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PHIL111 13/14 WEEK 17.docx

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PHIL 111
Jon Miller

February 4, 2014 Argument for the Existence of Substance - Why do we think there is such a thing as a substance, and not just the primary and secondary qualities we have access to? 1. We experience qualities appearing together- why do they appear together so predictably? 2. We infer that there is something supporting or holding together those qualities 3. Yet we do not have any experience of the supporting entity (we only experience qualities) 4. So we are assured that there are substances (things that hold qualities together) but we have no knowledge or idea of their nature 5. So Locke is not a skeptic about substance 6. At the same time, Locke insists that our ideas of substances are limited and of limited importance Berkeley - Was a theist - Was an empiricist like Locke o All knowledge originates in experience - Is an immaterialist/idealist/idea-ist - Takes empiricism in a new direction: Immaterialism - Do sensible objects have an existence distinct from their being perceived? (Principles IV) The Main Point of Contention - Concerns the status of objects in the external world - Things that are not perceived do not exist o “What are… objects but the things we perceive by senses, and what do we perceive besides our own ideas or sensations; and is it not plainly repugnant that any one of these or any combination should exist unperceived?” (Principles IV) o Perception is the necessary condition for existence o “To be is to be perceived” - But god perceives objects, maintaining their existence - Readers of Berkeley have reconstructed his argument along the following lines: o Argument One 1. We perceive ordinary objects (mountains, houses, etc.) 2. We perceive only ideas 3. Therefore, ordinary objects are ideas - This argument is valid, so the question concerns its soundness. Thus we have to ask whether premises (1) and (2) are true. (1) seems incontrovertible. What about (2)? February 5, 2014 - With this distinction in mind, the argument has to be recast into something like the following: o Argument Two 1. We mediately (indirectly) perceive ordinary objects 2. We immediately perceive only ideas 3. Therefore, ??? - See Bailey, p.212rc - This version has ??? for step (3), as it is not clear what follows from (1) and (2) - The question is whether Berkeley’s opponents are entitled to reformulate the original argument into the above version Berkeley’s Three Dialogues - Hylas (“matter”) argues for the proposition that matter exists independent of the mind - Philonous (“lover of mind”) argues that matter cannot exist independent of the mind - The touchstone of the argument between Hylas and Philonous shall be common sense and opposition to skepticism. As Philonous gets Hylas to agree, o That opinion is true “which upon examination shall appear most agreeable to common sense, and remote from skepticism” (196rc) - The Argument 1. Phil: “[S]ensible things are those only which are immediately perceived by sense” (Bailey, 198lc) 2. What we immediately perceive by the senses are sensations o Ie. When you get pricked by a pin, what you immediately feel is the pain 3. So sensible things are sensations 4. Phil: “Whatever other qualities” things may have “I know nothing of” (Bailey, 200rc) o Ie. The “substance” that Locke knows nothing of 5. Notice the consequences: sensible things- the things we come to know via our sensory faculties- are nothing more than the sensations that we have of them 6. Now, sensations are acts of the mind 7
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