Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Idealism and Realism

idealism_bookIdealism vs. Realism

In order for us to be able to differentiate between idealism and realism, we must first have a thorough understanding of the two terms. Idealism is when you envision or see things in an ideal or perfect manner. Realism, on the other hand, tends toward a more pragmatic and actual view of a situation. The two concepts can, in layman’s terms, be deemed different in perspectives; with idealism focusing on ‘what could be’, and realism focusing on ‘what actually is.’

These commonly accepted definitions of the words are rooted in the philosophical uses of the terms. In philosophy, when discussing the issues of perception, idealism is a theory that states that our reality is shaped by our thoughts and ideas. Realism, on the other hand, deals with the fact that reality has an absolute existence independent from our thoughts, ideas and even consciousness.

Using the classic test of whether the glass is half empty or half full as an example, we see that idealists tend to be positive thinkers – i.e. those who see the glass as being half full. Realists many not hold the opposite or negative point of view, but they do view a situation through less hopeful eyes. Realists are stereotypically seen as people who are very rational, who think carefully, and weight their options before making a choice. In this sense, realists make safer and more practical choices when compared to idealists, who may be willing to make more risky decisions.

These perspectives also have an impact on how individuals deal with success or failure in their lives. An idealist who is always in search of the ‘good’, might be less affected by setbacks than a realist. However, being lost in a world of fantasy and unachievable goals may not always be a good thing, as an idealist may set goals that are impossible or grandiose. A realist, on the other hand, is more likely to set achievable goals, and follow their pursuit in a planned manner.

Overall, idealism and realism can be understood as two different perspectives. Some of the key differences between them include:

1. Idealism causes you to see things in a very hopeful manner, shaping situations with your own ideas. Realism, on the other hand, causes one to assess a situation as it is, without overt emotional involvement.

2. Idealists tend to be more positive when compared to realists, in how they perceive things and carry out tasks.

3. When making decisions, realists are more goal oriented and thorough than idealists, who may have lofty ambitions, but lack the clarity and focus to put them into action in an achievable way.

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  1. D article is a must read,don’t lag behind. 300 level philosophy-uniben,take note.

  2. This is a well written article. Thank you for it. I want to expand the discussion to include the role of experience in tempering the influences of both the idealist and the realist. After life experience doesn’t the idealist have cause to include a little realism into their goal setting? And might not the realist perhaps find a passionate interest that causes them to proceed a little idealistically?

    I welcome your thoughts on this!

    • The way i see it, is that the idealist think more heavily on the end result whereas the realist are thinking more on the present day. Think of it as a cone, the base is the end result of a concept or an idea (the bigger picture) but his starting point is the tip of the cone. i think its because of the small starting point that an idealist struggles to get his idea to be real and as for the realist its the other way round because they take things day by day, which might be why they find it hard to stick to a subject or found something that they like doing because they don’t think about where it will take them. It’s because of these reasons that i mention, which makes me think that we all have a bit of both in us all. Like the 2 sides of a coin.

  3. I feel as if the perspective on this artcicle had stated that idealist are more positive than some realists, I say that as something affensive

    • It is clearly description of difference between realism and idealism …thanks a lot

    • No need to take offense, the reality we perceive is a matter of perception. Like yours and mine wich will never fully line up due to our unique history that only you and i can make and emotional status while we experience life, causing us to feel one way or another about…. even this blog. If in a realist world they were afforded the opportunity to truly be hopeful i am sure the would choose to be. but “given circumstances I mentioned earlier and a few others i didn’t” to a realist thing’s just don’t look so bright.

  4. If not for Idealist how can realist be…inventions for for example come from thought and dreams. On due time they become our reality.. Great minds think about idealism while tje masses can only see realism….god bless us all

    • I think there is correlation between idealist and realist, idealist emphasis on positive thinking which i refer as spirit of i can do it. while realist talk about goal oriented,which also talk about planning a achievable goal.for any successful human must be passionate about the two theory.

      • Mentally, there’s no “correlation” cuz of personal opinionated judgement (-not excluding of self observation) are bias… due 2 individuals’ upbringing/ background experiences & then personal mind capacity. distinguishing effectiveness- beliefs & interests…which displays individual efficiency, inner ambitions & motivations (varies by manipulated scale of label of satisfactory levels of current contentment).
        Screw it. If lost any1 (by my constant proofreading & rephrasing particularly carefully choosing each vocab word) but the column itself explained issue better/best. I 4got who I was responding to. Crap/ordeal blew my buzz. But was interesting column anyhow. I was mms sme1 else b4 this. Talk about stuck. Now I got another new stumbling block…+= oh yeah 14 letter 1st name “owe-u-wat¿-mile-time-hens” O. Or Jonathan R.

  5. idealist can be very oppressive …if there is opposition…..

  6. so idealist talk about process and realist talk about goal? is that so?

  7. Thanks for educating us.

  8. Wow! It Is Really Amazing, Thats 4 Ur Perspectives.

  9. Helpful article.

  10. Realist (to see is to believe), idealist (believe and you will see). I think that’s it.

  11. This is a very good beginners guide to understanding both concepts of Idealism and Realism. Thanks for the effort.

  12. wow thanks this article really made things easy indeed…

  13. Thanks for the useful definitions. I am a bit of all actually. In all reality the glass is half empty & half full. But sometimes the glass has poison in it
    Therefore arealist can see this

  14. Before i came to this site i never understood what this was all about now i understand it better thanks

  15. Realism always believed in tangible and intangible force, deceit and use of violence to achieve their goal.

  16. Idealists are basically fantasists,happy to use up all the worlds resources in order to create a perpetual motion machine.realists are not the opposite side of idealists as idealists are just another group of insane people happy to deny the obvious in order to pursue what they declare as right in their own minds.

  17. Every successful human being must be an idealist with a realist mind

  18. M Steve
    Stumbled on this just now, Nice content you gat here

  19. Every successful human being must be an idealism in society

  20. Everything in this life is just a idealism and realism

  21. Thanks for your help and support

  22. Very useful article. It has very basic description about Idealism nad Realism, two philosophical terms attributed to Plato (platonism/Idealism) and Aristitle (Realism).

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