Saturday, June 5, 2021

Mind over matter: the contradictions of George Berkeley

'He did not believe in the existence of the material world. But the 17th-century philosopher’s arguments are less radical than they seem'

Alex Dean reviews George Berkeley: A Philosophical Life by Tom Jones at Prospect.

"...why think that what I see, feel or smell accurately corresponds to what is 'out there'? 'This is 'the very root of scepticism,' he writes, for whether our ideas 'represent the true quality really existing in the thing, it is out of our reach to determine.'

"His ingenious solution was to circumvent the problem completely, by collapsing one category into the other: if you identify the object and sensory experience of it as one and the same, the room for scepticism disappears. Immaterialism is thus, in Berkeley’s framing, a solution to sceptical doubt rather than an example of it."

See Berkeley, The Principles of Human Knowledge, Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 35, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 33.

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