I have often thought of myself as a practical idealist who opportunistically gets things done. As I was thinking about what to write this month, I was comparing Opportunism and Fundamentalism in my mind and wondering where Pragmatism fit into this continuum (or not), as well as where the notion of Idealism fit. I decided to go back to the dictionary:

Opportunism: unprincipled resourceful person: somebody who takes advantage of something, especially somebody who does so in a devious, unscrupulous, or unprincipled way.

Fundamentalism: movement with strict view of doctrine: a religious or political movement based on a literal interpretation of and strict adherence to doctrine, especially as a return to former principles

Pragmatism: 1. way of thinking about results: a straightforward practical way of thinking about things or dealing with problems, concerned with results rather than with theories and principles. 2. way of evaluating theories: a philosophical view that a theory or concept should be evaluated in terms of how it works and its consequences as the standard for action and thought.

Idealism: 1. belief in perfection: belief in and pursuit of perfection as an attainable goal. 2. living by high ideals: aspiring to or living in accordance with high standards or principles. 3. belief that material things are imaginary: the philosophical belief that material things do not exist independently but only as constructions in the mind

I was quite surprised by the negative connotation given to Opportunism, which is not exactly how I have viewed the word (or myself) and must admit that I object to the words “devious” and “unscrupulous” from Microsoft Dictionary’s definition. The other insight I got from these definitions was the closeness between idealism and fundamentalism with regard to principle.

Perhaps the notion of being a practical idealist who opportunistically gets things done, may be in principle  either fundamentally flawed or ultimately ideal  J