I have been burned badly by consciousness books so I had to write myself an idiots guide to some of the terms. You won’t pass any philosophy exams with these but here they are anyway.
Realism – in realism the universe exists in its own right and is totally separate from our minds. Our consciousness is a just quirky by product of our brains, of matter. Without consciousness the universe still trundles along quite neutrally.
Materialism – in materialism the atom is king. First came matter then came thought. Spirit and thought play no part in the materialists world, hence its foot hold in main stream science. The universe is just an immense machine and everything can be calculated by scientific method. Quantum theory has made a significant dent in this philosophy but it still carries the greatest weight. Max Planck said “Mindis the matrix of all matter”. (Democritus, Epicurus, Einstein, Newton)
Idealism – In idealism thought is king. Our consciousness creates the material world around us and it merges with others to create our consensus reality, a shared universe in which we all contribute a small portion. (Plato, Kant, Berkley, Hegel, Schopenhauer)
Monistic Idealism – my personal favourite. Similar to Idealism but the next step. In MI our bodies are also a construct of thought. We are a dream inside a dream inside a dream. When we are in a dream everything seems so solid, so real. In fact real enough to frighten us at times. We awake from that dream and realise that it wasn’t real at all, that what we have woken into is in fact reality; but what if we were to awake from this dream as well, ad infinitum. (Huxley, Kastrup)
Solipsism – this is Monistic Idealism on steroids. In this philosophy I am the only mind that I can be sure exists and everything else, everyone I meet and love, is just a character I have created in my dream state. This way madness lies. (Gorgias)
Dualism – that we are body and mind. Male/Female. Good/Bad. Black/White. Ying/Yang. With dualism there is always the feeling of ‘separation from’ and the longing to ‘return to oneness’. Dualism is an essential force in the creation of suffering, which creates a hunger for improvement. It is evolution in practice (Plato, Christianity, Descartes)
The golden mean – Aristotle proposes that there is no good and bad, just bad and bad and an average in between them that we regard as good. Cowardice is lack of courage as too much courage is bravery. Balance is everything as depicted in the Ying Yang symbol where black and white merge and include each other.
Monism – the opposite of dualism in that there is only one and that we are all derived from the one. If you think of a hierarchical tree then God is at the top and we are the branches (or roots). Crush the hierarchy down and we become again what we always were – God. We are God expanded into his basic elements.
Skeptism – it is impossible to know anything for certain. Skeptism and materialism go hand in hand.