An idea is a certain way of organizing thoughts that makes the brain happy* for whatever reason.

People are very good at coming up with ideas - given any observation, people can make up any number of ways to explain it. This helps people to figure out small problems, but it unfortunately also creates a huge amount of totally wrong beliefs - myth, superstition, etc.

Many mental disorders seem connected to ideas - schizophrenic people have too many ideas, depressed people have only bad ideas.

* by "happy" I mean a brain state that people will attempt to maintain.
International Data Encryption Algorithm

A block-cypher 128-bit cryptographic scheme that is the European equivalent to the American DES (or Data Encryption Standard).

Faster and better than DES, but not as speedy as Blowfish.

According to Plato, an ‘idea’ is the general start of something that doesn’t take place in this world, but in the ‘world of ideas’, the highest of all worlds. All visual things on earth, like people, animals, plants, but also for example ethic standards, are reflections of the world of ideas hence mortal and of temporary nature.

The idea ‘mankind’ only exists in the world of ideas; the people that live on earth are reflections of it. All good deeds on earth are reflections of ‘the goodness’ or ‘the idea goodness’. The idea itself isn’t visual, but can only be seen through survey by the intellect, the spirit. Also, according to Plato there is a hierarchy of ideas, in which the idea of goodness comes highest.

Unlike Plato, his pupil Aristotle declared that not the idea was real, but the separate things. An idea is not a thing, it doesn’t even exist; it’s a name. According to Aristotle ‘mankind’ does not exist, it’s an abstraction that only exists in our thoughts, yet doesn’t appear in reality. What does exist is every concrete human being.

Descartes introduced a new problem in the doctrine of ideas. He talked of innate ideas. ‘I know what goodness, truth etc. are, because they were in my nature from the very beginning. The fact I have the idea ‘God’ doesn’t mean I have taught myself this, but that I was born with it.’

Locke completely disagreed with Descartes’ point of view. According to him all thoughts and visions originated in man’s perception. He explained more about this theory in ‘Essay concerning human understanding’, with which he became the founder of empiricism.

Platos visions are still being defended, mostly by American philosophers who rely on the status of mathematical notions. R. Rucker, for example, wrote ‘Infinity and the Mind’ in 1982.

I*de"a (?), n.; pl. Ideas (#). [L. idea, Gr. , fr. to see; akin to E. wit: cf. F. id'ee. See Wit.]


The transcript, image, or picture of a visible object, that is formed by the mind; also, a similar image of any object whatever, whether sensible or spiritual.

Her sweet idea wandered through his thoughts. Fairfax.

Being the right idea of your father Both in your form and nobleness of mind. Shak.

This representation or likeness of the object being transmitted from thence [the senses] to the imagination, and lodged there for the view and observation of the pure intellect, is aptly and properly called its idea. P. Browne.


A general notion, or a conception formed by generalization.

Alice had not the slightest idea what latitude was. L. Caroll.


Hence: Any object apprehended, conceived, or thought of, by the mind; a notion, conception, or thought; the real object that is conceived or thought of.

Whatsoever the mind perceives in itself, or as the immediate object of perception, thought, or undersanding, that I call idea. Locke.


A belief, option, or doctrine; a characteristic or controlling principle; as, an essential idea; the idea of development.

That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one. Johnson.

What is now "idea" for us? How infinite the fall of this word, since the time where Milton sang of the Creator contemplating his newly-created world, - "how it showed . . . Answering his great idea," - to its present use, when this person "has an idea that the train has started," and the other "had no idea that the dinner would be so bad!" Trench.


A plan or purpose of action; intention; design.

I shortly afterwards set off for that capital, with an idea of undertaking while there the translation of the work. W. Irving.


A rational conception; the complete conception of an object when thought of in all its essential elements or constituents; the necessary metaphysical or constituent attributes and relations, when conceived in the abstract.


A fiction object or picture created by the imagination; the same when proposed as a pattern to be copied, or a standard to be reached; one of the archetypes or patterns of created things, conceived by the Platonists to have excited objectively from eternity in the mind of the Deity.

Thence to behold this new-created world, The addition of his empire, how it showed In prospect from his throne, how good, how fair, Answering his great idea. Milton.

⇒ "In England, Locke may be said to have been the first who naturalized the term in its Cartesian universality. When, in common language, employed by Milton and Dryden, after Descartes, as before him by Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, Hooker, etc., the meaning is Platonic."

Sir W. Hamilton.

Abstract idea, Association of ideas, etc. See under Abstract, Association, etc.

Syn. -- Notion; conception; thought; sentiment; fancy; image; perception; impression; opinion; belief; observation; judgment; consideration; view; design; intention; purpose; plan; model; pattern. There is scarcely any other word which is subjected to such abusive treatment as is the word idea, in the very general and indiscriminative way in which it is employed, as it is used variously to signify almost any act, state, or content of thought.


© Webster 1913.

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