Idealism: I Think therefore I Am

Pillars of HerculesLast night I had a dream where I am visiting my nephew who is a student in college.  He has most of his days free able to enjoy the campus.  He shows me around campus.  The campus is on the edge of the sea.  The water is tropical, shallow and crystal clear such that I can clearly see the sand at my feet.  There are many boulders and rock formations in the shallow sea that protrude above the surface of the water. 
We are standing in the shallow waters where we have a clear line of sight down a water way that leads to where I come from; my point of origin 3000 miles away.  I know this to be the path I need to take in order to return home. As I stand there with him, we marvel at the majestic beauty that is this place.  As I am standing there I realize I am standing atop of an old ruin.  I am standing on a pillar; the leg of a man; a stone statue that once stood here.  All that remains is the stone from his ankle down to his shoe of both his right and left leg which now form two pillars. I stand upon the stone that is his left leg to admire his shoes.  In looking closely at his shoes I notice he wore tennis shoes.
In a moment of clarity, I become lucid.  I suddenly know where I stand.  With a new awareness, I realize they had idealized his tennis shoes.  Looking out upon the horizon, I realize the magnitude of where I stand. 
As I stand upon the pillar of his left leg, the ruin around me now begins to rematerialize as it once was before the day of its destruction.  From the sea arose an arch to my right that is covered in seaweed.  I know that by standing on the ruin of his leg I bring the life force back to this man because these were my tennis shoes.  Now awestruck with this revelation, I know I must return home with the news.  In the strait, a staircase appears.  I run up the stairs to the top but when I reach the top there is no place else to go.  I turn back, knowing I will have to return home the hard way and travel through the campus to the other side.  Running back toward the campus of the university, I arrive at a wooden gate that is secured with a pad lock.  The moment I stand in front of the gate the pad lock releases and the gate swings open. 
I pass though the gate and enter the campus courtyard.  Standing in the center of the courtyard I look back and see a demon standing on the inside of the now open gate.  This demon had allowed me in.  The demon then run toward me.  My initial reaction is to flee but a part of me knows I must confront this demon head on once and for all.  I circle the courtyard and turn myself around to take up my stand.  Like a bull in a ring, I lower my eyebrows in a determined frown.  I charge the demon head on.  Surprised by my action the demon turns to retreat to a corner.   
Head to head I corner him and open my eyes to awake from the dream. 

At the foot of my bed was standing a sea faring man who wore a sailor’s hat.  In his left hand he held a shoe; heel facing me.  He was shaking like a wet dog.  He was offering me the shoe as he repeatedly ran his index finger along the ankle of the shoe. 
I immediately grabbed my voice recorder to record the details of the dream.  I knew the dream had great importance to me.  When I got to the part about the tennis shoes I became stuck unable to place a word to the feeling I had felt surrounding the shoes.  As if to help me, the sailor placed the words so clearly in my mind.  They came like a refreshing sea breeze that I could literally feel.  “They idealized his shoes.”
I thought that’s an odd way to describe it.  It wouldn’t have been my choice of words but I knew those words were true to the dream.  He then held out the shoe.  I reached over to receive the shoe and held it in my hand.  Sitting in my bed, my alarm clock sounded as the sailor disappeared leaving behind the etheric blue shoe in my hand.   I reached over to snooze the alarm.  I put the shoe under my covers and laid there in amazement. 
On the way to work someone traveling on the Metro with a suitcase bumped my ankle removing my shoe.  I stopped to fix my shoe thinking, “that’s a strange coincidence.”  At work I searched Wikipedia for a suitable image to convey the imagery of the dream.  The water way reminded me of the Straits of Gibraltar.  I knew nothing of Gibraltar other than the fact that there was a water way so I looked it up.  This led me to the Rock of Gibralter.  Come to find out the Rock of Gibraltar is also known as the Pillars of Hercules.  I was beside myself.  Here this dream turned out to be a continuation of yesterdays dream. .
I knew there was definitely something very profound here.  The synchronicity gave me the assurance that what I experienced is in fact real.  I then decided to look up the meaning of idealize which was an oddly placed word conveyed by the dream.  I felt it had some significance that I need to investigate.  As I followed this clue, I was lead to the term idealism.  I was surprised to find the word has a lot to do with metaphysics and God.

Idealism is the doctrine that ideas, or thought, make up either the whole or an indispensable aspect of any full reality, so that a world of material objects containing no thought either could not exist as it is experienced, or would not be fully “real.” Idealism is often contrasted with materialism, both belonging to the class of monist as opposed to dualist or pluralist ontologies.

In Eastern thought, as reflected in Hindu idealism, the concept of idealism takes on the meaning of higher consciousness, essentially the living consciousness of an all-pervading God, as the basis of all phenomena. A type of Asian idealism is Buddhist idealism.

Main article: Platonic idealism
In common discussion, Plato is often referred to as an “idealist”, because of his doctrine of the “Forms,” which are certainly “ideals,” in a broad sense. But Plato doesn’t describe the Forms as being in any mind. Instead, he regularly describes them as having their own, independent existence.[1] So it seems clear that Plato is not, at any rate, a “subjective” idealist, like Berkeley.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is sometimes interpreted as drawing attention to the problem of knowing “external objects”–the problem that concerned Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, and other modern philosophers. But the Forms that the Cave-dwellers are ignorant of aren’t “external” to them in the way that material objects are for these modern thinkers. The Forms are the true realities, but they aren’t spatially outside us, as material objects are. So the issue that Plato’s allegory addresses–which is, roughly, how can we know what is truly real (and truly good)?–is quite different from the modern issue of our knowledge of the “external world.”

However, even if Plato doesn’t share the specific concerns of modern philosophy, and of George Berkeley, in particular, Plato could still be a non-subjective idealist. He could believe that matter has no independent existence, or that full “reality” (as distinct from mere existence) is achieved only through thought. Bernard Williams and Myles Burnyeat have maintained that Greek philosophers never conceived of idealism as an option, because they lacked Descartes’s conception of an independently existing mind.[2] But Williams and Burnyeat didn’t consider the possibility that Plato could have held an idealism like Kant’s, which argues from the nature of knowledge to the nature of the objects of knowledge, or like Hegel’s, which denies that matter is fully “real”–without (in either case) reducing material objects to ideas in a mind or minds. Moreover, Plato’s theory of the separation of soul and body could be seen as an earlier, rougher form of Cartesian dualism.

The German Neo-Kantian scholar, Paul Natorp, argued in his Plato’s Theory of Ideas. An Introduction to Idealism (first published in 1903)[3] that Plato was a non-subjective, “transcendental” idealist, somewhat like Kant, and Natorp’s thesis has received support from some recent scholars.[4]

Writing about Descartes, Schopenhauer claimed, “… he was the first to bring to our consciousness the problem whereon all philosophy has since mainly turned, namely that of the ideal and the real. This is the question concerning what in our knowledge is objective and what subjective, and hence what eventually is to be ascribed by us to things different from us and what is to be attributed to ourselves.” (Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. I, “Sketch of a History of the Doctrine of the Ideal and the Real”) According to Descartes, we really know only what is in our own consciousnesses. We are immediately and directly aware of only our own states of mind. The whole external world is merely an idea or picture in our minds. Therefore, it is possible to doubt the reality of the external world as consisting of real objects. “I think, therefore I am” is the only assertion that can’t be doubted. This is because self-consciousness and thinking are the only things that are unconditionally experienced for certain as being real. In this way, Descartes posed the issue of epistemological idealism, which is awareness of the difference between the world as an ideational mental picture and the world as a system of external objects.

Does this mean I’m Hercules…or possibly a divine hero?  I think…therefore I Am.  In keeping humble, I interpret it as my potential is herculean and if I exercize it, I can be a hero in my own right.  There is something so compelling in all this that makes me feel I’m onto something.  I get the feeling that if I stay on course I will do or discover something in the course of my life that can have the potential to change human history. 

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