For those who don’t know, I’m not a big fan of Idealism. When I say Idealism, I’m referring to the philosophical movement, not the tendency to lift up certain ideals. The philosophy of idealism is more or less based around the concept that all reality is dependent upon thought and consciousness. (Transcendentalists are a little more down-to-earth, but I don’t like them either.) Some go as far as to say that there’s only really one consciousness—your own. Everything you hear, see, and sense is just a figment of your imagination, an illusory world created by your thoughts for your consciousness to experience. Most Idealists will agree, though, that thought and consciousness (subjects, with subjective experiences) makes an object more “real” than non-sentient objects.
I really dig philosophy as of late, as you can tell from the number of posts on the subject—but I just don’t see the point in Idealism. It’s impractical philosophy, since it’s purely speculative and doesn’t serve to help one live, unless one needs help thinking of oneself as a virtual god. It’s that egocentricity that I really despise. I think it’s ludicrous to believe that reality is subject to us and not the other way around. To look at life and think anything but that laws of reality that we did not conceive are being forced upon our consciousnesses is irresponsible and unrestrained optimism.
(For those who are wondering, I don’t believe that reality simply exists without reason. I believe in a God who created reality in a way to challenge us and test our faith and intellect; I believe in a God that fashioned a reality by His own standards and gave us the freedom to accept or reject both it and Him.)
It took a little while, but religion actually caught up with Idealism in New Age mysticism and Scientology, both of which came about in the latter half of the 20th Century. Both grant ultimate importance to the human consciousness—one in the mind’s ability to change the physical world, and one in its ability to create it. I view both as ultimately selfish and out of touch with the sometimes-harsh reality that we’ve all experienced. I don’t say that to say, “Oh, look how much better my religion is than those”—I just disagree with the presumptions of both. If you disagree with me, step back, take an objective look at the facts, and make up your own mind. (It’s only fair, seeing as that’s what I quite unabashedly did.)
But, not so surprisingly, religion was a little behind science. Enter quantum mechanics, which slowly evolved throughout the 19th Century and came to fruition at the advent of the 20th Century. Now quantum mechanics in itself isn’t so bad—it’s simply the realization that the laws of physics as we know them don’t apply on a subatomic level, and the study of those differences. But those differences are crazy-weird. A subatomic particle can actually be in multiple places at once. In fact, the concept of superposition states that until we measure where a particle is, it simultaneously exists in every possible location within the atom, and condenses into a singular position upon measurement. (You can read up on one clever scientist’s critique of this notion here.) It’s the science of Idealism.
Not too long ago, a movie was made about this. It’s called What tнe #$*! Dө ωΣ (k) πow!? or What the bleep do we know!? Admittedly, the movie doesn’t discuss pure science so much as speculative science (or pseudo-science); but all of the assumptions are leaps from quantum mechanics. The Secret is another production (this one, a self-help DVD) that posits that what we think can have a tangible impact on the physical world. Let me be clear: it’s not that our thoughts lead to our actions and our actions lead to change—it’s our thoughts themselves having a very real impact on the world (specifically, on our individual success in life). So Idealism is trickling down into entertainment and self-help, and it’s working its way into more than a few nooks and crannies in our modern lives.
I really can’t say I know enough to tackle quantum mechanics (or, rather, its offspring). And I realize I probably got some of this wrong, since I’m not as smart as the topics I try to discuss. But it’s something I want to learn more about. Call it a personal mission. Call it my civic duty as a Christian Existentialist. But if you have anything to say on the matter, in agreement, disagreement, or dismissal, hit that comment button below or just talk to me. I’m looking for more insight into the matter, and every opinion can teach me something.