The Idealist

Idealism is mocked for its impracticality, ridiculed for its ambition and attacked for its impossibility – and yet – to concede to the Pragmatist is to surrender ground to Necessity, to admit not the defeat of the Idea, but the defeat of your will to live by it.

The Pragmatist is not the master of Reality, merely the shadow of Necessity, willing to follow it every which way it turns. The Idealist is not a blind idiot trying to walk on water but rather a builder constructing a boat to sail across. Their shoddy raft that falls apart the moment it meets water is not a reflection of the impossibility of the Idea, but a reflection of their own weakness, a failure to realize it in their early attempt, a sign of a weak grasp of Reality.

Man’s mind has captured fire, tamed nature and reshaped the Earth, and yet the Idealist is still a creature of ridicule, the fool trying to swim against the waves. If only they would let go and drift with the flow, the Pragmatist tells them, if only they obeyed Necessity their lives would be so much easier, more happier, more “practical”, more “real”.

The strength of the Idea does not lie in the Idea itself but in those who rise up to realize it, those who do the work to make it come true. The impossibility or impracticality of a goal is not the measure of that goal but the measure of the intelligence, skill and resolve of those who take up the challenge. Pragmatism is not a victory of Realism but a defeat of one’s will. The task of the Idealist is to at once embrace Realism and defy Necessity. To see the possibility of this all you have to do is open a history book.

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Further Reading

Proust wrote that the true voyage of discovery is not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes, to behold a hundred universes that each of them beholds. Thus, in the words of Ruskin, what good books give us is not mere knowledge, but sight.

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