How Berkeley's Gardener Knows his Cherry Tree

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):553-576 (2017)
Authors
Kenneth L. Pearce
Trinity College, Dublin
Abstract
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.
Keywords George Berkeley  skepticism  common sense  existence  epistemology  philosophy of language
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1111/papq.12199
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