In philosophy , ideas are usually construed as mental representational images of some object . Ideas can also be abstract concepts that do not present as mental images. [1] Many philosophers have considered ideas to be a fundamental ontological category of being . The capacity to create and Understand the meaning of ideas is regarded to be an essential and defining feature of Human Beings . In a popular sense, an idea arises in a reflexive, spontaneous manner, even without thinking or serious reflection, for example, when we talk about the idea of a person or place. A new or original idea can often lead to innovation . [2]


The word idea comes from Greek ἰδέα idea “pattern, pattern,” from the root of ἰδεῖν idein , “to see.” [3]

Innate and adventitious ideas

Main article: Innate idea

One view on the kind of ideas Is That there exist some ideas (called Expired innate ideas ) qui are so general and abstract That They couldn’t-have Arisen as a representation of Any object of our perception , purpose Rather Were In Some Sense always present. These are distinguished from which ideas or images are used, which are accompanied by the judgment that they are caused by an external object. [1]

Another view holds that we only discover ideas in the same way that we discover the real world, from personal experiences. The view That all humans ACQUIRE Almost all gold Their behavioral traits from nurture (life experiences) is Known As tabula rasa ( “blank slate”). Most of the confusions in the way ideas are at least in part due to the term “idea” to cover both the perceptive representation and the object of conceptual thought. This article is about the scientific doctrines of innate ideas , ” concrete ideas versus abstract ideas “, and “simple ideas versus complex ideas”. [4]



Main article: Theory of Forms

Plato in Ancient Greece is one of the earliest philosophers to provide a detailed discussion of ideas and of the thinking process (it must be noted that in Plato’s Greek the word idea carries a rather different sense of our modern English term). Plato argued in dialogues such as the Fadeo , Symposium , Republic , and Timaeus that there is a realm of ideas or forms ( eidei), which exist independently of any one of these ideas, and they are of the opinion that they are of the opinion that they are unchanging and nothing but just what they are . Consequently, Plato seems to assert forcefully that material things can only be the objects of opinion; real knowledge can only be had of unchanging ideas. Furthermore, ideas for Plato appear to serve as universals; consider the following passage from the Republic :

“We both assert that there are,” I said, “and distinguished in speech, many fair things, many good things, and so on for each kind of thing.”

“Yes, so we do.”

“And we aussi assert That There is a fair Itself, a good Itself, and so on for all Things That we set down as Many Now, again, we Refer to Them as One. Idea of Each as though the idea Were one; and we address it as that which really is . ”

“That’s so.”

“And, moreover, we say that the trainer is seen, but not intellected, while the ideas are intellected but not seen.”

-  Plato, Bk. VI 507b-c

René Descartes

Descartes often wrote about the idea of an image or representation, often but not necessarily “in the mind”, which was well known in the vernacular . Despite that, Descartes is usually credited with the invention of the non-platonic use of the term. b In His Meditations on First Philosophy he says, “Some of my thoughts are like pictures of things, and it is to thesis alone que la name ‘idea’ Properly belongs.” He sometimes maintained that ideas were innate [5] and uses of the term ideadiverge from the original primary scholastic use. It provides multiple non-equivalent definitions of the term, uses it to refer to a number of different types of entities, and divides ideas inconsistently into various genetic categories. [6] For him knowledge took the form of ideas and philosophical investigation is the deep consideration of these entities.

John Locke

In striking contrast to Plato’s use of idea [7] is that of John Locke . In his Introduction to An Essay Concerning Human Understanding , Locke defines idea as “that term which, I think, is best to stand for whatsoever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks, I have used it to express whatever is meant by phantasm , notion, species, or whatever it is that the mind may be employed in thinking and I could not avoid it frequently using it. ” He said that it was necessary to examine the situation and to understand it. In his philosophy other outstanding figures followed in his footsteps-Hume and Kant in the 18th century,Arthur Schopenhauer in the 19th century, and Bertrand Russell , Ludwig Wittgenstein , and Karl Popper in the 20th century. Locke always believed in good sense -not pushing things to extremes and taking the facts into account. He considered his common-sense ideas “good-tempered, moderate, and down-to-earth.”

As John Locke is studying humans in his work “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” he continues to refer to this issue. We are here to help you. ” [8] A simpler way of putting people in the world of ideas, and what are the different types of ideas. An idea to Locke “can simply mean Some sort of raw experience.” [9] He That There are shows “no innate principles in the mind.” [10] THUS, he Concludes That “our ideas are all experiential in kind.” [11]An experience may be a sensation or a reflection: “… [12] Therefore, an idea was any experience in which the human mind apprehended something.

In a Lockean view, there are two types of ideas: complex and simple. Simple ideas are the building blocks for much more complex ideas, and “While the mind is passive Wholly in the reception of single ideas, it is very active in the building of complex ideas …” [13] Complex ideas, therefore, can Either be modes, substances, gold relations. Modes are when they are combined in order to convey new information. For instance, David Banach [14] gives the example of beauty as a fashion. He says that it is the combination of color and form. Substances, however, is different. Substances are certain objects, that can be dogs, cats, or tables. And relations represent the relationship between two or more ideas. In this way, Locke did not answer his own questions about ideas and humans.

David Hume

Hume differs from Locke by limiting the idea of the mental wave of reconstructions of perceptions, the perceptual process being described as an “impression.” [15] Hume shared with Locke the basic empiricist premise that it is only from life experiences that humans’ knowledge of the existence of anything outside of themselves can be derived They are prompted to do so by their emotional drives of varying kinds. In choosing the means to those ends, they will follow their accustomed associations of ideas. of Hume and Defended HAS contended the notion That “reason alone is Merely the ‘slave of the passions.” [16] [17]

Immanuel Kant

“Modern Book Printing” from the Walk of Ideas

Immanuel Kant defines an idea as opposed to a concept . “Regulative ideas” are ideal that one must tend towards, but by definition may not be completely realized. Liberty , according to Kant, is an idea. The autonomy of the rational and the universal subject is opposed to the determinism of the empirical subject. [18] Kant felt that it is precisely in knowing its limits that philosophy exists. The business of philosophy, but to analyze the private judgments of good common sense. e

Rudolf Steiner

Kant declares limits to knowledge (“we can never know the thing in itself”), in his epistemological work, Rudolf Steiner sees ideas as “objects of experience” which the mind apprehends, much as the eye apprehends light. In Goethean Science (1883), he states, “Thinking … is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear, just as the eye perceives colors and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas.” He holds this to be the first time Goethe made his natural-scientific observations.

Wilhelm Wundt

Wundt WIDENS the term from Kant’s use to include conscious representation of Some object or process of the external world . In so doing, it includes not only ideas of memory and imagination , but also perceptual processes, as well as other psychologists in the first two groups. One of Wundt’s main concerns in the context of self- evaluation and introspection . It is considered both methods and interrelated in this experimentation created optimal conditions for introspection. Where the experimental method failed, he turned to otherobjectively valuable aids , specifically to those products of cultural communal life which leads to one particular mental motives. Outstanding among these are speech, myth, and social custom. Wundt designed the basic mental activity apperception -a unifying function which should be understood as an activity of the will. Many aspects of his empirical physiological psychology are used today. One is His principles of Mutually enhanced contrasts and of assimilation and dissimilation (ie in color and form perception and his advocacy of objectivemethods of expression and of recording results, especially in language. Another is the principle of heterogony of ends-which multiply motivated acts lead to unintended side effects which in turn become motives for new actions. [19]

Charles Sanders Peirce

CS Peirce published the first full statement of pragmatism in his important works ” How to Make Our Ideas Clear ” (1878) and ” The Fixation of Belief ” (1877). [20] In “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” He Proposed That a clear idea (In His study he uses concept and idea as synonymy) is defined as one, When It is apprehended Such As it will be reconnu Wherever it is put, and no other will be mistaken for it. If it fails of this clearness, it is said to be obscure. He argued that we would like to understand an idea of ​​what we should ask.Pragmatism , he defended, was a method for ascertaining the meaning of terms (as a theory of meaning). The originality of his ideas is that of a knowledge and understanding of knowledge by some 250 years, ie, he pointed out, knowledge was an impersonal fact. Peirce contended that we acquire knowledge as participants , not as spectators . He felt “the real” is what, sooner or later, information gained through ideas and knowledge of the application of logical reasoning would finally result in. He also published many papers on logic in relation to ideas .

GF Stout and JM Baldwin

GF Stout and JM Baldwin , in the Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology , define idea as, “the reproduction with a more or less adequate image , of an object not actually present to the senses.” [21] [ not in citation given ] They do not know what they are and they are different in different ways. “Difference in degree of intensity”, “Comparative absence of bodily movement on the part of the subject”, “comparative dependence on mental activity”, are suggested by psychologists as characteristic of an idea as compared with a perception .

It should be observed that an idea, in the narrower and generally accepted sense of mental reproduction, is frequently composite. That is, as in the example of above, of the idea of ​​the flesh, a great many objects, differing materially in detail, When a man, for example, has got an idea of ​​chairs in which he can say “This is a chair, that is a stool”, it has been known as “abstract idea” distinct from the reproduction his mind of any particular flesh (see abstraction ). In addition, a complex idea may not have any corresponding physical object, but its particular features may be reproduced from actual perceptions. Thus the idea of ​​a centauris a complex mental picture composed of the ideas of manand horse , that of a mermaid of a woman and a fish .

In anthropology and the social sciences

Diffusion studies explores the spread of ideas from culture to culture. Some anthropological theories hold that all cultures have some original cultures, the Adam of the Bible, or several cultural circles that overlap. Evolutionary diffusion theory holds that cultures are influenced by one another but that similar ideas can be developed in isolation.

In the mid-20th century, social scientists began to study how and why ideas spread from one person to another. Everett Rogers pioneered diffusion of innovations studies, using research to prove factors in adoption and profiles of adopters of ideas. In 1976, in his book The Selfish Gene , Richard Dawkins suggests applying biological evolutionary theories to the spread of ideas. He coined the term meme to describe an abstract unit of selection , equivalent to the gene in evolutionary biology .


Samuel Johnson

James Boswell recorded Samuel Johnson’s opinion about ideas. Johnson claimed that they are mental pictures or internal visual pictures. As such, they have no relation to words or words which are designated by verbal names.

He Was Against The PARTICULARLY indignant Almost universal use of the word idea in the sense of concept or opinion , When It is clear That idea can only signify something of an image qui peut être FORMED in the mind. We have an idea or image of a mountain, a tree, a building; but we can not surely have an idea or image of an argument or proposition . Yet we hear the sages of the law ‘delivering their ideas upon the question under consideration;’ and the first speaker in parliament ‘entirely coinciding in the ideawhich has been ably stated by an honourable member; – or ‘reprobating an idea unconstitutional, and fraught with the most dangerous consequences to a great and free country.’ Johnson called this ‘modern cant.’

-  Boswell’s Life of Johnson , Tuesday, 23 September 1777

Relationship of ideas to modern legal time- and scope-limited monopolies

Main articles: Intellectual property and Idea-expression divide

Relationship between ideas and patents

On susceptibility to exclusive property

It has been claimed that, in particular, they have invented a proprietary and proprietary right to their invention, and inherited it. But while it is a matter of nature, it would be singular to admit a natural and even a hereditary right to inventors. It is agreed that the subject has a particular right to have an individual property, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance.

By a universal law, indeed, whatever, whether fixed or movable, it is the property for the time of it who occupies it, but when it relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property.

If nature is anything more than one of the other things, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual has a long way to go; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver can not dispose himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without mine; as he who lights his head at mine, receives light without darkening me.

That ideas should be open to others, and for the sake of the world, and the improvement of their condition, they are likely to be peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when they are made, like fire, expansible over all space, with lessening of their density in any point, and having the ability to breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of containment or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then can not, in nature, be a subject of property.

Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, but it can not be done, anybody. Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we have copied, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, has given legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices. [22]

-  Thomas Jefferson , letter to Isaac McPherson , August 13, 1813

To protect the cause of invention and innovation, the legal constructions of Copyrights and Patents was established. Patent law regulates various aspects related to the functional manifestation of inventions based on new ideas or incremental improvements to existing ones. Thus, patents have a direct relationship to ideas.

Relationship between ideas and copyrights

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A picture of a lightbulbis often used to represent a person having a bright idea .

In some cases, the authors may be granted limited legal monopolies on the manner in which certain works are expressed. This is a colloquially as copyrighted property , the term intellectual property is used mistakenly in place of copyright . Copyright law regulating the prevailing monopolies does not cover the actual ideas. The law does not bestow the legal status of property upon ideas per se. Instead, laws, copying, production, sale and other forms of exploitation of the fundamental expression of a work, that may or may not carry ideas. Copyright is fundamentally different from patent law in this respect: patents do grant monopolies on ideas (more on this below).

A copyright is meant to regulate some aspects of the use of expressions of a work, not an idea. Thus, copyrights have a negative relationship to ideas.

Work means a tangible medium of expression. It may be an original or derivative work of art, be it literary, dramatic, musical recitation, artistic, related to sound recording, etc. In (at least) countries adhering to the Berne Convention, copyright automatically starts covering the work on the original creation and fixation thereof, without any extra steps. Whereas the idea is in the nature of the invention, the idea is not sufficient for the purposes of claiming copyright.

Relationship of ideas to confidentiality agreements

Confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements are legal instruments that assist the general public. Generally, these instruments are covered by contract law.

See also

  • Thinking portal
  • Philosophy portal
  • Religion portal
Look up idea in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: ideas
  • Idealism
  • Brainstorming
  • Creativity techniques
  • Diffusion of innovations
  • Form
  • Ideology
  • List of perception-related topics
  • Notion (philosophy)
  • Object of the mind
  • Think tank
  • Thought experiment
  • History of ideas
  • Intellectual history
  • Concept
  • Philosophical analysis


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Audi, Robert, ed. (1995). Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy . Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 355. ISBN  0-521-40224-7 .
  2. Jump up^ “What is an Idea?” . AeyTimes Idea Journal . 2011.
  3. Jump up^ “Definition of idea in English” . Oxford English Dictionary . Oxford University Press . 2014.
  4. Jump up^ The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1973ISBN 0-02-894950-1 ISBN 978-0-02-894950-5Vol 4: 120-121
  5. Jump up^ Vol 4: 196-198
  6. Jump up^
  7. Jump up^ Vol 4: 487-503
  8. Jump up^ Locke, John. “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” (Nd): An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Book, I: Innate Notions.
  9. Jump up^ Fitzpatrick, John R. Starting with Mill. Continuum, 2010. Starting With. EBSCOhost, AN = 344063 & site = ehost-live.
  10. Jump up^ Locke, John. “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” (Nd): An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Book, I: Innate Notions.
  11. Jump up^ Sheridan, Patricia. Locke: A Guide for the Perplexed. Continuum, 2010. Continuum Guides for the Perplexed. EBSCOhost,
  12. Jump up^ Locke, John. “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” (Nd): An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Book, I: Innate Notions.
  13. Jump up^ Sheridan, Patricia. Locke: A Guide for the Perplexed. Continuum, 2010. Continuum Guides for the Perplexed. EBSCOhost, AN = 344177 & site = ehost-live.
  14. Jump up^ Banach, David. “Locke on Ideas.” Locke on Ideas. St. Anselm College, 2006.
  15. Jump up^ Vol 4: 74-90
  16. Jump up^ “Hume’s Moral Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)” . . Retrieved 2013-06-15 .
  17. Jump up^ Hume, David: A Treatise on Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects. (1739-1740)
  18. Jump up^ Vol 4: 305-324
  19. Jump up^ Vol 8: 349-351
  20. Jump up^ Peirce’s pragmatism
  21. Jump up^
  22. Jump up^


  • The Encyclopedia of Philosophy , Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1973 ISBN  0-02-894950-1 ISBN  978-0-02-894950-5
  • Dictionary of the History of Ideas Charles Scribner’s Sounds, New York 1973-74, LCCN  72-7943 ISBN  0-684-16425-6
– We
Volume IV 1a, 3a
² Volume IV 4a, 5a
Volume IV 32 – 37
Idea of ​​God
Chain of Being
  • The Story of Thought , DK Publishing, Bryan Magee , London, 1998, ISBN  0-7894-4455-0
aka The Story of Philosophy , Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2001, ISBN 0-7894-7994-X

(subtitled on cover: The Essential Guide to the History of Western Philosophy)
a Plato, pages 11 – 17, 24 – 31, 42, 50, 59, 77, 142, 144, 150
b Descartes, pages 78, 84 – 89, 91, 95, 102, 136 – 137, 190, 191
c Locke, pages 59-61, 102-109, 122-124, 142, 185
d Hume, pages 61, 103, 112 – 117, 142 – 143, 155, 185
e Kant, pages 9, 38, 57, 87, 103, 119, 131 – 137, 149, 182
f Peirce, 61, How to Make Our Ideas Clear 186 – 187 and 189
g Saint Augustine, pages 30, 144; City of God 51, 52, 53 and The Confessions 50, 51, 52
– additional in the Dictionary of the History of Ideas for St. Augustine and Neo-Platonism
h Stoics, pages 22, 40, 44; The governing philosophy of the Roman Empire on pages 46 – 47.
– additional in Dictionary of the History of Ideas for Stoics , also here [1] , and here [2] , and here [3] .
  • The Reader’s Encyclopedia , 2nd Edition 1965, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, LCCN  65-12510
An Encyclopedia of World Literature
¹a page 774 Plato (c.427-348 BC)
²a page 779 Francesco Petrarca
³Â page 770 Charles Sanders Peirce
¹b page 849 the Renaissance
  • This article incorporates text from the old Catholic Encyclopedia of 1914, published in the public domain.
  • This article incorporates text from the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge , published in the public domain.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). ” article name needed “. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.