LIKE "Naturalism" or "Positivism," the term "Idealism" designates a fundamental attitude in philosophical thinking, rather than any single detailed system. During its two thousand years or more of development before the advent of philosophical thought in America, the idealistic attitude had received expression in numerous and varied systems, and to these American idealists have added further constructions to articulate a new world's temper and insights. The very extent and brilliance of its history, indeed, partly account for a tendency to think of Idealism simply in terms of particular systems formulated in times past. Immensely valuable as the contributions of some of these may be to our own thought, it unduly limits the usefulness of any fundamental attitude-be it Idealism, Naturalism, Functionalism or Scepticism-to treat it as possessing no possibilities which philosophy has not already recognized and perhaps exhausted. The circumstances and problems of each age are peculiarly its own-to the extent, at least, that each must attempt philosophical adventures of its own in pursuit of the meaning and worth of things. The task calls for a critical and comparative study of issues as they may be construed from the diverse points of view of the major attitudes-not alone as these attitudes have been expressed to meet needs of other generations, but as possible new interpretations in their terms may offer effective means of dealing with present problems. There is no real question as to whether American philosophers will or should return to acceptance of the systems of Royce or Hegel, Kant or Plato, in their specific details. Doubtless, were they living today, such idealistic thinkers would do something more inspired and constructive than merely repeat their earlier conclusions. The significant question is whether the attitude of Idealism can now provide an approach or manner of dealing with basic questions which would prove wise, effective and enriching to the thought and interests of individuals and societies.
In fact if not in name, the idealistic attitude is at present rather widely disseminated throughout other areas of our thinking than