Idealism In its philosophical use, the term 'idealism' is quite distinct from 'idealism' in the sense of high moral aims. While the term has sometimes been employed by philosophers to cover all views according to which the basis of the universe is ultimately spiritual, it has most commonly stood (in opposition to REALISM) for a theory according to which physical objects can have no existence apart from a mind which is conscious of them. (Thus it does not cover those who, while they believe in God, also ascribe a substantial existence to matter as quite conceivable independently of being experienced, although ultimately created by God.)