18 Dec 2005 apenwarr   » (Master)

Pragmatic Idealism

Yesterday one person accused me of being an idealist, and someone else overheard that and commented, "Someone says Avery's an idealist? I've got to hear this!"

I've spent a lot of time not being an idealist, because idealism, almost by definition, requires rejecting reality. I've done my best to be a good realist.

But I've really always wanted to be an idealist. It's just that if you understand realism, you can't just leave it out of your idealised world view; that wouldn't be very ideal at all. Most idealists are lucky, because they can't see the contradictions in their ideal world view. Since they can't, they can be successful idealists, although it won't do them all that much good in getting people to believe them. If you understand reality, it seems that accepting idealism is a compromise.

But what if you could come up with a system that was ideal (ie. solves its problem space without making compromises outside its problem space), but also implementable? I guess you might call that pragmatic idealism.

One good indicator that you finally understand something is that your invented name for it agrees with other people. For example, various modern philosophers discuss pragmatic idealism.

Obligatory Link to Open Source

Also, a google search for the term led me to Richard Stallman's Pragmatic Idealism essay, which I suppose takes us full circle. (rms's idealism is not really the same as mine. My idealism is based fundamentally on people being in agreement - since disagreement is a compromise - while his just politely excludes such people. But a situation that excludes such people is compatible with a system where such people don't need to exist.)

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