Absolut idealisme – et glemt potentiale?

  • Nikolaj Pilgaard Petersen


Physicalism is the most widely accepted metaphysical view today. The thesis of physicalism, however, seems unable to adequately explain the existence and nature of consciousness. Moreover, the thesis is not itself a scientific finding but must be characterized as a metaphysical assumption. Hence, there are strong reasons to explore alternatives to the physicalist view. While metaphysical theses based on classic idealistic views like subjective or absolute idealism have been largely absent from the philosophical debate during most of the 20th century, in the last few decades theses of this kind have been advocated, most notably by John Foster and Timothy Sprigge. Russell’s and Moore’s influential refutations of idealism have been severely questioned by recent scholarship, which means that conventional arguments against absolute idealism appear to be significantly less well-founded than what is usually assumed.

With Sprigge’s panpsychistic absolute idealistic metaphysical system as the basis and by incorporating key elements in Foster’s thinking, the present paper outlines an idealistic thesis which, it is argued, first of all escapes the problem of consciousness inherent in physicalism and secondly counters important arguments raised against Sprigge’s views, including the question of personal identity and the problem of the one and the many. In addition, this thesis can be seen as naturalistic in a broad sense, thereby potentially being of existential relevance also within the framework of modernity.

Thus, it is the aim of the present paper to argue – although sketchily – that despite its controversial character in the light of contemporary mainstream views, panpsychistic absolute idealism demonstrates a significant explanatory power and is therefore of philosophical interest as a subject for further study.


Bradley, F. H. 1893. Appearance and Reality. London: Swan Sonnenschein.

Foster, J. 2008. A World For Us: The Case for Phenomenalistic Idealism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Foster, J. 1982. The Case for Idealism. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Henrich, D. 1999. Bewusstes Leben. Untersuchungen zum Verhältnis von Subjektivität und Metaphysik. Stuttgart: Reclam.

Hutto, D. D. 2000. Beyond Physicalism. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Klausen, S. H. 2004. Reality Lost and Found. An Essay on the Realism-Antirealism Controversy. Odense: Syddansk Universitetsforlag.

Klawonn, E. 1991. Jeg'ets ontologi – en afhandling om subjektivitet, bevidsthed og personlig identitet. Odense: Odense Universitetsforlag.

Klawonn, E. 2006. Sjælen og døden – en bevidsthedsfilosofisk undersøgelse. Odense: Syddansk Universitetsforlag.

MacBride, F. 2011. "Relations and Truth-Making". I Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. CXI, 1, 1: 159–76.

Mander, W. 2011. British Idealism. A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Martinus. 1932-1960. Livets Bog. Bind I-VII. København: Livets Bogs Bureau/Martinus Institut.

Martinus. 1986. To slags kærlighed. København: Martinus Institut.

Moore, G. E. 1939. "Proof of an External World". Gengivet i Moore. 1959. Philosophical Papers. New York: Collier Books.

Russell, B. 1938. The Principles of Mathematics. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Shani, I. 2015. "Cosmopsychism: A Holistic Approach to the Metaphysics of Experience". I Philosophical Papers. 44, 3: 389-437.

Sprigge, T. L. S. 2006. The God of Metaphysics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Sprigge, T. L. S. 1983. The Vindication of Absolute Idealism. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Sprigge, T. L. S. & A. Montefiore. 1971. "Final Causes". I Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society: Supplementary Volumes. 45: 149-170.

How to Cite
Petersen, N. (2018). Absolut idealisme – et glemt potentiale?. Res Cogitans, 13(2). Retrieved from https://tidsskrift.dk/res_cogitans/article/view/106199