Hi Bruno;

There are problems with Berkley to be sure, but I dont think Johnson had much of a grasp of them. Are there good objections to Berkley? Certainly. Did SJ propose any? Not really.

I agree ontologically. But I disagree epistemologically. It is like with Mendeleev classification of the elements (atoms). It was wise to infer the existence of "unknown atoms" from the holes provided by the classification.

I have a similar approach to Berkley which revolves around Occam's principle of sufficiency. With regards to perception being the essence of existance, what happens when things are not percieved? A perception or idea must exist in a mind, right? Furthermore, in some sense a mind must be concieved of (by Berkley) in terms of ideas too, So what are minds percieved by? Gaps like these in my opinion, break Occam's principle of sufficiency. It leads to Berkley positing a God which percieves all ideas (unpercieved things and percieving minds). This enables 'the dark side of the moon' to exist unpercieved and for percieving minds themselves to exist. However, I think in satisfying the sufficiency principle, Berkley now breaks Occam's appeal for simplicity.

In a way he has been forced to make a non empirical deduction which should really be abhorrent to him. Perhaps an ad hoc invention might be more accurate, in so far as God is invoked for theoretical difficulties primarily.

So a view-point should always to be completed as much as possible.

As shown, Berkley arguably does complete his theory. However, not in a way that 'makes it possible to get in a quicker way some possible contradiction (internal or with facts).'.

At this point then, Berkley is on unsteady ground, because we want some means of falsification, I feel cheated that there isnt one, especially from an empiricist. Internally though, I think he is largely consistant.


Oops!  Mhhh... Tricky word which has a foot in "knowing" (first person)

Firstly, I use the word in the sense that this is what Berkley would have used. I think there is a problem with how Berkley uses it. I think he plays on a similarity between 'idea', 'mind' and 'perception'. I think you can trap Berkley into a position where he has to admit that ideas are percieved, which suggests again a two part process, an indirection. A translation. However, with regards to :

and a foot in some infered third person describable "reality".

Berkley has a third person describable reality. It is just not a material one. Berkley is no solipsist. He does not deny objective reality. He basis reality on a different substance and preserves it in the mind of God. Like Leibniz. This is why Johnson is wrong, he thinks that Berkley is denying the existance of things. Its a consequence of thinking dualistically. Dualists naturally regard 'mentality' as less substantial than matter, Idealists dont. It is their substance of choice in a sense. Materialism and Idealism are very similar. Its monism really, as opposed to dualism. Think of the way Marx (materialism) flips Hegel (idealism).

In otherwords, dualists and materialists contravene Occam, not idealists. i dont see how Johnson refuted that.

Very well said. But idealist are not necessarily solispsist, and once you can acknowledge the existence of one "other", or even just this set {1, 2, 3, 4, ...} (in the company of addition and multiplication), then there is a vast realm full of ... surprises (counter-intuitive truth which we can "know" but only indirectly. (A little like you need two eyes to imagine 3D, you need two brains to make a genuine proof or a genuine bet).

Not quite sure what you are getting at here.... The truth is always incomplete from a single perspective?

Many Regards




From: "Lee Corbin" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: <everything-list@eskimo.com>
Subject: What We Can Know About the World
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 02:19:49 -0700

Stathis writes

> > When 99% of the human race use the word "reality", they mean
> > the world outside their skins.
> >
> > If you sacrifice our common understanding of "reality", then
> > you'll find yourself in a hole out of which you'll never climb.
> Yes, but what *is* this 3D world we can all stub our toe on?

Korzybski would warn: beware the "is" of identity  :-)

> If we go back to the start of last century, Rutherford's
> quaintly pre-QM atom, amazingly, turned out to be mostly
> empty space. Did this mean that, suddenly, it doesn't hurt
> when you walk into a brick wall, because it isn't nearly as
> solid as you initially thought it was? Of course not; our
> experience of the world is one thing, and the "reality"
> behind the experience is a completely different thing.

That's *exactly* right.  We *could* have been designed by
evolution not to hurt when we walked into a wall. For certain
reasons, we were not designed that way.

> If it is discovered tomorrow beyond any doubt that the
> entire universe is just a game running in the down time
> on God's pocket calculator, how is this fundamentally
> different to discovering that, contrary to appearances,
> atoms are mostly empty space, or subatomic particles have
> no definite position, or any other weird theory of modern
> physics?

Good analogy!  The world surprises us all the time, especially
the more we learn about it.  It would be bizarre if it did not,
(we'd probably have to abandon most of our theories).

> And how could, say, the fact that brick walls feel solid enough
> possibly count as evidence against such an anti-realist theory?

Occam's razor.  We go with the simplest theory.  Imagine
that you and I believe we are standing next to a wall.
Our conjecture is that it has certain properties.  We
may need it to protect us. If we're wrong, nature will
make short work of us.  That we have survived this long
is a strong indication that the wall really is there.
In fact, on some level of practicality, it is foolish
to debate the existence of the wall. Samuel Johnson
did refute Berkeley.


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