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Berkeley's Response to Descartes

 
 
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 09:43 am
@High Seas,
As I understand it, the hammerer(as categorized by third party) has to focus on "something at hand" in order for the "self" to realized. In not the hammer, then the hammer has no existence at that time.
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 10:39 am
@fresco,
This concept always made much more sense to me than any other ontology - a vast Casimir effect encompassing past, present, future, and the entire cosmos!

Beautiful, and (mathematically) impeccably elegant - but then Heidegger almost invariably is (except for the brief time he lost his mind and announced Hitler was a great man) as were all the pre-Socratics. No wonder they were his favorite philosophers. Few of those in-between deserve a reading Smile
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 12:36 pm
@Cyracuz,
Quote:
If this is what he's thinking about, then turning a bucket on it's head and using it as a stool is a simple example of de-conceptualizing. Or perhaps a solution obtained by means of de-constructing an idea.

This could be attributed to some of those later influenced by him -- a returning to the original state to take reason on a different route of interpretation. But Berkeley is more modest in his ambitions. Primarily interested in undermining the realism attributed to excessive speculations via pointing back to a particular (rather than a generalization) or an "immediate perception" (concerning a circumstance of the world) as being what was the original concrete and intuitive "thing", not the thoughts (words, sensible imaginings, etc) about it afterwards that compete to replace it.

"In one sense, indeed, men may be said to believe that Matter exists, that is, they ACT as if the immediate cause of their sensations, which affects them every moment, and is so nearly present to them, were some senseless unthinking being. But, that they should clearly apprehend any meaning marked by those words, and form thereof a settled SPECULATIVE opinion, is what I am not able to conceive. This is not the only instance wherein men impose upon themselves, by imagining they believe those propositions which they have often heard, though at bottom they have no meaning in them. "

[...]

"The consideration of this difficulty it was that gave birth to my 'Essay towards a New Theory of Vision,' which was published not long since, wherein it is shown (1) that DISTANCE or outness is NEITHER IMMEDIATELY of itself PERCEIVED by sight, nor yet apprehended or judged of by lines and angles, or anything that has a necessary connexion with it; but (2) that it is ONLY SUGGESTED to our thoughts by certain visible ideas and sensations attending vision, which in their own nature have no manner of similitude or relation either with distance or things placed at a distance; but, by a connexion taught us BY EXPERIENCE, they come to signify and suggest them to us, after the same manner that WORDS of any language suggest the ideas they are made to stand for; insomuch that a man BORN blind and afterwards made to see, would not, at first sight, think the things he saw to be without his mind, or at any distance from him."

[...]

...this is all that is meant by calling them IDEAS; which word if it was as ordinarily used as THING, would sound no harsher nor more ridiculous than it. I am not for disputing about the propriety, but the truth of the expression. If therefore you agree with me that we eat and drink and are clad with the immediate objects of sense, which cannot exist unperceived or without the mind, I shall readily grant it is more proper or conformable to custom that they should be called things rather than ideas.

Quote:
But wouldn't that be an abstraction of an idea? He seems to be arguing that words cause abstraction, and that's a bit confusing. I tend to think of words as restricting abstraction.

Part of his case is that abstract generalizations don't correspond to any possible imagining or perception, and therefore exist in name or language only. If all the characteristics subsumed under a category or set by its particular members were instantiated by an abstract universal object that literally tried to represent them all at once, there is the potential for them to outright conflict or contradict each other (quote below about "triangle"). Essentially, Berkeley is the dawn of modern anti-metaphysical trends in philosophy, but because of his immaterialism he cannot be considered the first example -- just a direct/indirect inspiration for epistemological pessimists like Hume and Kant, and the later JS Mill, positivists, Machians, pragmatists, etc.

"If any man has the faculty of framing in his mind such an idea of a triangle as is here described, it is in vain to pretend to dispute him out of it, nor would I go about it. All I desire is that the reader would fully and certainly inform himself whether he has such an idea or no. And this, methinks, can be no hard task for anyone to perform. What more easy than for anyone to look a little into his own thoughts, and there try whether he has, or can attain to have, an idea that shall correspond with the description that is here given of the general idea of a triangle, which is NEITHER OBLIQUE NOR RECTANGLE, EQUILATERAL, EQUICRURAL NOR SCALENON, BUT ALL AND NONE OF THESE AT ONCE?"

All quotes from A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 12:46 pm
@Procrustes,
Quote:
It seems he doesn't want anything to do with abstract ideas.

Berkeley could be considered the instigating agent of later anti-metaphysical trends in philosophy. But because of his immaterialism (mind monism) he can't be tooted as a first example. Just a direct/indirect inspiration for epistemological pessimists like Hume and Kant, and the later JS Mill, positivists, Machians, pragmatists, neo-pragmatists, etc.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 02:27 pm
@G H,
GH, thanks for another good post. By "epistemological pessimists" you are referring to skeptics? If so I would include Hume but not Kant, except for the latter's belief that we can know nothing of the realm of noumenal reality other its bare existence.
As I've indicated frequently, I precariously hold that we cannot know the ultimate "metaphysical" nature of Reality by means of the intellect (by means of language, logic, mathematics, etc) which is limited by our own physiological/neurological nature. I guess that makes me a skeptic. I "feel" that the world is a unity and that we cannot uncover it's "secrets" dualistically which makes me also a monist (but not what you call a "mind monist". I cannot adopt an either-or bias when it comes to the contrast-set, materialism vs. idealism. Mind seems to be a function of brain and "brain" is a mental conception--here the arrows of causation, such as they are, point both ways).
Enough about me, now let's talk about your ideas: what do you think about what I've just said?
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 08:10 pm
@JLNobody,
I tend to think of the metaphysical nature of reality and the physiological/neurological nature of humans to be pretty much two sides of the same coin, so to speak.

Quote:
Mind seems to be a function of brain and "brain" is a mental conception


When I think about the classical notion of brain being the cause of mind, that seems to be saying pretty much the same as "a balloon grows, and can therefore contain more air". It is backwards. The balloon grows because more air is put into it. Similarly, I see brain as expression of mind, when more complex brains have evolved, it is because expressions of mind become more complex. I imagine the most primal "mind" to be a simple, perhaps binary, function, which grows more complex with every generation.
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 Dec, 2011 05:26 am
@JLNobody,
Quote:
By "epistemological pessimists" you are referring to skeptics? If so I would include Hume but not Kant, except for the latter's belief that we can know nothing of the realm of noumenal reality other its bare existence.

Partly yes, in this being used rather than "skeptics" because of Kant. "epistemological pessimist - one who holds that we cannot know or discover whether theories are true, but only which ones are compatible with the data, and of these, which are preferable on grounds such as simplicity and/or other pragmatic criteria." -- Susan Haack's definition, provided second-hand in Varieties of Things: Foundations of Contemporary Metaphysics

Quote:
As I've indicated frequently, I precariously hold that we cannot know the ultimate "metaphysical" nature of Reality by means of the intellect (by means of language, logic, mathematics, etc) which is limited by our own physiological/neurological nature. I guess that makes me a skeptic. I "feel" that the world is a unity and that we cannot uncover it's "secrets" dualistically which makes me also a monist (but not what you call a "mind monist". I cannot adopt an either-or bias when it comes to the contrast-set, materialism vs. idealism. Mind seems to be a function of brain and "brain" is a mental conception--here the arrows of causation, such as they are, point both ways). Enough about me, now let's talk about your ideas: what do you think about what I've just said?

I have a practical attitude of latching onto whatever "view" seems to better work for or fit a situation. This may even include dualism upon occasion, since I'm a participant in everyday life and its traditions; and just as suddenly I could switch to reductive physicalism if I encounter a driver on the road whose behavior is altered by the influence of alcohol. But I don't mistake the "local" effectiveness as proof that any overarching scheme my coping tool selection belongs to is the Truth of Truths. Primitive peoples survived in ancient times without the current knowledge we have today -- that is, just treating a spear as a spear, rather than a structure of strange quantum stuff or part of a planet revolving around a star, actually did work. Likewise, Tandar the Mighty lacked the benefit of a mobile phone to take on his lengthy hunting trips away from the tribe.

So we're probably close to the same territory when it comes to "ultimate". On average I tend toward reluctant belief in what I call an impartial level, which vacillates between something like an unknown neutral monism and Kant's noumenal world (though I see no reason for attaching "world" to a lack of space, time, relation, etc; things without a world).
0 Replies
 
 

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