The Absolute

From Academic Kids

In some varieties of philosophy, The Absolute describes an ultimate being; the Absolute is the whole of things, all that is. It is usually conceived of as unitary, as spiritual, as conscious — at least insofar as it can be acknowledged by the human mind — and as intelligible. It contrasts with finite things, considered individually.

The concept of the Absolute was introduced into philosophy by Hegel, Schelling, and their followers; it is associated with various forms of philosophical idealism. The Absolute, either under that name, or as the "Ground of Being," the "Uncaused First Cause," or some similar concept, also figures in several of the attempted proofs of the existence of God, particularly the ontological argument and the cosmological argument.

The concept was adopted into neo-Hegelian British idealism (though without Hegel's complex logical and dialectical apparatus), where it received an almost mystical exposition at the hands of F.H. Bradley. Bradley (followed by others including Timothy L.S. Sprigge) conceived the Absolute as a single all-encompassing experience, rather along the lines of Shankara and advaita Vedanta. Likewise, Josiah Royce in the United States conceived the Absolute as a unitary Knower Whose experience constitutes what we know as the "external" world.

Recently, certain philosophers have attempted to reconnect Christianity to its primitive roots as a Gnostic religion (see Mary Magdalene). Here "The Absolute" is referred to as "The All." Evidence might support a thesis that early Christianity may have emerged from the Adwaita of Shankaracarya.

The concept need not be taken to imply a universal unitary consciousness, however. American philosopher Brand Blanshard, for example, conceived the Absolute as a single overarching intelligible system but declined to characterize it in terms of consciousness or experience.

See also

External links


The Absolute should not be confused with Absolut, a brand of vodka.

de:Absolutes (Philosophie) et:Absoluut pl:Absolut

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