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Berkeley's Response to Descartes

 
 
Reply Sat 10 Dec, 2011 10:15 pm
So in sixth meditation Descartes says that sense perceptions are caused by material objects. He then goes on to give out reasons why God won't be the reason of our sense perception as then let's say if we are deceived at times by our dream then it would mean that God is a deceiver. But God is all perfect, so he can't be the reason. What do you guys think that Berkeley would say about this? I know he would say that material objects are nothing but ideas, but do you guys think he would respond anything more to this?

Does Berkeley mean that there are no mind independent objects?
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 Dec, 2011 10:22 pm
@gregoryl,
gregoryl wrote:
Does Berkeley mean that there are no mind independent objects?


Berkeley pretty well follows Plato on this. Physical objects are only imperfect imitations of the perfect object which is of the nature of idea. How this relates to the Cartesian idea of God's perfection and the impossibbility of God sending a deceitful dream I have no notion whatever.

Berkeley sails awfully close to solipsysm at times.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 01:38 am
@Lustig Andrei,
I have always understood (second hand) that Berkeley required "an observer" to evoke "objects", and that God was therefore established as "the ultimate observer", in order to prevent things from disappearing when we turn our backs.
As soon as an entity other than "self" is advocated, even if it is a "god", this appears to be a step away from solipsism.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 11:29 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

I have always understood (second hand) that Berkeley required "an observer" to evoke "objects", and that God was therefore established as "the ultimate observer", in order to prevent things from disappearing when we turn our backs.

I can't believe it -- you're right! How often does that happen?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 07:54 am
hehehehe . . .
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 10:48 am
@gregoryl,
Forget Berkeley and forget god (the theological invention); they're dead--and as far as I'm concerned irrelevant to the living issue of what is this that we are experiencing now?
Gregoryl asks: "Does Berkeley mean that there are no mind independent objects?" All objects are IN A SENSE mind independent--i.e., they are not JUST fabrics of my imagination--and they are all IN A SENSE mind dependent--i.e, their empirical character (e.g., forms, configurations, shapes) cannot exist AS SUCH without being perceived AS SUCH (consider visions without eyes or sounds without ears. On the other hand, consider the sound of falling trees without the existence of falling trees--aside from illulsions of "sound effects").
The middle way (both-and rather than either-or) is more inelegant than that of taking one side or the other (e.g. materialism vs idealism, monism vs. pluralism) but it is more realistic.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 10:53 am
@fresco,
As far as I'm concerned, objects DO disappear when I turn away from them. But they disappear only for me, not for others directing their attention to them. Moreover the reality of those objects is seen in both the experience of them and their promise of being there when I return my gaze to them.
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 11:05 am
Micro-organisms which neither you nor anyone around you can see can kill you. Radioactive fallout which neither you nor anyone around you can see can kill you. The perception model of Plato and Berkeley is, to put it kindly, naïve and ill-considered. People who wish to canvass reality would be well advised to abandon such a poorly thought-out means of identifying that reality.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 11:16 am
@Setanta,
That's right, Set. If I consider the world to be NO MORE THAN the objects of my perception, and to exist in no other way than how I experience and interpret them, I fall into the error of Naive Realism. I was confining myself to a kind of phenomenalism. Thanks for the correction.
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 11:40 am
@gregoryl,
Quote:
So in sixth meditation Descartes says that sense perceptions are caused by material objects. He then goes on to give out reasons why God won't be the reason of our sense perception as then let's say if we are deceived at times by our dream then it would mean that God is a deceiver. But God is all perfect, so he can't be the reason. What do you guys think that Berkeley would say about this?

Better what he said himself (the direct footprint of Descartes doesn't need to be on the deception / materialism issues he addresses herein). All Berkeley quotes are from the The Three Dialogues. Philonous is Berkeley's representative and Hylas is John Locke's (the former's conception of a Locke representative, anyway).

HYL: After all, can it be supposed God would deceive all mankind? Do you imagine He would have induced the whole world to believe the being of Matter, if there was no such thing?

PHIL: That every epidemical opinion, arising from prejudice, or passion, or thoughtlessness, may be imputed to God, as the Author of it, I believe you will not affirm. Whatsoever opinion we father on Him, it must be either because He has discovered it to us by supernatural revelation; or because it is so evident to our natural faculties, which were framed and given us by God, that it is impossible we should withhold our assent from it. But where is the revelation? or where is the evidence that extorts the belief of Matter? Nay, how does it appear, that Matter, <taken for something distinct from what we perceive by our senses>, is thought to exist by all mankind; or indeed, by any except a few philosophers, who do not know what they would be at? Your question supposes these points are clear; and, when you have cleared them, I shall think myself obliged to give you another answer. In the meantime, let it suffice that I tell you, I do not suppose God has deceived mankind at all.

--------------

PHIL: [Malebranche] maintains that we are deceived by our senses, and, know not the real natures or the true forms and figures of extended beings; of all which I hold the direct contrary. So that upon the whole there are no Principles more fundamentally opposite than his and mine.

------------------

PHIL: ...Look you, Hylas, when I speak of objects as existing in the mind, or imprinted on the senses, I would not be understood in the gross literal sense; as when bodies are said to exist in a place, or a seal to make an impression upon wax. My meaning is only that the mind comprehends or perceives them; and that it is affected from without, or by some being distinct from itself. This is my explication of your difficulty; and how it can serve to make your tenet of an unperceiving material <substratum> intelligible, I would fain know.

------------------------

PHYL: ...Take this farther reflexion with you: that whether Matter be allowed to exist or no, the case is exactly the same as to the point in hand. For the Materialists themselves acknowledge what we immediately perceive by our senses to be our own ideas. Your difficulty, therefore, that no two see the same thing, makes equally against the Materialists and me.


Quote:
Does Berkeley mean that there are no mind independent objects?

PHIL: ...the manner how two independent substances so widely different as <Spirit and Matter>, should mutually operate on each other? What difficulties, I say, and endless disquisitions, concerning these and innumerable other the like points, do we escape, by supposing only Spirits and ideas? Even the <Mathematics> themselves, if we take away the absolute existence of extended things, become much more clear and easy; the most shocking paradoxes and intricate speculations in those sciences depending on the infinite divisibility of finite extension...

---------------------

HYL: But they [materialists] suppose an external archetype, to which referring their several ideas they may truly be said to perceive the same thing.

PHYL: And so may you suppose an external archetype on my principles; -- <external>, <I mean>, <to your own mind>: though indeed it must be supposed to exist in that Mind which comprehends all things; but then, this serves all the ends of <identity>, as well as if it existed out of a mind. And I am sure you yourself will not say it is less intelligible.

-------------------------

PHIL: What would you have? Do I not acknowledge a twofold state of things -- the one ectypal or natural, the other archetypal and eternal? The former was created in time; the latter existed from everlasting in the mind of God. Is not this agreeable to the common notions of divines?
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  4  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 12:02 pm
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

Forget Berkeley and forget god (the theological invention); they're dead--and as far as I'm concerned irrelevant to the living issue of what is this that we are experiencing now?

Translation: "Your question bores me. Now let me derail your thread by jumping on my favorite hobby horse."
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 12:57 pm
@joefromchicago,
There are a lot of people calling themselves "cognitive scientists" who are now making a living investigating that "hobby-horse". IMO it is a valuable service to philosophy students to make them aware of contemporary developments.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 01:07 pm
@JLNobody,
Of course. And as Heidegger hypothesized and Merleau-Ponty, later demonstrated, "objects" have no ontological status unless they fit into action schemas of observers. And as a corollary, the ontological status of "missing objects" (like amputated limbs) was maintained by the operation of action schemas.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 01:26 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

There are a lot of people calling themselves "cognitive scientists" who are now making a living investigating that "hobby-horse". IMO it is a valuable service to philosophy students to make them aware of contemporary developments.

Or, in other words, you think it's all right to derail the thread because you think the original poster is dumb.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 01:29 pm
@Setanta,
Microscopic agents which "kill" do so by virtue of their interactions at various levels of what we categorize as "physiology". Without the contemporary investigation and categorizations by humans of such interactions, such agents would have no existential (i.e functional) status. Note that "the humours of the body" were alternative pathological agents not so long ago. Consider telling a medieval physician that they did not "exist"! And is it not conceivable that in the future "micro-organic agents" would be considered a crude approach to pathology ? How is it, for example, that some of us are immune ....etc ?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 01:45 pm
@joefromchicago,
No. I do not consider the thread "derailed". You are merely playing your silly out-dated game of "get the non-dualists".
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 01:54 pm
@joefromchicago,
Joe, what you call my hobby horse I call my perspective.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 02:48 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

No. I do not consider the thread "derailed". You are merely playing your silly out-dated game of "get the non-dualists".

You're complaining now that I'm derailing your derailment? That's rich. And I never play "get the non-dualists," because that would suggest that there's something there to "get."
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 02:49 pm
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

Joe, what you call my hobby horse I call my perspective.

And your perspective is irrelevant.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 03:08 pm
@joefromchicago,
Are you okay ? The quality of your heckling seems to have deteriorated.
 

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