This page features a collection of the best resources on idealism. Just to be clear, there is no single best resource on idealism. The best one will depend on your preferred learning style and the amount of time you want to spend learning about it.
To get started, simply choose one of the links below:
If you want a comprehensive overview of idealism:
- Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Idealism. However, you should keep in mind that the Stanford Encyclopedia in often quite technical and this article may be difficult for beginners. It’s also quite long at around 33,000 words. Here’s a short excerpt that introduces idealism:
“The terms “idealism” and “idealist” are by no means used only within philosophy; they are used in many everyday contexts as well. Optimists who believe that, in the long run, good will prevail are often called “idealists”. This is not because such people are thought to be devoted to a philosophical doctrine but because of their outlook on life generally; indeed, they may even be pitied, or perhaps envied, for displaying a naïve worldview and not being philosophically critical at all. Even within philosophy, the terms “idealism” and “idealist” are used in different ways, which often makes their meaning dependent on the context….
It nevertheless seems safe to say that within modern philosophy there have been two fundamental conceptions of idealism:
1. Something mental (the mind, spirit, reason, will) is the ultimate foundation of all reality, or even exhaustive of reality, and
2. Although the existence of something independent of the mind is conceded, everything that we can know about this mind-independent “reality” is held to be so permeated by the creative, formative, or constructive activities of the mind (of some kind or other) that all claims to knowledge must be considered, in some sense, to be a form of self-knowledge. . . .”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and and more engaging introduction:
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
- Listen to Keith Ward discuss Idealism in Eastern and Western Philosophy on the Philosophy Bites podcast [16:31 mins]
If you’d like to learn more about philosophy, check out this collection of Resources and Reading Lists.