My understanding of idealism is that it rests on the primacy of the mind and conscience over matter. The Encyclopædia Britannica provides the following "basic" forms of idealism:

The two basic forms of idealism are metaphysical idealism, which asserts the ideality of reality, and epistemological idealism, which holds that in the knowledge process the mind can grasp only the psychic or that its objects are conditioned by their perceptibility. In its metaphysics, idealism is thus directly opposed to materialism—the view that the basic substance of the world is matter and that it is known primarily through and as material forms and processes. In its epistemology, it is opposed to realism, which holds that in human knowledge objects are grasped and seen as they really are in their existence outside and independently of the mind.

This view states that we can only perceive phenomena, and can have no understanding of things in themselves, noumena.

How are these views reconciled with science and the fact that we are able to build accurate models of "reality"? I imagine the epistemological view to be more easily dealt with, but I would be interested in understanding how both views are conciliated with the empirical nature of science and the scientific method.

Do other forms of idealism, such as some forms of panpsychism, take a different view?

  • Considering that no scientific study has ever been perfomed on a phenomena without the influence if an observer ( at some point in the chain of events) , I don't see the contention. Science seems mute on the metaphysics issue. Until we can find a way of taking matter, and isolating human perception from it- while simulatenously empirically measuring it ( so we can study it) I dont see a resolution.How do we perform an experiment, in such a way as to make it observer independent? Nov 21, 2023 at 20:12
  • hey frank. idealists can be skpetics about what we think we know or decide that what we know isn't about anything mind independent. i think that covers it!
    – user67675
    Nov 22, 2023 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


Idealism - at it's most general form - is a class of nonconventional (relative to mainstream science) views, that a system is something more that the sum of its parts. It comes in many flavors and with many and different ontological representations. The subject is huge, diverse and in fact covers the whole history of philosophy.

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