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1. Berkeley argues that the best explanation of why we have the various sensations that we have is that they are caused by something that is (1) mental in nature (2) identical to God. Explain his argument/s for both (1) and (2). Why does he think this is a better explanation than one that appeals to material substance/s as the cause of our sensations? What do you think is the weakest aspect of Berkeley’s argument and why?(1) Why are the various sensations we have are caused by something that is mental in nature“Why are the various sensations we have not caused by things material in nature?”Berkeley eliminates the option that material things exist because he believes material things are mind-independent things, this is something or some substance whose existence doesn’t rely on thinking/perceiving things, and thus would exist whether or not any minds (thinking things) existed. His brief argument against material objects is as follows [4]:1. We perceive ordinary objects (houses, mountains, etc.)2. We perceive only ideas3. Therefore, ordinary objects are ideasBerkeley basis most of his ideas off of Locke’s however he disputes one of Locke’s main claims, which supports his claim that everything we sense is causedby something mental in nature. Locke believed there was a realm independent of the realm of sense data, which is a realm of material substance that our experiences represent. Berkeley claims the only objects that exist are dependent on our minds therefore, for an object to exist it must be perceived by our minds. To Berkeley the outside world was composed solely of ideas, and does so be suggesting a form of homogeneity, by saying ideas can only resemble ideas. In other words for something to produce an idea it must be an idea itself, because there is no way for something physical to produce or cause something mental, in the same way McGinn discusses physical substances and how two physical thingsonly have the capacity to produce something else that is physical. So to Berkeley, staying coherent with Idealism, suggests there is no physical mental realm that causes our ideas. If there is no material realm than whatever causes our ideas mustbe strictly mental in nature. (2) Why are the various sensations we have caused by something identical to God? Berkeley presents us with three options that could cause our sensations. Since he has already established that matter doesn’t exist the only things that could cause our sensations are (1) other ideas, (2) myself, or (3) some other spirit. Berkeley eliminates other ideas from being the cause of our sensations because [25]:1. Ideas are manifestly passive – no power or activity is perceived in them2. But because of the mind-dependent status of ideas, they cannot have any characteristics which they are not perceived to have3. Therefore, ideas are passive, that is, they posses no causal power.He then eliminates option (2) because even though we can clearly cause some ideas at will (imaginations) we cannot cause sensory ideas. They are involuntary and present themselves whether I wish to perceive them or not, and I cannot control their content. So the only option left is (3) another spirit. Our sensory ideas must be caused by another spirit and when we consider the complexity and systematicity of our sensory ideas we must conclude the spirit is more capable, wiser, and more benevolent than we could ever imagine, thus, in short, that spirit is God. Also, for Berkeley God is the omniscient perceiver who allows a chair to continue to “exist” in a room when there is not a Humean mind to perceive it. So, if all the objects affecting our senses are objects of God’s perception then God is the reason we are continually able to perceive the world around us. Why does he think this is a better explanation than one that appeals to material substance/s as the cause of our sensations? Berkeley believes this argument for the cause of sensation is better than one that appeals to material substances as the cause of sensations for three reasons: (1) its possible for us to be affected now, even if there is no material substance so the supposition of material substance is unnecessary, (2) there is no reason to assume the production of sensation relies corporeal substances because there is still explanation of how this causal interaction can occur, and (3) the only way we could prove material substance exists is by (i) our senses or (ii) by reason, and he explains how neither (i) or (ii) do. (1) If we can be affected sometimes without reliance on material substance, there is no reason to assume we can always be affected without reliance on corporeal substances. (2) Berkeley views it as unreasonable to say material substances affect our senses if there is still no explanation for the causal interaction between material substances and mental substances. Berkeley sees this lack of explanation as disproof of material substances. Since there is no material substance affecting our senses and ideas are passive and thus cannot cause sensations, there must be some other substance causing them. Furthermore, the lack of material substance makes whatever is causing our sensations some active spirit, God. For Berkeley’s final reason why his argument makes more sense then the argument for material substances he explains the (3) two ways we could come to know the existence of matter through(i) the senses or (ii) through reason. Berkeley states sensations cannot provide the knowledge for the existence of matter because the only things we can know by sense are sensations, which are ideas. Moving to (ii) reason Berkeley essentially restates (1) and says if it is possible we may be affected right now and there isn’t proof material substances are the cause of that effect, then its reasonable to say corporeal substances aren’t necessary for production of sensations.What do you think is the weakest aspect of Berkeley’s argument and why?The weakest aspect of Berkeley’s argument is the reliance on God. The reason this is the weakest point for Berkeley’s argument is because he uses God as an omniscient observer of the world. Since God perceives every aspect of the world at all times everything still exists. For example, if you put a video camera in a room, and a cat in the same room, the cat would stay in the video and the video camera would stay recording because God perceives them. The problem with God’s perception causing the world to

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FSU PHI 3320 - Notes

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