5. Berkeley (March 6).pptx - George Berkeley(1685-1753...

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George Berkeley (1685-1753) Along with Locke and Hume, Berkeley is one of the most important British Empiricists of the Modern era. Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous was published in London in 1713. Here Berkeley rejects the mind-independent existence of matter.
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Subjective Idealism In everyday English, “idealism” refers to a state of being idealistic or of holding ideals as in the sense of perfection or high (or even unrealistic) standards. But in the philosophical vocabulary of the Modern era, idealism refers to “a theory that only the perceptible is real.” (Merriam-Webster) We will look at 2 kinds of idealism: Berkeley’s “subjective” idealism and Kant’s “transcendental” idealism. Meillassoux also claims in his book After Finitude (the last reading for this course) that even phenomenology is a kind of idealism (although this is up for debate).
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Written as a dialogue In the spirit of Plato’s dialogues, Berkeley wrote Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous as a dramatic dialogue that gives voice to a debate between realism and idealism.
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Hylas “Hylas” comes from hyle, which means “matter” in Greek. Hylas’ voice can be interpreted to represent Locke’s philosophical commitments to indirect realism. Hylas argues for the independent existence of matter and for things existing outside of our minds.
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Philonous “Philonous” (lover of mind) can be interpreted to represent Berkeley’s own philosophical commitments to idealism. Philonous represents Berkeley’s own position, a kind of idealism . Philonous argues that nothing exists outside of the mind. Berkeley’s version of idealism is quite radical because he claims that although we might imagine a thing existing outside of us, the truth is that if we do not perceive the thing (or if God does not perceive it), then the thing does not exist.
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Berkeley the critic; Berkeley the Original Philosopher The First Dialogue focuses on Locke’s distinction between primary and secondary qualities. One of Berkeley’s primary contributions comes from his criticisms of Locke’s theory of qualities. But the First Dialogue also presents us with some of Berkeley’s positive philosophy of subjective idealism. It is helpful to keep the distinction between criticism and original philosophy in mind as you read. Whether you find Berkeley’s theory of mind persuasive or not is one kind of question. Whether you find his objections to Locke persuasive or not is another (although interrelated) kind of question.
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Useful Background Berkeley’s metaphysical system contains the following elements. First, Berkeley claims that the only things that exist are minds, and he restricts the list of minds or “spirits” to humans, animals, angels and so on, and God. So humans and animals do exist, but they have no bodies or brains: they are “pure spirit.” These minds are each populated by mental entities which Berkeley calls, following Locke, ideas... This is to say there is just one sort of substance – mind – and its modes
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