Chapter 6 : The Mind-Body Problem
Section 4: Idealism
Things are composed of 1. sensible properties
and 2. matter
Matter was seen as necessary for
differentiating one object from another.
Suppose you had two objects with the same
list of the properties of both would be identical.
would you know that you had two objects?
Matter itself had no properties of itís
According to Berkeley - once you took away
all of the sensible properties of a thing, you should be left with the
bare matter. But, if it has no properties of itís own, how would you
know it? This led him to
conclude that a thing is nothing more than its sensible properties.
are nothing but their properties:
Consider a bucket of water at room
Hold your right hand in another pail of hot
water, your left hand in a pail of cold water.
After a few minutes, place both hands in the
bucket of room temp water.
How does the water feel to the right hand?
How does the water feel to the left hand?
Aha! What can we conclude from this
The "hotness" or
"coolness" of the water is not in the water.
So where is the sensation of
"hotness" or "coolness" existing?
In our Minds?
the sensible properties of things exist in the mind (not in the things
things are nothing more than bundles of sensible properties, thenÖÖ..
must exist in the mind only (as ideas).
Similarity of perception (of objects): Why do things seem the same
to all of us?
Persistence of objects: Do things continue to exist when no one is perceiving
Problem of Other Minds: How do I know other minds exist?
Why do things appear the same to all of us if
they are just bundles of ideas in our (individual) minds?
Response 1 - They might not - the wall may be "blue"
because we have all been taught to call it that, not because it really is
Do things continue to exist when no one is
looking at them?
Does the floor outside the room still exist?
Does your car still exist in the parking lot?
Well, someone is out there right now
"seeing" it - this keeps it in existence until I get back.
But what if no one is out there right now?
Someone always is "seeing" all the
things in the world at once.
Couldnít that be God?
of Objects and Similarity of Perceptions
Both can be explained by positing an
All-knowing (All-seeing) God.
Idealists use God to explain how these things
continue to exist.
They are as they are because God
Problem of Other Minds:
explanation for what we see in the behavior of others
similarity between bodies makes it even stronger.
But - In Idealism there is no such physical similarity! Only way to connect the two is to posit some sort of spiritual similarity.
Because of the lack of evidence for other
minds, and because of the (supposed) lack of any perceptive faculty by
which we can know God (who is needed to solve other problems) Idealism
will not work as an explanation of how MIND and BODY interact.
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© Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2000. All Rights reserved. Web Surfer's Caveat: These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. They should be read as such. They are not intended for publication or general distribution.
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