The Critique of Berkeley and Hume. Sunday, April 19, 2015

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1 The Critique of Berkeley and Hume

2 George Berkeley ( ) Idealism best defense of common sense against skepticism Descartes s and Locke s ideas of objects make no sense. Attack on primary qualities and on substance

3 Against Primary Qualities We have no basis for thinking any of our ideas corresponds to some mindindependent reality. We cannot judge resemblance to reality. Perceptions of width, height, etc., vary while objects remain unchanged.

4 Against Primary Qualities Philonous. But, from what you have laid down it follows that both the extension by you perceived, and that perceived by the mite itself, as likewise all those perceived by lesser animals, are each of them the true extension of the mite s foot; that is to say, by your own principles you are led into an absurdity.

5 Mite s View

6 Mite s View

7 Against Primary Qualities Philonous. But, as we approach to or recede from an object, the visible extension varies, being at one distance ten or a hundred times greater than another. Doth it not therefore follow from hence likewise that it is not really inherent in the object?

8 Shiprock

9 Shiprock

10 Shiprock

11 Shiprock

12 Shiprock

13 Not in the Object Philonous. Is it not the very same reasoning to conclude, there is no extension or figure in an object, because to one eye it shall seem little, smooth, and round, when at the same time it appears to the other, great, uneven, and regular? Hylas. The very same. But does this latter fact ever happen? Philonous. You may at any time make the experiment, by looking with one eye bare, and with the other through a microscope.

14 Against Substance Locke treats substance as the basis for properties Something, I know not what But this has no content We experience only qualities, not underlying substances

15 Locke on Substance So that if any one will examine himself concerning his notion of pure substance in general, he will find he has no other idea of it at all, but only a supposition of he knows not what support of such qualities which are capable of producing simple ideas in us; which qualities are commonly called accidents.

16 Locke on Substance If any one should be asked, what is the subject wherein colour or weight inheres, he would have nothing to say, but the solid extended parts; and if he were demanded, what is it that solidity and extension adhere in, he would not be in a much better case than the Indian before mentioned who, saying that the world was supported by a great elephant, was asked what the elephant rested on; to which his answer was a great tortoise: but being again pressed to know what gave support to the broad-backed tortoise, replied something, he knew not what.

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20 Against Substance Phil. What shall we say then of your external object; is it a material substance, or no? Hyl. It is a material substance with the sensible qualities inhering in it. Phil. How then can a great heat exist in it, since you own it cannot in a material substance?

21 Against Substance Phil. That the colours are really in the tulip which I see is manifest. Neither can it be denied that this tulip may exist independent of your mind or mine; but, that any immediate object of the senses, that is, any idea, or combination of ideas should exist in an unthinking substance, or exterior to all minds, is in itself an evident contradiction. Nor can I imagine how this follows from what you said just now, to wit, that the red and yellow were on the tulip you saw, since you do not pretend to see that unthinking substance.

22 Infinite Regress Phil. Consequently, every corporeal substance, being the substratum of extension, must have in itself another extension, by which it is qualified to be a substratum: and so on to infinity. And I ask whether this be not absurd in itself, and repugnant to what you granted just now, to wit, that the substratum was something distinct from and exclusive of extension?

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25 Bundle Theory What Aristotle called substances that is, things, objects are just collections or bundles of properties We do not experience anything holding them together

26 Hume Nothing holds them together except our own mental activity Objects are bundles of qualities And they don t come already bundled We do the bundling

27 Esse est Percipi To be is to be perceived For unthinking things, to exist is to be perceived; so they couldn t possibly exist out of the minds or thinking things that perceive them. We have access only to what is before the mind A thing can exist only if it is perceived

28 God Do things go out of existence when we aren t looking at them? No because God keeps an eye on them for us

29 Later idealists Later idealists alter this formula somewhat To be is to be perceivable

30 David Hume ( )

31

32 Hume s Argument vs. Self Source of idea of self? We do not find it in experience All identity through change is imposed by us, not there in the world

33 Bundle Theory of the Self I may venture to affirm of the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement....

34 No Experience of Self For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception.

35 No Experience of Self... nor have we any idea of self, after the manner it is here explain'd. For from what impression cou'd this idea be deriv'd? Note the assumption, central to Hume s empiricism: ideas come from impressions (sensations, perceptions)

36 Variation... If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that impression must continue invariably the same, thro' the whole course of our lives; since self is suppos'd to exist after that manner. But there is no impression constant and invariable.... and consequently there is no such idea.

37 Nothing but Perceptions They are the successive perceptions only, that constitute the mind; nor have we the most distant notion of the place, where these scenes are represented, or of the materials, of which it is compos'd.

38 Fictitious Identity The identity, which we ascribe to the mind of man, is only a fictitious one....

39 Imposed Identity Mental states link to other mental states: memory, intention, desire, similarities We construct the idea of self Self is not a unified thing best compared to a commonwealth Questions about identity aren t about the world, but about language

40 True of All Objects Example: Heraclitus: can t step in same river twice

41 True of All Objects The ship of Theseus Plutarch: The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

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44 Successions... the objects, which are variable or interrupted, and yet are suppos'd to continue the same, are such only as consist of a succession of parts, connected together by resemblance, contiguity, or causation.... all objects, to which we ascribe identity, without observing their invariableness and uninterruptedness, are such as consist of a succession of related objects.

45 Verbal Disputes... all the nice and subtile questions concerning personal identity can never possibly be decided, and are to be regarded rather as grammatical than as philosophical difficulties.... as the relations, and the easiness of the transition may diminish by insensible degrees, we have no just standard, by which we can decide any dispute concerning the time, when they acquire or lose a title to the name of identity. All the disputes concerning the identity of connected objects are merely verbal....

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