Etymology
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idealism (n.)

1796 in the abstract metaphysical sense "belief that reality is made up only of ideas," from ideal (adj.) + -ism. Probably formed on model of French idéalisme. Meaning "tendency to represent things in an ideal form" is from 1829. Meaning "pursuit of the ideal, a striving after the perfect state" (of truth, purity, justice, etc.).

In the philosophical sense the Germans have refined it into absolute (Hegel), subjective (Fichte), objective (von Schelling), and transcendental (Kant).

That the glory of this world in the end is appearance leaves the world more glorious, if we feel it is a show of some fuller splendour : but the sensuous curtain is a deception and a cheat, if it hides some colourless movement of atoms, some spectral woof of impalpable abstractions, or unearthly ballet of bloodless categories. Though dragged to such conclusions, we can not embrace them. Our principles may be true, but they are not reality. They no more make that Whole which commands our devotion, than some shredded dissection of human tatters is that warm and breathing beauty of flesh which our hearts found delightful. [F.H. Bradley, "Principles of Logic," 1883]
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idealist (n.)

"one who represents things in an ideal form," 1829, from ideal + -ist. Earlier (1796) in a philosophical sense "one who believes reality consists only in (Platonic) ideals" (see idealism).

It seems even incredible, that any Idealist in any age could forget himself so far as to run his head against a post, merely because he found in his system, that no external world does exist, and that therefore nothing could be without to hurt him. [F.A. Nitsch, "A General and Introductory View of Professor Kant's Principles," 1796]

Earlier still, "one who holds doctrines of philosophical idealism" (1701).

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Wilsonian (adj.)

1921, "characteristic of the U.S. presidency of Woodrow Wilson" (1856-1924), especially in reference to idealism in foreign policy.

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materialism (n.)

1748, "philosophy that nothing exists except matter" (from French matérialisme); see material (n.) + ism. As this naturally tended toward "opinion or tendency based upon purely material interests," it came to be used by late 19c. for any low view of life (opposed to idealism). As "a way of life based entirely on consumer goods," by 1930.

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realism (n.)

"the doctrine of a realist," in any sense of that word, 1794, originally in philosophy, from real (adj.) + -ism; after French réalisme or German Realismus; from Late Latin realis "real."

In reference to scholastic doctrine of Thomas Aquinas (opposed to nominalism), it is recorded in English from 1826. Opposed to idealism in philosophy, art, etc. The sense of "tendency to see things as they are" is by 1817. The meaning in art, literature, etc., "close resemblance to the scene, representation of what is real in fact" (often with attention to unpleasant details) is attested from 1856 (Ruskin; compare realistic).

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do-gooder (n.)

"a person who actively seeks to correct social ills in an idealistic, but usually impractical or superficial, way," 1650s (as do-good), in "Zootomia, or Observations on the Present Manners of the English: Briefly Anatomizing the Living by the Dead. With An Usefull Detection of the Mountebanks of Both Sexes," written by Richard Whitlock, a medical doctor. Probably used even then with a taint of impractical idealism. The verbal phrase do good "do good deeds" was in Old English.

Modern pejorative use seems to have begun on the socialist left, mocking those who were unwilling to take a hard line. OED has this citation, from The Nation in 1923:

There is nothing the matter with the United States except ... the parlor socialists, up-lifters, and do-goods.

The form do-gooder appears in American English by 1922, presumably because do-good was no longer felt as sufficiently noun-like. A slightly older word for this was goo-goo.

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otherworldly (adj.)

1854, "governed in this life by motives relating to consideration of an afterlife," from other + world + -ly (1). By 1873 as "of or pertaining to a world of imagination."

Otherworldliness is recorded from 1819. Phrase other world is from c. 1200 (oþre weorlde) as "afterlife, spirit-land, world to come;" c. 1300 as "world of idealism or fantasy, a state of existence different from normal," but otherworldliness seems to have been formed from worldliness. Leigh Hunt used it first in print, in "The Examiner" [Dec. 19, 1819], but a reported use of it by Coleridge, printed in Thomas Allsop's selections from Coleridge's letters and conversations (1836), which apparently cover the years 1818-22, was better-known thereafter, and the word is sometimes attributed to Coleridge:

As there is a worldliness or the too much of this life, so there is another-worldliness, or rather other worldliness, equally hateful and selfish with this worldliness.

Hunt, in his "Autobiography" (1850), writes:

I hope I am not giving fresh instance of a weakness which I suppose myself to have outgrown; much less appropriating an invention which does not belong to me; but an accomplished authoress one day (Mrs. Jameson), at the table of my friend Barry Cornwall, quoted the term "otherworldliness" from Coleridge. I said Coleridge was rich enough not to need the transference to him of other men's property; and that I felt so much honoured by the supposition in this instance, that I could not help claiming the word as my own. If Coleridge, indeed, used it before me, I can only say that I was not aware of it, and that my own reflections, very much accustomed to that side of speculation, would have suggested an identical thought.
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