Summarize and explain Berkley's arguments against the exsistence of matter or corporeal substance. Summarize and explain Berkley's account of the existence of spirit or spiritual substance. Given Berlley's account of ideas and spiritual sunstance, what kind of knowlwdge can we have both of ourselves and of other minds. Discuss
A. Berkley's arguments against the existence of matter or corporeal substance: Berkeley's philosophy is based on idealism, therefore he attacks the doctrine that material things exist independent of the mind. In other words, material things exist because they are perceived by the mind and depend on the mind for its existence, thereby his motto: "esse est percipi" "to be is to be perceived or essence is perception". His ideas are well explained in his works on Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. He argued that if we take a survey of the objects of human knowledge, we acknowledge that they are ideas either imprinted on the senses or perceived through the passions and operations of the mind or even formed thanks to memory and imagination. This simply means that objects or material things are mediately perceived through the mind as ideas, therefore what we actually perceive are ideas. In fact, in his likeness principle he states that we can only talk about two things being alike when we compare them. This operation is done by the mind which cannot compare anything but ideas. As a consequence, all the sensory qualities that we attribute to objects like being solid, beautiful etc. pertain to ideas. The existence of ideas is the effect of an active mind. He states ...
Berkeley assumes that objects are only ideas perceived by human minds, otherwise they don't exist. How can it be possible that if I forget something or didn't want to think of it, therefore it ceased to exist in kind, then that thing is no more in existence. Now if I can talk of existence only in terms of perception of the mind, we have a serious question regarding the nature of reality. Though for Berkeley that thing continues to exist because God is always perceiving them. Before anybody can perceive anything, that thing is already in the mind of God. As for relationships between individuals, when that breaks and they stop thinking of each other do they stop existing? Of course Berkeley doesn't talk about human beings but objects. He has the credit for at least putting God in the scene quite unlike the materialists. For him God must exist for it to possible for any mind to conceive. Nevertheless, we can't overlook the fact that there is some sort of dualism of mind and idea in his arguments.