Contra Todd Ryan’s interpretation, I argue that it is possible to reconstruct a metaphysical argument that does not restrict likeness in general to ideas. While I agree with Ryan that Berkeley’s writings provide us with the resources to reconstruct such an argument, I disagree with Ryan that this argument entails a restriction of likeness to ideas. Unlike Ryan, I argue that Berkeley is not committed to the claim that we can compare only ideas, but to the view that the only (...) thing that can be compared to an idea is another idea. (shrink)
Was ist George Berkeleys Auffassung des sinnlich wahrnehmbaren Naturgeschehens? Sie zu erklären und nachzuvollziehen ist Ziel des Bandes. Er zeigt, dass Berkeley das Naturgeschehen als einen göttlichen Diskurs sieht; das visuell Wahrgenommene ist dabei die Sprache. Berkeley beharrt darauf, diese These der göttlichen Sprache wörtlich auszulegen, da sie Grundlage eines seiner Ansicht nach einzigartigen Gottesbeweises ist. Um Berkeleys Argumentation zu verstehen, muss man sich auch mit den (historischen) Umständen beschäftigen, in welchen er diese These entwickelt und verteidigt. Deshalb wird sie (...) im ersten Teil in ihren diachronen und synchronen historischen Kontext eingebettet. Die zweite Hälfte ist dann einer kritischen Rekonstruktion von Berkeleys These gewidmet. (shrink)
In this paper, we focus on Berkeley's reasons for accepting the ‘resemblance thesis’ which entails that for one thing to represent another those two things must resemble one another. The resemblance thesis is a crucial premise in Berkeley's argument from the ‘likeness principle’ in §8 of the Principles. Yet, like the ‘likeness principle’, the resemblance thesis remains unargued for and is never explicitly defended. This has led several commentators to provide explanations as to why Berkeley accepts the resemblance thesis and (...) why he also takes his opponents to do so too. We provide a contextual answer to this question, focusing on epistemological discussions concerning resemblance and representation in Early Modern Irish Philosophy. We argue that the resemblance thesis is implicit in early responses to William Molyneux's famous example of the ‘man born blind made to see’ and trace the ‘Molyneux man’ thought experiment as it is employed by Irish thinkers such as William King and Berkeley himself. Ultimately, we conclude that Berkeley's acceptance of the resemblance thesis can be explained by the Irish intellectual climate in which he was writing. (shrink)
Berkeley’s likeness principle is the claim that “an idea can be like nothing but an idea”. The likeness principle is intended to undermine representationalism: the view (that Berkeley attributes to thinkers like Descartes and Locke) that all human knowledge is mediated by ideas in the mind which represent material objects. Yet, Berkeley appears to leave the likeness principle unargued for. This has led to several attempts to explain why Berkeley accepts it. In contrast to ‘metaphysical’ and ‘epistemological’ interpretations available in (...) the literature, in this paper I defend a ‘conceptual’ interpretation. I argue that Berkeley accepts the likeness principle on the basis of (i) his commitment to the transparency of ideas, and (ii) his account of resemblance which he sets out in his works on vision. Thus, I provide an explanation for Berkeley’s reasons for accepting the likeness principle which, appropriately, focuses on his views concerning ideas and likeness. (shrink)
In this paper, I compare Margaret Cavendish’s argument for the view that colours of objects are inseparable from their ‘physical’ qualities with George Berkeley’s argument for the view that secondary qualities of objects are inseparable from their primary qualities. By reconstructing their respective arguments, I show that both thinkers rely on the ‘inconceivability principle’: the claim that inconceivability entails impossibility. That is, both premise their arguments on the claim that it is impossible to conceive of an object that has size (...) and shape but no colour. I argue that Cavendish, like Berkeley, accepts the inconceivability principle on the grounds that it is impossible to conceive of something that could not, in principle, be perceived and, in turn, that something imperceptible could not possibly exist. As such, I argue that both Cavendish and Berkeley are committed to an ‘empiricist’ modal epistemology: one wherein our knowledge of what it is possible to perceive informs us about what could possibly exist. For this reason, I conclude that there is more empiricism in Cavendish’s epistemology than secondary literature to date suggests. (shrink)
In this paper I have the purpose to analyze George Berkeley’s concept of substance. For this goal, it will be necessary first to track the manner that Berkeley was conceiving that concept, that is, how it was determining in his early philosophy and what kind of role had in it. To make this it must be necessary to review the early notes knowing in Spanish as Philosophical Commentaries; and subsequently it will be required to retake the published work, particularly the (...) Principles, where the concept of substance is already taken as Berkeley definitely used it in his immaterialist philosophy. (shrink)
Berkeley’s immaterialist philosophy has been frequently underestimated as a result of the misunderstanding of his ontological proposal, specifically because of the complexity of his concept of idea. The aim of this paper is then to clarify and explain that concept because from it depends the correct understanding of Berkeley’s ontological and immaterialist proposal. To do this, 1) I will show some examples of the misunderstanding that the berkeleian proposal has had, mainly due to his concept of idea; 2) I will (...) track how this notion was being developed in Berkeley’s early notes, known as Philosophical Commentaries; 3) I will analyze and explain the concept of idea from the published work of Berkeley, that is, from the Principles and Dialogues. -/- La filosofía inmaterialista de Berkeley ha sido muchas veces infravalorada por la mala comprensión de su propuesta ontológica, específicamente por la dificultad que presenta su concepto de idea. El propósito de este artículo es, entonces, esclarecer y explicar dicho concepto porque de ello depende entender correctamente la ontología y el inmaterialismo filosófico berkeleyano. Para realizar esto 1) mostraré algunos ejemplos de la mala comprensión que ha tenido la propuesta berkeleyana, debido principalmente a su concepto de idea; 2) rastrearé cómo se fue conformando dicho concepto en las notas de juventud conocidas como Comentarios Filosóficos; 3) analizaré y explicaré el concepto de idea a partir de la obra publicada de los Principios y los Diálogos. (shrink)
Debate surrounds whether Berkeley’s philosophy is a defense of, or merely consistent with, common sense, as well as what Berkeley means by “common sense.” This paper defends a view that synthesizes elements of recent approaches: by “common sense” Berkeley means primarily the (de re) belief that the things immediately perceived are the real things, characteristically held by the vulgar and exemplified by vulgar ways of speech. In holding that it is a natural belief, this view is consistent with recent accounts (...) that identify common sense with the proper use of our cognitive faculties as well as those accounts that identify it with (some) commonly-held propositions. (shrink)
In this paper I expose and analyze the berkeleian proposal of notional knowledge. Among other things, this proposal represents Berkeley´s attempt to know the mind or spirit, that is, the thinking and active thing that, by its own activity, results unrepresentable as idea. As such knowledge is already mentioned in the Philosophical Commentaries I will refer to them to know the origins of that proposal. However, as notional knowledge appears in more detail in later works I will make use especially (...) the Treatise to tackle the complex notional doctrine. -/- . (shrink)
Berkeley was a philosopher who wrote about such diverse topics as natural philosophy, political philosophy, mathematics, economy, and theology. Within this broad range of interests, his concern about the inﬁnite spirit stands out; thus, the aim of this paper is to trace the origins of Berkeley´s conception of God, an issue which is already preﬁgured in the Philosophical Commentaries. The importance of knowing and analyze the notes that make up the Commentaries lies in that they make it possible to understand (...) not only how the incipient immaterialist philosophy was established, but above all –being purpose of this paper– what features and role God acquired within it. (shrink)
This paper argues for a re-evaluation of the relationship between Berkeley and his predecessor, the neo-Aristotelian thinker John Sergeant. In the literature to date, the relationship between these two thinkers has received attention for two reasons. First, because some commentators have attempted to establish a causal connection between them – specifically, by focusing on the fact that both thinkers develop a theory of ‘notions’. Second, because both Berkeley and Sergeant develop ‘anti-representationalist’ arguments against Locke’s epistemology. The first issue has received (...) much greater attention, particularly from commentators seeking an explanation for Berkeley’s use of the term ‘notion’. Only one scholar, G. A. Johnston (in 1923), has considered Berkeley and Sergeant’s anti-representationalism in any depth. In this paper, I argue that the weight given to the causal connection between Berkeley and Sergeant’s ‘notions’ is misplaced since the evidence in favour of this connection is weaker than is usually acknowledged. Instead, I build on Johnston’s analysis of the conceptual connection between Berkeley and Sergeant’s anti-representationalism. I first corroborate Johnston’s claim that there are striking similarities between their criticisms of Locke before going beyond that analysis by identifying two important similarities between their anti-representationalist arguments. (shrink)
Readers and historians have often misunderstood Berkeley's philosophy by believing that he denies the existence of the external world. From which they conclude that his philosophy inevitably leads to solipsism. Faced with these readings, in this paper I discuss the relationship between ontology and the external world in Berkeley with the aim of clarifying some interpretative errors and showing three things: 1) that is a mistake to believe Berkeley’s philosophy eliminate the external world and lead to solipsism, 2) that his (...) own ontology is the key to understand the constitution of the external world, and 3) that God gives the ultimate meaning of that world. / Es habitual que algunos lectores confundan la postura de Berkeley al creer que niega la existencia del mundo externo y que su filosofía lleva inevitablemente al solipsismo. Frente a estas lecturas, analizo en este artículo el tema de la relación entre ontología y mundo externo en Berkeley, con el propósito de aclarar algunos desaciertos interpretativos sobre el asunto y mostrar con ello tres cosas: 1) que se trata de un error creer que su filosofía elimina el mundo externo y lleva al solipsismo, 2) que en la propia ontología está la clave para entender la constitución del mundo externo, y 3) que Dios le da el sentido último a ese mundo. (shrink)
It is argued that George Berkeley’s term ‘common sense’ does not indicate shared conviction, but the shared capacity of reasonable judgement, and is therefore to be classed as a mental ability, not a belief-system. Common sense is to be distinguished from theoretical understanding which, in Berkeley’s view, is frequently corrupted either by learned prejudice, or by language that lacks meaning or camouflages contradiction. It is also to be distinguished from the deliverances of divine revelation, which—however enlightening Berkeley supposed them to (...) be—are not necessarily available to all people. This interpretation of common sense is supported both by attention to Berkeley’s own texts, including his sermons, letters and philosophical writings, and by attention to the views of John Locke and René Descartes, who also understand ‘common sense’ as susceptibility to the ‘natural light’. In addition, this interpretation renders Berkeley’s appeal to common sense in support of his immaterialism a straightforward appeal to the reader’s native reason. No longer, then, are we forced to see Berkeley as improbably maintaining that the denial of matter is really the view of ‘the common people’, but rather that those who have least attachment to theory and doctrine will be best able to grasp the case for immaterialism. (shrink)
Both Reid and Berkeley reject ‘representationalism’, an epistemological position whereby we perceive things in the world indirectly via ideas in our mind, on the grounds of anti-scepticism and common sense. My aim in this paper is to draw out the similarities between Reid and Berkeley's ‘anti-representationalist’ arguments, whilst also identifying the root of their disagreements on certain fundamental metaphysical issues. Reid famously rejects Berkeley's idealism, in which all that exists are ideas and minds, because it undermines the dictates of common (...) sense. Reid also charges Berkeley with not only accepting but furthering the progress of ‘the Way of Ideas’, a longstanding tradition which has drawn philosophy away from true science and common sense. From Berkeley's perspective, Reid is a ‘materialist’; that is, he dogmatically accepts that mind-independent things exist. I argue that these important differences can be explained by both thinkers’ construal of certain ‘philosophical prejudices’. Finally, I conclude that despite these differences, both ought to be characterised as ‘anti-representationalists’ in light of their shared epistemological concerns. (shrink)
Tradução para o português do artigo "Berkeley and the pyrrhonism" publicado originalmente em The Review of Metaphysics 5 (1951); reimpresso em Burnyeat, Myles (org.) The Skeptical Tradition. University of California Press, 1983, p. 377-396 e em Richard A. Watson and James E. Force (Editors). The high road to Pyrrhonism, p. 297-318.
George Berkeley (1685-1753) is one of the most influential early modern philosophers, and in reason of this a never-ending critical interest focuses on his works. Such a critical attention gave rise to a broad literature and it is in fact quite easy to find valuable introductory books to Berkeley's works. It would be thus superfluous to provide a further summary of the entire production of Berkeley. Rather, I focus on a specific issue, namely the main points of interest of immaterialism (...) for the contemporary debates in philosophy. The currently most discussed Berkeleian arguments are those from his earlier production (those developed around 1709-1713). Thus, I will be mainly concerned with the conceptual structure of A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. Among Berkeley's early works, this is the one that was thought as a systematic illustration for philosophers of his ideas. (shrink)
resumo A influência do ceticismo nos século XVI e XVII é por demais evidente para ser posta em questão. De Montaigne a Bayle, parece que o cético foi o promotor tanto de uma refutação radical dos princípios metafísicos escolásticos e depois cartesianos quanto de uma crítica feroz às autoridades religiosas e políticas. Ora, esse papel parece ter se amenizado no Século das Luzes, ou melhor, se deslocado - somente as dimensões críticas do social continuaram pertinentes. Pretende-se mostrar aqui o pressuposto (...) de uma tal leitura que leva em conta apenas o aspecto visível da crítica cética e mostrar que o ceticismo, sob uma forma particular, foi uma das grandes questões da epistemologia das Luzes e que ele é indissociável, para ser compreendido em toda a sua dimensão polêmica, da recepção européia do imaterialismo berkeleyano. O objetivo de nossa intervenção se faz compreender então claramente: explicar primeiramente como uma tal concepção epistemológica pôde nascer em terra cartesiana e quais foram os seus líderes desse solipsismo das Luzes, a supor que os tenha havido, para mostrar, em seguida, porque ela pôde se tornar uma questão metafísica maior no século XVIII, antes de definir, para concluir, os interesses a que ela serviu ou desserviu. palavras-chave cartesianismo – imaterialismo – Luzes – materialismo – metafísica – ceticismo - solipsismo. (shrink)
Um dos principais objetivos de Berkeley nos Princípios e nos Três Diálogos, como expressamente enunciado nos títulos completos dessas duas obras e nos cadernos de anotações que antecipam sua elaboração, é a refutação do ceticismo. Este artigo procura explicitar o que Berkeley entende por ceticismo e indicar quais os princípios ou doutrinas que, segundo ele, suscitam as dúvidas dos céticos. Em seguida, procura mostrar como se dá a oposição de Berkeley ao ceticismo. No final, sugere que a refutação do ceticismo (...) por parte de Berkeley, dada a doutrina que ele mesmo denomina de imaterialismo, não se baseia apenas na defesa do princípio esse est percipi, mas é complementada pela tese de que os objetos e suas qualidades sensíveis são imediatamente percebidos. Uma tese que, na concepção de Berkeley, é compatível com a visão do senso comum, o que sugere que ele talvez pudesse considerar a sua teoria da percepção como uma forma de realismo direto. (shrink)
In both the Principles and the Three Dialogues, Berkeley claims that he wants to uncover those principles which lead to scepticism; to refute those principles; and to refute scepticism itself. This paper examines the principles Berkeley says have scepticial consequences, and contends that only one of them implies scepticism. It is also argued that Berkeley’s attempted refutation of scepticism rests not on his acceptance of the esse est percipi principle, but rather on the thesis that physical objects and their sensible (...) qualities are immediately perceived. (shrink)
Berkeley's immaterialism aims to undermine Descartes's skeptical arguments by denying that the connection between sensory perception and reality is contingent. However, this seems to undermine Berkeley's (alleged) defense of commonsense by failing to recognize the existence of objects not presently perceived by humans. I argue that this problem can be solved by means of two neglected Berkeleian doctrines: the status of the world as "a most coherent, instructive, and entertaining Discourse" which is 'spoken' by God (Siris, sect. 254) and the (...) nature of language as a public social practice. Together these doctrines entail that ordinary physical objects, including those that are not presently perceived, are a joing product of divine discursive activity and human interpretive activity. (shrink)
In this paper, I survey the way Wittgenstein reacts to radical philosophical doubt in his On Certainty.He deems skeptical doubt in some important cases idle, pointless or otherwise negligible. I point out that several passages of On Certainty make it difficult to judge whether Wittgenstein intends to address a skeptic or a metaphysical idealist. Drawing attention to the anti-skeptical nature of Berkeley’s idealism, I go on to argue that the question is far from trivial: rather, it affects the way we (...) should evaluate Wittgenstein’s arguments in On Certainty in general. I finally attempt to explain why Wittgenstein remained ambiguous about the target of his arguments, and discuss the possibility of making room for the idealism/skepticism distinction in On Certainty’s framework. (shrink)
It is a standing temptation for philosophers to find anticipations of their own views in the great thinkers of the past, but few have been so bold in the search for precursors, and so utterly mistaken, as Berkeley when he claimed Plato and Aristotle as allies to his immaterialist idealism. InSiris: A Chain of Philosophical Reflexions and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tar-Water, which Berkeley published in his old age in 1744, he reviews the leading philosophies of antiquity and finds (...) them on the whole a good deal more sympathetic to his own ideas than the ‘modern atheism’, as he calls it, of Hobbes and Spinoza or the objectionable principles of ‘the mechanic and geometrical philosophers’ such as Newton. But his strongest and, I think, his most interesting claim is that neither Plato nor Aristotle admitted ‘an absolute actual existence of sensible or corporeal things’. (shrink)
The defense of common sense in Berkeley's Three Dialogues is, first and foremost, a defense of the gardener's claim to know this cherry tree, a claim threatened by both Cartesian and Lockean philosophy. Berkeley's defense of the gardener's knowledge depends on his claim that the being of a cherry tree consists in its being perceived. This is not something the gardener believes; rather, it is a philosophical analysis of the rules unreflectively followed by the gardener in his use of the (...) word 'exists'. It is by following these rules that the gardener gains knowledge of the cherry tree. Uncovering these deep connections between Berkeley's epistemology and his philosophy of language and placing them in the context of his critique of both Cartesian and Lockean philosophy will clarify Berkeley's strategy for bringing his reader back to common sense and practical engagement in the ordinary affairs of life. (shrink)
This essay reinterprets Berkeley’s idealism as partially motivated by a need to overcome the Agrippan mode of relativity pressed by Pyrrhonists. It compares Berkeley’s solution to that of Protagoras as presented in Plato’s Theaetetus, and argues that Berkeley needed to depend on reason — intuition or demonstration — to avoid skepticism. In this interpretation, Berkeley is closer to the rationalist tradition than usually recognized.
That the legacy of Berkeley's philosophy has been a largely sceptical one is perhaps rather surprising. For he himself took it as one of his objectives to undermine scepticism. He roundly denied that there were ‘any principles more opposite to Scepticism than those we have laid down’ . Yet Hume was to write of Berkeley that ‘most of the writings of that very ingenious author form the best lessons of scepticism, Bayle not excepted’. And it has become something of a (...) commonplace to say that Berkeley's philosophy is sceptical in direction, if not in intention. He is represented as a half-hearted sceptic, applying radical empiricist principles in his treatment of matter but baulking at their implications when he came to consider spirits. Hume is credited with being the more thoroughgoing of the two. Berkeley had denied the substantiality of extended things. Hume felt obliged, by parity of reasoning, to deny the substantiality of the self. On his account of the mind there is ‘properly no simplicity in it at one time, nor identity in different’ . It is commonly supposed that Berkeley, in maintaining the quite contrary view that we know ourselves to be simple, undivided beings , showed a lack of rigour or consistency. (shrink)
O artigo compara alguns aspectos da refutação do ceticismo nos Princípios e nos Três diálogos. Embora normalmente não se veja nenhuma diferença importante entre essas obras, duas hipóteses são defendidas aqui: de um lado, Berkeley desloca o foco de sua crítica das idéias abstratas para a noção de matéria e, de outro, muda sua estratégia de combate, da enunciação imediata da verdade para a lenta elaboração das consequências céticas da noção de matéria. Berkeleys answers to skepticismThe topic of this paper (...) is a comparison between Berkeley´s refutation of skepticism in the Principles and in the Three Dialogues. It is usually held that there is no philosophical difference between these two works. However, I suggest that not only Berkeley´s diagnosis of the causes of skepticism changes from his criticism of abstract ideas to the notion of matter, but also that he changes his strategy of refutation: from a direct statement of the truth of immaterialism to an examination of the consequences of the notion of matter. (shrink)
Anthony Brueckner argues that Berkeleyan idealism lacks anti-sceptical force because of the way Berkeley draws the appearance/reality distinction. But Brueckner's case rests on a misunderstanding of Berkeley's view. Properly understood, Berkeleyan idealism does indeed have anti-sceptical force.
One of Berkeley’s main goals in the Principles and in the Three Dialogues, as expressly stated in the full titles these two works, as well as in the Philosophical Commen-taries, is the refutation of skepticism. This article aims to elucidate what Berkeley means by skepticism and to indicate which principles or doctrines, according to him, are at the root of the skeptics’ doubts. An attempt is made to show how Berkeley elaborated his opposition to skepticism. Finally, it is suggested that (...) Berkeley’s (alleged) refutation of the skepticism, given his doctrine of immaterialism, is not based only on the esse est percipi principle, but also on the thesis that the objects and their sensible qualities are immedi-ately perceived. It is pointed out that, in Berkeley’s view, this thesis is compatible with common sense, what makes it plausible to consider his theory of perception as a form of direct realism. (shrink)
Dans la première méditation, Descartes a conclu, en regard des songes, « qu'il n'y a point d'indices concluants, ni de marques assez certaines par où l'on puisse distinguer nettement la veille d'avec la sommeil [...] » . À la fin de la sixième méditation, il a conclu qu'il y a de tels indices, mais qu'on a besoin de la garantie de Dieu pour savoir si ces indices sont réellement des indices de la veille. Cottingham a proposé une objection générale contre (...) tels indices de la veille: On peut rêver cet indice. Selon les raisonnements de Cottingham, il s'agit de l'existence de l'indice. Or, chez Leibniz et Descartes il ne s'agit pas de cela, mais il est question de savoir si l'indice est vraiment un indice de la veille. La prétention que l'indice puisse être présent en songe fait une pétition de principe. Notre examen des indices que Leibniz et Berkeley ont proposés révèle cette pétition. (shrink)
In both the Principles and the Dialogues Berkeley argues that physical objects cannot exist independently of minds. In this paper I suggest an interpretation of the argument in the Dialogues that shows that his argument either relies on an invalid inference or begs the question. I conclude that his attempt to defeat scepticism by making physical objects mind-dependent is unsuccessful.
In this essay, the author analyses Berkeleys conformity and inference argument against Lockes theory of percep tion. Both arguments are not as decisive as traditionally has been perceived and fail to engage in Lockes actual position. The main reason for this is that Berkeley does not see that Lockes position is compatible with the non-inferential nature of perceptual knowledge.
Nearly as famous as his denial of the existence of matter is Berkeley's insistence that his philosophy is somehow a defense of commonsense. This is most often taken to mean that Berkeley thinks of his philosophy as supporting commonsense beliefs. However, the inadequacies of such views have persuaded some to disregard entirely Berkeley's claims about commonsense. Both readings are undesirable. Extant interpretations misunderstand the relationship between Berkeley's philosophy and commonsense. In this paper, I present a new account of how to (...) understand Berkeley's so-called defense of commonsense; it is not a defense-cum-apology for commonsense beliefs, but a defensive attack against a skeptical threat. I then examine two rival accounts of the defense of commonsense and show how each fails to satisfy the criteria for a successful account. Finally, I briefly address the implications this view has for future scholarship. (shrink)
The complete title of the Principles is A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. Wherein the chief causes of error and difficulty in the Sciences, with the grounds of Scepticism, Atheism, and Irreligion, are Inquired into. The complete title of the Dialogues is Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. The design of which is plainly to demonstrate the reality and perfection of human knowledge, the incorporeal nature of the soul, and the immediate providence of a Deity: in opposition to (...) Sceptics and Atheists. Also to open a method for rendering the Sciences more easy, useful, and compendious. The introductions to each work, as well as various remarks in the Philosophical Commentaries, explain at greater length the author's intention of refuting the sceptics and atheists. In the initial section of the introduction to the Principles, Berkeley had said that the attempt to understand the nature of things had led men into all sorts of "uncouth paradoxes, difficulties, and inconsistencies,... till at length, having wander'd through many intricate mazes, we find ourselves just where we were, or, which is worse, sit down in a forlorn scepticism." And a few sections later, Berkeley stated that his intention was to discover the sources of the absurdities and contradictions that have entered philosophy, and to eliminate them. (shrink)