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An Ideal World - Paola Di Maio

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This is an entry in The Future We Deserve - a collaborative book project about the future. See all the entries or talk about this entry.



In the future we deserve there must be an ideal world somewhere.

The expression ‘ideal world’ nowadays often points to ‘wishful thinking’. But it wasn't always so. In ancient times, the notion of ideal was widely upheld, and the philosopher Plato, and others, based a whole school of thought on it, broadly known as ‘idealism’. Idealists are notoriously hard to please. Plato, like other philosophers, probably never got married (but he may have had sex.[1]). We have become accustomed to hear ‘In an ideal world perhaps...but in reality...it’s not so...’, as if ideals weren’t within our reach. But it’s mostly a question of the way we look at things. There should be no true reason however to rule out the possibility of attaining some level of what’s ideal. Quite the contrary. Ideals, like values, can provide some sense of direction and lead toward what is ‘desirable’.

Humanity progresses through the pursuit of ‘ideals’. [2]

There are things in life that we cannot change: where and when we are born, our family, how we grow up, our early life experiences. Everything else is more or less determined by choices, conscious or not. The outcome of our personal decisions and efforts, the endpoint of where our individual energies are directed. Ideals can provide some gravity to pull these personal efforts, and be navigation aids to provide orientation in the many improbable webs of possibilities. So when trying to figure out how to get to our ideal world, we may have to take a good look at whether it's the ‘given’ portion that we are expecting to satisfy our every expectation, or the portion that we can make out for ourselves, our little personal contribution toward the ideal universe, that maybe is within our reach.

Even in discussing ideal terms, one has to be realistic.

  1. http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/athenians.html
  2. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=idea