Materialism vs. Idealism

Note that the idealist model does not deny the importance of material reality. Rather, it proposes that the observable world is organized according to a hidden order at a higher, subtler level of existence. It thus rejects the notion that the material components of life and mind are their ultimate cause. A higher power is in action.

The idealist and materialist models offer different explanations of the human condition. For example, the materialist biologist/geneticist might state "sexual jealousy is the result of selection in favor of genes for controlling one's mate." The idealist priest/mystic would say "sexual jealousy is the result of the ego's identification with the object of its desire." To the idealist, the genes are not the ultimate cause of the complete organism; what they provide is the potential for the emergence of the highly organized living being, the ultimate cause of which is at a higher level.

This table summarizes differences between the materialist and idealist models of life and consciousness.
  Materialism Idealism
How Order Emerges Natural selection blindly discovers efficient organized states. Awareness fosters order by creatively seeking higher levels of organization.
Nature of Life Essentially chemical, with complex forms developing through natural selection. Emotions exist because they have adaptive value. Vitality depends upon a subtle body which maps the functions and structures of living to the molecular components of the physical body. Emotions are experiences of the vital body.
Nature of Mind and Consciousness Epiphenomenal properties of advanced biological nervous systems. Consciousness is fundamental and mental reality is its most subtle aspect.

 



A Similar Table
Quantum Physics and Mystical Science

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