Before we begin it is important to understand the basic definitions of Idealism and Philosophy. Education in these two areas is very rare in modern society, although we will teach children Social Studies in grade 2, the basic questions of Who am I and Why am I here are left until much later (often university). When you mention the idea of philosophy you are usually met with bored expressions and a complete lack of interest. Why? Because these questions are very dangerous to the society we have built and live in.
Idealism is defined as the view that the existence of objects depends wholly or in part on the minds of those perceiving them. This definition is not complete by any means, in fact those who truly explore Idealistic concepts often come to the point where physical reality is nothing more than symbolism for the workings of the mind. This might sound strange and a little far-fetched but that is only because we are used to one particular view of the world, to explore another view would require a great deal of courage and the acceptance that You are not simply an accumulation of your beliefs.
Philosophy is defined as the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics. Nothing about the realm of Philosophy states that it must lead you to Idealism yet, for those who explore philosophy deeply enough, it often does. Philosophy was once looked upon as one of our species highest callings. Socrates, Plato, and other familiar names are familiar for exactly this reason; they were respected, admired, and seen as brilliant to those willing to listen to their words. Sad to say, society was very different back then.
Unfortunately it is impossible to explore all of the concepts and ideas involved in Philosophy in just one short article, but that doesn't mean you cannot go looking for yourself. It is important to remember though that not every “would-be philosopher" is worth listening to. An easy way to discern who is and who is not thinking clearly about existence and knowledge is to see how much they boost their own self-importance.
Look for the humble, serious philosophers such as Jiddu Krishnamurti (who rejected the offer to be named Messiah in the early 1900's) and Alan Watts. Find some of their videos, their books, and a website focused on discussing the concepts and ideas that are the root of their many lectures and books. It is important to get familiar with Idealism and Philosophy, and education in these fields will reveal why it is so important. There is a whole other multi-layered facet to life that needs to be explored in our modern society; our growth as a human being, a species and a culture depends on it.
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