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The Real Ideal

“The best world we can create in this way, the best world possible, is not the best world.”

—John Lachs, “Stoic Pragmatism” (2005)

Idealism is a heuristic—a mental shortcut that helps simplify the world.* It is favored by the young and naive, not as intellectual laziness, but as a sort of training wheels or stepping stone to the complexities of real life. Idealism is useful when learning, as medical students must learn physiology before studying pathophysiology or one must learn to walk before she runs. Some may never learn. And that’s okay, because idealism is also a great driver of improving the world, to strive toward a better society, an ideal one. Realists and idealists need one another.


* The use of “idealism” here is in the narrow sense of the word, referring to the social ideals found on all sides of our current political divide.

John Lachs. “Stoic Pragmatism.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 19, No. 2: 95-106 (2005). (Source)

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