PHIL 1000 Lecture Notes - Hylas, Hypokeimenon, General Idea
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The secondary qualities are mind dependent. We haven't had a problem with that since september.
There must be a perceiver for a sound and taste. In order for them to be, they must be perceived. If you
don't perceive colour, there is no colour. There may be something causing us to see the colour, but it
only exists in things as perceived by us.
When we come to th epirmary qualities. Hylas first suggests that there is this distinguish between the
primary and secondary. The primary are mind independent. They exist without a perceiver. Philinous
takes him through those steps, he tried to show him that those qualities are also mind dependent. We
saw Philonous' mistakes and so did Hylas. Extension, size and shape in general are mind dependent.
distinguish between absolute and sensible extension
there is extension in general that is independent according to Hylas
the next suggestion that Philonous makes or challenge that he gives to Hylas
He challanges him to come up with an abstract general idea of a motion independent of an object
Recall: Berkeley argues against abstract general ideas. Like motion, externsion or shape in general.
Philonous says to him that its very difficult to come with an idea. How can you come up with an idea of
motion without something particular in motion.
Every idea is the idea of something particular. You cannot have this abstract idea.
Philonous takes him through some argumentation
all is mind dependent.
Hylas makes a further refinement
everything that is mind dependent in us both primary and secondary qualities is a sensation. That is the
mistake that Hylas thinks he made. He didn't suggest the notion of th eindependent external object as
distinguished from the sensation. This is where either Philonous is very smart or Hylas is very smart
and Berekely wants to make his point.
What do you mean by the object? The object of the senses?
Hylas agrees. Why? That is exactly not what he is saying. As soon as he agrees to this. That as with all
other sensible qualities is has to be mind dependent.
The disction hylas is trying to make is between the sensastion we ourselves are having and what is
theobject that is casuing is to have the sensation. He wanted to say something like the Lockian position
that the external minded external object.
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If there is the external object this power to cause us to have sense perceptions, then is the, for example,
the colour in the object itself?
Is the brown colour in the mug that causes you to see that colour.
Locke says that there cannot be a perceived sensation in the substance which is non-perceiving.
The point is there sensation in an external object that is mind-independent
How can there be something causing you have sensation that has no sensation? That is the issue
Hylas is trying to maintain that the object is mind-independent but how can the mind-independent
object (non-perceiving, non-thinking) be the cause of anything perceiving.
The issue is, how can there be something in the mind-independent external object that is non-
perceiving and non-thinking. How can it be perceived?
For something to cause to you to have a mind-dependent sensation, it makes no sense that the cause is
Locke hold to this position.
Berekeley's point is that, how can the non-thinking, non-perceiving be the cause of thought and
perception? It is like the interactive question again. How does the action of one kind of substance be
the cause of or effect something in another completely different kind of substance. That was the
problem of dualism and we have the problem again with Berkeley.
Hylas has now granted this point and issue.
On the one hand he grants the agument that non-perceiving stuff should be the cause of perceiving
If we look at sensations as something not being perceived but as a quality of something.
you cannot just have motion, it has to be something moving. These qualities have to be qualities of
something. It has to be a quality of something. Locke's position is
some substance has to be out in the external world to cause our perceptions. That's the issue.
The issue is not our perceptions but the explanation thereof.
This is all called an abductive argument which is simply an inference to the best explanation.
A occurs and b is the case
if a occurs it is not a surprise because b is a sufficient explanation of a
(This is commonly used in CSI shows)
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