Realism, Naturalism, and Pragmatism

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Philosophy ・MLA ・3 Sources

Philosophy is the study of ultimate knowledge, the nature of existence, goodness, and reality as discovered by human thought (Dunnington 14). Philosophy is a broad discipline with many branches, including metaphysics, which is concerned with the nature of reality. There are four schools of thought in this branch of philosophy that provide the foundations for educational theories. Pragmatism, realism, naturalism, and idealism are the four categories. The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief overview of the four philosophical approaches and to show how idealism makes more sense than the other schools of thought. Realism is a metaphysical view that an abstract concept or material object exists in an external world independent of our beliefs, conceptual schemes, and linguistic practices. In this type of philosophy, two major questions are raised; what object exists, and how can an individual tell what exists. The answer to these issues is provided by information in philosophy which asserts that objects exist in the world of time and space. However, realism is contrasted with the idea that general terms, abstract concepts or universals do not exist independently.
Naturalism is a metaphysical approach that believes in the existence of nature. However, it asserts that all supernatural things are non-existent. It argues that any mental characters that exist depend on non-mental powers, things or properties, implying that all minds are entirely caused by natural phenomena (Williamson 30). On the other hand, pragmatism is a philosophical approach that entails the idea that proposition is true if it is satisfactory.


In my view, this school of thought makes more sense than the other philosophical doctrines. Philosophers claim that idealism is a philosophical belief that ideas are the only things worth knowing in life and that is the actual reality. It argues that real things are mainly mental entities and not physically perceived (Dunnington 20). An idealist is a person who believes in ideals and tries to make them real despite the fact that they may not be easily achievable. Idealism contrasts with realism and pragmatism whose goals are less ambitious.
According to The history of philosophy by Dunham et al. (2014), the fundamental unit of reality is conceptual and not material in philosophical idealism; that is why it is a very different approach from materialism, realism, pragmatism, and naturalism. For instance, idealists believe that you cannot step outside your mind to interact with the outside world. Therefore, one cannot be sure whether this "outside" exists.

Real life situation of idealism

A primary example of idealism is a computer program which is an idea developed from the arrangement of information. Although the program is contained in a physical circuit, they can be transferred to different hard drives but still retain the same program implying the significance of idealism. Also, when an individual sees someone receiving a ball which is arcing through the air, it follows the path of a parabola or a mathematical trajectory. Idealists argue that neither the air nor the ball is real but the ideas which they represent may be real.


In this regard, all reasoning depends on the awareness of the mind itself and that the external objects perceived are only actors that come on and off the stage. Therefore, idealism proves to be more sensible in looking at philosophy and is the best teaching style in education.

Works Cited

Dunham, Jeremy, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Sean Watson. Idealism: The history of philosophy. Routledge, 2014.
Dunnington, Renee M. "The nature of reality represented in high-fidelity human patient simulation: philosophical perspectives and implications for nursing education." Nursing Philosophy 15.1 (2014): 14-22.
Williamson, Timothy. "What is naturalism." Philosophical methodology: The armchair or the laboratory (2014): 29-31.

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