Keywords: Idealism

The root word, idea, GK, is from the verb “to see,” and has a range of meanings from appearance to form to the Platonic type of model. Idealism and idealist began to be used to indicate not so much consciousness as a fundamental and formative activity but a special kind of consciousness, imaginatively conferring certain properties on an object. The subsequent complexities of meaning can be indicated by a pairing of opposites. There is idealism contrasted with materialism…then there is idealism contrasted with realism: [used] to indicate a contrast which is really that between impractical and practical. Then there is also idealism as a positive social or moral sense contrasted wither with self-seeking or indifference or with a general narrowness of outlook. Idealism is obviously a word which needs the closest scrutiny whenever it is used.

—Raymond Williams