Totalizing Vision (Philosophy): Origin, Characteristics and Examples

The total view or universal is one of the main characteristics of philosophy. This vision states that man should not only concentrate on the study of things, but should also delve into the causes and consequences of the phenomena that are part of their context.

The totalizing vision covers a series of aspects, such as the study of all the elements that surround man; this gives it its universal character. In addition, this vision does not focus on a field of study, since you want to find all possible answers.

Totalizing view Socrates, Greek philosopher

Likewise, this vision explores knowledge itself and reason, as well as the foundation and origin of things. Through the totalizing or universal vision, philosophy seeks to satisfy man's need to know about his surroundings. Thanks to this approach, different branches of study were developed to achieve this goal.


  • 1 Origin
    • 1.1 Realism, nominalism and moderate realism
    • 1.2 Other approaches
  • 2 characteristics
  • 3 Examples
    • 3.1 Water perception
    • 3.2 Polis
  • 4 References


-The universal study or the totalizing vision of philosophy began in ancient Greece with the approaches of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates.

Socrates outlined the problem of the universality of things, from actions to words. This initiative began in the study of virtues; with this the essence-man relationship was established.

-In the beginning the universal problem focused on taking general aspects to understand man and nature. That is why Plato differentiated the world of things from that of ideas. The relationship between the two allowed mutual existence: the particular was a reflection of the universal. Therefore, it also includes the perception of reality and truth.

-Aristotle introduced a concept that criticized Plato's ideas. He focused on demonstrating that the universal was part of each individual being since it is the essence of the particular. The totalizing understanding comes from an own analysis, from reflection and abstraction. The universal is made up of several parts that, when united, make up a whole.

-In the Middle Ages, a theme ignored by the Greeks was touched: essence-existence. St. Thomas Aquinas added the divine component to the understanding of man: the origin of things was due to the intervention of a higher being, God gives the essence and existence. During this time, new philosophical tendencies were also developed.

Realism, nominalism and moderate realism

These terms were embraced during the Middle Ages since, when deepening the studies, new perspectives of the man, of the truth and of the reality arose.


It is a philosophical position that raised the relationship between the subject and the object of study that, in addition, are independent of each other. It is also called naive realism or Platonic realism.


Philosophical doctrine that questions what are the elements or characteristics that should be considered as universal. For example, the representation of certain objects is because they share common features.

So, nominalism denies the concepts of the universal, since there is only room for the individual and particular.

Moderate realism

Represented by St. Thomas Aquinas, moderate realism contemplates the existence and interaction of universal facts as ancestors of particular manifestations. It focuses on the balance between faith and reason.

Other approaches

After the Middle Ages the discussion of knowledge, truth and reality led to the formation of new currents to explain the obtaining of knowledge and philosophical answers.

Then, during the Enlightenment, gnoseology emerged, which focuses on the way of studying knowledge. By the end of the s. XIX other movements were manifested, such as idealism, scientific realism, epistemology and critical realism.


-It focuses on the universal principles for the search of reality and truth.

-Plantea totalizing or universal concepts for the understanding of abstract and complex approaches.

-Part of the universal to go into the particular.

-It does not have a single field of study, so it focuses on reason and knowledge itself.

-It is responsible for analyzing the origin and nature of things, as well as man.

-It uses a systematic and methodical process (when searching for the truth).

-It rests on the reason for the study of the phenomena that happen around man.

-This vision includes the need to take what the universe presents to use that knowledge and make it available to man.

-Find the deeper purposes of all areas of knowledge.

-It is valid for all perspectives of knowledge.

-It contemplates that the parts make up a whole, and that these parts interact with each other.

-It is not conformist; that is, it is not satisfied with partial or unclear answers. Therefore, try to go as far as possible to achieve the ultimate goal.

-Knowledge is the cornerstone of philosophy, so it is necessary to understand and recognize the universality of objects.

-It establishes a relationship between the vision and perception of the object, and the judgment granted by the individual. Therefore, all knowledge is obtained thanks to intellect and knowledge.


Water perception

From the scientific point of view, water comes from the chemical formula H2O. However, when talking about"water"we are also referring to the stimuli and experiences that we have received through it.

Therefore, we have a universally accepted concept as opposed to a set of values ​​obtained from the particular.


In the past, Greek societies were organized through the polis, which also acted as a reflection of the universal order and the cosmos. In the polis the individual is able to find his reason for being in society.


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