Actual Idealism

Actual Idealism

Actual Idealism was a form of idealism developed by Giovanni Gentile that grew into a 'grounded' idealism contrasting the Transcendental Idealism of Immanuel Kant and the Absolute idealism of Georg Hegel.


It was successful in laying a theory of regarding thought that garnered enough attention to prove a competition to the new waves of positivism and therefore materialist conceptions of social life that were vying for reformist tendencies in the politics of the time. Its ideas therefore were key to helping the Fascist party consolidate power in Italy with its own reform, and integral to giving Fascism the content of its philosophical sentiment. Despite this, Gentile claimed Actual Idealism to be the true variety of positivism & the proper interpretation of the concept of positivism. [The Philosophy of Giovanni Gentile: An Inquiry into Gentile's Conception of Experience]


Actual Idealism holds that it is the act of thinking as percipience, not creative thought as imagination, which defines reality. Therefore one idea or another can only be a formulation of particulars within the bounds of a known totality that one idea is not on any side of those particulars. Totality constituting the whole cohesive reality, is negated in such idea by itself. Integration of totality against idea in appealing to oneself is the sole fruitful means of idea, which poses no favoritism to the developed ideas giving a knowing precedence to the world it has created itself into. Anything less is a presupposition and therefore innately unreal. This totality is the act of thinking, not thoughts so regarded by thinking.


While realists agree the world known to them is the only one they possibly know 'as a static concept,' they continue to regard something real about the concept having nothing to do with their thinking. Actual Idealists disregard the static concept as totally false in regard to the world for them where the only real is in 'the act of thinking' within being.

The stance of Realism claims that repeatability of experience gives proof of a basis which transcends and outruns our percepts, refuting Idealism. Yet it does not consider that the process of thinking as creation and the thought about thinking as abstraction interchange depending on the quality of one's act. It is the process of thinking that creates thought, which may not recur, but what occurs as thinking of it is what cannot be outrun as a conceptualization because it is the very immanent process of it, which is what definitely is. Not as thoughts perceived, but as perceptive thinking prior to being construed outside its own totality as a thought, not made an abstraction, which cannot exist or be supposed to exist in any form outside one's thinking. Only one's thought reached from- and thus put outside of- thinking can be surpassed; but only by thinking, not by an abstract external.

Actual Idealism therefore rejects the Hegelian 'Absolute' as being a presupposition unprovable to the mind, unless considered to be synonymous with what's known or the totality of the act of thinking. Which therein would put the dialectical processes making 'self' & 'not self' a consideration proving external existence real insofar as it is in reality part of the self's own thinking. Since the self regarded alone is always a concept and cannot be given reality as such. Neither does Actual Idealism admit archetypal concepts in that possible conception of them in relation to all else gives them no reality. Gentile made a pivotal distinction to factors concerning Idealism's own criteria for reality which have stood since Berkeley's adage "Esse est percipi" by distinguishing between "pensiero pensante" the 'act of thinking', and the 'static thought' "pensiero pensato".


Gentile posited then, that knowledge as thought fixed against a fuller range of thinking limits thinking's every proposition. If truth is what surpasses the conditions of every proposition, taking a known postulate as truth removes its criteria from having that capability in thinking. Objectifying actuality. Truth then cannot be known by thought, since knowledge held as thought is privative toward thinking as decided by what's thought. Only thinking as it penetrates, not given in to what categories of thought orient it, can be truth, so long as it does not resort to thought in doing so which would objectify it. Such thinking is truth because it therefore defines reality as by that thinking, rather than excluding truth from the possibility of thinking because of its relation to yielding thoughts. Only because thinking's results, namely thoughts, do not pertain to what is arising from its act, the truth, does thinking itself become questioned as a proper conductor of truth. That however does not detract from the nature of truths being defined within the act as the concrete. Thinking, being the condition in which truths are measured, in fact affirms thinking's own condition as truth, and when coupled with the idea that it generates thoughts which negate it, must the concrete be identified with thinking rather than simply being denied to thought, seen as abstract, and having that together assumed with thinking as denied also. For thinking cannot therefore be solely a producer of thoughts alone to Gentile, as is the position taken by materialists, because thoughts are to him what negate it, but must also be what produces the stable environment wherein being happens. Which then is the direct result of oneself as the further quality in which reality is not negated, as it is by thoughts to themselves.

Therefore this postulate maintains that thinking is an active process and the static conception of a thought is its dialectical opposite. Where thinking is the vitality of psychological being, a thought is opposed to that vitality and therefore would be opposed to that immanent quality where alone existence takes on its reality to the Actual Idealist. No sense or imagining of something beyond or external to the act of thinking in itself for the thinker can be real, and therefore cannot be said to exist, even if, to continue the act of thinking it must be said that it does exist as a creation of the act of thinking if even then it remains unreal. Which in considering it the measure of its existence is realized for then it is exposed to the act of thinking and is subject to reality; From an 'a priori' beginning to a non-empirical conclusion without presupposition.

Further reading

*'The Theory of Mind as Pure Act' (Giovanni Gentile; Herbert Wildon Carr, London, Macmillan, 1922) ISBN 1-903331-29-3
*'The Idealism of Giovanni Gentile' (Roger W. Holmes, Macmillan, 1937) ISBN 0-404-16948-1
*'The Philosophy of Giovanni Gentile: An Inquiry into Gentile's Conception of Experience' (Pasquale Romanelli, Birnbaum, 1937)
*'The Social Philosophy of Giovanni Gentile' (H. S. Harris, University of Illinois Press, 1960)
*'Genesis and Structure of Society' (Giovanni Gentile; H. Harris, University of Illinois Press, 1966)
*'Giovanni Gentile: Philosopher of Fascism' (A. James Gregor, Transaction Publishers, 2001) ISBN 0-7658-0593-6

;In German

*'Der aktuale Idealismus' (Giovanni Gentile, Mohr Siebeck, 1931) ISBN 3-16-814141-0
*'Die Staatsphilosophie Giovanni Gentiles und die Versuche ihrer Verwirklichung im faschistischen Italien' (Sebastian Schattenfroh, Lang, Peter, GmbH, Europäischer Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1999) ISBN 3-631-34345-0


See also

*Dialectical monism
*Plane of immanence
*Process philosophy
*Grey Wolves

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Idealism (italian) and after — Italian idealism and after Gentile, Croce and others Giacomo Rinaldi INTRODUCTION The history of twentieth century Italian philosophy is strongly influenced both by the peculiar character of its evolution in the preceding century and by… …   History of philosophy

  • Idealism — The 20th century British scientist Sir James Jeans wrote that the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine This article is about the philosophical notion of idealism. For other uses, see Idealism… …   Wikipedia

  • idealism — /uy dee euh liz euhm/, n. 1. the cherishing or pursuit of high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc. 2. the practice of idealizing. 3. something idealized; an ideal representation. 4. Fine Arts. treatment of subject matter in a work of art… …   Universalium

  • IDEALISM —    that view of the universe which, in opposition to MATERIALISM (q.v.), refers everything to and derives everything from a spiritual root; is Subjective if traced no further back than the ego, and Objective if traced back to the non ego likewise …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Monistic idealism — is a metaphysical theory which states that consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all being. It is a monistic theory because it holds that there is only one type of thing in the universe, and a form of idealism because it holds that one… …   Wikipedia

  • Absolute idealism — Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • Objective idealism — is an idealistic metaphysics that postulates that there is in an important sense only one perceiver, and that this perceiver is one with that which is perceived. One important advocate of such a metaphysics, Josiah Royce, wrote that he was… …   Wikipedia

  • Subjective idealism — George Berkeley is credited with the development of subjective idealism. Subjective idealism is a metaphysical theory which holds that only perceptions, ideas, and minds exist. The simplest and most common version of subjective idealism combines… …   Wikipedia

  • German idealism — was a philosophical movement in Germany in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It developed out of the work of Immanuel Kant in the 1780s and 1790s, and was closely linked both with romanticism and the revolutionary politics of… …   Wikipedia

  • Transcendental idealism — is a doctrine founded by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century. Kant s doctrine maintains that human experience of things consists of how they appear to us implying a fundamentally subject based component, rather than being… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”