The future’s foundation is formed on the basis of the ideals manifested in today’s reality; that are passed onwards by generations who seek to make those set of ideals, tomorrow’s reality. The dreams of tomorrow’s world rest upon the ideals we lay down today, it is because of this, that the ideals we form today need to be anchored in a correct ideology like no other; an ideology anchored in reality, but still having the capacity to influence the formation of that reality; with the use of a methodology practical to all peoples within it.
It is thus for this reason, that the formation of such an ideology needs to rest upon an adequate form of idealism; not idealism in the immaterialist sense, but idealism in the colloquial sense, being that of a visionary pursuit to a progressive reality. This idealism, which will be known as, ‘ideological idealism’ basis itself chiefly on the reality by which it is created in; this is to say, that for any set of ideals to be progressive in altering the state of reality, it must follow logically, that those same ideals first conform to reality; thus conforming to the laws of nature, the social context and environmental pressures that influence reality, as well as the mode and function of it. Once those ideals have embraced reality, then comes the second task; seeking to establish a practical methodology that allows the ideology to achieve its goals and alter reality.
Finding a method that basis itself within reality, well seeking at the same time to alter it, requires a method that is both practical as it is intelligent; that can be utilised by both poor man and rich man alike, without class, gender, race or age discrimination. The methodology must be sound that it can work for labourer and businessman, rich and poor alike; altering the framework of society through what means it has available. It is through the barriers of reality that the ideals become strongest, as the ideals themselves utilise their surroundings in favour of slowly progressing its aims until it has successfully met them, regardless to how long or how hard it takes it.
Once the second task has been completed, the ideology produced will have the ability to alter the state of reality; a ‘progressive reality’ will be the product of this ideological idealism. However, for this idealism to meet its ends it must base its entire sequence on two principles that have been aforementioned already; ‘realism’ (again in the colloquial sense of the word, as that which conforms to reality.) and ‘pragmatism’ have been successfully incorporated as a foundation.
It is only through this sequence that idealists, visionaries, and dreamers can reach their progressive realities; yet, a warning needs to be expressed: Never go beyond what is necessary; for when one goes beyond what is necessary they shall find themselves having to increase efforts; this results in their ideology being at risk of collapse.
It has been too long that visionaries have had to see their dreams tarnished by ill-conceived notions that escaped reality; the reason for the failure of Marx, and other dreamers like him were that their ideology did not seek to escape the confines of theory and attach to the reality they were addressing. It is when an ideology meets with reality, and has a practical methodology to achieve its ends, does it alter reality; change only comes from within. It is because of the fact, that none of the most challenging and thoughtful ideologies that could change the world for good have never escaped theory, which they remain in their cages; it is time to free the bird from its cage, it is time to plant the seeds of idealism in the soil of reality.
It is time to change reality for the better.
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson
The branch of Epistemology is one concerned with the examination of knowledge i.e. how we come about knowledge and understanding from the world around us, and the nature of this process. Knowledge can be defined in the Greek Philosopher Plato’s words as, “Justified true belief”, epistemology deals with the analyses of how we achieve this justification. Epistemology has many different branches pertaining to it, these branches are called “epistemic theories” (another term to denote ways of acquiring knowledge i.e. practical methodologies of finding justification.) and they are various in number; fideism, rationalism, empiricism, just being a few examples of the many epistemic theories that exist. Epistemology is important to know, as the ways in which everyone conducts their lives is based upon at least one epistemic theory; it is with this epistemic theory that we base our understanding of the world upon. There are distinctions to be made within epistemology between monism and pluralism; the former, Monism, refers to a unified or “mono” theory of acquiring knowledge about an object, this is to say it refers to one method of acquiring knowledge about a thing. The latter, Pluralism, refers to multiple or “plural” means of acquiring knowledge about an object, this is to say that there may be more than one way of finding out about something rather than a single unified observation. Through the understanding of just a few of the many epistemic theories and their histories, we can provide a path for further enquiry and enlightenment.
In epistemology, multiple methodologies have been attributed to finding knowledge in the world, with the limitations of time one has; I hope to provide at least some explanation of these epistemic theories and their formulations. Let us focus on just four aspects of epistemology, these being expressed as; Rationalism, empiricism, fideism and foundationalism. All these aspects try to vindicate Plato’s definition of Knowledge; epistemic philosophers spend their time studying these theories and there relation to the world and how we achieve what we consider being knowledge from the world around us. It is important then, to note that some of these theories go on a scale from epistemological monism to pluralism (dependant on intensity, as we shall see in the following paragraphs.).
Rationalism is an epistemic theory that states the basis for knowledge as being contingent upon reason alone; this is to say, knowledge is acquired solely on the basis of mental thought (intellect) without relying upon the senses. A concept to remember is ‘a prior’ which is to mean arm chair reasoning, reasoning that does not require one to vindicate with evidence (eg. Things like, “all cats have four legs”…and it’s just obvious). The father of Rationalism, Rene Descartes (French philosopher who lived in the 16th century and came up with the phrase “I think, therefore I am”, cogito ergo sum), introduced the theory which based on the assumption that the mind alone could come about knowledge about the world. Rationalism is in opposition to the next theory we shall look at, which is empiricism. Epistemological monism occupied the extremes of Rationalism, this is to say that those who promoted it loudly (Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza) relied upon metaphysics (the field of philosophy dealing with the fundamentals of reality) as a foundation to achieve knowledge about reality, and reasoned that existence was a formulation solely of the mind.
Empiricism, unlike rationalism, is an epistemic theory that states that knowledge can only be acquired through the experience of the senses. This introduces us to another important concept ‘a posteriori’ which is justification through experience (eg. Instead of just saying all cats have four legs from your arm chair, you get up and look at a cat and you conclude based upon that experience.). Empiricism is the basis for modern science; “empirical method’, is a method that incorporates the collection of data through experimentation, and the accumulation of evidence to base theories, and draw conclusions in natural philosophy (aka Science). John Locke and David Hume, both 17th century Philosophers, are responsible for this epistemic theory; they argued that knowledge is only acquired through the computation of sensory information (the collection of information), which is the best means of acquiring knowledge. They were also epistemological monists and argued against rationalism; this conflict that was being brewed was as a result of the 17th century enlightenment values, which rejected prior forms of tradition and authority as being the means for knowledge. Since rationalism and empiricism broke away from the traditional forms of knowledge seeking, they both sought to get the better of one another…how could this war be ended?
This combining of rationalism and empiricism with the synthesis of the two epistemological monist theories into a dual (or pluralistic theory), came about with the talented 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant argued that ‘a prior’ reasoning formulates concepts that are then vindicated through ‘a posteriori’ means; ultimately formulating understanding of the world we perceive. In other words, it is through reason and evidence that we come about knowledge; we can neither understand reality without the synthesis of ‘a prior’ and ‘a posteriori’. This is how science works today (small criticism; ultimately, without the computation of sensory information, all notions of reality crumble, as our body works based upon the ordering of collected information and the processing of that information via the mind through body synapses. Ultimately meaning that sensory experience is the only means of acquiring knowledge…this view is also known as radical empiricism.).
Fideism is an epistemic theory that is unlike the prior ones we have been discussing. Fideism states that knowledge can only be acquired through faith alone, anything other than faith is considered hostile and misleading. This epistemic theory values faith (belief without evidence) over reason, as a means of coming to knowledge, the best way being through divine revelation from God. Tertullian (3rd century theologian) can be credited for the first use of fideism with the quote, “the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.” (Credo quia absurdum); later individuals, most notable, Blaise Pascal and Soren Kierkegaard, later re-developed fideism to express how all epistemic theories relied of faith, because of this faith in God is of higher importance to gain knowledge. This is another example of an epistemological monist theory.
Foundationalism is the final term we will look at, it is not as much an epistemic theory more than it is a foundation for epistemic theories. Foundationalism concerns itself with proper basic beliefs or “PBB”, these “axioms” are self-evident beliefs that help an individual function in the world around them, beliefs such as; I exist, other minds exist. That anchors all our other beliefs and allows us to progress in the world, without basic beliefs we risk slipping into the realm of scepticism; the negative solipsism which makes us question our beliefs and whether they are true or not. It is because of the limitations of the human body that we need to have our beliefs grounded on a proper system by which we can come about understanding about the world.
It is through epistemology that we seek out the means of understanding and acquiring knowledge, learning the means by which to come about truth and the relative theories pertaining to it; one can set a good foundation for their beliefs and thus create a means of acquiring future knowledge of the world. For tomorrows world is based on the foundation we lay today, and it a proper foundation that will ensure the prosperity of tomorrow’s world.