What is Realism? What is Realism?

What is Realism? What is Realism?

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

Realism is a philosophical doctrine that argues that there is a reality independent of the human mind in philosophy. It is the understanding of those who claim that existence exists independently and objectively from human consciousness. Realist view “Is there a being?” answers the question “there is”.


The history of Western philosophy is full of disagreements between those who defend and oppose different kinds of realism. While there are important similarities and details that connect all ideas that are generally defined as realist, there are also important differences between these movements that directly affect the general characterization of realism.

Realism is of two kinds: ontological realism and epistemological realism.

According to ontological realism, what actually exists are universals and general concepts. For example, all the things that are described as beautiful people and beautiful pictures do not really exist because they are constantly changing and will disappear one day. However, there is an idea of ​​beauty, this idea of ​​beauty is always beautiful. This is a view put forward by Plato.

Epistemological realism, on the other hand, argues that the beings in the external world exist independently of the human mind. This teaching is against idealism, which argues that objects or entities exist only in the human mind, and that objects cannot exist independently of the human mind.

Realism in Antiquity

Every person “who has not left the asylum or the school of idealistic thinkers” knows that there is a world around him independent of consciousness. Stones, soils, trees, etc. It is not human consciousness. Because they existed before the existence of man on earth. The world has lived billions of years with these natural assets without humans.

For example, even children know that birds are not the product of their own or human consciousness and that they exist independently of themselves. In accordance with the understanding of ‘spontaneous materialism’, this understanding of realism of early humans is called ‘spontaneous realism’ or ‘childlike realism’.

This solid realist understanding continued until the doctrine of Vedanta in India, Confucianism in China, and Elea in the Ancient Greeks were put forward in the intellectual field.

This understanding is solid, but it also has weaknesses. Chief among these weak points is his identification of essence with fact. As a matter of fact, idealist philosophy took advantage of this weakness of his, and reduced the essence to the unknowable and nonexistent, and considered the phenomenon, that is, the appearance, unreal.

The second weakness of spontaneous realism is its disregard for the question of the existence of the world, which it finds quite natural. As a matter of fact, idealist philosophy also benefited from this second weak side of him, for example, Mach’s doctrine claimed that the problem of the existence of the world was of no importance and claimed that the only reality was sensations.

Despite these weaknesses in terms of philosophy, this sound infantile understanding formed the foundations of materialist philosophy, knowledge and science.

Realism in Antiquity

The seeds of medieval realism, in the sense of not taking objective reality as real, were planted by the Ancient Greeks. Elea doctrine, Plato and Aristotle are the founders of realism in this sense.

According to these understandings, the truth is not the individual, but the universal (general and universal). Universals can only exist in individuals, they have no existence of their own.

Elea School

For example, there are donkeys in the world, but there are no donkeys. Donkey is a universal (abstract, rational, general concept) and can only exist with an individual donkey. The real thing is donkeys (universal), not donkeys (individuals). (Donkeys die, the donkey remains. N.) Because remove the donkey, there will be no donkey left in the world. The donkey owes its existence to the donkey. Whereas individual donkeys exist but do not exist, the universal donkey does not exist, but it does. Truth is “that which has independent existence, not dependent existence”.

All individualities in the world owe their existence to another being, so they are not real. Universals are independent entities, so they are real. That is why the individualities that exist are not real, they are appearances; Universals that have no existence are real.

(Pay attention to the materiality of what exists and the immateriality of what does not exist. This is the basis of Berkeley’s immateriality. The distinction that idealists make between the concepts of ‘existence’ and ‘being’, which they attach great importance, should also be emphasized.

The real owner of this idealistic argument in ancient Greek philosophy is Aristotle. The Eleatics and Plato bear the bud of this argument. Because neither the Eleatics nor Plato had the courage to attribute an existence to the universals (‘One’ or ‘being’ in Eleatics, Ideas in Plato). According to Parmenides, the unique being is in the form of a sphere, that is, it is material and has existence.

In Plato, the ideas live in a universe of ideas, the ascended souls can go and see them, so they are in existence.

It is Aristotle for the first time who is contradictory in terms of idealism.