Difference Between Idealism and Realism

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


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

Idealism vs Realism

The difference between Idealism and Realism is that Idealism looks at what a situation can be and what it looks like. It believes that reality is a mental construct. On the other hand, realism looks into what a situation is in reality.  It looks into the actual view of a situation.

Idealism vs Realism


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonIdealismRealism
MeaningIdealism means to see things in a manner that one wants to.Realism means to see things as 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.The term ‘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 byIdealism was established by Plato.Realism was established by Aristotle
Also calledPeople who believe in Idealism are also known as Platonist.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 basically means, images, forms or figures.

Idealism means to look 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.

It was originated by Plato. He believed that the world was nothing but a copy of a lot of 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 approach of Idealism are more positive and are ambitious in their lives.


What is Realism?

The term Realism is a philosophy, which has its own 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 perception and also that 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 they have fewer ambitions and goals as compared to the idealists.

was established by Aristotle.  He believed that the objects outside of the mind have existence and are independent in existence.


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. 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’.


  1. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/2/e000504.short
  2. https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/26951/IdealismandRealism.pdf
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