[A BIG thanks to Stephanie and Paul, contributors to this blog, and Michael, all fellow undergrads, for the inspiration for this post!]
Hello to All!
In Dr. Vitz’s Modern Philosophy class earlier today, we discussed the 4 major objections offered against George Berkeley’s Immaterialism found his “Dialogues” between Philonous and Hylas. The objections, generally speaking, are as follows:
1) Crazy Language Use = Berkeley’s view would commit us to utilize language in a crazy way, by referring to everyday ‘objects’ as ‘ideas’. This should lead us to suspect that there’s something fishy with the view.
2) Appearance vs Reality = Immaterialism can’t seem to account for us being able to tell the difference between what is really ‘real’ and what is just an appearance (e.g., a dream).
3) Common Experience = How can different ‘minds’ have intersubjective experiences of some ‘idea’ in the world? The view can’t seem to account for this.
4) Problem of Evil = God, whose existence is used to reply to Obj 3, seems to be the author of our sins, or complicit in them, if his nature is as an infinite mind (which perceives everything, thus allowing things to exist even if we personally are not perceiving them).
For this post, and the discussion that shall hopefully follow, I wish to focus on Objection 2. Berkeley’s response, through Philonous, is that Immaterialism uses the same criteria as Materialism, such as 1) ‘real’ things are more vivid and clear than appearances, 2) ‘real’ things are not dependent on our wills per se, and 3) ‘real’ things are somehow connected with what has followed and what will follow.
Yet one concern that was mentioned in class dealt with Paranoid Schizophrenics. Wouldn’t they pose as a counter-example that would hurt Berkeley’s response? If so, how? And could Berkeley find a way around this?
And in general, what are we to think of this criteria? Are they good enough, given an Empiricist conception of cognition, in differentiating the difference between appearance and reality? Or should we take a note from Hume and just be skeptics in some way, shape, or form?
George (“The Meager Weakling”)