before life, and serve the master by working for him. However, the slave (proletarian in Marx) will be freed from his bondage in this work and thanks to it; because by transforming the world, it will give oneself the concrete means of achieving independence.

At the end of this process, consciousness reaches the Mind. The world ceases to be foreign to him; His knowledge of the world is his real knowledge, and his real knowledge is his knowledge of the world. But consciousness is no longer just the consciousness of the individual; Consciousness is the consciousness of a spiritual community in which ‘I’ is us, we are I. and this is nothing but Spirit. Spirit has manifested itself throughout history through a number of ‘figures’, which are key moments in historical development. These key moments range from Greek ethics to contemporary Prussia in Hegel’s time. At the end of this process, only consciousness reaches absolute knowledge by becoming the consciousness of Spirit itself; the philosopher becomes the interpreter of such knowledge.


For Hegel, the natural world is wholly an artifact of the human mind; but this is not the work of ordinary people’s minds; The objects of our knowledge are not created by our minds. Accordingly, it is possible to speak as follows: This world, the objects that make up this world and are the subject of our knowledge, must be the work of a mind other than the mind of the finite individual, human. The objects of knowledge, and thus the entire universe, are the product of an absolute subject, an absolute Mind, Mind, or Spirit.

This spiritual being, which Hegel calls Spirit, Geist, Idea, Absolute, Absolute Mind, is an objective being outside of all individual, finite human souls and is nothing but God. Hegel believes that the Absolute Mind, the essence of Geist, is penetrated by the human mind, because the Absolute Mind is revealed in nature as well as in the functioning of the human mind.

That is, Geist expresses itself, according to Hegel, in nature and in the human mind. According to him, all of reality can only be understood through an Idea, an Absolute or Objective Mind, an Absolute Spirit. This Absolute Mind has been in a process of evolution throughout world history. Absolute Mind strives to be a transcendent, self-sufficient, absolutely self-conscious, fully independent being. The evolutionary process in question is the effort of the absolute Mind to become a fully rational and intelligible being.

Hegel argues that being as an all-inclusive whole is ultimately intelligible. He argues that in order for the thought subject (human mind or consciousness) to see its object (the world) immediately, it must have, in a way, an identity of thought and being. Otherwise, the object would never be able to access the object and gain no certainty about all our knowledge of the world. However, to account for the differences between thought and being, the richness and diversity of each, the unity of thought and being, cannot be expressed as abstract identity “A = A”.

Absolute idealism is an attempt to demonstrate this unity using a new “speculative” philosophical method that requires new concepts and rules of logic. According to Hegel, the absolute ground of being is essentially a dynamic and historical process of necessity; It emerges spontaneously in more and more complex forms of spontaneity and consciousness, and eventually the diversity and diversity of the world as we think and make sense of the world.

Absolute idealism prevailed in England and Germany in the 19th century, but had less influence in the United States. The place of absolute idealism must be separated from Berkeley’s subjective idealism, Kant’s transcendental idealism, or Fichte’s post-Kantian transcendental idealism.