Idealism vs Realism: Difference and Comparison

Idealism and Realism are two diverse concepts commonly used in various areas of life, like philosophy, politics or epistemology. Both these concepts are used on the opposite end.

In short, these two concepts are two fundamental approaches to any political theory. Though they are seen as concepts interrelated to each other, they are, in reality, very different from each other.

Key Takeaways

  1. Idealism asserts that reality is fundamentally mental or spiritual, and external objects exist only as ideas or perceptions.
  2. Realism posits that an objective reality exists independently of human thought or perception.
  3. Philosophical debates between idealism and realism explore the nature of existence, knowledge, and the relationship between mind and matter.

Idealism vs Realism

Idealism refers to the consideration of a situation in the way ones want to assume it. People who believe in idealism are optimistic and motivated. Realism focuses on a situation in its real state without assuming anything. Realistic people have a practical approach and are less goal-oriented.

Idealism vs Realism

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonIdealismRealism
MeaningIdealism means seeing things in a manner that one wants to.Realism means seeing things and how they happen in a current situation.
OriginThe term ‘Ideal’ comes from a Greek idea and implies a new thought flashed across the mind.‘Real’ comes from the medieval period and means ‘something different’.
BelieversPeople who believe in the concept are called Idealists.People who believe in the concept are called Realists.
Established byPlato established idealism.Aristotle established realism.
Also calledPeople who believe in Idealism are also known as Platonists.People who believe in Realism are also known as Aristotelian.


What is Idealism?

The term Idealism has been derived from the word ‘ideal’. It comes from a Greek idea and means a new thought that comes to the mind.  It means images, forms or figures.

Idealism means looking at things in a way that one wants to look at. It looks at things as they can be. In idealism, it is said that reality is just a mental construct.

Plato originated it. He believed the world was nothing but a copy of many supersensible and intelligent worlds.

Ever since its origin, the concept of Idealism has had a significant influence on a lot of people. People who believe in the romantic approach are more positive and ambitious.


What is Realism?

The term Realism is a philosophy which has its practices and beliefs. It originated from the word ‘Real’.

Realism looks at things as and how they are. It sees the world as it is.  It looks into the actuality of the situation.

It is perception, and human perception exists regardless of the items.

The people who believe in the approach of realism and called Realists.

Believers of Realism are less positive in life and have fewer ambitions and goals than idealists.

Aristotle established it.  He believed that the objects outside the mind have existence and are independent.


Main Differences Between Idealism and Realism

  1. The concept of Idealism means to look at a situation as it can be or as and how one wants to see it. On the other hand, Realism means to see things as and how they happen and as they are.
  2. The word ‘Ideal’ comes from a Greek idea, and it means a new thought flashed across the mind’ whereas on the other hand, the word ‘Real’ comes from the medieval period and means ‘something different’.

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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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