New Realism

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

New Realism


a trend in contemporary bourgeois philosophy. New realism was influenced by the Scottish school as well as by F. Brentano, A. Meinong, E. Mach (Austria), and the early B. Russell.

The epistemological tenets of new realism were set forth by G. E. Moore in his article “The Refutation of Idealism” (1903) and were subsequently formulated into a specific doctrine in the United States by R. Perry, E. B. Holt, W. Montague, W. Marvin, E. Spaulding, and W. Pitkin, who in 1910 issued “The Program and First Platform of Six Realists.”

The cosmology of new realism was developed by S. Alexander, A. Whitehead, J. Smuts, and L. Morgan. It represented a variant of the metaphysical concept of development—the theory of emergent evolution. In the 1930’s, new realism declined in influence and was replaced by critical realism.

New realism criticized subjective idealism for reducing reality to the consciousness of the subject and rejected absolute idealism (F. Bradley), which identified reality with universal consciousness. New realism asserted the existence of object independent of subject. At the same time, it rejected materialism as a “dualistic” theory that supposedly regarded subject and object as absolute opposites. New realism developed the doctrine of epistemological monism.

New realism holds that the nature of being is neither material nor ideal. It is an aggregate of neutral elements that, depending on the situation, acquire either physical or mental significance. In cognition, the neutral object directly enters the consciousness of the subject, thereby becoming “mental.” However, when the object is not included in an epistemological situation, it appears as “physical.” However, the thesis of the direct inclusion of an object by consciousness does not make it possible to resolve the problem of the origin of false consciousness and contradicts the basic premise of new realism—the existence of reality independent of consciousness. Thus, new realism is essentially a variety of idealism.


Bogomolov, A. S. Filosofiia anglo-amerikanskogo neorealizma. Moscow, 1962.
Lukanov, D. M. Gnoseologiia amerikanskogo “realizma.” Moscow, 1968.
Sovremennaia burzhuaznaia filosofiia. Moscow, 1972. Chapter 8.
The New Realism. New York, 1925.
Kremer, R. Le Néo-réalisme américain. Paris, 1920.
Evans, D. L. New Realism and Old Reality. Princeton, 1928.
Ray, B. Consciousness in Neo-realism. Oxford, 1935.
Boman, L. Criticism and Construction in the Philosophy of American New Realism. Stockholm, 1955. D. M. LUKANOV
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
See the discussion of Restany's notion of "direct appropriation" in Jill Carrick, Nouveau Realisme, 1960s France, and the Neo-avant-garde: Topographies of Chance and Return (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010), 19-44; the outline of "object strategies" that defined various forms of postwar realism in Julia Robinson, "Before Attitudes Became Form--New Realisms; 1957-1962," in New Realisms: 1957-1962, Object Strategies Between Readymade and Spectacle (Barcelona: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, 2010), 23-39; and the overview of realism's resurgence in the postwar years in Alex Potts, Experiments in Modern Realism: World Making, Politics and the Everyday in Postwar European and American Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 1-65.
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