A great deal of the criticism directed at Locke's theory of abstractideas, assumes that a Lockean abstract idea is a special kind of idea which by its very nature either represents many diverse particulars or represents separately things that cannot exist in separation. This interpretation of Locke has been challenged by scholars such as Kenneth Winkler and Michael Ayers who regard it as uncharitable in light of the obvious problems faced by this theory of abstraction. Winkler (...) and Ayers argue that Locke instead followed Arnauld in holding that to have an abstract idea is to attend selectively to some portion of the content of a particular idea. On this view, to have an abstract idea is not to have a special kind of idea but to have an ordinary idea in a special way. I argue that the case made by Winkler and Ayers for the attribution of the extrinsic theory to Locke rests on a misinterpretation of Arnauld. In fact, both Locke and Arnauld regard selective attention as part of a process whereby a new kind of idea is constructed. (shrink)
Draft. Berkeley denied the existence of abstractideas and any faculty of abstraction. At the same time, however, he embraced innate ideas and a faculty of pure intellect. This paper attempts to reconcile the tension between these commitments by offering an interpretation of Berkeley's Platonism.
In Book I, Part I, Section VII of the Treatise, Hume sets out to settle, once and for all, the early modern controversy over abstractideas. In order to do so, he tries to accomplish two tasks: (1) he attempts to defend an exemplar-based theory of general language and thought, and (2) he sets out to refute the rival abstraction-based account. This paper examines the successes and failures of these two projects. I argue that Hume manages to articulate (...) a plausible theory of general ideas; indeed, a version of his account has defenders in contemporary cognitive science. But Hume fails to refute the abstraction-based account, and as a result, the early modern controversy ends in a stalemate, with both sides able to explain how we manage to speak and think in general terms. Although Hume fails to settle the controversy, he nevertheless advances it to a point from which we have yet to progress: the contemporary debate over abstractideas in cognitive science has stalled on precisely this point. (shrink)
I argue that peter wenz's claim, That berkeley's view is that abstractideas are impossible for us but not for god, Is untenable. But the impossibility of God having abstractideas does not, Contrary to wenz, Entail that there is no room for the divine archetypes in berkeley's system.
Berkeley confidently asserts the connection between his attack on abstractideas and immaterialism, But how the connection works has puzzled modern commentators. I construct an argument resting on the imagist theory of thought which connects anti-ionism and immaterialism and try to show that it is berkeleian. I then suggest that, Without the mistaken imagist theory, A similar and still interesting argument can be constructed to the weaker conclusion that matter is essentially unknowable.
The doctrine of abstractideas contains Locke’s views on the nature of generality and how we think in general terms-the nature of universals, of general concepts, and how we classify. While Reid rejects abstractideas, he accepts Locke’s insight that we have an ability to abstract. In this paper, I show how Reid preserves Locke’s insight, while providing a more versatile and forward-looking account of universals and concepts than Locke was able to give.Reid replaces (...) class='Hi'>abstractideas with what he calls “general conceptions.” But general conceptions are really three different things. First, they are universals---non-mental intrinsically general objects of acts of abstraction and conception. I show how Reid is able to make the claim that there are universals without being committed to holding that universals really exist. This claim, together with his type/token distinction, enables Reid to better explain how we have knowledge of attributes and use general terms meaningfully. The general features of our experience are not ideas and are not produced by the faculty of abstraction---but that faculty enables us to distinguish them.In the second sense, a general conception is an act of mind which takes universals as objects. Thinking in general tenns is not the manipulation of abstractideas---it is engaging in acts of conceiving. Such acts are made possible by general conceptions in the third sense, namely, general concepts. While Reid does not distinguish this sense explicitly, I argue that he takes general concepts to be dispositions or abilities to distinguish general features of objects and to use the general terms of language as other users do. So rather than producing mental entities---abstractideas---that act as standards to help us classify, abstraction makes possible the development of abilities to use general terms and classify objects. (shrink)
There are three propositions that this author demonstrates in his argument: the contention that berkeley 's attack on abstractideas is not made wholly compatible with his atomic sensationalism, that berkeley does not provide or employ a single definition or criterion for determining the limit of abstraction and that the doctrine of abstractideas furnishes no real support to berkeley 's argument against the existence of material substance independent of perception.
While claiming to refute locke's theory of abstractideas, Berkeley himself accepts a form of abstractionism. Locke's account of abstraction is indeterminate between two doctrines: 1) abstractideas are representations of paradigm instances of kinds, 2) abstractideas are schematic representations of the defining features of kinds. Berkeley's arguments are directed exclusively against 2, And refute only a specific version of it, Which there is no reason to ascribe to locke; berkeley himself accepts (...) class='Hi'>abstractideas of the former type. Locke's theory suffers from circularity and redundancy, Berkeley's from conflation of thought with imagination. (shrink)
In the _New Theory of Vision, Berkeley defends the heterogeneity thesis, i.e., the view that the ideas of sight and touch are numerically and specifically distinct. In sections 121-122 of that work, he suggests that the thesis of abstractideas is somehow closely connected to the heterogeneity thesis, though he does not there fully explain just what the connection is supposed to be. In this paper an interpretation of this connection is proposed and defended. Berkeley needs to (...) reject abstractideas because, if there were such ideas then the heterogeneity thesis would be false and, in turn, this would lead directly to the falsity of Berkeley's theory of vision. (shrink)
Many believe that George Berkeley and, subsequently, David Hume offer devastating arguments against John Locke's theory of abstractideas. It is the purpose of this paper to clarify the attacks given a close reading of Locke. It will be shown that many of the arguments of Berkeley and Hume are of a straw man nature and, moreover, that some of their conclusions are actually in accord with Locke.
O presente texto tem por objetivo examinar as relações existentes entre a crítica às idéias abstratas, apresentada por Berkeley na Introdução ao Tratado sobre os princípios do entendimento humano, e a argumentação desenvolvida nos primeiros parágrafos da Parte I do mesmo texto, em que o autor propõe seu imaterialismo. A hipótese levantada a partir de tal exame defende uma relação direta entre o nominalismo de Berkeley e o caráter inaceitável, para o autor, da distinção entre o ser e o aparecer (...) da matéria postulada pelas teorias da representação. Critique of abstration and representation in Berkeleys immaterialismThe objective of this essay is to examine the relations that exist between the critique of abstractideas, presented by Berkeley in the Introduction to the A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge and the arguments developed in the first paragraphs of its Part I, in which Berkeley proposes his immaterialism. The hypothesis advanced, based on our analysis, is that there is a direct relation between Berkeleys nominalism and the unacceptable character, according to Berkeley, of the distinction between the appearance and the matter postulated by the theories of representation. (shrink)
I defend a reading of David Hume’s nominalism that he comes close to Keith Campbell's contemporary trope theory in the specific case of spatial properties. I argue that Hume's view should be construed as classifying spatial properties as Campbellian tropes (particular properties): abstract, particular, determinate and qualitatively simple properties. This has implications for reconstructing Hume's answer to the problem of universals. I argue that Hume’s account of objects resembling each other in respect of spatial properties is grounded in the (...) resemblance of tropes rather than in the resemblance of objects. (shrink)
Although Hume has no developed semantic theory, in the heyday of analytic philosophy he was criticized for his “meaning empiricism,” which supposedly committed him to a private world of ideas, led him to champion a genetic account of meaning instead of an analytic one, and confused “impressions” with “perceptions of an objective realm.” But another look at Hume’s “meaning empiricism” reveals that his criterion for cognitive content, the cornerstone both of his resolutely anti-metaphysical stance and his naturalistic “science of (...) human nature,” provides the basis for a successful response to his critics. Central to his program for reforming philosophy, Hume’s use of the criterion has two distinct aspects: a critical or negative aspect, which assesses the content of the central notions of metaphysical theories to demonstrate their unintelligibility; and a constructive or positive aspect, which accurately determines the cognitive content of terms and ideas. (shrink)
Abstract This essay takes up the fundamental question of the proper place of history in the study of political thought through critical engagement with Mark Bevir's seminal work, The Logic of the History of Ideas . While I accept the claim of Bevir, as well as of other exponents of the so-called “Cambridge School,“ that there is a conceptual difference between historical and non-historical modes of reading past works of political philosophy, I resist the suggestion that this conceptual (...) differentiation itself justifies the specialization, among practicing intellectuals, between historians of ideas and others who read political-philosophical texts non-historically. Over and against the figure of the historian of ideas, who interprets political thought only in the manner of a historian, I defend the ideal of the pupil, who in studying past traditions of political thought also seeks to extend and modify them in light of contemporary problems and concerns. Against Bevir, I argue that the mixture of historical and non-historical modes of learning, in the manner of the pupil, need not do damage to the historian of ideas' commitment to scholarship that is non-anachronistic, objective, and non-indeterminate. (shrink)
in the treatise, hume claims to identify many “fictions of the imagination” among both “vulgar” and philosophical beliefs. To name just a few, these include the fiction of one aggregate composed of many parts,1 the fiction of a material object’s identity through change, and the fiction of a human mind’s identity through change and interruption in its existence. Hume claims that these fictions and others like them are somehow defective: in his words, they are “improper,” “inexact,” or not “strict”. I (...) will argue that this claim conflicts with other commitments.. (shrink)